Setting powders, how I love thee, let me count the ways. You keep my skin looking flawless all day long, you prevent my face from getting shiny, and you prevent foundation from creasing into the lines on my face. Whether you see it referred to as setting powder, loose powder, or translucent powder, it is undeniable that this product is a key player in any strong makeup game.
In this article, we’ve collected the best setting powders on the market, so you can choose a great face powder right off the bat. We’ll also explain how translucent powders differ from other makeup powders, so that you better understand what to go for.
In this article:
Our Picks of the Best Setting Powders
For a long-lasting and flawless look, your makeup routine is probably missing any of these 15 best setting powders. So make sure you get that perfect one for you now!
1. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
My holy grail setting powder deserves the number one spot on this list as one of the definitively best setting powders of all time. This ultra-fine powder sets makeup perfectly, without caking or emphasizing dryness, and it just creates this perfect photo-finish that works for any occasion, with nearly every skin type. It is available in two shades – one for fair to medium skin, and another that fits even very deep skin tones. You can pick it up at Sephora.
2. Bareminerals Mineral Veil Setting Powder
This brand is known for its powder foundations, but it also makes fantastic face powders. There are a few options with different finishes, so you can choose something that’ll give your skin more luminosity, a more hydrating version, a powder with a touch of warmth that’s better for darker skin tones, or simply opt for the original. If you’re a fan of natural cosmetics, you’ll be happy to know that this formula is very low on synthetics. It is available for sale at Sephora.
3. Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder
This lovely setting powder definitely locks foundation into place, but it stays looking extremely natural on the skin. It is great for those with dry skin or anyone who likes a dewy finish, since it hardly mattifies. It diffuses the look of pores and wrinkles, and looks fabulous on camera. You can buy it at Sephora.
4. Lancôme Absolue Powder Radiant Smoothing Powder
This luxurious setting powder gives the skin a subtle glow, so the skin looks radiant – not powdered. It lightly boosts the coverage of your foundation, and even helps to diffuse the appearance of pores and wrinkles, so you could even wear it on its own on great skin days. This face powder in available in 5 colors at Nordstrom.
5. Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder
This is another setting powder that leans slightly towards the luminizing side of things, giving the skin a lovely glow while making sure foundation stays in place. This formula is very low-pigment, so it won’t change the shade of your foundation. Instead it’ll just ensure that your skin looks perfect all day long. If you’re trying to avoid talc, you’ll be happy to know there is none of that in here. It is available in 2 shades at Sephora.
6. Too Faced Peach Perfect Mattifying Setting Powder
If your skin is on the oilier side, you’ll be happy to know that there are also mattifying options on this list of the best setting powders. This sweet scented formula keeps foundation in place and oils at bay all day long, while keeping the skin hydrated thanks to peach and fig extracts. Oh, and did I mention it smells absolutely delicious? You can find it for sale at Sephora.
7. BECCA Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder
This is one of the best face powders for dry skin or for anyone who feels like powders usually make their makeup look flakey or cakey. It’s made with 50% glycerin, a humectant that pulls moisture into the skin. So it actually feels like a cooling face mist when applied, and yet it gives a smooth, silky finish to the skin. This powder is available for purchase at Sephora.
8. Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre Natural Finish Loose Powder
If you’re trying to tame oils, then this setting powder is an excellent choice. It sets makeup and gives a velvety finish to the skin without any shine, and it keeps it looking matte and perfect all day long. Choose your favorite of the three shades available at Nordstrom.
9. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Invisimatte Blotting Powder
This mattifying powder’s main job is to blot the skin and keep it looking matte, although it also sets foundation so it lasts longer. Lighter translucent powders can often leave a white cast on those with darker skin, especially on camera. Some brands simply make darker powders, but Fenty created a truly colorless powder that really works for everyone, and never looks heavy or cakey. As a bonus, it’s a pressed powder, so it’ll be very easy to use on the go. You can find it at Sephora.
10. Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
Sometimes a makeup product deserves a few extra marks for having a beautiful packaging. This setting powder gives a luminous finish to the skin since it is made of mica minerals along with some diamond dust. It keeps foundation lasting long, and gives the skin a smooth, ethereal finish. You can pick it up from Sephora.
11. Dermablend Loose Setting Powder
This a professional-grade setting powder for heavy-duty makeup users. It controls shine like no other, and keeps foundation totally put. That being said, it does mean that it can look cakey if you overdo it, and it’s not a great choice for those with dry skin. It comes in three shades at Ulta.
12. Marc Jacobs Beauty Finish-Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder
This setting powder is best described as silky or creamy. It is best for dry skin, since it contains lots of emollient oils that give it a uniquely dewy texture. Those with oily or acne-prone skin should probably avoid it. It gives the skin what is described as a “soft-matte texture”. It is available for sale at Sephora.
13. NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder
This loose translucent setting powder has a matte finish to keep foundation looking great. It is a little lighter than a traditional translucent setting powder, meaning it would work best on skin that doesn’t get too greasy and doesn’t need a super long-lasting finish. This also means that it doesn’t settle into lines or look too heavy. It can be purchased at Sephora.
14. Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Loose & Silly Setting Powder SPF 27
This is another lightweight loose setting powder that is a great choice for oily skin. It contains rosehip oil, which calms and moisturizes the skin, while the SPF protects the skin from the harmful UV rays. It keeps foundation in place without budging. It is currently available in two shades at Amazon.
15. Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Illuminating Setting Powder
This is another option for those of you who like pressed setting powders, to avoid the mess of a loose powder. It contains some shimmery minerals that diffuse dryness and unevenness in the skin, and give a natural, lit-from-within glow that is absolutely gorgeous. If you’re into that soft-focus, glowy look, then look no further. There are five shades for you to choose from, available at Sephora.
Common Types of Face Powders and Their Differences
Not every face powder is a setting powder, as there are ones that have different purposes. These are all the types of face powders and their differences:
The main purpose of a setting powder is to “set” foundation, or to absorb some of the liquid in it so it stays in place for much longer, becomes waterproof, and doesn’t smudge. It contains very little pigmentation, so it shouldn’t alter the color of the foundation, and it should be nearly invisible on the skin.
- Setting powder can come as a loose powder, which usually has a shorter ingredient list, less fillers, and is more cost effective. However, it can also be quite messy
- Pressed setting powders create less of a mess, but they also usually include less product for a higher price, and they have to be pressed in with oils or glycerin, which alters their skin finish. That being said, there are some incredible pressed setting powders out there.
- Another category within setting powders is the tinted ones – they can come in any skin tone, although you’ll frequently see yellow powders made for those with warm undertones to their skin or darker face powders made for darker skin tones.
The most common are totally colorless translucent powders, which unfortunately don’t always work for people of color.
Finishing Powder or HD Powder
Finishing powders can set foundation to a certain extent, but that’s not their primary purpose, and they are often actually created to be used after a setting powder. The job of a finishing powder is to give a “soft-focus” finish to the skin by blurring pores and imperfections.
Finishing powders are usually white in color, although they look invisible once applied to the skin.
Whether coming pressed into a compact or as a loose powder, a powder foundation has a lot of pigment, and is meant to perfect the color of the skin in addition to giving it a slightly more matte finish. You will often see powder foundations, especially of the loose kind, advertised as mineral foundations.
They can be used alone for a lighter coverage, over concealer, or even over foundation for a very complete and full coverage. For those who like the extract coverage, they can be used instead of setting powders.
Photos via Instagram, Sephora