10 Best Setting Powders to Make Your Foundation Look Incredible
Get all of the glow and none of the shine by adding a setting powder to your makeup routine.
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Why you should try a setting powder
While lipstick and eye shadow seem to be some of the most popular makeup products out there, there are a few additional makeup staples you should be paying attention to that keep your face looking perfect. Setting powder is one of those unsung beauty heroes. After all, what good is obsessing over the best foundations, concealers, face moisturizers, and primers if you’re not using the best setting powder to keep it all from leaking down your face?
Whether it’s baked, pressed, or translucent, a setting powder can literally set your makeup and keep everything looking blended and perfect. “Setting powder is used as the last step in your makeup application to help prolong the life of your look,” says makeup artist Kristen Leonard, who’s also a product developer at Hard Candy. “It helps to absorb excess oil on the skin, which could make it hard for creams and liquid foundations to adhere to the skin.”
Are setting powders a good idea for everyone?
Who should use a setting powder anyway? “Anyone who wants to prolong the wear of their fluid foundations and/or anyone who wants to get rid of unwanted shine” should be using a setting powder, according to celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg of Jamie Makeup. And here are a few more great reasons to powder your nose: “If you find yourself looking oily throughout the day, which typically occurs in the afternoon when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce the most sebum (oil), or if your face seems shiny in photos, setting powders can help prevent these problems,” says Denise Dixon, a BIPOC female entrepreneur, longtime cosmetologist, and founder and CEO of the Cosmetology Institute of Las Vegas.
Don’t be put off by powders that look too pale for your complexion or seem drying. “There are definitely brands for women of color that offer an extensive color range; or look for skin-soothing ingredients if you are dealing with acne,” Greenberg says. While you’re at it, pay attention to the ingredient list. “I would stay away from talc,” Greenberg adds, “and opt for mineral-based formulas.”
However, “setting powder can cause problems for those with dry skin,” Dixon says. “If you experience dryness, flakiness, or irritation from setting powder, a setting spray may be a better option.” And before you buy, make sure you’re not doubling up on products that do similar things. “Those using powder foundation would not also need to use a setting powder to complete their look,” Dixon says.
How we chose the best setting powders
With so many great products to choose from, how can you be sure you’re buying the best one? For our curated list, we asked celebrity makeup artists and other beauty experts who work with faces of all ages and tints to help us understand what makes a great setting powder and how to choose. We also considered online reviews and tested a wide range of products to come up with the best setting powders you won’t know how you ever lived without.
Best for long wear
Younique Touch Behold Translucent Setting Powder
Greenberg’s top pick for best setting powder is what she describes as “an all-over great mineral-based powder that works for most skin tones while extending wear and reducing shine.” First, learn how to apply foundation, then follow up with a long-lasting setting powder like this one.
- Works for most skin tones
- Holds up for a long period of time
- Like many setting powders, it comes at a higher price point
Best lightweight setting powder
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
This is Dixon’s all-time fave for the best setting powder. “The product is great for ‘baking,’ a popular beauty technique,” she says, which involves applying excess powder over concealer and foundation, and letting it sit for a few minutes before brushing off the extra. (You’ll also need to learn how to apply concealer for this method.) Plus, Laura Mercier’s loose setting powder “doesn’t have that yellowish tint I’ve found in other setting powders,” Dixon says. “It’s won several major beauty awards, and it goes on smoothly without weighing other products down in the process. It also lasts forever.”
- Great for “baking” your makeup
- No yellowish tint
- Contains talc, which may be too drying for dry skin
Best for disguising flaws
Manna Kadar Flawless Finish Dual Powder
We like this dual powder, which can be applied wet or dry to provide long-lasting wear with a medium to full-coverage finish, giving your skin a flawless, natural, matte look. It’s available in four shades that blend with your skin tone to camouflage any imperfections; you can also first apply a dark spot corrector.
- Can be applied with a makeup brush as a powder, or with a damp sponge for all-over coverage
- Not cakey
- Product may crack easily in the case
Best for combination skin
Beautyblender Bounce Soft Focus Gemstone Setting Powder
We love the way this ever so slightly sparkly powder cancels shine, softens fine lines, and blurs uneven texture and blemishes while setting makeup without ever looking flat or lifeless. Bonus points for its talc-free formula, which gives life to your skin without dryness, caking, or “flashback” (that weird extra shiny effect some people can have on their T-zone). If you have mostly dry skin, first apply a foundation for dry skin on those areas.
- Won’t dry out skin
- Gives an airbrushed look
- Not all users may want to sparkle!
Best for mature skin
Elina Organics Crushed Pearl Translucent Setting Powder
In traditional Indian and Chinese medicine (or Ayurveda), pearl powder is used for its detoxifying, calming, and anti-aging benefits. Made from actual ground pearls, this setting powder is light enough to layer over your makeup and keep foundation in place. You’ll have a matte but not drying look. Pro tip: Avoid using near your eyes where it might settle into your laugh lines, and start with the best foundation for aging skin.
- Made from organic material
- Amino acids may stimulate cell repair
- May settle into fine lines around eyes
Best for brightening
Vasanti Cosmetics Lotus Brightening Powder
Vasanti’s Brightening Powder may be the best setting powder for a big night out. The soft, loose powder is made to brighten the skin and blur the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. We’ve also heard raves from makeup artists who love that it’s also crease-proof. Brightening your eye area is one of the makeup tricks to make your eyes look bigger.
- Brightens the under-eye area
- Doesn’t make skin look “ashy”
- Won’t settle into creases
- Some reviewers reported powder spilling out during shipping
Best cult fave
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder
If you prefer your setting powder to be breathable, make sure to read the ingredient list. A Sephora community favorite, this stunning powder has rose wax and almond oil to nourish and moisturize skin. It’s also made to be super light, so it will blend but not hide your skin. Though the package indicated medium coverage, we were very pleasantly surprised at how well it hid blemishes. If you’re prone to pimples, first apply one of the best foundations for acne-prone skin.
- Packed with nourishing ingredients
- Hides blemishes
- May be too dark for very light skin tones
Best buildable setting powder
Sephora Collection Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Powder
If you hate the feeling of heavy cosmetics, look for a formulation that stresses how lightweight it is. This baked face powder allows you to build to as much coverage as you want, which is great in case you want the bare effect on some of your face and extra coverage on places with discoloration or shine. For areas of your face that get shiny, first apply one of the best foundations for oily skin.
- Barely there formula
- Users can adjust the amount of coverage
- May go on too light at first
Best bargain buy
Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder Makeup
This is the best setting powder at an affordable price point: Maybelline’s Fit Me powder costs less than $5 and has over 40,000 reviews on Amazon, with over 90 percent four or five stars. Having tried it and been won over, this product is a repeat purchase for this writer. Worth noting, it can go on slightly thick, so try applying with one of the best makeup brushes for a flawless look (and make sure you know how to clean makeup brushes to avoid skin infections).
- Lowest price on our list
- Available in many different shades
- Matte finish
- May go on heavy, so apply gently with a big, fluffy brush
Best mistake-proof setting powder
L’Oréal Paris Makeup Infallible Pro-Sweep & Lock Translucent Setting Powder
Love the idea of a setting powder but still aren’t sure how to apply it? L’Oréal’s product is nearly impossible to mess up: an almost invisible powder that blends to almost every skin tone and blurs but doesn’t cover. Here’s another makeup tip to avoid applying this makeup wrong: If you’re worried the product will get all over the place, try peeling back only a bit of the protective cover until you master the application.
- Easy to apply
- Disguises flaws without heavy coverage
- Use sparingly to avoid settling in creases
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