Picture this: You’ve used your favorite foundation and concealer, only to go out and have it crease or melt within an hour. Whether you’re heading to work or a special occasion, you may want to add a last step to your routine before you step out the door. The best setting powders (like our top pick from Hourglass) keep your makeup in place and shine at bay, so you don’t have to constantly re-apply and worry about it smearing. “A great setting powder does a variety of tasks and is an essential part of any makeup routine,” says makeup artist and product development lead at Crunchi, Kristen Fortier. “Its purpose is to set makeup in place, reduce oil or shine on the skin and create a smoother appearance.”
If you have oily skin, a finishing powder is a must, according to director of education and artistry at Bobbi Brown, Victor Anaya. “I like to say, set it and forget it,” he says. “Powder formulas are so advanced today and have many benefits, and as long as the skin is prepped before complexion products, a powder can look very seamless.” We asked the experts to guide us through what to look for in a setting powder and which ones are ideal for various skin types. Below, find eight of our top picks.
What To Look For In A Setting Powder
When searching for the right setting powder for you, it’s best to consider some key factors. You’ll want it to work for your skin type and the complexion products you typically use. Ahead, a deeper look at what to keep in mind.
Before adding a new setting powder to your makeup bag, get to know your skin type first. Discovering what your skin needs will help you land on a formula that enhances your makeup and helps set it in place. If you have oily skin, note that your skin “is always going to need a mattifying pick to help absorb oil throughout the day,” says celebrity makeup artist Emily Gray.
For those with dry skin, experts recommend sticking to finer milled powders since they are lighter and don’t penetrate deep into pores or lines. “In my experience, dry skin tends to be flaky, so it’s important to have a finely milled powder to set. I have seen some heavier ones really emphasize flakiness texture on dry skin,” says Gray. And if you have normal to oily skin, “look for something that has oil- and shine-absorbing benefits and a finish that complements your complexion products,” says Anaya.
Another key feature to consider when buying a finishing powder is the shade. The main ones are: translucent and tinted. Luckily, there’s no shortage of the former, that go onto the skin with no color. “I only tend to use traditional translucent setting powder on lighter skin tones. That powder is white or off-white, and can leave a cast on darker complexions,” Gray says. These are especially great for achieving an airbrushed effect.
Gray likes to use tinted options or brightening setting powders on those with medium dark to deeper complexions. Unlike translucent compositions, tinted ones do not leave a white cast on top of your makeup.
Lastly, there are brightening versions which range in tone from light pink to banana yellow to deeper honey, which complement different skin tones. “I personally like to use brightening powders where I put concealer: under the eyes, down the nose bridge, around the nose and chin and a bit on the center of the forehead,” Gray says. “This adds a natural-looking highlight effect to your face.”
Setting powders can be loose or pressed. Loose powders come in tubs or jars and need to be applied with a brush. They’re buildable and can help mattify and smooth the skin. Pressed powders are typically packaged in a sleek compact, making them perfect for traveling or keeping in your bag for touchups.
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