Matte Vs Glowing Skin – Which Finish Wins?

From fashion week catwalks to online makeup tutorials, the lit-from-within skin trend has reigned supreme, making luminous cheekbones and shimmering Cupid's bows the markers of brilliant makeup skills, a first-class skincare routine and, of course, good health. On Instagram alone, the hashtag #GlowingSkin throws up over 2 million selfies, shelfies and pictures of makeup products like highlighter and foundation, while #Glow hits 8 million tags – and counting.
So you can only imagine our surprise when Terry Barber, MAC's director of makeup artistry, was recently quoted as saying the glow is "dead". That's right, it's no longer all about otherworldly luminosity, but perfectly matte skin – and it's set to make a big reappearance in the beauty world. "The way highlighter is used now is just not fresh," Barber told British Vogue. "It looks dated. But, powder is back."
Advertisement
While powder might conjure up images of your grandmother's dressing table or overdoing it on pressed compacts in your teens, there's a trick to nailing it. "The way to have 'perfect' skin really is to have it more matte," explains Mary Greenwell, Laura Mercier makeup artist ambassador. "Avoid using powders around the cheek area where you are using other products and simply use powder to take down the shine in areas like the T-zone, where a light dusting is most beneficial. And always do it with a brush. I don’t like using a puff as they deliver too much product. With a brush, you are really able to get into the small areas of the face."
If that doesn't sway you, powder technology has come a long way since the types that would collect in fine lines and dry patches and make skin look heavy or cakey. "Today we are seeing new powders come into play that not only set makeup, but also give skin lasting natural luminosity, all while blurring fine lines," adds Greenwell. "The Loose Setting Powder Glow, £29, is great for this thanks to the five pearl glow blend and a special mica, which means no flashback. It allows you to keep a natural glow and doubles the wear of foundation, without adding weight or texture, and creates a soft-focus effect to subtly blur the look of fine lines and imperfections." R29 also rates Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless Finish, £34 – a pressed powder – and Nip + Fab's Makeup Setting Powder, £8.95.
Advertisement
Of course, the whole glowing vs matte skin debate caused a bit of a stir in the Refinery29 office. Is glowing skin really dead? Should we ditch the highlighter? And ultimately, which finish wins? Ahead, two R29 staffers argue their case.
For glowing skin: Georgia Murray, Fashion & Beauty Writer
Throughout my teenage years, I was mortified by my oily skin. I used Rimmel’s Stay Matte Pressed Powder like it was going out of production, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Pores were clogged, patches were dry, and it always melted off by lunchtime anyway, leaving me with the most confused of complexions. Fast-forward to my 20s and many a blotting paper haphazardly used later, and I started to embrace my oil-slicked skin. Why? I was fighting a losing battle with matte products, and then I interviewed makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes, who has long been an advocate of beauty that makes your skin look like skin – but better.
A good moisturiser here (my favourite is LixirSkin’s Universal Emulsion, as it locks in moisture instead of providing even more oily skin), a solid primer there (Kiehl’s Glow Formula Skin Hydrator keeps my base on all day but is also the beauty product I get most compliments on), and my skin not only looks glowing but doesn’t require constant top-ups. The big winner, though? Since I stopped trying to mattify my naturally shiny skin, it’s cleared up. Work with what you’ve got, gals. Glow get ‘em.
Advertisement
Against glowing skin: Jess Commons, Health & Living Editor
Look, I think pictures of Insta-models with skin as glossy and fresh as the morning dew are very pretty and all. But for me, it’s a look not worth chasing. I’ve got oily skin and, given half the chance, my complexion will go from 'glowy' or 'dewy' to 'just dunked my head in a deep fat fryer' in no time at all. Plus, with a nose as out of whack as mine, the last thing you want is to draw attention to it with extra shine.
I’m a big fan of that matte '90s look from every single Revlon advert back in the day; rich matte lipstick, smooth velvet skin and cheekbones defined from underneath with a brown-hued powder blush. Highlighter is the tool of the Kardashians; I’ll take vintage Cindy Crawford any day.
In winter though, I can get dry patches on my skin and powder plus dry patches is a very bad idea indeed. So in the morning, after my serum, I put on lots of (throwback) Clean & Clear Oil Free Moisturiser, which is still incredible all these years later – fight me. Then I cover with a super sheer SPF – I use LANCER Sheer Fluid Sun Shield SPF30 as it’s lighter than air and doesn’t add any grease to my face but still protects me from those dastardly UV rays. Makeup-wise I use L’Oréal’s Infallible 24H-Matte Mattifying Foundation followed by either Pür Cosmetics 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation Powder.
Advertisement

More from Beauty

R29 Original Series