What is it?

What Is Matte Makeup? Meet Your Shine Fighter!

Hey folks! Today, I have another “what is it” post, this time talking about matte makeup.

Simply put, matte is a type of finish. Matte makeup means a cosmetic product that lacks any shine. Light reflects differently off of matte products, making the color look somewhat flat (but not necessarily in a bad way). And matte products often contain oil-absorbing things like silica (a desiccant) and clay in their ingredient deck.

The kinds of products that are the opposite of matte include dewy foundations; shimmery eyeshadows; and shiny, frosty, or metallic lipstick.

That’s the skinny. But there’s so much more to talk about!

That’s why, in this post, we’ll talk more in depth about matte foundations, shadows, and lipsticks and give examples of what each of these looks like.

Woman with an all matte makeup look
A girl with an all-matte face. Source: @mihaistefann on Unsplash.

Matte Foundations

First, let’s talk about matte foundations. Here are some things that are useful to know.

Who Are They Best For?

Matte foundations are usually best for folks with oily skin and no flaking. The oil-absorbing properties in these types of foundations will keep you looking less shiny. And since matte foundations tend to cling to and enhance dryness, the fact that oily folks don’t have those things makes this a great match for you.

What Are Some Examples of Matte Foundations?

Here are some matte foundations beloved by the beauty community (and me!).

A picture of Tarte's Amazonian Clay foundation
Tarte’s Amazonian Clay foundation. Source.


Matte foundations are often full coverage, meaning they have a lot of pigment and are easy to overdo. You don’t want a cake face. So use a light hand or pick up something that says it’s a matte BB cream, like the CoverGirl one suggested above. BB creams are meant to be light coverage.

Matte Eyeshadows

Okay, let’s move on and talk about matte eyeshadows! Ever drawn with pastels? That’s what I’d consider the finish to be like on these shadows.

Who Are They Best For?

Most people use matte eyeshadow in every look, at least a little. That’s because they prefer mattes to put in their crease since shimmer brings things visually forward and most folks want to define their crease by making it look deeper. But beyond the practical, there’s the aesthetic: nothing is quite as sophisticated as an all-matte eyeshadow look.

Again, this can be a good choice for guys and gals with oily eyelids since mattifying products are known to keep oils at bay. And matte eyeshadow is great for people that feel like they look overdone with lots of shimmer on their eye.

What Are Some Examples of Matte Eyeshadows?

Here are some well-regarded all-matte palettes so you see what I’m talking about.

Swatches from Shroud's Creepy Cute palette
You can see how very matte the colors in the Creepy Cute palette are. Source.


It’s hard to get colorful mattes right, which is why the Creepy Cute palette shown above is such a marvel. Make sure to do research before buying a colorful matte palette. Menagerie also does lovely colorful mattes.

Also, the most common complaint about matte eyeshadows is that they’re dry or chalky. But if you buy the right formula, you won’t struggle with that. Try the revered formula of mattes in a classic Anastasia palette, like Soft Glam, Norvina, or Modern Renaissance, and you’ll see how quality mattes perform.

Matte Lipsticks

And finally, let’s discuss some lipstick.

Who Are They Best For?

Matte lipsticks are for anyone who doesn’t mind a non-hydrated feel. That’s because matte lips look fabulous on anyone—provided they’ve exfoliated their lips. Like with matte foundation, matte lipstick will stick to any dry patches you have. So you’ll want to either buy or make a scrub to use. (If you don’t have one, try following the recipe under “Exfoliate Your Lips” in my post on making lip gloss last).

What Are Some Examples of Matte Foundations?

Matte lipsticks aren’t my favorites, so I don’t have any personal recommendations. But here are some ones you hear about over and over again from folks who do love the feel and look of matte products on their lips.

Picture of Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick in Celestial Divinity Amour
You can see the powdery matte texture in the Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick in Celestial Divinity Amour. Source.


Matte lipsticks can be a bit drying on the lips. Since the ingredients that make a product matte also stop moisture and shine, it’s rare to find a matte lipstick that makes your lips feel hydrated.

Some people don’t mind the feeling of matte lipstick, and some people are willing to put up with some discomfort in the name of feeling fabulous. I am neither of these, so, from a comfort lover, let me give you some advice:

If you want something more comfortable, look for matte lipsticks with words like “creamy” in their product name. An example of this is Maybelline’s Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color. Opt for bullet lipsticks over liquid lipsticks, too—you’ve got a better shot of those being less drying.

What Else Can You Apply This To?

Now that you understand more about matte makeup, you can apply that knowledge to other products. Do you think you’d look better in a matte blush or a shimmery blush? Many highlighters on the market are beamingly metallic, but have you tried a matte highlighter for a more subtle, chiseled look? Matte bronzer or glowy bronzer?

Even if you’re leaning toward finish one over the other, I suggest giving both types a go. Using a finish you’re not would normally avoid may yield results you love.