In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews.
If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. The cliché has been aptly applied to dating app conversations, apartments claiming to be two bedrooms in Brooklyn, and beauty products for decades. So when I read “evens redness, combats blue light pollution and soothes UV-stressed skin,” on the product copy of the new Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, I felt the familiar impulse to dismiss the claims as overly optimistic.
But Tower28 has a track record for formulas that are both gentle — all their products feature the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance — and effective. The brand’s SOS Spray embodies this duality with skyrocketing sales during the start of the pandemic, which quickly amassed a legion of loyal users. Founder Amy Liu also has a knack for identifying a need in the beauty community and addressing it with powerful ingredients safe for sensitive skin. The Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation is no exception. That’s why I was eager to try out the brand’s first foray into sun protection, and see exactly how it stacks up against other tinted mineral SPFs on the market.
My Typical Makeup Routine
I’ll admit that day to day, I’m not wearing foundation. I keep things focused on skin care versus makeup coverage, but as winter quickly approaches, I’ve become more interested in integrating color correction products into my routine, especially since redness is a perennial issue. Keeping things breathable, especially under a mask, is also on the top of my priority list for new products.
The world of tinted moisturizers has long eluded me, ever since I picked up a drugstore variety in high school in what was most certainly the wrong shade. But their appeal checks out — all the benefits of a moisturizer with a hint of coverage that isn’t as intense as a full-blown foundation. The missing piece? Usually, a lack of SPF. But Tower 28’s newest formulation promises SPF 30 sun protection while also maintaining a natural, seamless finish on the skin. Like I said, it sounds too good to be true.
The SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation is touted as sheer but buildable coverage (based on whether or not you add multiple layers). My preferred way of using it is to add more under my eyes and around any problem areas where I want more coverage, which blends in perfectly with the base layer to create a dewy and silky finish. The application also couldn’t be easier. If more coverage is what you’re after, try applying it with a stippling brush or wet beauty sponge. Since I’m keen on combating redness and embracing the last of the season’s freckles, I opted for using my fingertips on clean skin.
The formula stays put all day long, without any transferring or caking. Before applying it, I like to use Tower28’s SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray (which features hypochlorous acid to defeat bacteria and inflammation in the skin) for a hydrating and priming effect. This helps to create a smooth canvas on the skin and makes blending in the SPF even easier. After a week of testing the product, I found myself skipping concealer entirely. I didn’t even need to use my beloved green-tinted moisturizer, my go-to for reducing redness.
Treating the application like sunscreen (meaning you allow it to set for a few minutes) is key to combating stickiness and ensuring the most blended look for any makeup that follows. My trick to keep from rushing through the application — take the time to brush your teeth before going back in with highlighter or bronzer.
One particularly sunny afternoon, I reapplied a layer of sunscreen on top of my SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen and, happily, there was no pilling or issue with blending the additional sun protection. I was ecstatic. My only complaint is that I didn’t have this product for the dog days of summer, but there’s always next year.
More Details About The Formula
Let’s get specific, starting with the shades. Whereas traditional foundations require a vast number of shade offerings to offer perfect matching, the sheerness of Tower28’s new product is easily compatible with a wide range of skin tones via the 14 available shades. Transitioning into cooler months, I found myself between Fairfax and Larchmont. Shades from the collection are named after sunny spots in LA. I went all day without any white cast or oxidization. That’s the benefit of using a tinted option with a mineral-based sunscreen.
Where the mineral formulation really shines, however, is its inclusion of Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (in addition to Titanium Dioxide). Compared to Nano Zinc Oxide, the particles aren’t small enough to be at risk of absorbing into your bloodstream, and are generally considered the safer option, while still offering broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
In the supportive roles are ingredients “sourced from California deserts where they thrive in extreme climates” like prickly pear, white sage, and aloe vera — which offers protection from blue light pollution, help to hydrate dry skin, and soothe any lingering irritation.
Should You Pick Up This New SPF?
The sign of a memorable product as a beauty writer is if I bring it up IRL. Usually, the testing period lasts a few weeks, the story goes live, and the product eventually runs out or makes it way to the back of my beauty closet. The opposite was the case with Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation. I began spreading the word of its brilliance after my first use—texting my sister, posting on my social media, feeling excited to do my makeup most mornings. I can attest that there’s a reason the $30 product is launching with a sold-out waitlist.
This is a product for devoted color-cosmetics-every-single-day people as much as it's for the less interested, makeup-once-in-a-blue-moon crowd. The natural-looking finish, ease of use, and breathability equate to instant cult status. Plus, for the quality and seal of approval from the National Eczema Association, it’s one of the best options for the price if you have sensitive skin, or just want to cut out the extra step of applying sunscreen before your complexion makeup. In this case, if it seems too good to be true, it’s just the latest must-have product from Tower28.
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