Tarte Smooth Operator SPF 20 vs. Smashbox Sheer Focus Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

I’m a big fan of the tinted moisturizer. Put some on before using your foundation and then you have healthier, glowing skin that doesn’t need so much foundation. It also puts a barrier between my acne-prone skin and my foundation. I’m going to compare really quickly two of the best-selling tinted moisturizers on the market.

Naturally, Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizers are the #1 top sellers, but their coverage is so sheer that it isn’t even worth using unless you have perfect skin. Also, it’s $40 for 1 ounce, which is silly. So people like myself who need more than just super light coverage have to turn to a fuller coverage tinted moisturizer, like the Tarte Smooth Operator ($36) or Smashbox Sheer Focus ($30).

The Tarte Smooth Operator SPF 20 is 1.7 ounces and comes in a squeeze tube, so it’s easy to get every last drop out of it. Pumps on liquid products drive me crazy because they never get all the product out! It comes in 10 different shades, but most people are either ‘Agent 04’ (light complexions with beige undertones) or ‘Agent 06’ (light complexions with yellow undertones). These shades are pretty highly pigmented for a tinted moisturizer, so it’s important to find the right shade. The tinted moisturizer itself comes out goopy, being partially thick foundation and partially liquid moisturizer. Shake that bottle well! Also, it’s hard to blend into your skin. Instead of using your fingertips, use the same brush you apply your foundation with. That will help it blend better since it’s so thick. Now, I have heard complaints about this breaking people out, which isn’t surprising considering how thick and pigmented this tinted moisturizer is. But it does add a nice glow to your skin without looking slick, though I did have some problems with excess tinted moisturizer “sliding” off my skin. Blot with this!!

The Smashbox Sheer Focus Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 is a little cheaper, but also contains 1.7 ounces. It also comes in a squeeze tube, making it easy to get every last drop. This comes in only 4 different shades, but it blends extremely well so it’ll just melt into your skintone. This has lighter coverage than the Tarte Smooth Operator, but has enough coverage to diminish red spots, slightly hide pores, and add a healthy, even glow to your skin. You don’t need a brush to apply this- it’s a thinner formula than the Tarte (but it isn’t watery) so you can just use clean fingers to apply. Oil-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free, this contains less junk ingredients than the Tarte Smooth Operator. It also has a lot of vitamins packed into it, so it actually helps clear your skin. Instead of worrying about breakouts, you can breathe easy.

In the end, I picked the Smashbox Sheer Focus. Even though I need a bit more coverage on my skin, which the Tarte provides, I preferred its smooth, even texture over the goopy, hard to blend formula of the Smooth Operator. Plus, my acne-prone skin practically purrs from all the vitamins and glow-inducing moisture in the Smashbox. I didn’t have a problem looking oily with either one, but I felt the Smashbox melted into my skin while the Tarte sort of sat on my skin like a physical barrier.

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