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Makeup Memo - why matte falls flat

November 1, 2011 Reviewed by admin 7 Comments
Truth #9

Matte foundation and too much powder can kill a youthful glow.

Using anything that is too matte looking on the face (and lips) accentuates dryness, which translates into looking older.  As we age the loss of hydration adds to dullness in skin and the loss of collagen and elastin leads to wrinkles.  Skin acts similarly to a piece of fruit as it dehydrates and shrivels.  Think of how a fresh, plump plum turns into a prune as it crumples and shrinks, losing its ripe juiciness.  So in order to appear more youthful and delicious, it’s essential to make sure that the face looks hydrated, glowing and plump.

Using overly matte products also takes away dimension.  Flattening out the features with makeup means light doesn’t naturally bounce off the tops of our cheeks or the ridges of the mouth, which helps make them look fuller and generally more attractive.

Obviously, skin care is going to play an enormous role in this equation, but you don’t want your makeup to counteract all that loving care by slapping on the wrong type.

The only major exceptions to these suggestions are women who have incredibly oily skin who may need a more mattifying formula.  But even they must make sure not to use too much makeup in the “powder danger zones” where it can accentuate wrinkles.

“Powder danger zones” are the outer corners of the under eye area, where crow’s feet appear, tops of the cheekbones, the upper lip line, and the smile lines next to the mouth.


Foundations marketed as “long-wear” whether they are powder or liquid are the biggest culprits in making skin look dry.  The ingredients in these just suck up moisture like a sponge so it can attach to your skin like a mask.  Yeek!  You are better off reapplying once or twice throughout the day if really needed in certain spots, than wear a painted-on face that looks like the desert.

Mineral Powder Foundations

Many mineral powder foundations can look beautiful and glowing on the face.

As a proponent of liquid foundations for most of my career, I actually have learned to love some mineral powder foundations.  The reason I say “some” and not “all” is because there is a quality difference between them, especially when it comes to how the product is made.  The powders must be very finely milled or it looks too thick on the skin.  They are great for creating a sheer, even layer that blends into the skin fairly easily and without much hassle.

The caveat with mineral powder is that if you put too much on your brush and go straight to the face you will look just as gunky and dry as if you had put on theater makeup.  So using a light hand with a fluffier brush (not a tight kabuki brush), and avoiding putting too much product over the “danger zones” is the best advice I can give here.

Application for a Dewy, Youthful Look

Allow your daily moisturizer to set for about 2 minutes before you apply makeup.  Your moisturizer shouldn’t leave your skin feeling greasy, because if it does all the makeup you apply will just slide right off.  Then use a liquid or creamy foundation to spread all over your face as you would a moisturizer, making sure to blend out the edges near the hair and jaw line.  To finish, add a light dusting of powder only in the T-Zone of your face, avoiding the “powder danger zones.”  What you should have at the end is an even looking canvas that still has dimension and looks hydrated and youthful!

We can’t prevent aging, nor should we go crazy trying to fight Mother Nature, but let’s at least apply makeup that makes us look as great as we really are!

Thank goodness there are a huge variety of textures to choose from when selecting a base! Being a makeup artist who strongly believes that natural is better from a health standpoint, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite brands for you to try that use safe formulations (no parabens here!) and mostly have very natural and organic ingredients.

Liquid Foundation/Tinted Moisturizer:

100% Pure, Couleur Caramel, Dr. Hauschka, Jane Iredale, Josie Maran, Juice Beauty ($35 in the TIA store), Korres, Lavera, Physician’s Formula Organic Wear and ZuZu Luxe

Mineral Powder Foundation:

Alima Pure and Jane Iredale

Finishing Powder

Alima Pure, Jurlique and Youngblood
  • January 16, 2012

    by Kristen Arnett

    This comment is long over due from me to all of you with questions and other suggestions. Blotting papers are a great way to combat excess shine from products and skin throughout the day. The thing about primer is the right one can have a great effect on the right skin, but it's not a must for all women. Many companies sell samples so you can see if you benefit from it or not. The SPF question is a tricky one because there is a chance you could be removing some of the product, especially if it's a chemical block (which I do not recommend). Try mixing your foundation with your SPF and make it into a multi-tasker. Good luck!

  • November 4, 2011

    by Laura

    I've been hearing a lot these days about using a primer under foundation to help even out skin tone and make it last longer. Is this another makeup scam to have us spending more money or is there a benefit? I am using Laura Mercier and find it is just doesn't go on evenly without it. I've tried the Jane Iredale and it doesn't go on nicely at all. I'm wondering if a primer would help.

  • November 3, 2011

    by Marta

    The thing about Osmotics Inner Light is that it isn't exactly a foundation. It is without pigment - I find that it gives a clearer, dewy look and evens skin tone, but it is not a cover up - you'd have to add concealer or mix with foundation.

  • November 3, 2011

    by Lina jacobson

    Okay this foundation review sounds great. My question is how does this compare to Osmotics Inner LIght that you have reviewed?

  • November 2, 2011

    by JustD

    I was told this same thing by one of the cosmeticians(?) at Sephora. The problem with this type of thinking is that what works for some, does not work eqitably well for all. I didn't purchase anything from Sephora, but I have purchased tinted moisturizers by some natural cosmetic suppliers, and I ended up looking greasy, not dewy. I'm not knocking it, when done right, I've seen it look pretty good, on women with normal range skin, but my combination skin did not embrace the dewy-ness at all.

    I have since used a tinted moisturizer with a hint of blotting powder to counteract the dew and I get lots of compliments and my skin is clearing up as well. I touch it up a few times a day with rice paper blotting tissues for the shine. So good.

  • November 1, 2011

    by Valerie

    I recently read a useful tip. Of course, I religiously wear sunscreen, but am always stuck with too much shine before putting on my make-up. I read a tip that said to use a blotting paper after SPF and before makeup/primer. I have found it to be a lifesaver. I am assuming that I'm not removing my SPF?!

  • November 1, 2011

    by Kris Ann Ellis

    Hi Kristen - Thank you for another informative post. Which foundation would you recommend for combo to oily skin? I would like to achieve the dewy, hydrated look, but no matter which foundation I try, I end up looking oily.

    Thank you!

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