"In most cases, it's actually still a base coat, clear coat paint. But the clear coat has a flattening agent in it that gives it that matte finish," said Mike Pennington, a car detailing expert.
The paint might not have gloss, but it still needs the right care.
"The problem is still scratches, and of course, matte finish paint still scratches just as easily, but the problem is you can't remove the scratches," said Barry Meguiar of Meguiar's, an Irvine manufacturer of car-care products.
Meguiar's has seen every kind of car finish over its 100-year existence, and now has specific advice for owners of cars with these matte paint jobs.
"You don't want to change it," Meguiar said. "You don't want to give a high gloss to a matte finish, but you do want to have a nice, rich color and sheen to it. So it's important to use the right products."
Firstly, a conventional automatic car wash is an absolute no-no. Meguiar's recommends hand washing with soap made for cars, not dish detergent. For light dirt, their quick detailer and a soft all-cotton cloth is recommended.
Waxing is a good idea, but here, too, you have to be careful. Buffing would make the paint shiny and uneven. A liquid spray wax - again, with only a cotton cloth to apply - is the way to go.
Traditionally, if your shiny paint got scratched up, you could use a little elbow grease and the right kind of products to make it shiny again. With matte finish paint, it's a whole different world. Once matte paint is accidentally shined, there's no turning back. It's ruined.
The same is true if the paint gets a deep scratch.
"Unfortunately, there's no way to fix that only you go back to a body shop and have it repainted," Pennington said.
Matte paint is catching on and will probably continue to do so. If you're thinking it's the look you want on your next car, be careful. Otherwise, something that's supposed to look really good could end up looking really bad.