In the beauty world, it’s not uncommon (by any means) to spend an extensive amount of time applying one’s makeup.
We buff our foundation to utter perfection, conceal as if we’re entering an art competition, and pore over bronzer, blush and illuminator placement for as long as it takes to get it exactly right.
And yet the step that holds the ability to lock in all of the above—setting powder—is often ignored, meaning that a mere few hours in, some of our superior handiwork has devastatingly been done in vain.
But though powder previously did hold a reputation for ‘flattening’ the face instead of flattering it, the category has come a long, long way. Heavy mattes are no longer the only option and the term ‘cakey’ isn’t even in the conversation.
Now setting powders simply exist to further perfect and prolong your base without compromise, and for that we salute them.
So without further ado, allow us to introduce you to the setting powders (from loose to pressed and balancing to brightening) guaranteed to flawlessly seal your makeup masterpiece…
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder
If the fact that Bridgerton star Simone Ashley calls this a handbag essential isn’t enough to convince you of its high calibre, perhaps its pore and line-smoothing soft focus effect (powered by blurring micro-powders) will seal the deal. ‘Cashmere’ is the key word the brand uses to describe the finish it delivers, and trust us, the name’s uses of ‘flawless’ and ‘airbrush’ are not solely for show.
$70 at Charlotte Tilbury
Dior Forever Cushion Powder
Some people are partial to a loose powder over one housed in a pan, but practicality doesn’t always allow for touch-ups to happen easily (especially on-the-go). Enter this cushion compact, which bathes the complexion in a velvety yet vibrant glow while eliminating the risk of mess. It allows you to dispense just the right amount per application and feels featherlight on the face.
$98 at Sephora
Rare Beauty Always An Optimist Soft Radiance Setting Powder
It’s not uncommon to equate setting powder with a matte appearance, but these days the category comes with an array of finish options to choose from. Case in point? This radiant-finish but balancing loose setting powder, which is as devoted to illuminating the skin as it is airbrushing it. Expect sheer, seamless coverage that locks your makeup in for the long haul and addresses oil overproduction.
$38 at Sephora
Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Pressed Finishing Powder
Powder has long had a reputation for somewhat suffocating skin, but fear not; this pan comes packed with vitamins A and E to keep your complexion smooth, soft and soothed even while wearing a full face of makeup. As for its finish, think traditional matte (just without the chalky or heavy feel; it’s actually a whisper-light mineral pressed powder).
$48 at Sephora
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Silk Airbrush Poreless Finishing Powder
Considering powder shade ranges continue to be frustratingly limiting, translucent formulas remain as valuable as ever. This one in particular (an invisible option that aims to downplay the appearance of pores and fine lines) is lauded for its non-chalky formula, buildable status and (fittingly) silky feel (thanks to an anti-ageing trio of peptides, hydrolysed collagen and actual silk).
$49 at Sephora
LYS Beauty Triple Fix Translucent Pressed Setting Powder
Searching for something that does some serious heavy-lifting in the ‘keeping makeup in place all day’ department but refuses to look heavy? Try this natural matte powder. It buffs beautifully into skin (rather than sitting on the surface) without causing issues below the surface; in fact, it heroes a hybrid of nourishing niacinamide and calming green tea to keep skin both bright and balanced.
$26 at Sephora
Fenty Beauty Mini Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder
Searching for something you can slip into a handbag or travel case? This matte-finish mini powder is the perfect purchase. Featuring a mattifying blend of powders that won’t cake, fade or settle into lines, creases or pores, it cloaks skin in blurring polymers without ever actually appearing ‘powdery’. A little goes a long way, too, so the small size will last through many, many applications.
$30 at Sephora
Main image credit: @patrickta