Dewy or Matte Foundation? Here's How to Make Your Decision Once and For All

Dewy vs. Matte Foundation

Getty/Design by Cristina Cinaci

If you're a foundation-wearer, you've certainly had to experiment with both matte and dewy finishes at some point when searching for the right formula. Foundation in itself can be one of the trickier products to get right as there are so many variations in what makes it suitable—from color, texture, finish, and more. As the finish is one of the most important variables, it's important to know whether you prefer matte or dewy. Ahead, we've compiled everything you need to know about matte versus dewy foundations, which ones are worth investing in, and the pros and cons of each.

What is Dewy Foundation?

A dewy foundation contains ingredients that help the skin look hydrated, glowing, and at times add more sheen to the skin for a natural glow. Certain kinds of oils and humectants are found in dewy foundation formulas to help reflect light and create younger-looking skin. A humectant is an ingredient often found in makeup and skincare to help keep things hydrated. Common oils found in dewy foundation formulas are jojoba or almond oil, and dewy formulas can range in anything from lightly tinted moisturizers to liquid formulas that provide more coverage. When each of these ingredients is found in your dewy foundation formula, they work together to keep your skin looking youthful and fresh.

The Pros of Dewy Foundation

  • Helps skin to appear more hydrated: Due to the ingredients found in dewy foundation formulas, you'll find your skin looks as if you've drunk your recommended intake of water for the day.
  • Easy to build and blend: Since dewy foundations tend to be on the lighter side, they are easy to build on the skin for more coverage when using a foundation brush or your fingers.
  • Range in coverage types from sheer to full: There are so many different formulas of dewy foundation; whether you like very sheer coverage or something fuller, there are tons of options to choose from.
  • Reflects light beautifully on the face: Dewy foundation formulas will find the light. Period. This aids in giving your skin that youthful glow.
  • Can be applied to other parts of the body, such as the neck and chest: If you want to even out other areas of your body, dewy formulas can double as body makeup and tend to blend easier and look more natural on the chest, arms, neck, and even legs.

The Cons of Dewy Foundations

  • Doesn't always last throughout the day: With more sheer dewy foundation formulas, you might find that you need to touch up your makeup more throughout the day to keep it looking fresh.
  • Has a harder time covering hyperpigmentation or certain skin concerns: While skin concerns are a normal part of life and nothing to be ashamed of, dewier foundations at times can tout less coverage than their matte counterparts. You might find that they don't give enough coverage for conditions like melasma, rosacea, and varying hyperpigmentation.
  • Can appear greasy looking on skin that tends to become oily: If you have oily skin, you will have to touch up your face when wearing dewier formulas. They aren't made to hold up against excess oil production.
  • Can cause the skin to look noticeably shiny: Dewier foundation formulas can absolutely enhance shine, so keep that in mind when deciding which foundation would be best for you.
  • Can enhance the look of breakouts: If you have breakouts or blemishes, dewy foundation formulas can sometimes draw more attention to them than you'd prefer.

What is Matte Foundation?

Matte foundation is fairly easy to navigate as it doesn't have any shiny or sheen finish when applied to the face. Matte foundations can come in a few different formulas versus dewy ones, such as powders, creams, and liquids. Matte foundations also have been known to provide incredible coverage for any skin condition. From covering tattoos to eliminating hyperpigmentation, matte formulas are very popular amongst several different types of consumers.

The Pros of Matte Foundation

  • Provide full coverage: This is ideal for anyone who needs to cover something specifically on the face; matte formulas can do this and are incredibly helpful.
  • Eliminate any shine: If you don't want to look shiny, you won't appear so with a matte foundation formula. Matte foundations are meant to keep your skin looking matte all day and hold up to their promise.
  • Matte formulas are long-lasting: If you need your foundation to last all day and into the night, you will absolutely find that matte formulas help achieve this.
  • Available in different formulas: If you don't prefer liquid foundations, you can find full-coverage matte foundations available in powder form. There are several different formulas to choose from with matte finishes that can suit anyone's needs.
  • Matte foundations are oil-free: If you react to any oil in products, you won't find it in matte foundations because they are supposed to counteract shine.

The Cons of Matte Foundation

  • Can appear to look dry on skin: If you have a drier skin type, matte formulas will enhance that, along with any types of surface flaking.
  • Not as easy to blend: Matte foundation formulas can tend to dry quickly, which means they need to be blended as soon as they are on the skin to look even.
  • Some matte formulas can look heavy: If you apply too much matte foundation, it can tend to look cakey on the skin because it's made for full coverage. A little goes quite a long way.
  • Can enhance fine lines and wrinkles: While these are a natural part of our aging process, if you're avoiding enhancing any fine lines or wrinkles, matte foundations can tend to enhance these versus diminish them.
  • Tends to enhance facial hair: If you want to minimize facial hair, matte foundation will often tend to do the opposite and cause hair to look more obvious.

How to Get the Dewy Look

When creating a dewy foundation look, there are a few simple steps that can help you get there without much effort. The first thing to keep in mind is that your skin should be properly hydrated. Apply your skincare or hydrating primer first and let it absorb before moving onto makeup. Applying foundation with a brush will help disperse your makeup properly on the skin regardless of the finish. The more even it looks, the better. To enhance the look of dewy, glowing skin with a foundation, add a few drops of your favorite face oil and mix it into your makeup before blending on the skin. This is an excellent trick also to sheer down your makeup if you've applied too much. Lastly, you can set your makeup with a luminous setting spray to help it last but not lose its dewy glow.

How to Get the Matte Look

For a matte foundation look, you'll want to prep your skin with products that absorb oil and eliminate shine. Silicone primers or oil-free moisturizers can help aid in creating a matte canvas before you've started with makeup. Depending on which formula you choose (powder or liquid) will determine what tool you use for application. For powder, use a powder brush by lightly buffing the foundation all over the face while building coverage. For liquid and creams, you can use a foundation brush or makeup sponge to blend and add as you go. While you can use fingers to apply makeup, you generally want to avoid this when applying matte formulas to ensure they look even on the skin. To set makeup, apply a translucent powder on top, or opt for a setting spray that promotes the longevity of your makeup yet dries completely matte.

The Takeaway

There's no right or wrong way to wear foundation; it's really about finding the formula that works for your skin and something you feel great and confident in. If you aren't sure which formula works for you, try both and see how you like them. You might find you wear dewy finishes in warmer months and matte when it's colder. You also might find you really only like one finish over the other and only wear that. The key is to feel as good as you can in your makeup and invest your money in a foundation that you can't stop raving about.

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