Favorite Matte Beauty Products
If you've followed me on social media for any significant length of time, you know that one of my biggest beauty struggles is keeping my complexion matte. On most normal days, I start out looking like a normal human being and end up looking like a greased pig at the county fair by the time I get ready to wash my face. I admit that I've been fortunate to have pretty low-maintenance skin my entire life and only really started any sort of skin care routine in the last 5 years, but there's something so icky about feeling like your face is covered in a thin layer of slime. I'll be sharing a conversation in the coming weeks that I had with one of my co-workers about his recent deep dive into the world of K-Beauty (those wild 10-step skin care regimens coming out of South Korea), but in the mean time, I thought I'd share some of my current favorite matte beauty products that help keep the oil at bay.
KIEHL'S CALENDULA DEEP CLEAN FOAMING FACE WASH — $29, SEPHORA.COM
Upon a recommendation from a different co-worker, I purchased this cleanser a few weeks ago after my Philosophy Purity Made Simple cleanser gave its last cleanse. To give a bit of context, I've only ever purchased one cleanser twice—the Face Cleanser (gotta love the dedication to simple product names) from First Aid Beauty. It was the first cleanser I had ever purchased that wasn't from the drug store, and I loved the silky texture and how it made my skin feel like a sweet baby's bum after using it with my Clarisonic Mia.
But then, one day I accidentally picked up said cleanser instead of my toothpaste when I was in a hurry and if you've ever put something in your mouth expecting it to taste like something entirely different, you know how unsettling it can be. From then on my gag reflexes would come alive whenever I washed my face and I was more than ready for a change when I used the last bit. I've tried a number of cleansers since then that have pleasantly surprised me and others that have disappointed me. Purity, the cleanser from Philosophy that I mentioned above, definitely lived up to the hype and certainly deserves its cult favorite title, but there was still something I felt like I was missing at $24 a pop.
When I tried this cleanser from Kiehl's, I knew I found everything an oily-skinned human could want in a face wash. It has a refreshing lemon-y scent that's not overpowering or artificial and the packaging helps make sure you're not using more product than you actually need. It lathers beautifully and feels very no-nonsense. It does what it says it will do without stripping away any of the good stuff your skin produces and even though it's a bit pricy compared to what you can find at the drug store, I will definitely be repurchasing this beaut when I run out in a million years. (Trust me when I say a little goes a long way.)
FORMULA 10.0.6 SERIOUSLY SHINE FREE MATTIFYING OIL FREE MOISTURIZER — $6.99, ULTA.COM
Interestingly enough, my all-time favorite mattifying moisturizer is at the opposite end of the price spectrum. I've tried a number of high-end moisturizers that have all disappointed me in one way or another. Either it was way too expensive for the quality of the product or it didn't live up to its promises or it broke up with me via text. (Kidding.) I believe I found this moisturizer one day when I was browsing on Ulta's app and after reading the reviews, decided I wouldn't have much to lose if I didn't end up loving it since it was so inexpensive. While it does have a subtle earthy smell because of the ingredients, the aloe and bamboo extract make it the perfect defense against the dark arts (also known as my skin's oil production). I've already re-purchased this moisturizer twice, and I think it will be a staple in my morning routine for the indefinite future!
TOO FACED PRIMED & PEACHY COOLING MATTE PERFECTING PRIMER — $34, SEPHORA.COM
I got this primer for the first time as a sample with another Sephora order (god bless free samples) and it's one of the few samples I've received that I've squeezed the last bit out of like a kid with a GoGurt. I've sincerely loved every single Too Faced product I've ever purchased, from the Born This Way foundation to the Hangover Rx primer to the Chocolate Bar palette, and this new(ish) primer is definitely not an exception.
Aside from the skeptically spot-on peach scent (sometimes I wonder what it would taste like if I took a little nibble), the formula is one of the best that has ever graced my delicate mug. It doesn't feel slimy like some that I've tried (looking at you Smashbox) but it also doesn't make me feel like I'm wasting my time with another product. Even just sampling a bit on the back of my hand makes a noticeable difference in the shininess of the skin. It also does have a surprising cooling effect, which is not something I would ever turn down when I'm getting ready (I'm not sure why but I always get a little sweaty when I'm SITTING ABSOLUTELY STILL IN FRONT OF MY VANITY TRYING TO MAKE MYSELF LESS UGLY ugh a girl can never win). I haven't used it in enough different looks to know for certain whether I would re-purchase, but so far this baddie is at the top of my matte beauty products list.
MAKE UP FOR EVER MATTE VELVET SKIN FOUNDATION — $38, SEPHORA.COM
Unlike most of the other products on this list, this foundation is one that I've been using since I first started getting into makeup, when it was formerly known as the Mat Velvet + foundation. Once I realized how dewy-skin products make me look like a road flare (my naïveté), I quickly sought out as much matte makeup as Sephora and Ulta (and my wallet) would allow. Although there were some "matte" products that made me look more like a flaky onion than a normal human being, this product made my skin look like my normal skin, just a little better.
As some other reviewers have commented, this foundation comes out seeming very thick, but the minute I blend it into my skin it melts into a layer that's full coverage enough to even my skin tone and minimize the oil, yet light enough that it feels like I'm hardly wearing anything at all. The best part is that it comes in 40 shades—although human complexion comes in a much wider and richer range of shades and tones, there are few brands on the market that prioritize such a sincere dedication to inclusivity (looking at you Tarte). Hopefully you, too, will be able to revel in the long-lasting, matte-finish bliss this foundation enables.
TOO FACED PEACH PERFECT MATTIFYING SETTING POWDER — $33, SEPHORA.COM
Similar to my journey with facial cleansers, the last step in my mattifying routine has seen many a product thus far. The Translucent Loose Setting Powder from Laura Mercier and the No-Color Powder from RCMA are both very adequate tools in the fight against shine, but there's something truly delectable about this powder from Too Faced.
As with all of the other products in the Peaches and Cream Collection, this powder is enriched with the antioxidant and hydration benefits of peaches and sweet fig milk, so naturally it smells incredible. But what's more, the powder is so finely milled that it keeps your makeup in place and prevents shine without making it look cakey, indeed making it feel velvety soft! I've also come to realize that I much prefer the packaging of this powder to any of the others I've tried, which might seem like a minute detail up front, but makes a difference if you're like me and prefer not to waste the expensive powder by spilling it on your counter.
One of the most disgusting, satisfying feelings in the world to me is when I pull a blotting sheet away from my face and find that it has absorbed all of the oil on my face, leaving the paper almost wholly transformed. But something even slightly more satisfying is when I don't need the blotting sheets to begin with and can come home at the end of the day without feeling like I've coated my face in a layer of baby oil.