The best bargain tinted serums with a luxury foundation feel

I keep reading about “The New Roaring Twenties” – that is, the prediction that we’ll be so overjoyed when the Covid crisis is “over” that we’ll all flapper dance into a life of decadence, glamour and excess. This strikes me as marketeer’s optimism. I can’t wait to go dancing again, but I doubt it will be in heels and binding clothing after 18 months of comfy lounging in trainers and elasticated waists.

The same, I think, applies to makeup. Our expectations have shifted, at least semi-permanently, and smarter brands will focus on quick, easy-to-use beauty products that surrender neither comfort nor joy as we acclimatise to post-Covid life. L’Oréal Paris has nailed this thinking with one of my favourite launches of the year. And I’m delighted to say it’s a bargain. True Match Tinted Serum (£13.99) takes a plumping, 1% hyaluronic acid skincare serum and tints it with sheer pigment to give light, healthy-looking coverage to all skin types, dry to oily.

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too: a “tinted serum” won’t touch the sides on anyone old enough to be twice-jabbed and in possession of a single speck of sun damage. But, believe me, this is not one of those watery, barely visible bases designed solely for Goop readers to wear when they go to pilates. True Match Tinted Serum gives as much coverage as a light foundation, only in an almost undetectable base that has a flexibility and freshness that lasts all day without caking, cracking or screaming for a touch-up. It smooshes right over my facial sunscreen and – oilies rejoice – has a semi-matte, ungreasy but resolutely not chalky finish rarely seen in a bargain foundation. It is astonishingly comfortable all day, even on sensitive skins. Consider my review a rave.

Still, my advice when shopping in what remains a largely tester-free world is to avoid the temptation to choose a warmer shade just because it’s sheer. The Tinted Serum lineup skews dark, to my eye. The brand sent my usual shade (Light-Medium) but I ended up buying it in Superdrug in Light (I’d have paid at least twice the price for it, too). The very pale may struggle to find a match altogether, but few others will. Finally, and for the absence of doubt, this may be inspired by skincare, but it is makeup all the same. It goes on after your routine, not during.