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Your Ultimate Guide to Foundation Finishes

Matte, dewy, and everything else in between!
Your Ultimate Guide to Foundation Finishes
IMAGE InStyle Korea
Matte, dewy, and everything else in between!

As with every beauty product, foundation has its own set of jargon. The level of coverage or aftermath that you may want from your foundation can get quite complicated to explain to the saleslady when you're shopping for the right products. So to help you fully understand Foundation 101, we ran down all five types of foundation finishes that you need to know about. Read on and get schooled!


By definition, the word "matte" means lack or absence of shine. Hence, a foundation with a matte finish should make any shine on the skin disappear and dry down to a solid opaque finish. This type of foundation finish tends to control oil better than the others, which makes them a reliable option if you're oily or having your photo taken!


IMAGE Jamie Nelson for Stylist Magazine, Sephora

Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet Foundation, P2200, SM Megamall; Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation, P2400, Rustan's


A foundation with a dewy finish replicates the look of well-moisturized skin. It provides the skin with a luminosity that almost looks wet, and it's ideal for dry or dehydrated skin that tends to absorb product throughout the day. You'll mostly see this type of foundation on Korean stars, since glossy and dewy skin makes anyone look more youthful and awake.

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IMAGE Karla Majnaric, NARS, The Face Shop

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, Glorietta 4; The Face Shop Oil Control Water Cushion, P895, SM Mall of Asia


Not too matte, not too dewy. A satin finish foundation aims to replicate the skin's natural glow, because it doesn't look too flat nor too wet. It's the perfect balance fit for everyday wear. However, it does tend to lean towards the dewier side of the spectrum, so it suits normal skin types that don't get too oily.


IMAGE Igor Klepnév via INSTAGRAM/muakatemur, Sephora

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation, P2900, SM Megamall; Guerlain Lingerie De Peau Natural Perfection Foundation, $63, Sephora


If the satin finish is more dewy than matte, then the semi-matte is the opposite. Skin that looks slightly powdered but velvety and smooth is what this type of foundation aims to recreate. Think of it as the more natural version of a matte foundation. Those with combination skin types might find that this type of foundation works well for their skin, since it provides better oil control without accentuating any dryness.


IMAGE Instyle Korea, Maybelline, NARS

Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation, P499, Watsons; NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint, Glorietta 4


A sheer finish should be your go-to for good skin days. They can give your skin the slightest bit of a boost without looking too obvious, and on some days, it can even make your highlighter feel unnecessary.


IMAGE INSTAGRAM/muakatemur, MAC, Dior

MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation, P2200, Rockwell; Dior DiorSkin Nude Air Foundation, Rustan's

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