For a flawless finish that enhances the look of the base makeup layered below, a setting powder is the crucial last step in order to encourage it to stay in place all day.
No matter your skin type, you can incorporate this product into your makeup routine. If you have oily skin, it offers a mattifying effect, but if you have dry skin, it will fix your look in place with a combination of nourishing ingredients so as not to exacerbate the dehydration.
Setting powders come in various forms, from pressed to loose, and each have their advantages. Pressed powders tend to be easier to use, mess-free and are generally more pigmented than their loose counterparts. You can use them alongside as well as independently of foundation, concealer or tinted moisturiser as they are multi-tasking with a slight colour or shimmer.
A loose powder, however, will generally have a finer milled texture which works to absorb more excess sebum throughout the day, giving more staying power to your look. They are ideal for oily or combination skin types. It can be applied alongside cream and colour products with ease and tend to be translucent in their colourway, adding no further tint.
To find out more, we called on Amalie Russell, Editorial PRO Artist at Bobbi Brown UK:
What do setting powders do?
“Setting powers help to keep makeup ‘locked in’ and reduce any unwanted shine as well as create the illusion of a filter onto skin.”
Where should you apply?
“Always start by applying setting powder on areas that produce most shine (around nose and above brows) or where you have most makeup coverage and need to keep the makeup sealed.”
What skin types does it best suit?
“Powder will suit any skin type depending on the formula. A normal to oily skin type can withstand more ‘weight’ with fuller coverage powders, and a dry skin best suits an ‘airy’, lightweight powder.”
What textures are best for different skin types?
“An all around powder for any skin type is a sheer, translucent powder. This formula simply adds a very light veil that takes away unwanted shine and sets makeup in place to create a longer lasting hold.
“Normal to oilier skin is usually a bit thicker and can absorb fuller cover powdered foundations. Dry skin usually suffers from lack of water or oil so it is best to use powders that are lightweight, moisturising or brightening to reduce the appearance of texture from dryness.”
What is baking and how does it work?
“Baking is all about superpower lasting makeup as well as for oily skin types. This ‘cooking’ technique is created by using powder to set any foundation and concealer with a sponge or powder puff, then allowing makeup to ‘marinate’ (10 minutes or so) before dusting any excess powder away.
“This technique has been used for many years in film and drag makeup and is now used in modern ways for everyday use.”
Shop the best setting powders below for an airbrush finish
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
It’s a mainstay in makeup artists’ kits the world over, a multi-beauty award winner and considered up there with the best setting powders on the market, Laura Mercier’s translucent product is a must as the temperature rises.
The lightweight formula sits on the skin, providing a blurring effect, a flawless finish and absorbing shine with its mattifying effect. It makes skin look expensive, adds a diffused glow and comes in three colours for a range of skin tones - is it any wonder we’re so obsessed?
Buy now £34.00, Boots
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder
IT Cosmetics was created by a former news presenter to give a photo-ready airbrush finish and this is one of the most cult items in the collection with almost 500 five star reviews.
The powder glides onto the skin and has an immediate blurring effect that minimises the appearance of pores as well as fine lines without settling (the latter thanks to hydrolysed collagen within the formula). The setting product is transluscent on application to smooth out skin without changing the hue of the base below.
Buy now £25.00, Cult Beauty
Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
From the mascara, to the lipsticks, Hourglass is one of the most highly rated makeup labels on the market and a fan-favourite among beauty editors. The setting powder also deserves your attention for its finely milled texture that acts as an invisible veil (the clue is in the name) to offer a silky and blurring effect in one swipe of a brush.
There is even diamond power included in order to reflect light to ensure a flawless complexion in every snap with a slight shimmer. It also offers advanced staying power and has a mattifying finish that will come particularily welcome for oily skin types.
Buy now £41.00, FeelUnique
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Setting Powder
Instead of immediately swiping for the Paris filter, opt instead for this product from Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty to bring the effect to life. This loose powder comes in one of the most expansive shade ranges for this product type (in true Fenty style), ranging from the lightest Butter, to the darkest Coffee - totalling at eight different hues.
The texture is extremely fine, giving a barely-there look and feel on the skin. It has simultaneously a matte finish, while imparting a healthy glow.
Buy now £26.00, Boots
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish
This pressed powder was borne out of the extensive expertise of renowned makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury to provide an airbrush finish with all-day appeal. There is a reason why it is one of the most popular pressed powders in the UK (and around the world) and in fact one of these products is sold every minute - such is the testament to its quality.
The micro powder gets to work immediately offering a smoothing, perfecting finish and comes in four shades; fair, medium, tan and deep - although the latter could be more so.
Buy now £36.00, Charlotte Tilbury
Anastasia Beverly Hills Loose Setting Powder
Anastasia Soare may have founded her Beverly Hills cosmetics range with a speciality in browchitecture but the brand has expanded since then and now has some of the most pigmented powders on the market.
While the eyeshadow palettes deserve their place in your collection, so too does this setting powder that has a smooth, lightweight texture that will set your makeup in place as you go from work, to after-work drinks, to after after-work drinks.
As well as fixing your base, it absorbs excess oil, brightens and leaves a soft-focus airbrush-like finish without drying out the skin. There are four shades, each of which is transluscent when applied. You also get real bang for your buck as it will last you years.
Buy now £29.25, Cult Beauty
MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder
When it comes to getting creative with your makeup look, there is one brand that has cut their teeth from the tools to do exactly that: MAC. From its playful shade range, to the formulas to set them firmly in place, the cosmetics label has always been on the forefront of innovation, which includes this finishing powder.
There is just one colour to suit all and it comes in a universal hue that is invisible on the skin. No matter whether you layer it over foundation, concealer, eyeliner or on bare skin, it offers a velvety look that will tame excess sebum throughout the day and after dark.
Buy now £24.00, Boots
Supergoop! (Re)Setting Powder SPF 30
While we should all be applying suncream rain or shine, it is on the forefront of our minds as we approach summer. Supergoop was founded with the belief that applying SPF should not be an arduous process and thus the brand crafts products that will fit seamlessly into your skincare routine.
One of the most popular in the line-up from our friends across the pond is the label’s (Re)Setting Powder which we are pleased to report is now available in the UK. It is a mineral setting powder that also doubles up as SPF 30. This means that while you take advantage of its mattifying and makeup securing properties, you are also treating your complexion to a shield against ageing and potentially harmful UV rays. It’s also sweat resistant and seemingly invisible. Fuss free.
Buy now £28.00, Cult Beauty
Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Powder
One of the lesser known labels on the cosmetics block, Kosas has a celebrity fan-based that includes Hailey Bieber among many others. This setting powder has a sheer finish for a healthy shine no matter your skin type and there are nine shades across a broad range of tones.
It takes a unique approach to texture as it appears like a mousse when in the compact. Just a swipe of a brush and it become like a loose powder with a blurring effect - but without the mess that this often brings.
It is packed with kind-to-skin ingredients like bamboo stem extract for its matte effect, Passionfruit Leaf Extract for its minimisation of fine lines and rinkles and Chinese Peony that blurs pores.
Buy now £34.00, Revolve
Westman Atelier Vital Pressed Skincare powder
When you’ve carefully curated your look to be the perfect balance of matte and shine with highlighters, blush and foundation, the last thing you want is to incorporate a powder that will dull all radiance - that’s where Gucci Westman has got you covered.
The legendary makeup artist has formulated the Vital Pressed Skincare powder to enhance the makeup layered below without counteracting the glow. Smoothing pores, evening out tone and incorporating supercharged ingredients like vitamin C and probiotics into your complexion, this powder will become your go-to when you want your look to last.
Buy now £69.00, Selfridges
Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder
Huda Beauty is not known for subtle makeup looks. The brand’s product line-up was created to provide high-octane, high-drama cosmetics for those who love the process and want to experiment. One of the bellwhethers for the baking trend too, the label - founded by makeup artist Huda Kattan - launched this product to do exactly that.
So apply your base as normal and then layer up this powder and leave for 10 or so minutes before brushing off the excess in order to give your makeup look lasting power, whether you’re heading to an event or braving a sweaty tube commute. The formula is finely milled and applies almost invisibly. It encourages a bright eyed look, minimisies pores and fine lines and controls shine.
Buy now £31.00, FeelUnique