Dewy vs Matte Foundation: How to Decide Which One Will Look Best on Your Skin

Shopping for foundation is challenging. Never mind trying to get the shade just right (especially between seasons), there’s also the matter of figuring out which finish is best for you. Though there are many to choose from, for simplicity’s sake, we’re going to focus on dewy and matte foundation here. To start, if you’re wondering what the main difference is between the two finishes, dewy foundation leaves your skin with a sheen, whereas matte foundation does not. OK, perhaps that’s an oversimplification of things. But with the help of a makeup artist, we’ll explain in further detail ahead.

Meet the Expert:

Joyce Platon, a professional makeup artist based in Los Angeles, California

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What Is Dewy Foundation?

Dewy foundation refers to the finish, or the way a foundation looks and wears on your skin. Typically, they come in a thinner, liquid formula, and they tend to have hydrating oils and humectants in them that help with dryness. Many dewy foundations also contain light-reflective particles that add to their radiant effect.

The Pros and Cons of Dewy Foundation


  • Adds a nice, healthy glow to skin
  • Easier to blend because they’re typically lightweight
  • Hydrating for drier skin types


  • Doesn’t offer as much coverage for those with acne or hyperpigmentation
  • Wears off faster than a matte foundation
  • Can look greasy on oily skin
  • Can emphasize any texture on skin, as the added shine will draw attention to it

What Is Matte Foundation?

Matte foundation comes in various forms including powder, cream and liquid. Regardless of which type you wear, a matte foundation will typically give you more coverage than a dewy foundation, and it had zero shine to it.

The Pros and Cons of Matte Foundation


  • Better, more buildable coverage
  • Longer wear time
  • Better for textured skin, large pores
  • Oil-free, which is good for oily or acne-prone skin


  • Can look dry, especially on already dry or flaky skin
  • Harder to blend than dewy foundations
  • Can look heavy and less natural
  • Can settle into fine lines or creases in mature skin

How to Decide Between Dewy or Matte Foundation:

“You want to consider both your skin type and the finish you want,” advises Platon. “If you have oilier skin, I’d recommend you try a matte foundation, and then you can still add elements of shine where you want it using highlighter. If you have dry skin, a dewy foundation could be nice, but I wouldn’t put it all over your face because even if you want some shine, you don’t want to everywhere,” she adds. (Platon uses dewier foundations sparingly, concentrating it to key areas like the cheeks and mid-face, and then using concealer wherever more coverage is required.)


“And if you’re still not sure which one to go with, I’d recommend a matte foundation because you can always customize it to be dewier by mixing in some moisturizer or adding some strategic shine where you want it through highlighter or blush,” shares Platon. “If you have oily skin, skip the setting powder altogether and your matte foundation will begin to appear dewier as your natural oils start to come through,” she concludes.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...