Finishing Powder vs Setting Powder: What’s The Difference?

The fine line between finishing powder and setting powder is frustratingly blurry. The industry now seems to market these products as one and the same, making the actual uses and benefits of each unclear. If you’re feeling confused and unsure of which powder is right for you, worry no more!

We’re breaking down the differences between the two so you can feel more comfortable and educated before making a purchase. We’ve even linked to a few holy grail powders that are perfect for any makeup bag or artist kit. Happy powder shopping, beauties!

Setting Powder

Designed to “set” or hold foundation in place, setting powders  prevent  base makeup from rubbing off and reduce shine for a long-lasting, flawless complexion. Available in two common forms – loose and pressed – setting powders can be translucent or slightly tinted to match skin tone.

Choosing the best form of setting powder is purely a matter of preference. Pressed powders are semi-solid, easy to use and great for taking on the go. Loose powders are finer in consistency and don’t transport well – they’re messy! But they do offer great lightweight coverage and work well for those prone to oily skin or who prefer wearing liquid foundations.

Setting  powder also serves as the perfect weapon against excess oil buildup - hello, mid-day touchups! For those in search of a more sheer look, apply setting powder in place of foundation for lightweight, natural coverage.

Popular Setting Powders  

Here are the top five setting powders, as voted by our Pro Artist community:

  1. RCMA No Color Powder Loved amongst celebrities and makeup artists, this beauty favorite sets foundation without changing the color. The formula delivers a smooth translucent veil without adding unwanted texture or creating a "caked on" look. Disappears for a completely invisible hold and keeps shine at bay. 
  1. Ben Nye Neutral Set This colorless powder formula blends with every skin tone without diminishing the complexion’s natural glow. Ben Nye's only non-translucent powder that contains a bright white pigment good for very fair shades. Controls perspiration for high energy performers.
  1. Danessa Myricks Evolution Powder Provides a silky smooth, invisible finish. This light-diffusing weightless translucent powder can be used over and under foundation. Mimics perfect skin with professionally tested, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. Also available in four tinted shades to match fair to deep skin tones. 
  1. Graftobian Luxe Cashmere HD Setting Powder With an ultra-fine ingredient base, this powder brings a soft focus to the complexion while blotting out unnecessary shine. Discreetly evens out redness and pink tinges to deliver a warm, golden glow! Perfectly sets undereye concealer and foundation for a flawless, camera-ready finish.
  1. Mehron UltraFine Setting Powder Finish off your look with this finely processed, clump-free setting powder with a built-in antiperspirant. Specially designed to retain the smoothness of your makeup, the product comes in a user-friendly, convenient "shaker" container.

Finishing Powder

As the name suggests, finishing powders are designed for use after a makeup look is complete. While this product is not recommended for daily use, it’s a great option when you’ll be in front of bright lights and cameras. 

Most commonly sold in loose form, finishing powders blur fine lines, conceal pores and leave a flawless, camera-ready finish. Blend the product well to avoid a dry, cakey appearance and also to eliminate white flashback on camera.

Popular Finishing Powders

Here are the top five finishing powders, as voted by our Pro Artist community: 

  1. Ben Nye Banana Powder This silky-fine, mattifying translucent finishing powder delivers a hint of color without casting a white glare in your photos. Available in four luxurious tints, there's a beautiful shade for every skin tone.
  1. Mehron Celebré Pro HD Loose Mineral Finishing Powder A luxurious matte finishing powder that perfectly complements every skin tone. Made of transparent French delaminated talc, keeps your colors bright and true. This ultra-fine powder is made with a multi-mineral complex to promote skin’s vigor and moisturization, keeping skin soft and hydrated. Available in three versatile shades to compliment all skin tones. 
  1. NYX Studio Finishing Powder This 100% pure mineral silica finishing powder is perfect for locking your makeup into place. The luminous white powder goes on translucent and works on all skin tones to leave your skin looking radiant and luminous. 
  1. RCMA Over Powder This lightweight finishing powder adds a soft sheen effect. These powders are gorgeous when layered over blush or any of the high points of the face, as well as for achieving an ethereal effect all over the body. Dust it onto collarbones, shoulders, cheekbones and the cupid's bow for a subtle light-catching highlight.
  1. Temptu Pro Invisible Difference Finishing Powder This gorgeous invisible powder delivers a matte look and reduces shine as the final step in your makeup application. This jet-milled powder lives up to its name by virtually disappearing on the skin's surface, leaving only a pore-less, photo-finish complexion.  Apply after makeup is completely dry.  Best when applied very lightly with a powder brush and buffed out.

Which finishing and setting powders do you love? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to tag us on   Instagram  in your completed looks.

About Camera Ready Cosmetics 

Camera Ready Cosmetics was founded in 2003 by pro makeup artist Mary Erickson. An industry veteran for more than 30 years, Mary knows quality and value and understands what an artist needs. Mary is the buyer for Camera Ready Cosmetics and chooses only what she would use on set.

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