Tested on animals:No
Velvet Matte Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen is a sheer foundation that looks and feels amazing, especially if skin is combination to oily. That's why it's so disappointing to report that the formula has a weakness that keeps it from earning our recommendation—the amount of alcohol present poses a risk of irritation.
Though this foundation does provide reliable broad-spectrum sun protection to make good on its anti-aging claims, the amount of alcohol is concerning. As the second inactive ingredient, you can detect its scent—over this product's added fragrance. The alcohol helps this foundation set to its matte finish faster, as does the dry finish silicone that precedes it, but there are other formulary ways to get this effect without exposing skin to the problems alcohol presents.
It's truly a shame because from an esthetic perspective, NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint is amazing. It's a joy to blend, its matte finish (which holds up over oily areas quite well) looks fresh and dimensional rather than dry or flat, and the coverage, while not getting past the sheer-to-light range, still manages to blur imperfections and minimize the appearance of pores.
Our assessment of the shades reveals NARS has lost none of his touch creating real skin colors that lean to the warm side—a benefit for most skin tones. Shades are available for fair (but not porcelain) to dark (but not ebony) skin tones, with only a few minor missteps. St. Moritz is slightly bright peach; Cuzco is noticeably peach and definitely not as natural-looking as it could be; Martinique has a reddish-copper tint that's limiting but not unworkable for some dark skin tones.
NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen is worthy of its accolades when viewed from an esthetic perspective—great lightweight texture, easy to blend, natural-looking, pore-blurring coverage, and a beautiful warm-toned range of shades for most skin tones. But the amount of alcohol it contains poses a risk of irritation, even if your skin is oily. For preferred options, check out our round-up of foundations with sunscreen for oily skin.
- Beautifully light texture is a pleasure to blend.
- Sets to a powdery matte finish that looks fresh and dimensional, not dull or flat.
- Very good range of shades.
- Long-lasting matte finish helps control excess shine.
- The amount of alcohol poses a risk of irritation.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Alcohol helps ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does that by breaking down the skin's barrier—destroying the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012 and Journal of Hospital Infection, 2003).
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see the Paula's Choice Research Team's Expert Advice article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.