Dewy, Satin, or Matte: The foundation breakdown

It can be difficult to describe the result you’re looking for when getting a professional makeup application.  Even buying makeup can be tough if you don’t know the terminology.  First and foremost, you need to start out with a fresh, clean, smooth palette (your skin!)  Getting in a regular skincare regimen will make any face makeup look great. The type of finish you will end up with is ultimately based on three factors: your skin type, the foundation you choose, and the application.

Some women love fresh, dewy skin, while others prefer a satin finish. Those who can’t stand shine may like a matte look (like myself!) The good news is that you can achieve any of these beautiful looks and I’m about to tell you how.

Dewy Finish

Fresh, luminous, youthful, glowing

A dewy finish looks good on…

Women with mature and/or dry skin. This look exudes radiance while adding moisture.

Who may not love this look?

Women with oily skin should be careful with this look as it can make pores and blemishes look more pronounced. Oil produced throughout the day can cause make-up to shift and move around; this is even more likely with a dewy look. If you have oily skin and you love this look, add powder over the t-zone to keep your foundation in place and prevent you from looking too shiny.


1. Prep your skin with facial moisturizer. Once it has settled in, apply an illuminating product over the cheekbones, forehead and under your eyes.

2. Apply a light layer of moisturizing foundation all over with a stippling brush. Buff it in with circular movements. If you prefer a lighter coverage, try a BB cream or a tinted moisturizer in lieu of foundation. Conceal any spots or blemishes if needed.

3. Use a cream blush and a cream highlighter on your cheeks for extra glow. This can be applied with your fingertips by gently patting it on.

4. Apply a small amount of translucent powder under your eyes, on the sides of your nose, and to your chin.

Satin Finish

Not dewy, yet not matte.  A natural finish with a soft sheen.

A satin finish looks good on…

Everyone!  This look is easily adaptable to all skin types and flatters almost anyone! A satin finish will have more longevity than a dewy look since using powder will set the foundation and keep it in place. Again, oily skin types may want to add a little more powder around the t-zone to prevent shine.

Who may not love this look?

Those who don’t like wearing much make-up.


1. Prep skin with a light layer of moisturizer, followed by a primer. Primer will create a smooth palette for your foundation. Wait about ten minutes before applying anything else.

2. Using a stippling brush, buff your foundation in circular motions.  Use a larger flat foundation brush to apply extra product where required.

3. Use a big fluffy brush to apply light translucent powder over your face to set your make-up.

4. Finish with a touch of bronzer at the top of your cheekbones.

Matte Finish

Perfect, soft, no shine

A matte finish looks good on…

Those with oily and combination skin. Though with the right products, any skin type can wear this look. A matte finish is the longest lasting, so it’s perfect for special events. Matte foundations tend to have medium to full coverage, so if you are prone to breakouts, you’ll have the best results with a matte finish.

Who may not love this look?

Those with very dry skin may prefer a satin or dewy finish. Also, those with wrinkled skin may find a matte finish can make lines more definitive.


1. Prep skin with a tiny bit of moisturizer only on dry areas. Use a mattifying primer if your skin is very oily.

2. Apply foundation with a flat foundation brush, blending small areas at a time. Many matte foundations set very fast so work quickly. Apply concealer where it’s needed.

3. Although your foundation alone may look matte, setting the look with a loose powder will help your make-up last.

4. To prevent your makeup from looking flat, contour lightly with bronzer or a touch of blush.

3 thoughts on “Dewy, Satin, or Matte: The foundation breakdown

  1. Pingback: Introduction to Foundation | Makeup for Beginners

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