How to Pull Off a Perfectly Matte Makeup Look
By now, we’ve all mastered last season’s biggest trend: strobing. We can hit all the high points like the pros and illuminate our faces with the best of ’em. So why not master another one of the season’s big makeup trends—one that has withstood the test of time? Below are some foolproof techniques and products to pull off a perfectly matte makeup look—keep scrolling to see!
This is a step whose importance is often underestimated. With the matte makeup look, skin prep could almost undoubtedly be considered the most imperative part. Dry and flaky skin will grab onto makeup and become even more noticeable with this look, so it’s vital that you exfoliate before application to create a smooth surface (try Philosophy’s The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, $28). Then apply an oil-free mattifying moisturizer, like Embryolisse Hydra-Mat Emulsion ($40), to replenish your skin and create the perfect base.
Prepping your lips for matte makeup application is just as important as readying the rest of your face. I like to use a sugar-based lip exfoliant to slough off any dry skin and make a clean, smooth slate for color. After exfoliating, moisturize just as you would with your face. You can let your preferred lip balm soak in while you continue with the rest of your face, or you can use a product that does double duty, like Tarte's Maracuja Lip Exfoliant ($16) which replenishes moisture while it exfoliates.
The next step of skin prep is priming the surface. Choose an oil-free mattifying primer, like Becca's Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector ($36), to fill in any lines and even and smooth out your skin before you apply foundation. This step will improve the lasting power of your look while controlling oil production, keeping the finish that satiny matte you’re striving for.
Lock in your foundation with a setting powder or blot powder, like MAC's Blot Powder/Pressed ($26). I like to use it only in my T-zone (where I normally get oily) and in the places where I’ve applied concealer. Try to use a product without too much pigment (unless you need extra coverage) in order to keep your face from looking too cakey and thick.
Pro tip: You can still highlight without luminescence. Apply a foundation or powder a few shades lighter than your skin tone to your usual high points (as discussed in my strobing guide).
After you’ve finished your face, add a bit of rouge to liven up the look. Use a natural-colored powder blush on the apples of your cheeks, blending out toward your hairline.
Be sure to prime your eye with a neutral-shade cream shadow or eye primer. I absolutely love MAC’s Paint Pot ($22) in Painterly. The shade dries matte and creates the perfect surface for shadows to stick and stay (and blend!). When it comes to the matte eye look, I like to choose a shadow group or palette that’s neutral and complementary, like Too Faced’s Matte Neutral Eye Shadow Collection ($36). Use the lighter shades all over the lids, and blend the darker shades into the outer creases and corners of the eye. Keeping your eyes neutral is a good way to allow a pop of color on your lips to really make a statement.
The most fun part of this makeup look is the velvety matte finish of your favorite bold lipstick shade. It’s important to find a moisturizing color so your lips don’t get dry and flaky (though your prep steps should help). I like to use big lip pencils or crayons, like Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils ($26), rather than lipsticks—they tend to have greater lasting power and bolder color options. You can always add a touch of lip balm if you feel your lips getting dry throughout the day, though a good product should keep you satisfied on its own! If you have a color you absolutely cannot live without, you can DIY a matte finish by blotting with blot paper after application.
Are you team matte, or do you prefer a glowing, dewy look? Sound off below!