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 of the best setting and finishing powders that are perfect for any makeup bag or kit. Happy powder shopping, beauties!
What is 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. There are different types of setting powders that you can pick from depending on your needs, as well as options between translucent powder or slightly tinted to match your skin tone.
Types of Setting Powders:
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.
5 Best Setting Powders
Our makeup artist community has voted, and these are the five best setting powders, according to them:
- RCMA - No Color Powder
- Ben Nye - Neutral Set
- Danessa Myricks Beauty - Evolution Powder
- Graftobian - Luxe Cashmere HD Setting Powder
- Mehron - UltraFine Setting Powder
- RCMA’s No Color Powder: Loved amongst celebrities and makeup artists, this beauty favorite sets foundation without changing the color. The formula delivers a smooth translucent powder veil without adding unwanted texture or creating a "caked on" look. This setting powder keeps shine at bay and disappears completely for an invisible hold.
- Ben Nye’s 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 is good for very fair shades. This setting powder controls perspiration for high-energy performers.
- Danessa Myricks Beauty’s Evolution Powder: This setting powder provides a silky smooth, invisible finish. This light-diffusing, weightless, translucent powder can be used over and under foundation. The product mimics perfect skin with professionally tested, vegan, and cruelty free ingredients. It’s also available in four tinted shades to match fair to deep skin tones.
- Graftobian’s 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. It discreetly evens out redness and pink tinges to deliver a warm, golden glow! It also perfectly sets undereye concealer and foundation for a flawless, camera ready finish.
- Mehron’s 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.
How is Finishing Powder Different from Setting 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.
5 Most Popular Finishing Powders
These top five finishing powders have been vetted by the pros to help you select the best options for all your makeup needs:
- Ben Nye – Banana Powder
- Mehron – Celebre Pro HD Loose Mineral Finishing Powder
- NYX – Studio Finishing Powder
- RCMA – Over Powder
- TEMPTU – Pro Invisible Difference Finishing Powder
- Ben Nye’s Banana Powder: This silky-fine, mattifying translucent powder delivers a hint of color without casting a white glare in your photos. Available in four luxurious tints, this finishing powder offers a beautiful shade for every skin tone.
- Mehron’s Celebré Pro HD Loose Mineral Finishing Powder: This Mehron product is a luxurious matte finishing powder that comes in three versatile shades to perfectly complement every skin tone. Made of transparent French delaminated talc, it 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.
- NYX’s 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.
- RCMA’s 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 and perfect 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.
- TEMPTU’s 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 this finishing powder very lightly with a powder brush after makeup is completely dry, and don’t forget to buff it out for the best results.
Now that we’re all squared up with the differences between setting powders and finishing powders, you’re ready to get to work creating flawless makeup looks and setting and finishing them like a pro. Which finishing and setting powders do you think are the best? 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 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.