Setting Powder vs. Finishing Powder - Where to Save and Splurge

Nitya here! I’m ticking off your makeup review requests.

Until recently, I didn’t know that there was much of a difference between setting powder and finishing powder! But indeed, they are VERY different so let’s break it down:

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1. Setting powder is used to set your makeup and keep it in place so it doesn’t move and helps combat oiliness. After applying foundation and concealer, press this powder into your skin with a powder puff, beauty blender or foundation brush. Do not blend or rub in circular motions! This is also the type of powder you can use to bake underneath your eyes. I would recommend using setting powder if you use a liquid foundation or concealer or tend to be oily. It is fairly easy to incorporate into your makeup routine. 

2. Finishing powder is used as a final step to blur out imperfections, minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines, and give an overall air brushed finish. These powders are white and become translucent on the skin. Once you’ve applied all of your makeup, use a big fluffy brush with just the smallest amount of product and lightly dust all over your face. Less is more! Overdoing this step will result in that dreaded flashback with a white overcast! This is pretty technique sensitive makeup so I would recommend only using for events where you will be photographed and not an everyday essential.  And you certainly want to practice with it a few times before a big event! 

Laura Mercier makes one of the most beloved setting powders, which comes in 2 shades (translucent and med/deep). These products are fairly pricey so I tried out some drugstore alternatives. My favorite drugstore dupe is the Maybelline Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder. It is a fraction of the price and an incredible powder that comes in 6 shades. It helps keep my makeup looking amazing all day and I have already switched over from Laura Mercier! Now you may be thinking I thought this was a setting powder not a finishing powder?? What I've found is that many drugstore brands use these terms interchangeably, which is unfortunate because they are very different products. When in doubt, if the product is a white powder it most likely is a finishing powder and if the powder is translucent or skin toned it is most likely a setting powder. 

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Makeup Forever's Ultra HD MicroFinishing Loose Powder is a prestige brand favorite. I tried the Sephora Beauty Amplifier Smoothing Translucent Powder, NYX HD Finishing Powder and Maybelline Master Fix Setting + Perfecting Loose Powder and while none of them were amazing dupes, NYX was the closest option. Remember to use a very light hand when applying finishing powders! 




Carolyn KochardComment