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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Viral Cloud Skin Trend

Photo by Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images

What do you get when you combine the radiant look of dewy, hydrated skin with the dreamlike blurred effect of a flawless matte face? A beautiful, glowy, thing called cloud skin—and yup, it looks just as ethereal as it sounds. It’s the perfect combination of skin prep that’s hyper-focused on hydration and minimalistic matte foundation which gives skin that angelic, soft-focus, blurred radiance that has taken TikTok by storm—and owned our FYPs. The perfect halfway point between the clean girl aesthetic, and full-coverage glam, cloud skin pretty much slays any look from day to night (and leaves you looking like you’re wearing a dreamy makeup filter without even trying).

If the term cloud skin seems to be ringing a bell, it’s because just like many beauty trends that have gone viral, blurred, soft-focus, matte makeup isn’t something brand new. Here’s a little info on its origins: The term “cloud skin makeup” was originally coined by M.A.C. celebrity makeup artist, Dominic Skinner several years ago. Skinner used it to describe a technique that makeup artists have used for ages to create makeup looks with minimal highlight and shimmer and maximum radiance, leaving skin looking soft and velvety minus the heaviness of a full-coverage face. Thanks to the time machine that is social media, the cloud skin trend (just like grunge makeup, glass skin, mob wife makeup, and 90’s skinny brows), has made a major comeback, racking up millions of views and making the way for endless TikTok tutorials.

About the Expert:
Tomy Rivero is a celebrity makeup artist and owner of Tomy Rivero Beauty Lab based in Washington Heights, NYC.

What Is Cloud Skin?

Besides having one of the cutest names for a makeup trend we’ve ever heard of, according to celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero: “Cloud skin is really just a soft matte makeup look that’s lit from within. Most of the great iconic red-carpet looks you love from back in the day, (those beautiful soft matte with just the right amount of shine to catch the light looks), were done with this technique. It just didn’t have a name.” We’re talking makeup that’s hazy, not cakey, with matte skin that the light bounces off of in just the right places. Sounds so dreamy, doesn’t it? While matte makeup is key to creating the look, cloud skin actually focuses heavily on skin prep, making a hydrating skincare routineessential before applying any makeup products. Consider it the secret to making your skin look otherworldly. Sounds tricky? Not so much! Here’s an easy step-by-step makeup routine so you can create the look for yourself.

5 Steps to Get Cloud Skin

1. Prep for Pillow Soft Skin

MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer

Loading your skin up with moisturizer may seem counterintuitive when matte skin is your ultimate goal (especially if you have oily skin), but the truth couldn’t be more opposite. “The hack is hydration, hydration, hydration, ideally, using oil-free products. Giving the skincare a minute or two to sink in is key to the powder (which is your last step), not grabbing onto the moisturizer and looking patchy,” says Rivero. On a clean face, start with a hydrating toner, followed up with a hyaluronic acid serum (we tend to re-up on FIRST AID BEAUTY Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid on the reg), and hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer. Give each layer 60 seconds to sink in before hopping to the next step. Lastly, but super important, apply a hydrating primer (Rivero recommends MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer) onto skin and give it another 60 seconds to settle in.

2. Conceal Conservatively

ROSE INC Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum

“My way of creating cloud skin is to use a concealer as foundation just for spot concealing areas that need coverage, while leaving most of the skin bare and prepped with skincare,” says Rivero. This helps you create a matte look without looking like you’re wearing a full face of makeup. Apply concealer only where you need it (whether it be your under-eye area, cheeks, forehead or blemish-prone zones). Need some extra coverage? We all do at times. Apply a light skin tint or a sheer veil of a skincare-based foundation (we love the ROSE INC Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum for its plumping effect), over your concealer and give it a minute to settle into skin.

3. Blend Blush for Cheeky Radiance

PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color

This next step is great for creating that cherub-like filter. Once your base is settled into skin, “apply a sheer layer of blush and blend with a damp beauty blender on the higher planes of your face,” Rivero tells us. Focus on the highest points of your cheekbones, temples, and brow bones. We love a cream blush for this step, like PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color, because it blends like butter and a little dot goes a long way. If you love the look of bronzer and just can’t skip it (we do too!), opt for a cream version too and apply it sparingly in the same areas to up your glow.

4. Puff on Your Powder

PYT BEAUTY Set Me Up Setting Powder

“For the last step, use a powder puff only on the areas opposite to your contours. Focus on areas between your jaw and cheek bone, above your brow bone, on your upper lip, and the inner corners of your eyes,” says Rivero (try PYT BEAUTY Set Me Up Setting Powder!). Use your powder puff to gently press and roll your powder into these areas to create that lit-from-within look wherever the light hits. We’re fans of this LUNA MAGIC Powder Puff Duo for applying our pressed and loose setting powders. 

5. Set Your Look to Last

KIMCHI CHIC BEAUTY Stage Proof Matte Setting Spray

Lastly, top off your skin with a light mist of a matte setting spray (Ipsters love KIMCHI CHIC BEAUTY Stage Proof Matte Setting Spray), for a lasting semi-matte finish that looks natural and effortless,” says Rivero.

Want more tips on creating trending makeup looks? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated May 7, 2024 12:00 AM