Get cracking at some of the easiest ways to take down the shine in your makeup applications without using powder. Sometimes powder can be too heavy, to drying, or just too much makeup for the look are trying to achieve, so learn these easy alternatives that you may already be relying on, or maybe not.

you don’t need powder to get rid of shine
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • There are alternatives to powder for taking the shine down in your makeup.
  • Experimenting and being open to products outside their intended description can lead to great discoveries.
  • Three powder alternatives to mattifying your makeup.


Episode 73: Show notes

woman wearing black crew-neck shirt

If you are a film industry makeup artist like me, you’ve no doubt faced a plethora of technical challenges, each more unique than the last.

One of the most intriguing shifts I’ve seen is how we tackle that unforgiving and often distracting shine on camera. And the many options we now have to do so without relying solely on powder.

So, let’s explore a few of the best alternatives that can help you achieve a flawless, matte finish in a high-definition world.

Remember the days before HD and digital photography?

When a hot spot or a heavily sealed prosthetic would glisten like a beacon, begging for a hefty layer of powder? Well, those days are long gone, and our need for an anti-shine, non-powdery solution has evolved tremendously.

Some projects may even call for leaving the shine as is. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but sometimes gritty is the flavor.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good powder – and use them a lot.

Mainly in prosthetic makeup applications, usually to take the tack off the adhesive or edges that may be sticky. And while we’re at it, this can be the case on foam latex or silicone appliances, or anything else in between.
But if you’re not careful, powder can appear cakey and flaky on camera. And as a makeup artist, no one wants that kind of distraction on screen, whether it’s on an iPhone or a 60-inch flat screen.

So, what are your options?

Here are just a few non-powder options worth exploring.

Blotting Paper

First off, let’s talk about the unsung hero of the shiny face battle: blotting papers.

I’ve often overlooked these myself due to their fiddly dispensers. In high-pressure moments, the last thing you need is to spill blotting papers all over the place. But there’s no denying their brilliance.
These little sheets can absorb excess oils without depositing any additional product on the skin, effectively removing shine. If only I could master the art of pulling out just one at a time!

If you haven’t used blotting papers before, you should definitely take a look at some – these are my favorites. They are incredibly helpful, literally absorbing the oils in the pores and leaving your makeup undisturbed in the process. Perfect to use to matte foundation without adding any product to the skin’s surface.

Now, obviously these are far more applicable for non-prosthetic makeup work, but nevertheless, are worth having tucked away in your set kit.

Anti-Shine Products

Another stellar option is mattifying primers or anti-shine lotions.

These products often contain clay, which absorbs oils (do you see a pattern occurring?) and moisture, leaving a matte finish.

Many are silicon-based, creating a smooth film over the skin, blurring imperfections. Recently, I stumbled upon a men’s brand called D*shine, and their website was a goldmine of information about the chemistry behind these mattifying lotions.

D*shine explains the science without making it feel like you’re deciphering an ancient language.

Highly recommend checking them out if you’re a fan of nerding out over makeup ingredients like I am.

If you’re still mourning your favorite discontinued anti-shine product, fear not. We’ve all been there. I still have a stash of MAC Anti-Shine tubes from a decade ago! For those in search of a new holy grail, Episode 62 of Five Minute Face Talk covers an excellent, affordable anti-shine alternative that may surprise you.

Personally, antishine is in high-rotation for me at work – it’s easy to use, and I can add it quickly on set throughout the day. I’ve also used it at a pinch to go on a prosthetic appliance that I am about to add fake blood to. Using the antishine in thin layers as a surface tension breaker if you will.

And also, if I’m working with a foam latex appliance application, antishine will always be present, because the pax paint (that’s acrylic paint and pros-aide adhesive if you didn’t know) can sometimes have a sheen to it that you want to knock down and minimize.

You also have to keep an eye out for lace adhesives too.

If you’re working with lace facial hair pieces or a wig, and you have used spirit gum to glue them down, keep an eye out for that shine. Because gums can be quite glossy when dry.

And powder will never be the right solution to knocking it down, Instead, a little bit of anti shine is the perfect solution to get rid of that shine that screams “lace piece” when you don’t want it to.

Mattifying Setting Sprays

A more recent addition to the world of mattifying is that of setting sprays.

These have intrigued me lately, and I confess, I’ve yet to explore them thoroughly. However, I’m eager to try the Milk Makeup Pore Eclipse Matte Setting Spray on my next job. It’s alcohol-free and has a stick version that could be brilliant for prosthetics.

Also worth a mention is the Tarte Shape Tape Stay Spray, which promises longevity—both in its name and performance.

Speaking of innovative ideas, here’s a gem from my husband (and excellent makeup artist) Kevin. He uses Unite hairspray to mattify facial hair pieces.

Who knew hairspray could double as a mattifier for adhesives like Pros-Aide cream? Sometimes, thinking laterally can yield fantastic results!

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to combat shine without reaching for the powder.

Whether it’s blotting papers, mattifying primers, or setting sprays, you have a wealth of options to explore.

And in this era of ultra-high-definition, it’s more important than ever to find the right tools and techniques to ensure a flawless finish.

I hope this blog post has sparked some new ideas for your makeup toolkit.

Remember, the quest for the perfect matte finish doesn’t always have to end in a puff of translucent powder. Regardless of what you’re working with – regular makeup, beauty makeup, special effects or anything in between.

Keep experimenting, stay curious, and embrace the innovations that keep our work fresh and captivating.

Until next time, stay fab, and let your creativity shine—just not on camera!

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