Review: Sue Devitt SpaComplexion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

By Voxy  

Part of the Foxalicious Fundamentals: Foundation series!

So let’s say you want to even out your skin tone and get a little bit of coverage but don’t want to go the full foundation route. Tinted moisturizers are definitely something to consider. Much (though not all) of the time, they are more forgiving in terms of color match than a regular foundation, because they are usually more sheer.

Please to meet the exception to the rule: Sue Devitt Spa Complexion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15.

Sue Devitt is a line with which I don’t have a lot of experience (which is to say that I haven’t flung very much money in its direction). I can’t quite figure out why this is, since I seem to fling money at lots of other lines kind of indiscriminately. Plus, Sue Devitt offers loose eyeshadows in rollerball containers. Rollerballs! You know what I think about rollerballs. But I’ve tested them often in stores and never managed to bring one home. It probably also doesn’t help that Sue Devitt is not sold at Sephora and the area devoted to the line at my local ULTA is tiny and overwhelmed by the big hulking Urban Decay and Smashbox displays that are right next to it. Whether this is fair or not, it implies that the brand is unpopular. (The amount of dust on the box tops didn’t help either.) After using this product, I think this is definitely a quality line, but I still don’t find myself sleeping out in front of ULTA before it opens in the morning so I can be first to pick up the rest of her products. Which is probably a good thing, overall.

I tested this tinted moisturizer in-store just on a whim, and because I was thinking about how I’d never tried any of her products. And I bought it because to my very great surprise, it was exactly my skin color, and when I applied it on the back of my hand it blended beautifully and was smooth as silk with excellent coverage. (And I had a 20% off coupon.)

The full coverage of this product is not a problem for me, but if you want a really sheer look, you will probably want to look elsewhere. The SPF ingredients in this product are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both of which are pretty opaque — so there’s just no way this product could be as sheer as some of the other tinted moisturizers on the market that use chemical sunscreens instead of physical ones. This gives more coverage than some regular foundations I’ve tried. And because it’s so much less sheer, it’s that much more surprising that Sue Devitt produces it in only three shades. Three?! Really? This is why I was amazed that it matched me. In the swatch at right there’s a little squiggle of product and then I’ve shown it blended out; I had to deliberately create a ragged edge on the left of the blended section so you would be able to see where it began because it blends in so well. I wear the lightest shade, which is called Tupalu; the others are Moorea and Manihiki (all the names of islands in various chains, although Tupalu is apparently more commonly called Tuvalu).

Paradoxically, my problem with the product is this: it isn’t moisturizing enough! And I apply my regular moisturizers before using it, too, so it’s not like I’m relying on this product to carry the load. It looks fabulous for a few hours, but then it starts to dry me out, and by the end of the day I’ve got more flakes than a box of Raisin Bran. So I’ve put it in my “summer” pile, and will hope that in warmer and more humid weather, when I don’t need as heavy a moisturizer, this will be a great substitute for liquid or cream foundation. In other words, I really, really, really want to love this product. So, in about 3 months, we’ll see where we are.

(Side note: The other problematic thing is that nowhere on the tube [nor, as far as I can recall, on the box] does it tell you the expiration date for the sunscreen. This is a common omission among cosmetics with sunscreens, and although sunscreens are designed to remain stable for up to 3 years, not having an expiration date on the package bothers me. This is especially important if you’re using this as your primary means of sun protection. It would probably be a good idea to supplement this with some other sunscreen, just in case.)


Sue Devitt SpaComplexion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15: $40

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. $40 seems kind of a lot. Had I not had the coupon, I probably wouldn’t have purchased.

Purchase again? Well, now, that depends, doesn’t it? Ask me in July.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar marigolds
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What is the difference between tinted moisturizer and regular foundation if it’s not coverage/sheerness? I’ve been misinformed for all these years!


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted March 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Nah, you haven’t. In general, your average tinted moisturizer is more sheer than your average foundation. There’s some Venn diagram overlap at the middle, though. It’s just that when tinted moisturizers also contain SPF, and when the SPF is provided by titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are white and opaque, it loses its sheerness.

      Foundations were designed to be more opaque from the get-go, so they always had more pigmented and opaque ingredients. The addition of physical sunscreens to them made little difference in terms of the coverage of the product. Another simultaneously-developing trend has been to make foundations sheerer and sheerer, as the Pan-Cake look is not in vogue anymore. So there are some foundations that are quite opaque, and others that are quite sheer and approach the traditional area of TMs.

      Also, as per the name, TMs have more moisturizing and moisture-retaining ingredients than your average foundations (although there are some foundations on the market that are billed as moisturizing foundations). Some foundations are meant to control oil, so they have oil-absorbing ingredients rather than moisturizing ones.

      So while in general the categories are still valid, there’s enough overlap in the middle that it’s no longer quite safe to buy without testing!


  2. avatar Inthelab
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    IMVH experience, physical sunblocks dry skin a lot. Maybe that’s why you see flakes?


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