The Difference Between Finishing Powder and Setting Powder
There are so many face powders out there, but it's hard to know what each really does for your skin. Case in point: finishing powders vs. setting powders. What's the difference? Is it just marketing, or do they really serve different purposes when it comes to doing makeup? To help clear it up, we reached out to makeup artist and beauty blogger Ivy Boyd.
Finishing Powder vs. Setting Powder
The verdict: they're different. According to Boyd, it's simple a matter of function vs. form. "A setting powder does exactly that — it sets your makeup," she says. She describes finishing powder, on the other hand, as more of a filter. "It is often translucent and is used to blur pores, soften texture, and even give an overall glow to the skin." Basically, finishing powder is for looks, whereas setting powder helps you get more hours out of your concealer, foundation, and other face makeup.
How to Use Setting Powder
When applying setting powder, Boyd recommends using a damp beauty blender to press the loose powder under your eyes and into your T-zone for an airbrushed look. Remember: press and roll; don't aggressively blend or rub.
How to Use Finishing Powder
Finishing powder should be lightly dusted on. "Think of it like a veil," Boyd says. She recommends a large, fluffy powder brush for applying finishing powder, but she says you can still use a damp beauty sponge for your cheeks where pores are larger.
Ready to start shopping? Here are some of the best finishing and setting powders on the market now.
Best Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
Boyd actually uses the word "legendary" when talking about Laura Mercier's Setting Powder ($40). A popular powder among beauty YouTubers and influencers, it comes in a translucent, a medium shade, and a deep shade to match your skin tone.
Best Setting Powder: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Matte Setting Powder
If you have dry skin but still want to reap the benefits of setting powder, the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Matte Setting Powder ($37) is your answer. It's known to be easy on dry skin while providing a smooth finish over foundation.
Best Setting Powder: CoverGirl Professional Loose Powder
CoverGirl's Professional Loose Powder ($4) gives your makeup a professional-level finish for a fraction of the cost. This travel-friendly powder sets your makeup, controls shine, and allows buildable coverage to help you create an ultrasmooth look.
Best Setting Powder: Dermablend Loose Setting Powder
Dermablend's Loose Setting Powder ($29) promises up to 16 hours of staying power, so you can rest easy knowing smudging and fading won't be an issue on days when you need long-lasting coverage. Not only does this powder set your makeup, but it also helps minimize pores and control shine.
Best Setting Powder: Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Setting Powder
Tarte's vegan products have long been fan favorites, and the Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Setting Powder ($33) is no different. This translucent powder absorbs extra oil and leaves skin with a smooth, matte finish that also locks in your makeup. It's perfect for those who are going for a natural no-makeup makeup look.
Best Finishing Powder: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder
Make Up For Ever's HD Loose Powder ($37) is a cult classic, created specifically for looking your best on camera. Even if your face won't be in 4K, you can apply it for a smooth, natural finish. Not to mention, this coveted powder delivers a naturally matte, diffused look while minimizing the appearance of pores and fine lines.
Best Finishing Powder: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder
While not translucent in color, the tiny color-correcting particles in the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder ($50) counteract the effects of harsh light and refine the appearance of skin. This powder also comes in six shades to work with different types of light, including radiant and luminous light.
Best Finishing Powder: NYX Professional Makeup High Definition Finishing Powder
The affordable NYX's Professional Makeup HD Finishing Powder ($7, originally $11) is perfect for those with oily skin. The silky pressed powder provides translucent coverage and leaves behind a lightweight, matte finish.