Types of Foundation Finishes

One of the easiest (and often overlooked) ways to switch up your makeup look is by changing the finish of your foundation. It might seem like a small thing, but skin finish—the texture and amount of luminosity of your foundation—has a big effect on any look.

Of the many variations on skin finish, four stand out as classics: sheer, dewy, satin/luminous and matte. Let’s explore these different variations.

Sheer Finish

Almost transparent. Barely there coverage. This light, sheer foundation gives a subtle coverage for minimal unevenness in skin tones, and is suitable for day makeup. If you are a natural beauty who is lucky enough to have clear and smooth complexion, go for a sheer foundation that allows your natural radiance to shine through. This foundation works best for everyday wear. They don’t usually last on face for a long time.

Suitable for:  Normal to Dry, or Slight Oily skin that does not need significant coverage.
Types: Sheer foundations can come in liquid or compact form, or as tinted moisturizers.

Dewy/ Luminous Finish

A dewy foundation works perfect for dry skin, because it adds moisture. The dewy foundation is also perfect for women with mature skin, because it fills in the wrinkles & fine lines and makes them less visible. Foundations with dewy finish don’t work well for women with oily/combination skin because they make the pores &imperfection more visible and add more shine to its already oily default state. Dewy foundations should be avoided during summer and in areas with high humidity conditions simply because they do not provide lasting benefits. Coverage may vary from low to medium.

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.

Suitable for Normal to Dry, Mature Skins. Combination and oily skin types will be better off if the foundation is followed by pressed or loose powder to remove some of the shine. 

Types: Liquid Formulas, mostly water or oil based formulas with emollients to keep the skin hydrated and supple.

Satin Finish

This formula comes in between matte and dewy, it’s not as flat as matte or as shiny as dewy. This works out for most skin types except really oily ones; because satin finish foundations have a definite dewy look, which is kind of like a “glow” but may translate to “oily” for some. This is the most common foundation finish and usually provides low to medium coverage.  A satin finish will have more longevity than a dewy look since using powder will set the foundation and keep it in place. Hence, if you prefer the sheer look, this will not be the look for you. Again, oily skin types may want to add a little more powder around the t-zone to prevent shine.

Suitable for Normal to Dry, Mature Skins. Combination and oily skin types will be better off if the foundation is followed by pressed or loose powder to remove some of the shine. 

Types: Liquid / Cream Formulas

Matte Finish

It’s great for normal/oily skin since it contains no oils. It gives almost full coverage and works best on skin with acne, scars or discoloration. 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. Dry skinned girls should stay away from this as it can exaggerate the dryness of the skin. One needs to apply these foundations with a very light hand as they can easily look cakey. These foundations usually stay longer on face.  This can be great for those who live in humid climates and cannot get their foundation to last. If the foundation is rated SPF 25 or greater, it is a great way to ensure your oily skin gets the sun protection it needs without adding layers of products.

Suitable for: Combination to very oily skin. Thin texture and matte finish also makes this type of foundation a safer bet for breakout-prone skin

Types: Compact Powders, Long Wearing Matte Finish Liquid Formulas