How to Find the Right Foundation Finish For You

Janell M. Hickman
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The newest beauty debate amongst makeup newbies (and aficionados) is whether to choose between a youthful, dewy foundation or its sophisticated counterpart, matte makeup. Each look is stunning in its own right, but how do you decide which one is right for you? Surely, you’ll want more options than just road-testing a new foundation every other day.

For the sake of your wallet and your face, we had two experts break it down to make sure you know how to find the right foundation finish for you.

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Know The Difference
The bare basics? There’s a difference in the products’ definitions, which will inevitably help you make your choice.

“Matte makeup [can be described as] an evenly smooth, shine-free, pore-less finish,” says Mahasin Phillips, INGLOT Education Program Director and Senior Artist. “Dewy makeup is a natural sheen, high shine, or a radiant sheer glow finish.”

And Like Everything, There Are Pros and Cons
A lot of has to do with your skin type.

“A dewy foundation is designed for normal to dry skin and resists settling into fine lines while hydrating the skin,” explains William Ahrens, Director of Product Development for MAKE & Professional Makeup Artist. “If someone has an oily skin type, it makes it difficult to wear a dewy finish foundation without looking too ‘greasy,’ therefore, this formula is not ideal for an acne-prone skin type.”

If you do have oily skin, Ahrens suggests using a mattifiying primer, like MAKE Shine Free Moisturizing Gel, which he says will help control excess oil in the t-zone area.

Wear What You Want
Looking to give matte makeup a try but have dry skin? Do it anyway. Don’t be stopped by your skin type—there are tons of ways to make it work. “Anyone should wear whatever type of makeup finish desired,” shares Phillips. “The key is application and placement; using the best makeup base/primer and setting products to aid in creating the most flawless makeup finish for any skin type.”

Master Your Matte
Matte makeup might be easier for someone who has oily skin, though. “A matte finish makeup is formulated for oily/combination skin types and can make skin look virtually flawless with a poreless finish,” says Ahrens. “Creating a silky, powdery finish is easier today than in the past due to technological advances and without feeling weighed down.”

Watch Dewy Foundation and Shimmery Makeup
“When wearing dewy makeup, I would wear a very subtle pigmented, non-shimmer eyeshadow,” shares Phillips, who also says to be weary of wearing high-shine lipstick. “Instead, I would suggest using a matte lipstick or using a lip pencil to fill in the lips before applying a non-shimmer lipstick or gloss. Too much sheen, shine, shimmer, and glow can translate very oily in appearance.”

Opt for Brushes
No matter what finish you’re going for, put those beauty utensils to good use. “As a professional makeup artist, using brushes not only speeds up the process as you work, but also maximizes the best use of all makeup products,” explains Ahrens. “Basic techniques like contouring and blending and working in specific areas would take much longer without brushes.”

Just don’t forget to clean them between uses, as a brush with excess product build-up will put a damper on how product apples to your skin.

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Meet in the Middle
Not set on matte or dewy foundation? You have one more choice! “A satin finish creates the perfect balance between dewy and matte—it achieves the most luxurious complexion,” explains Phillips. “A satin finish gives a smooth, natural sheen without the absence of shimmer and glow but not drying and poreless like matte.”