Makeup Artists Say You’re Probably Using the Wrong Setting Powder For Your Skin

Getty / Kiryl Pro motion

If you thought a setting powder was used to simply keep your makeup in place, think again. Over the years the colour range for setting powders has levelled up, from brightening to colour correcting, a good setting powder can not only set your makeup in place and minimise oil, it can work wonders for your overall makeup finish. That’s why it’s important to find the best setting powder for your skin.

Finding the best setting powder to suit your skin’s needs can be confusing, especially if you want your setting powder to work that little bit harder to help achieve a flawless, filtered finish. Translucent setting powder has always been the go-to and although it may work for all skin tones, and is generally recommended for all, it may not be the best setting powder to create your desired makeup look. It could also be causing your makeup to look cakey or flat.

To help you on your pursuit of the perfect powder we have asked the experts for their top tips for picking the best setting powder for your skin tone, how to use colour correcting powders, and their favourite application tips and hacks, keep reading to find out what you may be picking the wrong powder and how to choose the right one to suit your skin’s needs.


What Is a Setting Powder?

A setting powder, traditionally called a finishing powder, is used on top of any cream makeup products, to remove any oil and set makeup in place. It has often been thought of as an invisible step, with its main purpose to keep your makeup lasting longer. However, as products have evolved there are now many different varieties that offer a range of different uses to suit your individual needs. “When choosing one to use, consider the look you want to achieve,” NYX Professional Make Up EMUA Fiyinfolu Olufemi tells POPSUGAR UK “Is it an everyday, natural face? Or a more even/highlighted look?” Yes, according to Olufemi, depending on what you want to achieve can affect the setting powder that is right for you.

What Are the Different Setting Powders?

This is when things get interesting. From coloured to translucent, each setting powder has its own benefits and uses. “Coloured powders work in a similar way to colour correcting concealers,” explains Olufemi. “If you struggle with dark circles and use a peach corrector (or your normal concealer) to even out the area, you could also set the area using a peach setting powder to reinforce the finish of the corrector/concealer so that the evenness lasts all day.”

“Trending on social media at the moment, we’re seeing a lot of people with fairer skin tones utilising a pink under eye powder, like Ciate Extraordinary Setting Powder (£18),” says Charlotte Knight, founder and CEO of Ciate London. “Using clever colour theory, pink can counteract any present blue tones in the face which can be present particularly in the hollows of the under eye,” she explains. “These same tones may not be present with someone of a deeper complexion, therefore a pink powder may not benefit them.”

However, if you’re looking to add brightness to your under eye or other highlighted areas and have darker skin tones, then try a yellow based. “Yellow based or ‘banana’ powders work best with warm undertones,” adds Olufemi. Knight agrees and recommends for those with olive or medium skin tones should look for banana or honey-tinted powders, “These will offer better colour correction, balancing out any discolouration common to this skin tone,” she explains. Opt for NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Setting Powder in Banana (£12)

If you have very fair, pale skin Olufemi recommends trying a lilac setting powder to balance and even this skin tone.

Do You Need Multiple Setting Powders?

The answer is a big YES! “Different setting powders do different things,” Jessica Kohn, UK Lead Artist at Laura Mercier tells POPSUGAR UK. “I use Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (£36.50) to lock in cream products, making makeup last and controlling oil. However, I also use a specific powder to set the under-eye concealer; as this area can have more texture, with thinner skin, it is best to use a powder specifically designed for this purpose.”

There are also setting powders which are created to match your skin tone. “Tinted powders should be applied wherever there is discolouration,” explains Knight. “Common areas include the undereye region, where concealer is typically applied, and for deeper skin tones, around the cheeks or mouth. Coloured powders complement concealer, providing additional coverage where needed.”

However, if you’re looking to scale back your makeup products then there is a one that will do the job. “I have numerous setting powders in both translucent and skin tones,” says Ruby Hammer MBE, Founder of Ruby Hammer Beauty. “But if you want to invest in only one, opt for a translucent as this will suit all skin tones all year round.”

How to Apply Setting Powder

Less is more seems to be the overriding recommendation. “Powders have evolved massively over the last decade,” says Hammer. “Go lightly to avoid caking and cracking. Sweep a small fluffy brush over the powder and tap away the excess, before lightly brushing over the areas of the face you require it.” If you prefer using a puff over a brush then you’re not alone. “My favourite way to apply any setting powder is to use a velour powder puff,” says Kohn. “Tap a small amount of loose setting powder onto the puff, fold it into a little taco shape and work the powder throughout the entirety of the puff itself. Next, reverse the taco shape and roll and press the powder into areas you wish to set. Using this technique allows you to press the powder into the foundation, primer and into any pores, really meshing them all together and allowing for longest lasting makeup.”

So next time you’re looking to purchase your next setting powder it may be time to switch things up to give your skin a flawless finish.

Lauren Ezekiel is an associate editor at POPSUGAR UK, where she writes about all things beauty and wellness. With a degree in journalism and 12 years’ experience as a beauty editor at a leading Sunday supplement, she is obsessed with skincare, hair and makeup, and is often found offering advice to innocent bystanders. Her work has been published in Grazia, OK, Health and Beauty, The Sun, ASDA, Dare and Metro.

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