We spent the early 2010s “baking” our makeup by applying loads of setting powder to achieve a super-matte look. Then the makeup world took a full 180 and dewy, glowing skin became the standard. But now, Gen Z has rediscovered the power of setting powder and is falling in love with a blurred and diffused look. This gave way to the “cloud skin” TikTok trend.
“Cloud skin is just demi-matte makeup,” explains Emily Amick, a celebrity makeup artist in New York City. And achieving the look comes down to three key steps: proper skin prep, applying foundation and concealer sparingly, and using setting powder the way it was intended—with restraint.
@purenavamakeup Replying to @gabz This is what it looks like!! It’s actually a blend of matte & dewy. Should I do a tutorial? #cloudskin #cloudskintutorial #softmattemakeup ♬ original sound – 𝑀𝒶𝓁𝒾𝓃𝑒
How to achieve Cloud Skin in 3 easy steps
1. Make sure your skin-care routine isn’t too dewy
“It’s all about skin prep,” says Amick. “Make sure you’re not using a super oily moisturizer that’s going to give you dewy skin. You want to use something that’s going to dry down a little bit more.” Gel and gel-cream moisturizers like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($30) and Summer Friday’s Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream ($17 to $45) are great options because they moisturize without leaving the skin greasy. And resist the urge to follow up your moisturizer with face oil—that will just make whatever you layer on top even dewier, which isn’t the goal here.
2. Only put on foundation and concealer where you need it
The dewy-natural makeup era has taught us that we don’t need to pile on complexion products—putting on light layers only where you need them can help you get a more seamless your-skin-but-better look. Take this info and use it while following the cloud skin technique to keep your makeup looking seamless. You can use your regular foundation and concealer, but if you’ve got something with a super-duper creamy formula, you can swap it out for a product that has a velvet or satin finish, like the new Urban Decay Cosmetics Quickie Hydrating Full Coverage Concealer ($33) or the Exa High Fidelity Foundation ($38).
3. Apply setting powder sparingly
When putting on powder, the amount on your brush, sponge, or poof should be so thin that you can’t even see the product go onto your skin—all you see is its mattifying effect. And you should only apply it in areas where it’s useful, like under your eyes to hold concealer in place or in your T-zone to prevent oil. “Apply it lightly and it sort of melts into the skin,” says Amick. “It doesn’t need to be packed on.” She’s a big fan of the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powders ($24 to $43). “They’re finely milled and they look really nice and natural and they set your makeup really well,” she says. “When you use them lightly in a way that’s meant to look diffused and blurred, it’s, it does the job.” She also loves the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder ($20 to $39). “It finishing powder, not a setting powder, but it gives you that same nice blurred effect without looking too flat,” she says.
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