Makeup application is subjective. Depending on what look you’re aiming to create, you may be working with a full face of products or just a handful for a minimalist feel. Regardless of where you land, you definitely want the final result to last. That’s where makeup powders come into play. Whether pressed or loose, they lock everything in place for a flawless, long-lasting finish. Applying a powder may seem like an easy step. As celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg says, “You always want to start with liquids and creams and then follow up with a powder.” But the category is vast and includes various types, each with their own purpose.
Between finishing, setting, and blotting formulas, determining the the type of powder you need can be overwhelming. Still, incorporating one of these ingenious items into your routine can make or break your look. “This small step not only determines how long your makeup will last but also how well it holds up against the elements,” says Greenberg. You’ve probably mastered your go-to combination of complexion products. Now, it’s time to find the right powder to ensure your finished look stays intact all day long.
Ahead, TZR spoke with two experts for a full rundown on makeup powders, including tips on how to apply them.
Choosing A Makeup Powder
Makeup shopping can be dizzying for even the most seasoned beauty enthusiast. When it comes to selecting a powder, it’s best to outline the goals of your look first. “Determining whether you want to increase the longevity of your makeup or simply decrease shine is a good starting point,” says Greenberg.
Choosing the right type of powder also means considering its format. According to celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene, pressed options are compact and can serve an array of functions. Loose formulas, on the other hand, are often just used for setting the makeup in place. These variables may seem minute, but both pros note that they will help whittle down the choices in the category and help you shop with purpose.
Types Of Makeup Powders
Pressed powder is one of the most beginner-friendly options. Since blushes and bronzers come in a similar format, you probably already know how to apply them. They’re also easy to travel with and serve a few different purposes. Most notably, they help mattify the skin for an even finish. Gene mentions that most products have a minimal amount of color to fit varying complexions. “The goal of this powder is to aid in oil control throughout the day and to extend the wear time of your makeup,” he says.
Choosing a pressed powder usually comes down to finding the right color for your skin tone. Gene explains that these products should be applied immediately after your foundation. In that vein, it’s best to select a shade that complements your skin tone. Once you’ve found a suitable one, application is a breeze. Similar to blush, you can use a makeup sponge or powder brush to apply them. Powder brushes have a round shape and tapered top that helps deposit the product evenly and create a natural look.
Setting powder, also known as baking powder, can be harder to work with because of its loose formula. However, learning how to use it can be extremely beneficial, because “it’s designed to keep the products locked in place and give you a flawless look,” says Gene. Put simply, it can make your makeup as close to transfer-proof as possible. Along with increasing the longevity of your beat, Gene notes that it can also brighten certain areas of the face. “Yellow and pink powders can illuminate the under the eyes when used to set concealer,” he says.
This type of powder is typically reserved for full-coverage makeup looks that need to last for a long time. That said, it should be the final step in your routine. But if you need some extra assurance, Greenberg has a stellar tip. “After your foundation, apply a thin layer of setting powder on top and then a second layer of foundation,” she says. It’s a heavier look, but she explains that it will ensure the makeup lasts all day. As for application, she recommends using a puff or flat brush to keep the loose powder concentrated in specific areas on the face.
OK, here’s where things get tricky. Most people are familiar with setting powders as the final makeup step. While they do deliver a flawless appearance, this product can be the better option to fine-tune everything. “These powders are designed to blur out any imperfections, such as lines and pores, and smooth out the makeup,” says Gene. He adds that finishing powders are best used for big occasions to give you a photo-perfect look. That said, it’s always applied once you’ve completed your foundation routine with either a sponge or a large brush.
Think of this type of powder as a handy tool to keep your makeup fresh on the go. Rihanna famously demonstrated this during her Super Bowl performance when she stopped mid-song to apply a dab to her forehead. “Blotting powder is the best product to travel with for touchups throughout the day,” says Gene. They're always pressed, appear translucent on the skin, and provide a slew of benefits. Most notably, they help remove excess shine. But they can also blur pores and even your texture.
Unlike setting and finishing formulas, blotting powder is meant to be extremely light. You don’t need a heavy hand to apply them or several layers. Instead, Gene tells TZR that it’s best to lightly dust over the face or press the powder into an area prone to oiliness. The other big benefit of blotting powder is that it can be combined with other types of powders. “The formulas are designed to be applied continuously throughout the day, so you don’t have to worry about build-up,” he says. Still, it’s best to start with a light layer and only blot as needed.
When it comes to maintaining your makeup, there’s nothing quite like a makeup powder. “This extra step just makes your application and life easier,” says Greenberg. With these tips, you’ll be able to find the right kind of powder to make your efforts last and have a professional look.