"Cloud Skin" Is the Freshest Way to Wear Matte Makeup

So dreamy.

Lily James Cloud Skin

@ninapark

Cirrocumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus—climatologists have given a name to practically every cloud type, but forgot to name the one that's going viral on TikTok: cloud skin. Okay, cloud skin isn't actually a cloud type but rather a powder application technique that's running rampant on TikTok right now. Intrigued? We were, too—here's everything you need to know about the makeup application trend.

The Cloud Skin Trend

Cloud skin mimics fluffy clouds that float through the sky on a partly-cloudy sunset—they're the ones that look have a sense of radiance to them as the setting sun shines its last light on the day, while still having that cotton ball appearance. 

Similarly, cloud skin has a slightly matte yet slightly radiant look that makes it impossible to fit the trend into either category. Says celebrity makeup artist, Kirin Bhatty, "I think it's such a beautiful take on a hybrid of dewy and matte textures to make sure that you look lit from within, but also with a hazy diffused look about you." Unlike most matte finishes, cloud skin is not meant to contain no luminosity at all ,but instead directs a user to apply just enough powder to blur hyper-reflective skin.

Where You've Seen It

After a years-long love affair with glass skin, matte makeup made a comeback this past fall, urging people on #BeautyTok to bust out the powder once again. Although the trend involves mattifying the skin in certain areas with powder, celebrity makeup artist, Sofia Tilbury explains, "Even though this trend is matte, the cloud makeup is still about radiance too. Traditional matte makeup can be dry and unforgiving, but cloud makeup is soft, dreamy, luminous, and lit-from-within." 

The trend was originally coined by Dominic Skinner, a global senior artist with M.A.C Cosmetics back in 2021, but TikTok has brought it back to the forefront. The technique has also been a long-time favorite amongst celebrity makeup artists for creating red-carpet looks. Even at the height of the dewy skin trend, makeup artists applied a faint amount of powder on their celebrity clients because flashback from cameras would make them appear too shiny if they didn't wear any powder. Still, too much powder can make their skin look dull as they walk across the carpet, meaning a balanced powder application has always been necessary.

And those same celebs are also taking these makeup tips into their own homes. Hailey Bieber recently posted a GRWM on her TikTok page before the new year, where she's seen applying a faint amount of powder onto her skin for a night out. Jennifer Lopez, too, dabbles in just a bit of powder in her GRWM that she filmed for Vogue's Youtube channel. Both stars are known for their glow and can still hold onto the dew while mattifying the skin slightly for a cloud-like appearance.

It makes perfect sense that this makeup application routine is trending right now—although TikTok was into true matte skin earlier this fall, it doesn't lend itself to dry winter skin. Plus, with the rise of consumer knowledge around the importance of skincare, for most people, glowing skin means more than following a trend, it means that you're showing off the hard work you've done to get your skin to glow without makeup. Cloud skin is simply a way for people on the internet to marry the glowing and matte trends together.

How to Get Cloud Skin

Tilbury mentions, "radiant skin always starts with skincare," so it's essential to begin with a skincare routine that will boost your skin's moisture levels and brighten the complexion. After that, Bhatty recommends layering mattifying and moisturizing products to create a perfectly balanced cloud effect. She says, "skin prepping with a mattifying primer, like the Catrice Mattifier Oil Control Primer ($8), and then applying a more dewy finish foundation is a great way to begin." After that, Bhatty recommends using a blush packed with moisture and highlight to add a flush to the complexion and specs of shimmer that will up the ante on the skin's radiance. And while we're on blush, highlight, and bronzer, cream products will work best for these steps as they'll add color and structure to the complexion without diluting the skin's glow with powder.

Once you've applied cheek color, then you can switch over to powders to set. TikTokers gravitate towards loose setting powders for this step, but any finely-milled pressed powder will work just as well. "Using a brush and pressing a little product on at a time is the best way to create a flawless finish," says Tilbury. "I love using my Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush ($49) to glide the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder ($46) over my t-zone, leaving the high points fresh and glowing." Bhatty echoes this application technique and says, "leaving the high points of the face awash with glow lets the glow you applied pop but in a demure way."

Et, voila, cloud skin. If you've wanted to try the matte makeup trend but still want your dedication to your skincare routine to peer through, this makeup routine is your best bet.

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