Urban Decay Urban Defense Tinted Moisturizer Review, Photos, Swatches

Urban Decay Urban Defense

The Tinted Moisturizer Challenge:  Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 ($32.00 for 1 oz.) is new for summer from Urban Decay. It’s a sheer, lightweight tinted moisturizer that provides a touch of color to even out the skin tone with a slightly dewy finish.

Active Ingredients: Octocrylene (8.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%)

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-40 Castor Oil, Glycerin, Silica, Dimethicone, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Litchi Chinesis Pericarp Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Montmorillonite, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyenthanal. May contain CI77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI7749/77492/77499 (Iron Oxides).

On the SPF front, octocrylene is a chemical sunscreen that covers the UVB spectrum and short UVA (but not long UVA). The formula also contains dimethicone, so those who are sensitive to silicone-based ingredients may find it irritating. It’s high enough on the list that I was a bit concerned for myself, but I didn’t notice any skin issues (well, no more than usual!) after using this for a full week.

Urban Defense feels and looks natural and doesn’t feel greasy. It absorbs and dries down quite fast, and if you have very, very dry skin, you’ll still want to use a moisturizer first before layering this on. However, even though it feels lovely on, it does have a bit of a dewy finish. In real life, I think it reads dewy, but in photos, I found it made me look oily. Either way, I still preferred it with a dusting of translucent setting powder on top! (Check out the before and after photos at the end of the post!) It also lasted me six hours or so without ever looking greasy or fading (I never seemed to wear it longer than that while I was testing it!), which was definitely nice!

There are four shades, and while none seemed overly warm-toned to me, they did seem a little more yellow based. I think those with redder or cooler undertones may find that these aren’t perfect matches. I would recommend trying in-store (or buying from a retailer with a good return policy) if you have particularly red, pink, or cool undertones.

  • Halo is the lightest and I think is neutral enough to work on both cool and warm toned skin, but it may not be light enough for our ultra pale friends.  I think if you fit into MAC’s NC/NW15-20 range, this would be the best fit for you.
  • Bodyguard is the next lightest, described by Urban Decay as “medium light,” and it’s the shade I use. I’m NC25 in MAC, and I find Body Guard to be a decent match, if a little light. Ideally, I’d probably mix a bit of Bodyguard and Bulletproof together, but since the pump is such an issue, it’s not really possible.
  • Bulletproof is a medium shade, but it’s actually a big step from Bodyguard. It didn’t work for me as NC25, so I’d imagine it’s more around those at the NC/NW30-40 level.
  • Forcefield is described as medium dark, and it’s not too much darker than Bulletproof. It’s noticeably darker, but it doesn’t seem as big of a leap as from Bodyguard to Bulletproof. I would say this would suit shades around the NC/NW40-45 level.

But the biggest issue and problem with this product is the packaging. It is a pump packaging that dispenses about 10 times too much product with a single pump. It takes a very gentle hand and patience to pump out just enough (and still, often a bit too much) for your needs. I did one solid pump and it was tinted moisturizer for DAYS… enough to cover my body.

This was a pretty big deal to me, because it squeezes out a ridiculous amount. I think this product would have been much better in a tube or in a pump that doesn’t squeeze out a week’s worth at once.  (Personally, I also don’t dig the label–seems like the printer was low on ink!)

I’d also love to see a more expansive shade range, because fitting so many varieties in skin tone shades and undertones into just four is a bit frustrating for some.

If you want to know more about how products are evaluated, read out Rating System FAQ! 🙂

  • Product: 27/30
  • Value: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 4/5
  • Packaging: 2/5

Recommendation:   The feel and coverage of Urban Defense is right on, but the packaging is such a disappointment that it really takes away from the product itself.

AvailabilityUrban Decay

Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense
Urban Defense applied… no concealer or powder

Urban Decay Urban Defense
Set with translucent powder!

Urban Decay Urban Defense
No foundation vs. Urban Defense

Urban Decay Urban Defense
This is why setting powder rocks [no foundation vs. Urban Defense + Powder]!

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About the Reviewer


Christine has normal-to-dry skin with areas of dryness (cheeks, nose, and under the eyes). She has a light-medium skintone with subtle, warmer yellow undertones. Her best foundation matches include: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea in Light-Medium Neutral (best match), Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Desert Beige 2N1, Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow in 4.0, Hourglass Warm Ivory Vanish Seamless Finish, Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous in Dusk, MAC NC20/NC25, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Liquid in Y305 (140). For more matches, please read our full Foundation FAQ. For more information on our review process, please read our Review FAQ.

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Foundation seems to work better. This is why I stick with foundation even though there are so many BB Creams and tinted moisturizers, you can almost never go wrong with foundation!

I like both, but I find that tinted moisturizer is really nice when I just want to even out my skin tone but not much else!

Even if this product was the most amazing thing ever created by a cosmetics company, I can’t use it: chemical sunscreens break me out. This is why I prefer it when companies exclude sunscreen.

Maybe cosmetic companies should remember that NOT EVERYONE CAN USE CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS! And then make versions with chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Or at least one without sunscreen.

It’s a combination of Dolce & Gabbana’s Delicate lipstick and a Guerlain Cashmere Gloss… I can’t remember the #!

I liked it but I had a bad reaction so I need to return it. 🙁
I’m allergic to most sunscreens, unfortunately (really unfortunate as I am very very pale as well) so that’s probably what I was reacting to.

Yeah, the one sunblock I’ve found that I’ve been able to use is the Neutrogena sensitive skin sunblock which uses titanium dioxide.

Do you get any white cast with this product? I am in desperate need of a sunscreen, and I’ve so far only been able to drum up ONE possible product to test. Since it’s not easily available here and is likely a bit pricier, I’d love to try a cheap alternative.. But I had a horrible experience with the Neutrogena SPFs with Helioplex (greasy and break outs 🙁 )

you have beautiful skin so its hard to tell, but I was wondering how the coverage is? I have acne rosacea skin…

also what setting powder are you using? Looks amazing!

It’s sheer – it’ll even out the skin tone (you can see I have slightly blotchy cheeks), but it’s not going to cover up a ton of blemishes – you can use concealer under or over (I prefer over) if you just have a few spots.

I use Laura Mercier’s!

i have a lot of redness and I used halo and it covered up a lot of it. It even helped my hyper-pigmentation where my acne is fading. It does go on incredibly shiny though. I didn’t have a break out but I only wore t for one day from the store.

I work in the industry… and to UD’s defense… the reason why brands don’t release major selections is due to shelf space. UD makes their money in eyeshadow.. the brand I work for makes our money in lipsticks.. and it doesn’t make sense to introduce 12 shades of a foundation for either company if Sephora S.A. are not instructed to direct people to our brands for “complexion”. Perhaps I’ll write a book on how transparent the industry is for those who don’t understand.. but it’s truly a frustrating argument when customers don’t understand that. I’m sure if either of our brands were allowed more gondolas like a company of B.E.’s stature.. we’d have no problem introducing more items… but we don’t. We are only alloted two or three-bay, sometimes just one gondola to showcase our most popular items.

I can understand that from a business perspective, but it doesn’t really make it any easier for a customer to choose or find their shade knowing the reasoning behind it – they are still unmatched.

I imagine most companies conduct enough research and make reasonable business decisions when they put out a product. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t talk about how limited the shade range is.

Right! It’s not about what the company can or can’t offer. It’s about mentioning that this particular product has limitations, and people interested in it should know that.

You make a very valid point, but at least as far as these are concerned, I bet they could make a couple more shades and fit them in the same space if they streamlined the packaging a bit.

I have heard this reasoning many times when brands don’t cater to shades for women of colour. There are many reasons why the shelf-space argument is used. Until recent years Chanel didn’t offer shades to women darker than NC38, and if they can’t budget shelf space in their counters then who can?

UD also does not only retail in Sephora. It is sold in department stores here internationally. Also, when shelf space is at a minimum then companies offer more shades online. This is another avenue for line expansion.

Many brands only offer shades that are within their core demographic and shades that are the highest sellers. For example Armani Face Fabric.

And, they also sell online, where I don’t think showcase space is a issue.
I don’t think it’s only about space, but to have a bigger offer also affects the costs, they are basically different products. I see it in my work every day too even if I’m not in the makeup industry, it’s the same for every company that produces, complexity can be expensive.

I’m curious if the pigment oxidizes at all (sets and gets slightly darker)? When I tried Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, it turned orange on me, it was not pretty.

I didn’t have any issues with oxidization myself, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a problem with oxidation in general!

hmm. i wish i could have seen this before i made my UD ff order. i could make another one but not sure i want anything else and dont want to pay shipping LOL.

bulletproof would be perfect for me then; if the next lighter shade was too light for you. im NC37-42ish.

maybe i’ll just wait on it lol

I’m NC25 and Bodyguard was just a smidgen too light, but it worked enough to wear alone. Bulletproof was definitely darker on me – couldn’t wear it alone!

I haven’t tried any tinted moisturizers yet, but this may be my first. It’s not as expensive as the ever so popular Laura Mercier. That last shade might be the one for me. and you’re just too cute!

I agree w/the packaging/label style…makes it look very kiddish and drugstore product to me. & don’t dig the design of their new finishing sprays either. Very cheap looking.

I’m looking for a tinted moisturizer for the summer time….between this one and the Mac studio moisture tint which one do you prefer?

Well, I don’t like MAC’s Studio Moisture Tint much at all, so I’d pick this one, but I prefer Korres or Kiehl’s over either of those.

I always use a higher coverage sunscreen during the sunny months and most chemical sunscreens break me out after a short time, so I tend to go with a high SPF physical sunscreen (there are some good ones coming out that don’t leave that ghostly white tinge on your face) and I make a tinted moisturizer from a light lotion and a bit of foundation. So far so good, seems to work for me…

your skin looks amazing without foundation! it also looks great with the setting powder…it looks good with the urban defense as well, but as you mentioned, a bit shiny with the flash. photographs aside, do you like the dewy finish? i kind of wouldn’t mind a foundation with good coverage that looks dewy like skin as opposed to obviously ‘made-up’…

on the topic of shade selection, i got the impression that products such as tinted moisturiser don’t really have to perfectly match the skintone since they are so sheer…they’re just giving it a bit of extra oomph anyway…

Thanks! 🙂

It’s a nice finish in person – not shiny or oily, just natural and a little dewy.

You can get away with it, but those with stronger pinker undertones tend to suffer the most (as I’ve always found most tinted moisturizers are yellower, even if they’re closer to the middle of the spectrum. It’s not so much that you need exact matches in color (because it is sheer), but the undertones can pose an issue!

I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be that great, and the price is way too high for a tinted moisturizer, but then again the Laura Mercier one is $42.00 which I think its crazy to pay that much on a TM, but some people don’t mind, I guess I will pass, for that price I can buy the MAC face & Body foundation, and underneath I would just use a high sunscreen. =-)

I love and rely on your reviews. Will you be reviewing Guerlain’s tinted moisturizer any time soon? Your review will be the determinative factor in my decision (and use of sephora’s 15% offer). 🙂

Hey Liz,

I literally JUST got it today. I bought it with my Sephora 15% offer, and I’m going to start using it soon. If you email me at [email protected] and ask me how I like it, I’ll be sure to give you some preliminary thoughts on it before the coupon expires, lol! I don’t know if I’ll have a full review up before then though.

I’m a fan of urban decay products, but I don’t think I like this one.
For less than that I can buy Philosophy’s “the supernatural” that has 1.6 oz!.. I love it. It’s more like a tinted spf than a moisturizer, but also works well as a primer (it’s magic) have you tried it Christine?

I was wondering, sometimes you review certain products and maybe some of us are looking to buy something like that but can’t decide which is best. I think it would be great if you could add something that tell us where that product stands in comparison to another of the same kind. For example if I was looking for a tinted moisturizer, I could try UD’s after seeing your review, but there are others that could be a better option and I would like to know which one is in top of your list to consider(I don’t know if I’m making sense =P)

Thank you!

I haven’t tried everything, so it’s hard to give you a list of where everything ranks at this time! It also has some to do with what you’re looking for in the product that will make it better for you – like with the tinted moisturizer, maybe you’re looking for one with the most coverage you can get out of a tinted moisturizer, or one that’s oil-free, or one that doesn’t have SPF in it, etc. I’d much rather know what you’re looking for and do my best to align a recommendation with you in mind 🙂 What works for me or what I love (I love a very matte finish, which is why I love Korres!) may not be so great for you!

Yes, I’ve tried Philosophy’s The Supernatural – that’s next to review. It’s okay, but I won’t be switching from Korres/Kiehl’s to it!

There wasn’t much difference between no product on the skin and product on the skin.
So id save some money and let my skin breath.
In fact I think you skin looked better before the product. It was less greasy and I don’t think you should have to powder after tinted moisturizer.

I think you should always powder after laying down any liquid product, lol! It helps keep everything in place 🙂

I wouldn’t say this is greasy, though — it just has a dewy finish, and when you take photos with flash, it can make it look oily rather than just a natural, dewy finish.

I’m really not liking some of UB’s packaging as of late! Not a fan of this packaging, and the Stardust packaging looks really cheap, in my opinion.

I didn’t mind the Stardust packaging, but yeah, this definitely looks a little cheap (I think it’s, perhaps, the choice of color mixed with the label itself). It looked/felt more like a lab sample than a finished product, lol!

speaking about packaging and UD . when the hell are they going to come out with an e/s palette container that u can put your singel e.s in ? they came out with a boxed one like a year or 2 ago , and havent seen one since. bc id hate to depot mine and put it in a mac palette bc they have such cute token packaging, but i want a container to put it in ! am i right everyone?

Great review- your before and after shots are very helpful. I am also loving the full face shots in your lipstick reviews. I have to say, your skin looks better before the TM! Lucky you 🙂

I love Urban Decay but I’m not sure about this. I’m a little disappointed. I also saw the labels for the finishing sprays; they’re not the most aesthetic looking labels.

Anyways, I was wondering, for someone who is looking for a more matte finish, what oil-free tinted moisturizer would you recommend?

And thank you for your amazing reviews!

hey Christine I have a problem. I used the Mario Bedescu drying cream or mask overnight. I believe it was the cream. I woke up and washed it off and noticed extreme redness. The redness went away but it left a brown light brown mark (maybe a chemical burn) It is light but I can see it and if someone looks closely they can too. I am not so happyy..Help me! I like going without foundation but now I cant!!! I know u r not a dermatoligist but I trust u!

I would use burn cream to help ease it, and I imagine it should fade in time. I would avoid putting too much makeup on it, as it heals. But with something like this, I would talk to a doctor or the pharmacist!

Really? I have such splotchy cheeks, so they definitely need a little somethin’ to even them out! I like me best with a little foundation set with powder 🙂

You do a wonderful job showing how makeup improves your skin, in a natural way, in this post. You take the unevenness and “correct” it without going overboard and while still looking natural, it’s beautiful 🙂 and helpful, so thanks.

i see what u mean about products having a pump dispenser. i tried one of the new pump dispenser blushes from MUFE at sephora the other day , and man … it pumped out so much that i had to wipe a hude amount off , in order to rub it in the skin. what a mess. not a good idea , especially if the product is soo expensive (ex like makeup forever).

I found the MUFE pump a lot easier to manage than UD’s. At least with MUFE, once you make the mistake of pumping out too much, it’s easier to just pump a little out. I find the UD pump really hard to push a little bit – it’s more like all or nothing.

Nice :). I love the comparison pictures. Totally passing up on this product but I’m still itching to buy something before FF sale ends :). Maybe I’ll replace Flipside 24/7 since mine is broken. Any other similar e/l you can think of with a shade like that?

Hey Christine, what kind of setting powder do you use? Do you think pressed powder could be used for the same function? The problem for me is that I have very dry skin, so I find powder always exacerbates the dryness and emphasizes the dry patches, but I want something that will set my foundation, and I was wondering what you were using. Thanks!

Hi Chrissie,

I use Laura Mercier’s Translucent Setting Powder, which is a loose powder. I think pressed can do it, too (I just prefer loose) 🙂 I would just go light and then spritz with water (or a setting spray, whatever you fancy, but water will work just fine) so it doesn’t look powdery.

Ok, if it made YOUR skin look like that pre-powder, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. I don’t like tinted moisturizers in general, because they offer no coverage at all, and they make my face look like the Exxon Valdez spilled on my face.

Hey KT!

Korres’ Tinted Moisturizer dries pretty matte, so if you ever *are* in the market for a tinted moisturizer, you might like that one!

It’s funny how the shade that you (and I) would use is the one that seems to have pumped out the most in the swatch above. Lol. It really is amazing how much better it looked after you applied the setting powder BTW!

LOL, that’s not even a full pump! But that was my second pump ever of the product. No, I lie, I think I pumped Halo first fully, and it was like SPLAT.

You’ve convinced me I should add powder into my mu routine. Not crazy about this tinted moisturizer, but I want to thank you for doing the challenge! I’m looking forward to finding a great TM for summer.

I ordered this during the F&F..I’m excited to try it..I use Laura Mercier TM in fawn and love to mix it with MAC lustre drops in sun rush..I am hoping that forcefield is a good match..thanks for a detailed review and the equivalent MAC shade..you are the best!! I don’t have LM translucent powder..only owns LM secret brightening powder..I hope I could set this with either MUFE HD powder or MAC MSFN..

I’m a fan of Urban Decay on Facebook. People mentioned the limited color selection, and they stated that it was because they wanted to sort of “test” the product out on consumers before they made more shades. Just a little! FYI 🙂

I got mine today. meh..it’s okay. the darkest one barely suits my skin complexion. I don’t care if they are “testing it out” they should test it on a wider variety of complexions. -_-‘

I feel like that’s an easy excuse, even though it may be valid – it still doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s not going to fit everyone!

I was afraid that the darkest wasn’t going to work that well, because it’s really not *that* dark. I’m sad to hear that it’s not so hot on you. Do you like the texture/feel or is that just so-so for ya?

I highly doubt that is the reason why they don’t have a wider variety. Their concealer pencils are extremely selective as well. I’m returning mine..the darkest is WAY too light for me. I’m a BIG UD fan, but I think it’s horrid how they completely exclude WOC for their face products[although most of makeup world does so as well too often].

I’m about a NW45ish so once I brown from summer, I can kiss my tinted moisturizer goodbye until winter. lol. I do actually really like the texture and sheer coverage, the pump does suck as you mentioned before though! :[

totally agree that the pump sucks..I transferred the excess on a lil container..but love that forcefield is a perfect match for me!!

this has basically turned into my HG face product, i have sensitive, oily acne-proned, 33 y/o skin… this lasts me all day… i apply without moisturizer and finish with tatre’s pressed powder. i HAVE used this with a primer and it seems to last longer, but it DOES last long enough without primer. i love that it gives a lot of coverage for a TM but not so much that i feel like i have a ton of gunk on my face. the finish is perfect and the halo color is a great natural looking match for my fair/light pinkish skin tone.

Wow, the setting powder really makes a difference- you go from looking shiny and oily (urban defense – cheeks, forehead, nose) to looking totally beautiful, with those areas looking highlighted dimension-wise, not with shine!

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