Dewy makeup—how to nail glowing, juicy skin without looking shiny

Great dewy makeup looks fresh and youthful, here's how to get it right

women smiling with glowing skin wearing dewy makeup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dewy makeup is one of those beauty trends that will never get old. Because who wouldn't want glowing, healthy-looking skin?  

Obviously the ideal scenario is naturally plumped-up and dewy skin via a combination of genetic blessings and a light helping hand from the best foundation. In the real world, however, most of us achieve a radiant look by grafting away on a consistent skincare routine with considerable assistance from our cosmetic kit.  

The good news is, a dewy makeup look suits every age and skin type—with the right products and attention to placement even oily and combination skins look amazing with a dewy finish. Dewiness is universally flattering, fairly straightforward to achieve and can act as the foundation of whatever beauty vibe you prefer—from a natural makeup look to statement makeup with red lipstick or the old 'I'm not wearing makeup at all I just look really healthy' flush of the best cream blush.

Are you ready to get the glow? These expert makeup artist tips and product picks will help you achieve beautifully dewy-looking skin with a minimum of effort.  

Dewy makeup: everything you need to know

What is a dewy look?

The words dewy makeup just sound lovely, don't they? And the justly-popular finished look is as beautiful as the name suggests. "The dewy makeup look gives the appearance of a luminous and glowing complexion," explains Lancôme Pro Artist Antonia Basile. "Rather than looking like you have great-looking makeup the idea is to look like you naturally have healthy, radiant skin."

Kaytlin Scott, Senior Pro Team, M·A·C Cosmetics agrees. "A dewy makeup look is defined by skin that radiates nourishment and luminosity. In recent years dewy skin has become significantly more popular. I believe that this is a direct reaction to decades of matte, fuller makeup." 

It's no wonder fresh, dewy makeup is so universally desirable, not only is it flattering and subtle, it feels great to wear too. "A base that is fresh like this not only feels breathable but it feels authentic," agrees Kaytlin," a true reflection of you." 

Generally when we try to achieve radiant skin we look to products like the best primers, highlighters and foundations promising a glowing finish, but as with almost any makeup look the fundamental starting point of dewiness should be skin prep. 

Dewy skincare prep steps

No surprises that a dewy makeup look—i.e. one that aims to replicate the glow of radiant skin—should begin with skincare. Luckily relatively simple hydration focused regimen is more than enough to get your skin where it needs to be. "A good skincare routine is key to achieving a dewy complexion. The better the canvas, the better the final result," says Antonia, who suggests this three step hydration-boosting protocol.  

  • Cleanse the skin once in the morning and twice at night to time ensure all makeup is fully removed.
  • Use a serum twice daily. My go-to is Lancôme's Advanced Génifique, it is super lightweight and absorbs into the skin really quickly so it won’t affect the longevity of your makeup. 
  • Finish off your skincare routine with a suitable moisturizer, use one that is enriched with hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated for up to 24 hours whilst still feeling lightweight.

If your skin type is dry, meaning it lacks natural oils, using a facial oil instead of cream is a good way to get a dewy finish on the skin. Pick a light oil formula so it doesn't, rub a few drops into your hands then press into the face rather than slathering it on for subtle sheen. 

Essentially, If there is one takeaway from this whole dewy look lesson, it's moisture, moisture, moisture. "A great moisturizer will make all the difference," agrees Kaytlin.  "If your skin is craving moisture the second you put any makeup on it will drink it up, so always prep with skincare for a natural radiance effect."

Makeup for glowing skin–a routine

Now your skin is clean and nourished, it's time to nail that dewy makeup. The secret to keeping this natural-looking is building up light layers of subtle radiance, rather than going OTT with one heavy sparkly product. Here are your four steps. 

Step 1: Prime

Primers act as the bridge between skincare and cosmetics and can help grip onto your foundation and build that dewy effect. Start with a hydrating primer," agrees Antonia, it instantly creates a smooth base that looks plumped." Naturally, the best face primer for you will depend on your skin type, but for this particular look steer clear of anything that claims to 'blur' pores or mattify. These tend to have silicone bases and oil-control powders, which are useful in creating a polished finish but not a juicy one. 

Instead pick products that contain ingredients like glycerin, aloe water, or hyaluronic acid, and if it has a lightly iridescent (not sparkly) finish, even better. "MAC Strobe cream is a cult classic for a reason," says Kaytlin, "It is intensely nourishing and packed with iridescent particles giving you a head start on that radiance. You can use this underneath your favorite foundation or you can mix it in for extra glow." Spread a small amount over your entire face—the classic 'pea-sized blob' will do nicely—then give it a minute to sink in before you move on. 

Step 2: Perfect

Next comes foundation, and unsurprisingly less is more. "When it comes to foundation choose something that’s lightweight," agrees Antonia, who has a handy pro trick to up the juiciness factor on any base. "Try mixing a few drops of serum into your foundation, this creates the perfect luminous complexion that lasts." Consider using the best foundation brushes and tools to achieve a dewy makeup finish too. A damp makeup sponge squeezed out then bounced across the skin will create a sheer and glowy wash of color, whereas brushes tend to lay down pigment more firmly, which can dull radiance. 

Step 3: 'Pop' your features

After your base, it's time for highlighter. This is the area many of us skip straight to when trying to look dewy, and it's easy to overdo. As with using highlight when learning how to contour, the trick here is understanding that less is definitely more.  Liquids will look more natural than powders and are easier to blend. 

Try picking shades with a slight rose or peach tint, particularly if you have a deeper skin tone. These warmer hues will help you avoid that murky greyish tinge that opal or silver highlighters can leave on the skin. "This is when product placement is so important," says Antonia. "We want to ensure we are highlighting the areas where the light would naturally hit to give the beautiful ‘lit from within’ effect. The key areas you want to apply highlighter are the high points of the cheekbones, tip of the nose and the cupid's bow."  

Step 4: Powder and set

Now consider finishing products, which may not be essential to achieve dewy makeup but can certainly be helpful in maintaining it. If you have dry to normal skin, a setting spray will fix your look and add a final burst of hydration and juiciness—it probably goes without saying at this stage that this should be a glow-boosting spray, not a mattifying one. 

If you have oily skin, powder is likely to already be a close ally, but pick something finely milled with a slight iridescent sheen (loose powders tend to be better than pressed for this) And remember to think about placement to hold onto that dewy glow you've worked so hard to achieve. 

"To achieve dewiness on an oily skin type, the trick I love to use is, surprisingly, powder!" says Kaytlin. "Gently powder everywhere except for the high points of the face (top of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and sides of the forehead) this technique combined with moisture-infused products will give you the insurance that your oily skin is under control while maintaining that dewy shine on the spots where the light hits." 

The best dewy makeup buys for glowing skin

Scientia Dawn Elixir at Scientia Beauty for £32

Lottie London Dew & Glow Setting Spray in Dew Bomb at Lookfantastic for £8.95

Fiona McKim

As woman&home's Senior Beauty Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about a brilliant beauty find on or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair dye experiments and cute shih-tzus)

Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013, working under legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know about the industry (clue: learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). 

In a previous life, Fiona studied journalism back home in bonnie Scotland and honed her skills as a magazine features writer, with a brief and terrifying stint on the showbiz gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper in between. She's a skincare fanatic who can’t resist adding an extra step to her routine if it’s all the rage in Japan, loves fragrance, has fun with makeup and never turns down the chance to test a new hair tool. Basically, she loves it all.

When not slathering herself in self tan or squinting at a tiny ingredients list on a moisturiser, you’ll probably find Fiona enjoying something to do with food - cooking it, eating it, cajoling her friends into trekking across London to try a hyped pop-up in a dirty car park.