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Matte vs. Dewy Makeup Finishes: What’s Better?

05 Apr 2024

Head on over to TikTok, and you’ll quickly find out that some beauty gurus are dewy makeup devotees, while others rarely stray far from their matte makeup. Either finish can be stunning, which can make choosing between matte vs. dewy makeup feel like a challenge. If you’re unsure where you land on the whole dewy finish vs. matte finish debate—or even why it matters—we’re here to clear things up.

Ahead, we’ll break down the main differences between matte and dewy makeup to help you determine which is better for you. Then, we’ll share a few tips on nailing your makeup look, whether you’re after a smooth, airbrushed finish or prefer something with a little bit more glow. Find it all—plus a peek at our favorite products in both categories—below.

What Is Dewy Makeup?

The term “dewy” is typically used to describe makeup products that give the skin a glowy, hydrated-looking finish. You’ll most often hear the word used to describe base makeup products, such as foundations, concealers, blushes, and highlighters—it’s less commonly used for eye or lip makeup products. Because hydration (or the appearance of it) is a key aspect of dewy makeup, these products typically come in liquid or cream formulas, which tend to be more hydrating than powder makeup. They often contain nourishing ingredients, like glycerin, and can also be formulated with light-reflecting pigments to create a lit-from-within look.

What Is Matte Makeup?

Unlike dewy makeup, which is typically used to describe base makeup, matte makeup can refer to any makeup product that lacks luminosity, including matte-finish foundations, concealers, eyeshadows, and even lipsticks. Matte face makeup tends to be a bit fuller-coverage than dewy face makeup and may come in liquid, cream, or powder form. Often, the formulas have oil-absorbing properties and a dryer texture, making them great for oily skin. Beyond controlling shine, matte face makeup can make skin appear healthy and velvety, while creating an even base for the rest of your makeup look.

Dewy vs. Matte Makeup: The Differences

Dewy makeup is luminous and radiant, while matte finish makeup tends to be smooth, velvety, and free of shine. But that’s not the only way these types of makeup differ.

  • Finish: Dewy finish makeup typically gives the skin a healthy, hydrated appearance, and may have a bit of shine. Matte makeup, on the other hand, lacks shine. It’s usually designed to help make the skin look more uniform and can help minimize an oily appearance.
  • Coverage: Dewy makeup is often lighter and sheerer than matte makeup, which typically offers a more full-coverage finish.
  • Formula: While matte makeup can come in powder, liquid, or cream form, dewy makeup is almost always liquid or cream.
  • Effect: Using dewy makeup can help give the skin a more luminous, glowy finish, while matte makeup is ideal for fighting shine and creating more glam looks.

How Do You Choose a Makeup Finish?

If you’re torn between matte vs. dewy makeup and need help deciding which is right for you, consider your skin type, personal preferences, and desired look.

  • Your skin type: If you have oily skin, matte makeup can help provide balance by minimizing excess shine. Dry skin, meanwhile, can benefit from dewy makeup, as it helps make the skin look more glowy and hydrated.
  • Your personal preferences: Matte makeup and dewy makeup can feel different on the skin. The former tends to be a bit drier to the touch, while the latter generally has a more hydrating, lightweight feel.
  • Your desired look: Some types of makeup work better for certain looks than others. We love using dewy products for beachy, no-makeup makeup, and matte makeup for long-lasting glam looks.

How to Achieve a Matte Makeup Finish

If you decide that matte makeup is more your speed, keep reading. Below, we’ll show you how to create a matte makeup look that lasts.

Step 1: Apply a Mattifying Primer

Start by applying a mattifying makeup primer to create a smooth, even base for your makeup and fight shine. We love The Marshmellow Smoothing Primer for this: It helps blur the skin and provides a soft-focus finish while extending makeup wear for up to 16 hours. Apply it to clean, dry skin with your fingers, or use the coordinating Marshmellow Blending Sponge for an ultra-smooth application.

Step 2: Smooth On Foundation

Next, apply your foundation. For a more natural finish, we recommend looking for a matte foundation with buildable coverage, such as Bare With Me Blur Tint Foundation. It offers up to 16 hours of wear and helps control shine without looking ashy or cakey. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way: We suggest starting with a pea-sized amount and building up your coverage as needed.

Step 3: Complete Your Look

After blending out your foundation, complete your matte makeup look as desired. You can lean into the look with our Vivid Matte Liquid Liner and Lip Lingerie XXL Matte Liquid Lipstick—both of which, as the names suggest, offer a shine-free finish.

Step 4: Mist With Setting Spray

Once you’re satisfied with your makeup, don’t forget to set it in place. You can fight unwanted shine and extend your makeup wear for up to 16 hours with the matte Marshmellow Setting Spray. If you’re headed out for a long day, stash some blotting sheets in your bag, too—they’re super helpful for tamping down on unwanted shine while you’re on the go.

How to Achieve a Dewy Makeup Finish

When you’re doing dewy makeup, you want to keep things feeling light and fresh. Learn how and discover our favorite products for the job below.

Step 1: Apply a Hydrating Primer

The key to dewy makeup: hydrated, healthy-looking skin. Start your routine with Face Freezie Cooling Primer + Moisturizer. The skincare-makeup hybrid hydrates, smooths, and revitalizes the skin. You can use it under foundation or wear it alone for a dewy look, sans coverage.

Step 2: Apply Your Base Makeup

Dewy skin pairs beautifully with natural makeup looks. When opting for a dewy look, we like to forgo the foundation and instead apply Bare With Me Concealer Serum as needed for a hint of coverage. The water-based formula contains tremella mushroom, cica (also known as Centella asiatica), and green tea, and offers up to 24 hours of hydration with a natural-looking, medium-coverage finish.

Step 3: Complete Your Look

Once your base is set, you can move on to the other steps in your dewy makeup routine. Try blush contouring or simply add some highlighter to the high points of your face for a natural-looking dewy finish. If you want a bit of color on your lips, complete your look with a tinted lip balm, like our Fat Oil Slick Clicks.

Step 4: Mist With Setting Spray

Last but not least, lock it all in with setting spray. For a radiant finish that lasts, we recommend using our Dewy Setting Spray, which instantly makes skin look dewy, refreshed, and healthy.

Next: Is Underpainting the Secret To Natural-Looking Makeup?.

Whether you wear it dewy or matte, we’d love to see what looks you create with our makeup. Share a pic on social and tag us @nyxcosmetics.


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