A tinted moisturizer for people who aren’t sure they’d get enough coverage from a tinted moisturizer. This brings with it an impressive amount of pigment for a fresh-faced finish plus added sun protection - but the shade range could use improvement
Impressive amount of pigment
Good staying power
Easy to apply with fingers
Not many shades for deeper skin tones
Fresh finish might be too glossy for some
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Before we dive into my NARS Tinted moisturizer review, let me be honest – I’m not really a tinted moisturizer person.
I think the best foundation or base is one that’s long-wearing with high to medium coverage. To me, even the best tinted moisturizers have always sat in a sort of airy-fairy space, embodying the romantic idea that all you need is a quick swipe of tinted moisturizer and a slick of rosy lip balm to be ready to face the day. If you have been blessed with the kind of flawless skin that you can barely perceive a pore upon, let alone a blemish or a spot of hyperpigmentation, then sure, but that’s never been me. My skin is combination with congestion, a chance of blemishes across the t-zone, dehydration, and dryness towards the outer edges. It’s prone to redness in hot or cold temperatures too.
Available shades: 16
Coverage: Medium, buildable
Extra features: SPF30 PA+++, Antioxidants
So, it’s fair to say in the foundation vs tinted moisturizer debate my usual stance is firmly Team Foundation. This means that NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer was going to have to pull out all the stops to win me over. As the makeup lovers among you will know, this is not a new product, but rather a long-time cult favorite. It relaunched in the spring of 2021 with a wider, more inclusive shade range, which has garnered it more fans. Would I be one of them? Let's see…
Our beauty editor’s NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser review
Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser packaging
NARS makeup just looks trustworthy. The packaging across the entire range is understated yet premium, with a monochrome color scheme that isn't trying too hard to impress. The Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer comes in a cardboard box with the ingredients list and usage instructions on it, which is a hallmark difference between prestige and drugstore foundations or tinted moisturizers. As for the actual product, it’s a squeezy tube, which lends itself well to the different ways you could use it. Knowing how to apply tinted moisturizer comes down to quantity as well as method. Here, you’re in control as to how much you can get out in one go, and it is possible to pinch the smallest, just enough-to-blur-a-dark-circle amount out at a time. Alternatively, if you’re planning to layer or want maximum coverage in minimum time, you can go more heavy-handed.
Soft tubes normally get my vote over glass bottles, one as they’re lighter and smaller, and secondly as there’s no chance of them smashing in your makeup bag. This tube is plastic, with no on-pack indications that it’s recyclable, which could be a turn-off for eco-conscious shoppers.
This velvety-smooth tinted moisturizer is as substantial in formula as it is in feel. With a product of this price, you’d expect more than simply pigment suspended in moisturizer, and NARS does deliver. SPF30 offers a really good level of protection from UVB rays (the kind that cause sunburn) which is pretty standard across a lot of base products. Where this sets itself apart is with the addition of PA+++, which refers to the level of protection from UVA rays, which are responsible for the majority of skin aging. It’s worth noting that to get the amount of protection claimed on the pack, you’d need to apply as much tinted moisturizer as you would sunscreen. Most of us wouldn’t use that much (which is why you should also use a dedicated sunscreen) but NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is lightweight enough to layer up nicely.
There is a small amount of vitamin C (less than 1%) in the formulation for added brightening, but at this level you’re more likely to just benefit from the antioxidant protection, helping to shield skin from things like pollution. I hadn’t heard of the French Polynesian Kopora (which NARS spotlighted as a hero ingredient) before, but a little research tells me this is a natural sugar discovered in the place where brand founder François Nars likes to vacation. It’s there as part of the moisturizing benefits, working to hydrate and soften skin.
How does it look and feel on the skin?
I first picked up NARS Tinted Moisturizer on a day when morale was low. I’d had a busy week fuelled by junk food and very little sleep, and my skin was telling the tale. It was tired and bland, with two angry spots. I was in a hurry, so not expecting much I smoothed this tinted moisturizer on with my fingers in a relatively haphazard way.
On sitting back to admire my minimal handiwork, it was as if I was suddenly looking at my skin under soft mood lighting rather than the harsh glow of the big light. My tiredness was zapped, and my skin looked fresh, healthy, and glowing. I looked genuinely rested. The coverage is far more generous than you’d expect from a tinted moisturizer, which I loved. As this isn’t a foundation, it still wasn't quite pigmented enough to fully disguise the two new uninvited lodgers on my cheeks, but it definitely gave my concealer a leg up. As the texture is so light, your skin doesn’t feel suffocated or cosseted, just nourished and soft to the touch. I think it would work well for all seasons, helping you to avoid the overwhelming feeling of foundation during the summer months, and restoring vibrancy to skin that’s been robbed of moisture and sunlight during winter.
I tried a couple of different shades when writing this NARS Tinted Moisturizer review (Gotland and Alaska) and found both to be pretty stretchable. But even with the shade extension, there are still only four shades that I would consider to cater to the deeper end of the skin tone spectrum - which is disappointing and does mean unfortunately this product wouldn’t be for everyone.
How about after a day of wear?
My standard gripe with tinted moisturizers is how quickly they disappear. I understand that the aim is to have something that still leaves your skin looking like skin, but if it looks as if you weren’t wearing any makeup at all after 10 minutes, then it’s a waste of time and money. The good news is that NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer does stick around for long enough to earn its keep. By the very end of a long day, it wasn’t hugely visible on my skin, but I do think it’s unfair to expect that from a tinted moisturizer. If longer wear is your aim, then I would point you toward one of the best lightweight foundations instead.
As the formula is so lovely, light, and spreadable, it’s really easy to pat on a little more as and when you feel you need it. There’s no need for a brush (unless you really want to use one) as melting and pressing it into your skin with your fingers gives such a seamless finish. I have found in the past that some tinted moisturizers cake or congeal when you try to add more, but that’s not the case here.
NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser: My verdict
It felt unlikely that NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser had earnt itself such a cult following without good reason, but it really did impress me. I love that the coverage is fuller than your average tinted moisturizer and goes the distance during the day.
This is the sort of base you want on your side for days when your skin is feeling tired and lackluster, bringing with it a rested, healthy glow that’s hard to come by without a little extra help. The SPF30 is a welcome add-on for extra protection too. If you’re committed to wearing foundation but looking to convert to tinted moisturizer, this would be an excellent place to start.
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
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