Matte textures have been around in the makeup world since the dawn of time (Lord knows they loved a matte finish in the 80s, and a matte lip was much-loved in the 90s) but over the last five years or so there’s been a slowly emerging trend for SUPER MATTE products, with a finish the likes of which we haven’t seen since Marie Antoinette and her mates powdered the living daylights out of their faces and rocked a chalky matte red lip in the Rococo period. And this trend is one that’s straddling every facet of the makeup world, from the beauty accounts on Instagram to the runways and editorials of the most luxurious brands and magazines.
Just to clarify, in case I haven’t said the word matte enough times yet, these are not just your standard none-glossy textures we’re talking here but profoundly, capital M, flat as a pancake, mega-MATTE. And as a makeup artist, I love them. Matte has serious power on camera, the pigment isn’t subdued by any play of light, it’s stark and bold and is often the star of the show in and of itself. It’s incredible in creative looks, splashes of colour and graphic eye shapes, but is equally impactful for stains and pretty nude looks. It’s also unbeatable for playing with serious contrast between textures – oil and gloss on the skin matched with a 2D matte eye paint for example? Heaven!
And while editorial makeup artists and Instagram “MUA”s may be at loggerheads much of the time, we cannot forget the role the girl on the street and the Insta-famous have played in all of this. Kylie Jenner’s pillowy matte lips started an anti-gloss lipstick obsession that saw Mac sell out of her favoured shades for months on end and recently lead to her own launch of liquid lipsticks. Ten years ago girls wouldn’t have left the house without a slathering of lip gloss, now its matte matte matte. Twenty years from now when we look back on this decade, those flat velvet textures will be as characteristic to us as blue eyeshadow was to the 80s.
So starting of course with those lip shades, which products do you need to create textures so heavily matte they have their own gravitational field? Well…
The Liquid Lipsticks
1. Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick – £23 … One of the first of the new wave of matte liquid lipsticks, and one that I spotted a favourite Beauty Ed wearing way back in 2012 when they launched and had to ask her what the heck that beautiful product was she had on. She was rocking the incredible poppy coral-red shade Muse, but the whole range are just as pigmented, velvet matte and utterly stunning. Plus Hourglass have some of the sexiest product packaging out there at the mo if you ask me. (And may I just take this opportunity to say – we want matte but my GOD make sure the base is exfoliated if required and deeply moisturised first – remove any excess balm before applying but make sure it’s had time to do it’s thing – a flaky or crinkly dry matte lip do not a good look make.)
2. Lime Crime Velvetines – £13.95 … I have to give these guys a shout out, because as far as I remember, they created the first range of powder matte liquid lipsticks way back around 2010, a great range of seductively named Velvetines that now come in a spectrum of 35 absolutely BANGING shades from all your favourite nudes, pinks, reds and berries to tones of yellow, green and blue!
3. Jeffree Star Cosmetics Velour Liquid Lipsticks – £14 … The quality of the liquid lipsticks within this internet-star’s range has been raved about, in fact he was even so bold as to make a video slagging off the competitor range’s applicators and putting his money where his collagen filled mouth is in regards to his own product. The colour palette includes Jeffree’s signature pastel and sickly gothic shades that are very now and hugely popular with the Instagram/YouTube crowd.
4. MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour – £21 … Mac’s new range of lip products have seen them getting stuck into the liquid lipstick trend with a range of 15 killer shades of nudes, pinks, purples and reds – a huge hit with both the girl on the street and the pro crowd alike. These were rocked on the lips of models at Fashion Week from Mary Katrantzou to Maxmara and I can vouch for the fact that they look utterly flawless, will garner you a thousand compliments and last alllllll day.
5. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks – £23 … Charlie Tizzers really loves a big voluptuous glossy pout, but she also knows how to turn out a seriously sexy matte lip, and her range of nine classically beautiful matte shades and matching visuals show that a matte lip isn’t just for the “edgy” girls, it can also do glamorous to show-stopping effect. The seriously vampy deep berry shade Glastonberry is absolute sophisticated matte perfection.
6. Mac Retro Matte Lipsticks – £15.50 … Ruby Woo is the ultimate classic here, which at its conception and for many years since was the only lipstick not only in Mac’s range with that intense, wax crayon matte finish, but also the mattest lipstick formula out there full stop. Known as “Retro Matte” in texture, Mac eventually gave us what we’d all been craving for far t0o long, six new eye-popping Retro Matte lipstick shades to play with! It can help to apply these bad boys stright from the bullet – or certainly layer the hell out of them if using a brush – they’re far less emollient than your standard lippy so that pressure us much needed to transfer the product. Oh and “Dangerous” – a bright orange-red matte – is a serious fave.
7. Illamasqua Matte Lipsticks – £19.50 … Ever since their launch back in 2008, Illamasqua has been one of the best suppliers of highly pigmented, matte shades out there, mostly thanks to ex-Creative director Alex Box who knows just how much us makeup artists love to work with a matte product (as well as how for many years, outside of theatrical makeup shops, they’d been near impossible to get hold of in a wide range of shades). The majority of their lipsticks in over 30 shades come in a comfortable, long-wearing, seriously matte formula, their coral and nude shades in particular are an absolute dream – and of course don’t forget the Illamasqua signature reds, dark blues, greens and blacks!
8. Illamasqua Powder Eyeshadows – £16.50 … As with their lipsticks, Illamasqua has over 30 shades of the mattest of matte shadows, in every shade imaginable, with colour pay-off like no other. They’re super soft and blendable and you really get the pigment you pay for with these bad boys. Plus they have filthy names like Livid, Sadist, Creep and Sex that are just a joyous addition to any makeup kit, non?
9. Matte Pigment – £ Various … Mac make stupendous matte pigments (£16…) that can be flung around with gay abandon or used to set a red lipstick say, to the most velvet smooth of finishes. You can buy huge pots of artist’s Tempura Powder as mentioned in a variety of our other posts, pure loose pigment for you to have your wicked creative way with. Or go the way of Inge Grognard at AF Vandevorst’s AW16 show, using pigments made for the Hindu festival of Holi, dropping them onto skin for a mega-matte spattered finish with a seriously satisfying dose of colour.
10. Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer – £18 … A magical little gem of a product, that may just save you from the cost and weight of carting round a thousand new matte lipsticks. Does exactly what its says on the tin – a clear gel, that when applied to any shiny lipstick formula, instantly turns it to a modern matte. Oh what a time to be alive! You’re welcome!