This Is How Matte Or Dewy 12 Holy Grail Foundations Actually Are

by Miki Hayes

I think we can all agree that foundation is hands-down the most difficult makeup product to shop for. Besides finding the right shade, the formula also matters. But how can you actually tell how dewy or matte your foundation is? With all of the different skin types out there and the different ways we apply foundation, it can be difficult to know just how well a certain formula will jibe with your skin type solely based off of pictures and reviews.

Because even if I tell you that I have combination-oily skin and a certain formula works for me, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will or will not work for you. So in an attempt to find a better control, I tested a variety of formulas on blotting sheets rather than my skin. And while I admit this wasn't the most scientific of experiments (i.e. I can't be sure each blotting sheet received the exact same amount of foundation), it gives a good idea of just how oily certain foundations are and how they might work on a variety of skin types. So you don't have to take my word for it, but can actually see how much moisture was absorbed from some popular formulas, here's what a few drops of 12 different foundations on blotting sheets looked like after 10 minutes, two hours, and six hours:

10 Minutes

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Two Hours

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Six Hours

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Of course, whether or not each formula absorbed a lot of moisture is not necessarily a good or bad thing. If you have dry skin, you may be more inclined toward a formula that gave off more, while if you have oily skin, you might prefer the ones that gave off less. Curious if your holy-grail formula is among these 12? Here's how these foundations ranked from most moisture absorbed to least:

12. Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation

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Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation, $45, Amazon

This water-based serum foundation is meant to give the skin a natural, radiant finish. From the amount of moisture the blotting sheet absorbed, it's reasonable to believe this formula would leave anyone with a dewy looking complexion, and is probably great for drier skin types.

11. NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint

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NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint, $45, Sephora

With medium-to-full coverage and a soft-matte finish, this skin tint is actually oil-free. Because of the amount of moisture absorbed though, it seems this formula will work to make sure skin stays hydrated even if it appears matte.

10. NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

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NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, $49, Sephora

Lightweight and thin in consistency, this foundation is likely to impart the luminosity it claims in its name. I mean, just look at how much the blotting sheet absorbed.

9. Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation

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Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation, $58, Sephora

Also meant to leave skin with a radiant finish, this hyaluronic-acid infused foundation clearly carries a decent amount of moisture.

8. Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation

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Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea Water Foundation, $39, Sephora

Although this water-based foundation is meant to hydrate, the blotting sheet seems to show that it balances moisture levels to keep a variety of skin-types happy.

7. Stellar Limitless Foundation

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Stellar Limitless Foundation, $38, Sephora

Skin can have a radiant, medium-to-full coverage finish with this oil-free formula that obviously still has some moisturizing properties.

6. Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation

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Make Up For Ever Water Blend, $43, Sephora

Made with 80-percent water yet still waterproof, this sheer foundation gives a natural finish. And according to the way the blotting sheet developed, it seems this formula gently releases hydration over time, as what I will call the "hydration radius" only became darker instead of bigger.

5. MatchCo My Perfect Complexion Custom Tinted Hydrating Formula

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My Perfect Complexion, $49, MatchCo

This custom-colored foundation is made with skin-conditioning ingredients but not oils, so skin will stay hydrated and have natural-looking coverage.

4. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation

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Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation, $43, Sephora

Formulated with hyaluronic spheres, this medium-to-full coverage foundation will keep skin comfortable— not overly matte or dewy.

3. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation

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Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation, $39, Sephora

With an oil-free formula and long-lasting, matte finish, this foundation is likely a winner for those who have oily skin and don't need much extra hydration.

2. L'Oreal Paris Infallible Total Cover

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L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover, $10, Amazon

This long-lasting, full-coverage formula may not offer as much in the way of hydration, but it will likely stand up to oily skin throughout the day as evidenced by the small amount of moisture absorbed by the blotting sheet.

1. e.l.f. Aqua Beauty Mousse Foundation

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e.l.f Aqua Beauty Mousse Foundation, $6, e.l.f. Cosmetics

Surprisingly, the blotting sheet absorbed hardly any moisture from this dewy-finish foundation that even contains coconut oil. Perhaps even though this formula is meant to give a radiant finish, it will still hold up on oily skin types.

And in case you wanted to see all of those side by side again with identification, here's how the 12 formulas look next to each other:

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From top left: Make Up Forever Ultra HD, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea, Stila Aqua Glow, NARS All Day Luminous, Stellar Limitless, Make Up For Ever Water Blend, NARS Velvet Matte, e.l.f. Aqua Beauty, L'Oreal Paris Infallible Total Cover, Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist, MatchCo My Perfect Complexion, Tarte Amazonian Clay

Interested in trying one of these formulas but don't quite know which to pick? Try putting a couple of drops of whatever foundation you already own on a blotting sheet. How does it compare? If you're looking for something longer-lasting, choose one of these options with a smaller hydration radius. If you want something more hydrating, choose one with a larger hydration radius. And if you like the formula you have but just want something new, choose one with a similarly sized hydration radius. Because even though it may always be somewhat difficult to determine the best formula for your skin type, blotting sheets could be a way to start looking.