Ilia created a formula that takes care of this for you by adding squalane, a non-comedogenic emollient, says Dr. King. “[Squalane] is a great emollient. It helps with skin barrier function, membrane fluidity, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”
Niacinamide, meanwhile, brightens tone and increases the skin’s production of ceramides, which in turn can prevent loss of moisture. It’s also suitable for all skin types, Dr. King adds, which is a big reason why this product is good for sensitive skin. “It’s a light but moisturizing formulation that has mineral SPF from non-nano zinc oxide — and it’s great that it comes in so many shades,” she says.
The consistency is likely thanks to propanediol and shea butter ethyl esters, says cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline. “Shea butter in its raw form is thick, but the ethyl ester form is lightweight and easy to spread while retaining a lot of the same moisturizing and nourishing benefits,” she says. “And when used in formulations, propanediol helps decrease viscosity — giving products a thinner texture.” Koestline also notes that the formula will likely separate over time, so shaking it well before use is key.
The key ingredients in Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 are plant-based squalane (a hydrating lipid and emollient), niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid (a humectant), non-nano zinc oxide (a physical sunscreen made of molecules that are not small enough to enter the blood stream), and shea butter ethyl esters (a hyrdrating ingredient rich in fatty acids). This formula meets the Allure Clean Standard.
How I Tested It
I have, possibly, the most difficult skin on the eastern seaboard. Not only do I have both rosacea and eczema (dermatologists love me), my skin is also sensitive, dry, and — uh — not in its 20s anymore. The foundations and tinted moisturizers that used to be reliable staples don’t really cut it anymore. If they don’t actively irritate my skin, it seems like they just conspicuously sit on my face instead of blending properly.
In order for a product to make it into my rotation it needs to play nice with my temperamental skin, even out some of my redness, and make me look glowy and healthy (not dry and patchy). I’ve been dabbling in clean formulas, in hopes that more natural ingredients will stymie any irritation.