Matte Makeup is Making a Major Comeback

This isn't your mother's matte makeup. The former adaptation’s finish left something to be desired. As a result, the neutral texture underwent a makeover and has returned with a bright future ahead. But it's not just the shine-absorbing qualities that make the 2.0 versions a go-to for makeup artists as of late - It's the long lasting, pore minimizing, gorgeously versatile benefits that make this comeback so exciting (and just in time for humid summer days). 

And while it’s common to think about matte shades as exclusively for face, made famous by 1950’s starlets like Bette Davis and Grace Kelly, the new recruits are offered in hydrating, no-sheen eye tints, lipsticks, blush, and even nail color. All of which create an ideal finish for capturing the best selfie, according to industry pros the no-shimmer surface helps you avoid looking like an oil slick and helps ditch a glare in photo ops.


Here, Maybelline global makeup artist, Grace Lee, reveals the perks of modern-day matte makeup, and the simple ways to incorporate it into your beauty rotation. 


So, what is matte makeup?

 “Matte makeup comes out with no shine and is usually flat with color,” says Lee adding that the payoff is more muted than its glossy counterparts. On a technical level, the formulas are made without sparkling ingredients like mica and silica, and instead stocked with low-reflection additives like talc. Unlike the vintage variety, newer matte powders have smaller particle sizes so the product lays cleaner and blends more seamless without looking dry or chalky.


How to prep skin for matte makeup:

Laying the right groundwork is almost as important as the application itself. Guarantee a quenched canvas by smoothing a hyaluronic acid serum onto your bare complexion, followed by a gel moisturizer, and an SPF 30 like the Kiehls Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30. Let the ingredients absorb for five minutes then apply a lightweight, silky primer for slip and grip using fingers in a sweeping out motion. This will ensure your matte look will last well past dinner. Plus, it’ll fill any lines or larger pores so makeup sits on an even surface. Try NYX Professional Makeup #NoFilter Blurring Primer.


How to choose the right matte face base: You do you, said Lee of the very many, very personal, matte foundation options. “It can depend on your skin type, or can depend on what your needs are, like how much time you have,” she adds. It’s best for drier skin types to use cream or stick formulas as the emollient texture can ease discomfort associated with tightness and flaking. Try The Body Shop’s Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation, which also uses tea tree oil to obliterate bumps on acne-prone skin. Oily skin types would be best paired with loose or packed shine-absorbing matte powders. Blot the slick layer with Urban Decay The Velvetizer Translucent Mix-In Medium by applying it allover face and neck with a large natural bristle brush, or by adding a dime-sized amount into a liquid foundation for added mattifying powers. Normal skin? Lucky you! You can wear a liquid, stick, powder, faintly tinted, or a hybrid cream-to-powder matte formula.


Use a foundation brush or sponge to bring the look to life, added Lee. “Just don’t dampen the sponge as it might sheer down the texture or make the foundation dewier,” she cautioned.

The Perfect Matte Makeup For Fair Skin Tones

Technique is key when applying no-sheen hues to lighter skin tones. A swipe of soft, matte pink or peach lip color will work wonders to play up your porcelain features. “Don’t use lip liner,” cautions Lee, “just use the [lipstick] color and concentrate it in the center of the lips and blend outwards,” she says. Think of it like a gorgeous ombré lip but with a single hue. Try NYX Professional Makeup Matte Lipstick in Hippie Chic.


Dust matching powder blush onto apples (cream blush’s dewy finish will detract from the classic look), like Lancôme Blush Subtil in Blushing Tresor,  and add several coats of black mascara and brow color for a groomed finish.


The Perfect Matte Makeup For Medium Skin Tones

The same can be said about olive skin tones: deeper pinks and oranges are your best bet for lips. Try a smooth, richly pigmented lip glaze like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Paints/Lips Matte in Peach Pit, which delivers a saturated color in one go around.  

The only caveat when picking a pink lipstick? Stay away from those with blue undertones for medium skin tones. The hints of blue and purple will make you look washed out.


Earthy accents are especially on-trend this summer, which pair nicely with pink and peach hues on tan skin. Sweep a matte forest-green eye shadow like NYX Professional Makeup Nude Matte Eyeshadow in Contort from lash line to the crease, then load up on mascara and use your go-to blush. The shine-free look is sophisticated, while the pops of color keep it fun.

The Perfect Matte Makeup For Deep/Dark Skin Tones


Women with deeper skin tones can pull off an array of shades – from vibrant and bold to more neutral on eyes, lips, and cheeks. “A flattering matte [eye shadow] can be a soft taupey brown,” said Lee of the universally suitable pick. Try the one in Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Eyeshadow Quad in Bourdoir.


Add a little extra drama with a muted fuchsia lippy like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lipstick in Matte Mandate or downplay it more with a purple-toned pink. To help the bright hue resist fading or transfer, hold a tissue over lips and dust a translucent powder (through the tissue) to set it in place.


Bring it all together with several coats of mascara and brow gel, and a sheer application of pink cheek color, which will allow the matte features to shine.

The Perfect Matte Makeup Pairs

We're not suggesting you have to be exclusive with mattes – on the contrary, mixing and matching textures can really help you live your best look. "Anything goes," declared Lee who said that you should toss the rulebook and always play different finishes against each other. Here's how to do it at home:


Matte + Cream

Keep your complexion matte and everything else nice and dewy. Try YSL Fusion Ink Foundation. We're talking liquid lips, creamy cheek color, and even cream eye shadow. Or, skip the eye makeup altogether and just use a multi-tasking cream stick on lips and cheeks. Try YSL Baby Doll Kiss & Blush Lip and Cheek in Cute to Devilish.

Matte + Highlight

"You can do matte skin with a glossier highlight," suggested Lee. After laying the no-sheen foundation, strategically place luminizer on all prominent facial bones for a more structured look. Think: brow bones, high cheekbones, along the jaw line, and down the front of your nose. You can even dab a bit into the Cupid's bow for some sexy lip definition. Use a stick brightener for easy touchups like It Cosmetics Hello Light Anti-Aging Luminizing Crème Stick.


Or, try it the other way: "dewy skin with a matte lip," said Lee. Bring in a liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer with the words "illuminating," "radiant" or "glow" printed on the label and apply using your fingers or a foundation brush. To really up the ante, cocktail a tinted moisturizer with a liquid highlighter for elevated brightness. Try NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator. Then choose a bold matte version of liquid lipstick for your lips. Try Maybelline New York Matte SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick in Creator or Heroine.

Matte + Cream + Gloss


Like the triple play of makeup textures, this look will incorporate them all. Keep skin and lips super matte (try Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Foundation, and Maybelline New York Color Sensational Matte Metallics Lipstick), then use a cream cheek color on your apples – tapped on using your ring finger in fluid motions. Finish with a clear eye gloss on lids and extra mascara. Try YSL Eye Gloss Smudger and Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara in Blackest Black.  


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