I consider makeup a fun way to add liveliness to my skin. But I’d also classify myself as a makeup novice, even as a seasoned beauty tester because some products and brands intimidate me—I’m not an artist and I have sensitive skin. When I came across Tower 28, a gen Z-inspired beauty brand, on Instagram, I went straight to the mall to purchase a product.
Tower 28’s line of makeup and skincare is made for sensitive skin and looks easy to comprehend even for a makeup newbie like me. The products claim to be buildable in coverage or color intensity, and they can be applied without makeup brushes or beauty sponges. These attributes made me feel comfortable enough to give the brand a try.
What is Tower 28?
Named after a lifeguard tower on the West Coast, Tower 28 describes itself as a “clean” makeup brand made for all types of skin. The brand’s site lists ingredients it deems potentially irritating and refuses to use in products. All Tower 28 items also claim to be hypo-allergenic, dermatologist-tested, vegan, and fragrance- and gluten-free. The results of these efforts should be lightweight products that wear well and won’t cause damage or breakouts on the skin. You can find Tower 28 products on the brand’s website, on Sephora, or on Credo Beauty, and prices range from $12 for a mini facial spray to $34 for a facial serum.
I tested seven of Tower 28’s bestsellers to see how the colors paired with my skin tone and texture, how the formulas wore over time, and how they felt and looked on my skin throughout several hours of wear. I won’t spoil my results, but let’s just say I wound up feeling more confident with makeup than ever.
1. BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm
What it claims: The Luminous Tinted Balm is a multipurpose cream that can be applied with your fingers or a makeup sponge or brush, depending on preference, and you can layer it to add the amount of color you’d like. It contains green tea extract and aloe vera extract, which claim to soothe skin every time you wear it. It’s available in six blush colors: “Magic Hour” (rosy nude), “Golden Hour” (orange), “Happy Hour” (coral pink), “Rush Hour” (peach), “Power Hour” (terracotta), and “After Hours” (berry). The brand gives easy instructions for the balm: Just tap it onto skin and blend.
What it’s like to use it: I tried this tinted balm in the shade “Golden Hour,” which looks coral in the container but is more red-orange upon application. The cream appeared super pigmented after I swiped it onto my cheek, but it looked well-blended once I used my fingers to dab it into my skin. I love the rosy glow it gave my cheeks without making me look overly flushed, and I even used it as a bold eyeshadow shade one evening. Rubbing a balm like this into my skin can irritate it, but this didn’t make my skin flare up in any way, even after wearing it all day. I didn’t notice any changes to my skin’s hydration or appearance beyond the color, but this is a shade I’ll cherish in the warm weather for its fiery appearance.
$20 at Tower 28
2. ShineOn Lip Jelly and Milky Lip Jelly
What it claims: Tower 28 has two lip glosses, lip jellies to be exact. ShineOn’s formula is part gloss, part balm, and part lipstick, making for a lip product that claims to be shiny, moisturizing, and colorful, but not sticky. ShineOn is available in seven shades: “Wild” (sheer-ish raspberry), “Xoxo” (sheer pink), “Fire” (sheer orange), “Fear Less” (sheer berry), “Chill” (clear), “Spicy” (sheer-ish red), and “Magic” (clear gloss with gold shimmer).
Compared to the ShineOns, the Milky Lip Jellies are more muted and have slightly more opaque finishes. These come in five shades: “Pistachio” (nude pink), “Coconut” (rosy pink), “Cashew” (rosy brown), “Oat” (peachy pink), and “Almond” (milky chocolate). All Tower 28 lip jellies are nut-free despite some of their shade names, which reference types of non-dairy milk. The brand says all glosses can be worn solo or on top of other shades or lipsticks.
What it’s like to use it: I wasn’t a lip gloss girl prior to trying these, but consider me influenced. The lip jellies are a makeup essential in my purse now. Both shades I tried look lighter once I apply them to my medium-pink-colored lips: “Fire” looks more coral than bright red-orange and “Coconut” is close to my natural lip color. The glosses are lightweight, smooth, and shiny. I can see the glossy finish, but it doesn’t feel gooey or sticky. Each gloss fades over the span of an hour, so you’ll want to apply often if you want to keep the shine. And for those wondering, they don’t taste like anything when you inevitably lick your lips.
$15 at Tower 28
3. Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer
What it claims: Tower 28’s cream bronzer claims to blend with ease and impart a glowy finish. Bronzino has ingredients like mango butter and green tea extract to help skin stay moisturized. It’s available in five colors ranging from light to deep bronze, and like BeachPlease, you can apply Bronzino on the eyelids, lips, and cheeks.
What it’s like to use it: I tested the shade “Sun Coast,” which is described as a “light bronze,” but it appeared more like a warm coppery shade on my medium-beige skin tone. I wish I had tried a darker pigment because the sheer cream looks darker in its compact than on my skin, but it was easy to build up when I took the time to apply more layers.
The bronzer almost felt like a gentle serum, melting and softening once it met the warmth of my skin. Throughout testing, I used this product more as an eyeshadow than a face bronzer to make my blue eyes pop, and that’s part of the appeal of multi-use products. The shimmer is enough to catch the light without looking outright sparkly, which I enjoy for a subdued makeup look. If a subtle but shimmery bronzer sounds up your alley, you’ll enjoy this one.
$20 at Tower 28
4. SunnyDays Tinted SPF
What it claims: One of Tower 28’s most popular products is SunnyDays, a tinted sunscreen that comes in 14 shades ranging from very light with pink undertones to deep with red undertones. The zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreen claims to be non-greasy with a natural-looking finish, though “natural” will look different depending on your skin type—combination, oily, or dry. Its ingredients include white sage to reduce redness, prickly pear to repair skin damage, and aloe to soothe the skin. The brand recommends two styles of application depending on the coverage and sun protection you’re looking for. You can apply SunnyDays with your fingertips for a light and sheer look that evens skin tone. Or, you can apply the SPF with a beauty sponge to layer and build the product for more coverage.
What it’s like to use it: I’m devoted to wearing SPF everyday, and I was thrilled to test a sunscreen with a tint rather than a foundation or skin tint that happened to have some SPF, mainly because those products don’t protect skin as much as you might think. That said, if you only apply a thin layer of this for a sheer tint, you probably aren’t getting the full SPF 30; you need a nickel-sized amount of formula on the face for adequate protection, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. SunnyDays felt moisturizing on my skin and wore well over the course of three to four hours, and I enjoyed the lightweight consistency that glided well over my skin without feeling greasy.
My only qualm: The shade that the online quiz paired me with was too light and too yellow-toned for my beige, olive-toned skin. Even as I rubbed it in, I could see the stark contrast between my skin and the sunscreen. That said, I was surprised to see it look better after absorbing into my skin over a few hours, though that could be because it started to run when I was sweating, leading me to wipe some off. I didn’t get sunburnt while wearing this, but it’s not a great option if you plan to workout or take a dip in the pool.
$30 at Tower 28
5. SuperDew Shimmer-Free Highlight Balm
What it claims: This highlight balm comes in one shimmerless clear shade that claims to add a “translucent, complexion-boosting” shine to your skin. The balm aims to not clog your pores, so you can use it anywhere on your face that you want a glossy look. It also claims to soothe skin with ingredients like chamomile and green tea extract.
What it’s like to use it: I found SuperDew easy to use: “tap, tap, blend,” as the website instructs. It’s lightweight and unscented, so it felt like I was rubbing lip balm into my face texture-wise. The balm worked well on my nose and cupid’s bow (above my top lip) as a shine enhancer. SuperDew was less obvious on my cheeks unless I used a lot of formula, though. The shimmer- and color-free highlighter manages to look glowy and subtle on the skin, but as a person who sweats easily, especially in the summer, it wasn’t worth the application effort to receive the same look I get from spending 15 minutes in humidity.
Others may find this works better for their skin type, but I was underwhelmed. Though, I think it would be a great product to wear with glitter because it has the ideal consistency to help the glitter “stick” to skin without feeling taught.
$18 at Tower 28
6. S.O.S. Daily Rescue Facial Spray
What it claims: The Save Our Skin (S.O.S.) Facial Spray is a mist that claims to soothe, “purify,” and “rescue stressed skin.” The product includes hypochlorous acid, which “triggers an immune boost” and tells your body to “heal irritated skin.” You can apply this anywhere, and Tower 28 recommends a generous application method of three or four sprays after cleansing.
What it’s like to use it: I used the S.O.S. spray after cleansing and before other skincare steps day and night, as directed. The mist is unscented, so it felt like I was only spraying my face with water rather than a toner or astringent. The mist absorbed in a few minutes and I went about my skincare routine adding moisturizer, makeup, and sunscreen. I also used the mist mid-day a few times to refresh my skin after being in the sun or working out. The mist felt good on my skin in the moment, but I didn’t notice any benefits beyond the initial cooling sensation. The spray wasn’t irritating, but it feels like I could go without for the same result.
$28 at Tower 28
Should you try Tower 28’s products?
Definitely! I loved the color-based products Tower 28 offers, especially the cheek tint and lip jellies. The cream products were easy to layer to get my ideal amount of color, and they come in a range of bright and luminous options to complement many skin tones. I enjoyed the other items I tested enough to keep using them, but I wouldn’t run out to purchase them if I ran out, though I’m curious to try the SunnyDays in a different shade. If you’ve been curious about this brand, I say hit “add to cart” and give it a go.
Shop at Tower 28
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.