Has Dewy Makeup Reached The End Of Its Reign? Experts Weigh In On The Trend
Full disclosure: I adore dewy makeup. I love to gloss my cheekbones in highlighter until they glisten; I'll resemble a glazed donut any day. mbg's beauty director Alexandra Engler once joked that a subtle hint of shine and glowing finish are her beauty love languages—and, well, same. But recently, matte makeup has become all the rage, and the switch to shine-free has been far from subtle (the term "matte makeup routine" has over 5 billion views on TikTok).
Ultimately, you should wear makeup in whatever way makes you feel most comfortable, but popular beauty trends are pretty cyclical in nature (if you need proof, allow me to point you to the resurgence of skinny brows). A dewy, fresh glow has held the crown title for years, but has it finally reached the end of its reign?
Ahead, top makeup artists weigh in on the matte makeup trend and explain how to master a plush (never flaky) look.
Matte vs. dewy makeup.
I hesitate to pit these two against each other—both are stunning makeup looks in their own right. However, if you're looking for a certain way to guide your makeup, a dewy finish will generally include way more shimmer and shine; matte, on the other hand, appears pillowy and plush.
Just one big caveat: Matte is not synonymous with dry. "There used to be a time where we immediately associated any 'matte' makeup products with unappealing finishes like dry, caky, flaky, and patchy. Those days are over!" says makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at clean beauty retailer Credo. As formulas become much more elevated, she continues, the matte makeup category refers to not just one finish but a range of different outcomes: think luminous-matte, natural-matte, 3D-matte, velvet-matte, and more. Perhaps that's why we're seeing such a matte makeup revival (well, that and our affinity for everything '90s-inspired, which includes a matte base with glossy lips).
"I'm seeing new types of technologies being used to create innovative ingredients, especially within the powder category, such as mica powders coated with vegetable wax designed to smooth and even out uneven skin texture while helping to maintain skin hydration and comfort with wear," Compton adds. "A pressed powder made with this ingredient would feel extremely smooth, almost creamy to touch, and would wear like a second skin."
She also calls out elastic starch polysaccharides (which are used in place of microplastics or polymers) to create a flexible film without sacrificing skin hydration. "If incorporated into a matte formula, this ingredient would make the product feel ultra-lightweight on the skin and would blend in seamlessly while smoothing over texture or fine lines," she notes.
The result? An extremely smooth, comfortable, soft-focus finish that feels practically weightless—a solid alternative for those who tend to shy away from heavier waxes and oils.
How to achieve matte makeup — without looking dry.
When done right, matte makeup never looks flaky. Here's a step-by-step guide:
Hydrate your skin!
Do not be mistaken: Going matte does not mean you should ignore hydration! In fact, a hydrated, supple base is key to avoid flakiness midday.
"It's a fine line," says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, but you can always prep your skin with humectants (hyaluronic acid, aloe, glycerin, etc.) to provide a temporary plumping effect pre-makeup. "By prepping the skin and ultra-hydrating it, your matte look will just be a texture finish and not a distraction," she adds. She recommends slapping on a sheet mask—like this Aqua Collagen Mask from Aloisia Beauty—to infuse the skin with moisture.
Primer is your friend.
A primer's main gig is to create a barrier between your skin and makeup, which helps keep your foundation from dissolving midday—so it's crucial for any matte look. "Priming is so important for matte makeup looks because it will ensure that your skin is comfortably balanced throughout wear and helps to prevent separation or settling of your other products," adds Compton.
Still, you'll want to find a hydrating yet oil-free number to wick away shine, like Exa's Splash Zone Primer. "It contains skin-blurring powders, like silica and mica, that help to smooth over pores, fine lines, and textured areas," Compton notes.
Use water-based foundations & concealers.
Another matte makeup mistake? Thinking you can only use pressed powder foundations. Of course, these options are wonderful for providing a shine-free yet non-caky finish (Greenberg personally loves Younique's Touch Complexion+ Pressed Powder Foundation, which lasts up to 12 hours), but if you want to use a liquid or cream product, you can go right ahead. In fact, "I like to layer different textures so they look softer," Greenberg says. Think powder foundations layered with creamy concealers (just make sure you test it out before you build, as some formulas can start to pill).
Rather than focusing on texture, take a quick peek at the label—to keep the makeup matte, you'll want to seek water-based formulations. "Check out the first few ingredients of the product's ingredient list," advises Compton. "If they are all oils, waxes, or fatty acid derivatives, then you can expect the product to be very emollient, possibly thick, and very dewy in finish." Suntegrity's Impeccable Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 30, for example, contains a base of water and aloe vera, as does Kosas' Revealer Concealer.
And as with dewy skin looks: Less is more. You might think that matte makeup entails piling on powders, but that actually can backfire in the long run. "The key to creating a natural-looking matte makeup look is to minimize your product usage and strategically place product," Compton says. "If you're working with powders, use less than you think you'll need at first because you can always build up coverage or mattify more."
Select matte blushes & bronzers.
I'm the first to swoon over a glowy blush moment, but you might want to stow the shimmers for the time being. Anything that glimmers will give off a dewy finish, so make sure to stick to color that melts into the skin and provides a plush effect. Again, that doesn't mean you must stick to powder products—just select ones sans glitter, like MOB Beauty's Cream Clay Blush and Westman Atelier's Face Trace for contour. "If you don't have a shimmer-free blush, try using your favorite matte lipstick for a natural-looking flush," Compton suggests.
Finish with powder.
Of course, no matte makeup look is complete without a good setting powder. "Using a brush or makeup sponge, gently tap powder over any areas with visible shine," Compton explains. You don't necessarily need to set your entire face—just the areas that accrue the most oil, like the T-zone, chin, and the forehead. "As you are powdering, leave the areas just above your brow bone and tops of cheekbones free of powder for a natural-looking highlight to shine through," Compton adds. Even with a matte look, you don't want the makeup to fall flat, so some natural dimension is key.
Use setting spray to highlight.
Rather than reaching for a pearly highlighter, Compton suggests spraying a setting mist to "impart a healthy-looking, juicy skin finish without glitter." The Youthforia Pregame Setting Spray works like a charm, as it creates a thin, flexible film over your skin to seal in your makeup. And if your face feels just a tad too matte, you can always give yourself an extra spritz to rehydrate your complexion.
There has never been a more exciting time for matte makeup lovers. With new, innovative ingredients, matte formulas are incredibly lightweight and pillowy, so you can nail the blurred look without appearing too dry. I'll still hold a dewy glow close to my heart, but when it comes to a softer finish with longer wear, it may be matte's time to shine.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.