How to nail the 'cloud skin' trend

The love child of dewy and matte makeup

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / February 20 2023

Makeup trends can oscillate from extreme to extreme. 

We almost got whiplash in the 2010s when we had to relinquish our matte foundations for dewy tinted moisturisers.

But when it comes to base makeup, it seems the pendulum has finally stopped swinging and settled on a happy medium — cloud skin.

What is cloud skin?

Cloud skin is a term that was coined by Dominic Skinner (MAC’s Director Of Makeup Artistry and a Judge on Netflix’s Glow Up) in 2020.

In an interview with Refinery29, Skinner defined the makeup look as “multidimensional”. 

“It’s all about specifically placed powder, a touch of foundation and a facial oil to prime the skin,” he explained. “The technique creates an impression of a cloud because there is matte powder and then moisture from the foundation, and the combination gives a softness. It's a sort of lightness and a fluffiness.” 

And while Skinner initially created the look for the runway, TikTok has breathed a second life into the trend.  

TikToker Charmie Jane describes cloud skin in 2023 as a look that’s “all about [a] natural soft matte base. A hazy and velvety finish with a slight glow [of] blush from within.” 

@charmiejanee Cloud skin tutorial ☁️ This look is all about the natural soft matte base. A hazy and velvety finish with a slight glow a blush from within #cloudskin #cloudskinmakeup #cloudskintrend #cloudskintutorial #makeuptrends2023 ♬ original sound - Charmie Jane | Makeup & Beauty

Meanwhile, creator Victoria Lyn has been looking to celebrity makeup artists such as Hung Vanngo for cloud skin inspiration.

@victorialyn Cloud Skin Makeup!☁️ Loving these soft matte looks @hungvanngo 😍 Would you try this spring trend? #makeup #beauty #foundation #cloudskin ♬ Lo-fi hip hop - NAO-K

After a step-by-step to nail the look for yourself? We thought you’d never ask…

How to: the ‘cloud skin’ makeup trend

1/ A rich moisturiser

Prepping the skin with a bucket load of hydration is integral to keeping your cloud skin from looking dry or cakey. 

Opt for a thick, rich face cream if you have dry skin, or strategically layer a thin hydrating serum with a lightweight gel moisturiser if you have combination or oily skin. 

We recommend: Olay Niacinamide Honey Peptide Moisturiser ($59.99 at Priceline)

Olay Niacinamide Honey Peptide Moisturiser

2/ A shine-reducing primer

A primer that smooths your skin, reduces shine and blurs imperfections is a must for nailing the cloud skin trend. 

We recommend: MAKE UP FOR EVER Step 1 Shine Control Primer ($34 at Adore Beauty)

MAKE UP FOR EVER Step 1 Shine Control Primer

3/ A lightweight base

Cloud skin only works when you apply thin layers of makeup on top of each other, so before you reach for a high coverage foundation, we suggest you stick to serum foundations and skin tints

A lightweight base product is easier to layer and is less likely to get cakey when you apply powder products on top of it. 

We recommend: Summer Fridays Sheer Skin Tint ($70 at MECCA)

Summer Fridays Sheer Skin Tint

4/ A sheer layer of concealer

Rather than drawing a variety of geometric shapes with your concealer, try Selena Gomez’s makeup artist’s trick for applying under eye concealer

Add some concealer to the back of your hand or an artist’s palette, and pick up a little bit of product at a time. 

Buff and work the concealer into the bristles of your brush, and gently tap the product into the natural shadows under your eyes. Use any leftover concealer to minimise redness, blemishes and around the nose. 

We recommend: Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer ($49 at Charlotte Tilbury)

Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer

5/ Cream cheek products

Apply your cream bronzer to the parts of the face where the sun naturally hits. 

A word of advice: apply your cream blush with a heavy hand — all the powder products you’re going to layer over the top will diffuse the colour payoff. 

We recommend: MILK MAKEUP Bionic Liquid Blush ($36 at Sephora)

MILK MAKEUP Bionic Liquid Blush

6/ Set it all with powder

After powdering, your skin should have a velvet appearance, but the luminosity of all those cream makeup products should still shine through. 

However, when it comes to selecting a powder to set your makeup with, it’s all about personal preference. 

A thin layer of translucent powder pressed into the skin with a powder puff may be all you need if you have dry skin. But oilier skin types might benefit from a combination of powder foundation and setting powder, concentrated through the T-zone.

We recommend: innisfree Matte Mineral Setting Powder ($13 at Adore Beauty)

innisfree Matte Mineral Setting Powder

7/ Powder blush

Enhance your underpainting and amp up the vibrance of your cheek colour by applying a powder blush. 

Layering powder blush over cream blush is also a great trick if you struggle to get your cheek colour to last all day. 

We recommend: Dior Backstage Rosy Glow Blush ($69 at Dior)

Dior Backstage Rosy Glow Blush

8/ Set with a matte finishing mist

If you’re happy with your skin after following the first seven steps, you’re welcome to stop here. 

But if you need a final step to mesh all the layers of your makeup, lightly mist your face with a matte finish setting spray and lock everything in. 

We recommend: M.A.C COSMETICS Prep + Prime Fix+ Mattifying Mist ($45 at Adore Beauty)

M.A.C COSMETICS Prep + Prime Fix+ Mattifying Mist

The cloud skin trend is all about less is more, but not all trends are created equal. Here’s what happened when Selena Gomez tried the Meredith Duxbury foundation technique

Main image credit: @hungvanngo

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).