Velvet skin, glass skin, dolphin skin—there’s a new trend pretty much every year for the best skin finish. We’ve gone from full-coverage matte all the way to sheer, wet, glossy skin in a matter of a few years, never really exploring what lies in the middle. This polarity has left those with oily and dry skin alike wondering what the heck to wear when their preferred finish isn’t exactly “on-trend.” But the makeup world is finally catching up, and our natural, skin-like, satin finish days are finally here. Welcome to the summer of satin skin.
What It Is
A satin finish is basically in between dewy and matte. It gives your skin an Instagram-filter effect, smoothing over pores and spots while highlighting the natural oils on your face too. If you feel like matte foundations are too flat and full-coverage but dewy products slide off your face and make you oily, satin will give you the best of both worlds. This finish is sometimes called “demi-matte” or “natural” because it offers a natural skin finish that looks seamless and like you’re wearing nothing. Since natural skin isn’t completely matte or completely dewy, you’ll focus on achieving a little bit of both with a satin finish.
How to Achieve It
A skin-like finish can come from a variety of products, and if you want to achieve it, it’s probably best to modify your routine. Whether or not you use foundation, make sure to prime with a moisturizer. If you have dry skin, you can use the moisturizer all over your face; if you’re oily, you can place the moisturizer just on the high points of your face to keep the dew exactly where you want it. Then, apply foundation or tinted moisturizer. Use a brush if you want more coverage and a slightly more matte finish, or use a sponge for a sheerer effect. If you don’t use foundation, you can just spot conceal in the areas you need it. Then, the most important part of this routine: Make sure you set your face with a sheer, translucent powder only in the areas you don’t want extra shine: nose, forehead, under the eyes, chin, and above the lip. Your skin will look like a flawless mix of matte and shiny in all the right places.
Products to Get the Look:
You should always apply sunscreen, whether you're wearing no makeup or a dewy, matte, or satin foundation. But if adding sunscreen to your routine feels like a chore, opt for something like Supergoop's Unseen formula. It's a completely clear, silicone-based sunscreen that feels like a face primer. It's ideal for oily and dry skin types because it mattifies the skin without emphasizing dryness at all. It makes applying sunscreen fun and even makes your makeup look better. If you want to add more of a glow, opt for their Glowscreen. Not sure which one to try? Read our editor’s review.
If you want to add a little luminosity to your skin without adding glitter or shimmer, a luminizer like this one from Auric is a must-try. It has a skin-like sheen that makes your skin look like it's glowing from within—no glitter particles in sight. You can use this all over your face under foundation, as a highlighter, or mixed with your skincare. If you have oily skin, the best way to add a glow is by applying this on the high points of your face and then going in with a matte or satin foundation or powder. You'll look glowy without compromising the wear of your makeup.
Using this mist as the first step of your makeup routine will make your skin look like it's naturally glowy and perfect. It adds a lot of moisture to your skin without adding another thick layer of product that can make the foundation you're wearing look too shiny or thick. It's also easy to customize: If you have dry skin, load it up, but if you're worried about looking oily, you can just do a few spritzes. Another tip: Spray this onto your makeup brush or sponge before applying foundation or concealer to make it blend easier and thin the consistency so it's sheerer.
A water-based foundation will keep your skin plump and hydrated the entire time you're wearing it. This one from L'Oreal is ideal for all skin types—it's oil-free, gentle for sensitive skin, non-comedogenic, and soothing and hydrating. This offers a light coverage that makes you feel and look like you're wearing nothing.
I'm so glad NARS finally gave this tinted moisturizer the shade update it needed because it's one of the best I've ever tried and everyone deserves to be able to use it. Tinted moisturizers typically have a reputation of being very sheer and extra glowy, which is a look many of us are after, but it's a no-go for people with oily skin in the summertime (like me). But this is the best of both worlds. It blurs pores without dehydrating the skin, and when I use it with a liquid highlight, it gives a goddess-like glow (except the version that's totally workable for normal to oily skin).
This skin tint is basically the "pretty filter" in a bottle. When Rihanna said "blurring," dry-skin Fenty lovers were a little worried, but this tint is so lightweight and natural that it truly looks good on every single skin type. I haven't met a single person in my life who isn't obsessed with this foundation this summer because it glides right on, blends into the skin in approximately five seconds, and stays on all day, even in the heat.
If you want a satin finish without sacrificing coverage, Dior Backstage has your back. This has medium coverage but still allows your skin to breathe. Plus, it's available in 40 shades.
If you're wondering if a full-coverage satin finish exists, this is your answer. This foundation seemingly does the impossible of providing flawless coverage, a seamless blend, and a lightweight feel. I won't go as far as to say it looks like you're not wearing makeup, but the finish is so gorgeous and natural that it doesn't look cakey or like a mask. This innovative foundation comes in 51 shades and six different formulas that match the needs of various skin tones: dry, oily, dull, and more.
True story: I admittedly gatekeeped this concealer for about a year because I wanted its skin-smoothing magic all to myself. But in a meeting a few months ago, I finally broke my silence and recommended it to our team, and since then, I've had multiple coworkers come to me and say it's their new fave concealer too. I use it underneath my eyes, on blemishes, and sometimes all over my face as foundation because it's that good. It's smoothing, practically undetectable, super creamy, and lightweight. It blends right in with a brush or sponge, and it works wonders alone or over foundation. Now that I've said it, everyone has permission to buy this and look like a goddess too.
Merit gets major props for developing one of the most innovative base products of the last year. Is it a foundation? Is it a concealer? No one really knows, and that's why I love it. It's meant to be a complexion product—something you can use on spots, all over the face, or in specific spots on the face to even out skin tone. It's ideal for on-the-go application too. Because it's meant to be blended out, it looks completely seamless on your face so you look like you're not wearing anything.
This drugstore concealer was flying off the shelves after going viral on TikTok, so if you find it now, buy 10. It has the perfect medium-coverage and radiant finish that makes your skin look fresh and awake, especially when it's applied under the eyes.
Don't let the word "matte" in the name fool you! This concealer is basically second skin. Pick up a little bit on a concealer brush and blend it into your skin, whether it's under the eyes or on blemishes—you'll wonder how you ever lived without this. This concealer is ideal for covering spots if your sheer/light-coverage foundation wasn't enough, as it blends in completely, no matter what's underneath. Plus, you only need a little bit of product per use, so this pot will last you a long time.
This classic translucent powder is anything but basic, leaving a lightweight, satin finish with absolutely no flashback or settling into fine lines. You don't have to fork over your entire wallet for a good powder, and this formula is the perfect example. It sets the face without compromising the finish underneath.
Most people are terrified that powder foundation will make them look dry and cakey, but with a little skin prep, a good formula, and the right powder brush, it's a natural, flawless finish foundation with buildable coverage depending on your needs. Available in eight shades ranging from medium to deep dark, this knocks back extra shine while still making the skin appear radiant.
A luxe option, Tatcha's setting powder will make pores practically disappear. This powder is ideal for dry skin because it's perfecting, but it still has a hint of sheen or radiance in the product that keeps your skin looking like you never applied powder.
Everything from lightweight foundations to tinted moisturizers and CC creams to skin tints have made their way into my vanity at this point, and I figured it was mighty time to break them down. Ahead, we're detailing our favorite products that help us achieve the look—from brushed-up, feathery brows to tinted, balmy lips to highlighted skin.