Difference Between Matte and Gloss

Main Difference – Matte vs Gloss

Matte and gloss are two words that are often used when talking about the surface of a product. You must have heard these words in conversations about paint, papers, color printouts, and nail polish. The main difference between matte and gloss is their sheen; matte surfaces do not have a sheen whereas glossy surfaces have a high sheen.

This article describes,

1. What is Matte?
     – Meaning, Features, Photo prints, Paint

2. What is Gloss?
     – Meaning, Features, Photo prints, Paint

3. What is the difference between Matte and Gloss?Difference Between Matte and Gloss - Comparison Summary

What is Matte

The word matte is often used to talk about colors or paint. Matte refers to a dull and flat surface, i.e., surfaces that do not have a sheen. This surface or finish reflect less light.

Matte Photo Prints

Photos with matte finish reflect less light and are easier to view in bright lights. This finish is ideal for black and white photos. Photos with matte finish are also resistant to dirt and fingerprints.

Matte Paint

Matte paint refers to a paint that has no or little sheen. It tends to reflect less light. This matte finish can be seen in wall paints, car paints, and even nail polish.

Difference Between Matte and Gloss

Matte nail polish

What is Gloss

Gloss or glossy refers to the high sheen or surface luster. In technical terms, glossiness is a quality of optics which describes how well a surface reflects light in a specular direction.

Gloss Photo Prints

Photos with a gloss-finish have a vibrant appearance. The rich and vibrant colors give an impression of high quality. This finish reflects light well, but they can become blinding because of this reflection properties. They also tend to attract dirt and fingerprint marks.

Gloss Paint

Gloss or glossy paints or colors also refer to those with a high sheen. The sheen is due to the surface’s ability to reflect light well. Glossy finish can be found in many types of paints, including wall paint, car paint, and nail polish.

Main Difference - Matte vs Gloss

Gloss nail polish

Difference Between Matte and Gloss


Matte: Matte surfaces have a low sheen.

Gloss: Gloss surfaces have a high sheen.

Reflection of Light

Matte: Matte surfaces diffuse light in a range of angles.

Gloss: Gloss surfaces reflect light in a specular direction.


Dirt and Fingerprints

Matte: Photos with matte-finish are resistant to dirt and fingerprints.

Gloss: Photos with gloss-finish tend to attract dirt and fingerprints.


Matte: Matte finish is more suited for black and white photos.

Gloss: Gloss finish is more suited for color photos since it gives vibrant and rich colors.

Bright Conditions

Matte: Photos with matte finish are easier to view in bright conditions.

Gloss: Photos with gloss finish may be difficult to view in bright lights.

Image Courtesy:

“Boring Fingers” by   via

“Red nails” By Bumerang22 – Own work (CC0) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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