I hesitate to pin 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, flakey 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.



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