This review is not sponsored and contains the author’s personal experience. The Good Trade was gifted this product. The Good Trade editors endorse products we’ve personally researched, tested, and genuinely love. Learn more about our methodology and business model here.

I’m not a big foundation person. Like, at all. I think the last one I purchased was a gloopy bottle of Covergirl back in high school for dance competitions—I’m a strictly skin tint gal. So I’ve been itching to try Ilia’s Skin Tint since it hit the market in 2020, claiming to combine lightweight coverage with physical sunscreen and ingredients that make your skin glow. If I’m going to wear foundation, I at least want it to be good for my skin.

The product utilizes skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and squalane and continues to win award after award since its launch. Glamour and Allure both named it the best clean foundation in 2020, and it was one of Travel + Leisure’s “Top Pick” beauty products in 2022 (it’s also received recognition from Elle, Refinery29, Byrdie, Shape, and Anyone who’s anyone loves Ilia Skin Tint, it seems.

Sasha Plavsic founded Ilia in 2011 when she set out to recreate her favorite lip balm with clean ingredients. The brand now sells a strong lineup of makeup products like mascaras, liners, powders, foundations, eye shadows, lipsticks, and some multi-use pigments, along with a handful of skincare products. They’re big on incorporating SPF into their products to enhance the performance of actives, and they call their ingredients consciously sourced, noting that “not every natural ingredient is good for the skin, nor is every synthetic bad.” Clean beauty is all about nuance!

So, does their skin tint live up to the hype? That’s what I wanted to find out.

The Basics

Finding your perfect shade is pretty straightforward. Ilia’s website shows multiple models wearing each shade, and shades are separated by neutral/warm/olive/cool undertones. You can also send in up to five photos to get professionally color-matched by their team, or head into your local Sephora, Credo Beauty, or Nordstrom to try the product in person. According to my meticulous research (reading the product listing 😅), my perfect shade seemed to be ST4, a.k.a. Formosa.

The product comes in a minimalistic, serum-like dropper bottle. Star ingredients include niacinamide, which helps reduce inflammation while evening skin tone and texture; hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin retain hydration; and squalane, a lightweight, non-comedogenic oil to lock in moisture. The product’s SPF 40 comes from non-nano zinc oxide, a physical sunscreen that leaves a slight white cast when applied but disappears almost instantly. 

Clean beauty lovers will be pleased to know the product is silicone-free, chemical sunscreen-free, vegan, and fragrance-free, and the bottle can be recycled in a standard recycling bin. You can recycle the dropper through TerraCycle.

My skin is combination/acne prone, with an oily t-zone in the summer and dry patches in the winter. It’s not sensitive, but many beauty editors with sensitive skin praise the tint for its non-irritating formulation.

How I Used It

The bottle says to shake well before application—check. Then it says to dispense a quarter-sized amount into your palms and apply it like a serum. I warmed the product between my hands and gently pressed it into my skin for best results. While the product is thin and oily, rubbing it in like a moisturizer seemed to pull at my skin too much and catch on a couple of dry flakes irritated by Differin, while pressing the product in left a more natural finish.

I’ve avoided purchasing this product for the past three years, fearing this ultra-dewy skin tint might accentuate my oily t-zone. But I was completely mistaken—it dried even more satiny than other skin tints I’ve tried. The finish isn’t oil or matte. It’s best described as skinlike. I thought this would only be a winter product for me, but it looks like it’ll make the summertime top shelf, too. 

Beauty blenders are typically my applicator of choice for skin tints, and I loved the finish even better when I used one (not to mention my cleaner hands!). But I’m glad to know it’s certainly not necessary for application, especially when I travel and want to pack lighter. 

After a bit of setting powder or spray, the tint seems to wear well all day long, not making my skin cakey, dry, or flaky. And at the end of the day, it came off easily with a double cleanse.

The Takeaway

To me, this product is absolutely worth its $48 price tag. If applied onto clean skin so the actives can do their thing, the product replaces a niacinamide serum, moisturizer, and SPF, along with adding light coverage, making the price feel almost like a steal.

However, if you’re not comfortable replacing your entire routine with this product, that’s understandable—maybe you have other morning serums you use or dry skin that needs a heavier daily moisturizer. And if I were going to the beach or hiking, for example, I’d layer on another SPF for more intense protection (especially if I’m not using a whole quarter size of product).

Ilia’s Skin Tint ticked all the right boxes for me. Between the brand’s ethos, the packaging’s recyclability, and the product’s clean formulation and excellent performance, I’ll happily repurchase. The skincare lover in me embraces an excuse to turn part of my makeup routine into a skincare step, too.

Key Takeaways

  • Ilia is an elevated clean beauty brand focusing on skin-centric makeup with natural finishes. They’re cruelty-free and committed to 1% for the Planet.
  • Ilia’s Skin Tint debuted with high praise in 2020. It combines hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and zinc oxide for a hybrid serum/moisturizer/SPF/foundation.
  • The SPF 40 product comes in 30 shades and clocks in at $48. 
  • Ilia’s website lets you send in up to five photos to get shade-matched by their team, and you can also check out the product in person at Sephora, Credo Beauty, and Nordstrom.

Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!