5 Ways to Wear Matte Makeup
After years of ubiquitous shimmer, it’s time to take a shine to matte makeup: subtle, beautiful, long-lasting, and oh-so-easy to apply.
Disclaimer for those who lived through the 80s: This is not Pat Benatar’s matte makeup. Today’s formulas leave those cakey and masklike old cosmetics in the dust. Not convinced? Here are five reasons why pros are going to the mat for matte again.
1. It’s long-lasting. Matte makeup stays on better than more emollient (creamy or glossy) makeup, says Kevin Mendelson, a makeup artist in New York City and a global educator for Jane Iredale. And it won’t pile up in creases, either. “Matte makeup generally contains no slippery mineral oil or petrolatum, so it’s not apt to migrate,” says Mendelson.
2. Matte foundation is ideal for oily skin. By definition, matte makeup is oil-absorbing. So it’s a happy marriage of form and function for people who start to shine within an hour of applying makeup. For more coverage, apply with a sponge; for less, use your fingers or a brush, says celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown. As for those with non-oily skin, no need to shy away—just modify accordingly.
3. It can divert attention from wrinkles. You know how shining a light on something calls attention to it? That’s what shimmer makeup can do to the creases on and at the corners of your eyes, says Spencer Barnes, a makeup artist in Los Angeles: “Matte shadow is flattering on crepey lids because it covers the inconsistency in texture, so all looks smooth.”
4. It can be a subtle way to try a new shade. Not only can shine bring wrinkles to the fore but it can also make color appear more intense, says Mendelson. So if you want to give red lipstick a whirl but don’t want to broadcast it to the world, tap a matte version onto your lips. You’ll be left with all of the pretty pigment but none of the showy gloss.
5. It’s great in photos. Powdery makeup produces a porcelain finish that never looks greasy or shiny in pictures. “I always tell my bridal clients that even if they wear dewier makeup in real life, their wedding day is the one time they should rely heavily on matte,” says Annelise Nutt, a makeup artist and stylist in Nashville.
To buy: Jane Iredale PureMoist Lipstick in Annette, $25, amazon.com.
What It Is
Technically speaking, matte makeup “offers full coverage and is free of luster and shine,” says Mally Roncal, a celebrity makeup artist and the creator of the Mally makeup line. From a formulation standpoint, matte makeup is made from raw materials, like iron oxides (common colorants), that have a low reflection point. Often it is also infused with powder spheres capable of absorbing skin oils to bring down shine even further. While the ingredients in matte makeup have basically stayed the same since the 1980s, “two developments have impacted what matte looks like today,” says Anne Carullo, the senior vice president of global product development for EstÃ©e Lauder and Tom Ford Beauty. First, the advent of jet milling (a method of pulverization using high-pressure air) has made it possible for manufacturers to break down matte makeup powders into ever smaller particles, which lie on the skin less conspicuously than earlier versions did. Second, more-refined tools (like foundation brushes and sponges) help distribute the makeup more evenly, so that it doesn’t appear chalky. To find the right products in the store, says Carullo, look for “matte,” “demi-matte,” or “semi-matte” on the label. The terms “satin finish” and “velvet finish” also mean the same thing. What isn’t necessarily matte? Oil-free and mineral makeup. Matte versions of these products exist, but unless they have one of those keywords on the label, chances are that they contain reflective mica and will appear shiny.
To buy: EstÃ©e Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup, $38, nordstrom.com. Sunday Riley Soft Focus Finishing Loose Powder, $45, nordstrom.com.
How to Wear It
The matte of the past was an allover affair, but millennial matte should be applied strategically to play off luminosity elsewhere on your face. “Shiny makeup everywhere doesn’t look natural, and neither does matte,” says Matthew VanLeeuwen, a makeup artist in Los Angeles. So unless you’re posing for photos, pick a spot—or two—and start experimenting.
On Your Face
If you have combination or dry skin, start by smoothing on moisturizer only on dry spots or all over your face. (If your skin is oily, you can skip this step.) Once the moisturizer has soaked in completely, apply a matte foundation. “Choose the same color that you would with a more luminous formulation,” says Bobbi Brown. Finish with a translucent powder (like Mally Evercolor Poreless Face Defender; $40, ulta.com) to set the foundation. If you have oily skin, use a puff to press the powder into the skin to help absorb excess oil and to provide full coverage. Top off with a matte blush if desired.
On Your Eyes
On Your Nails
Matte topcoats, now made by a handful of companies, including Essie, Revlon, and Jin Soon, are the newest way to update your nails. Unlike glossy lacquer, matte polish won’t amplify chips. For the best look, shape nails to an “active” length (extending not far past the fingertips and rounding off only at the edges), and paint one layer of matte topcoat over a shade of your choosing. Or try brushing it over a metallic or even glittery color a few days after a manicure, when your nails are starting to look dull anyway.
To buy: Jin Soon Nail Polish in Epidote and Matte Maker Top Coat, $18 each: sephora.com. Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Color in Valencia Orange, $27, bobbibrowncosmetics.com.