The Ultimate Guide to Setting Powder

Setting powder, finishing powder, baking powder, oh my! If you’re feeling lost when it comes to which powder to use as setting powder, or even what setting powder is in the first place, you’ve come to the right place!

Our ultimate guide to setting powder is here to answer your must-know questions about setting powder, from what it is to how it’s used and even which setting powder your favourite makeup artist celebrities are using – so settle in for a first-rate Beauty Base education in all things setting powder…

What Is Setting Powder?

Setting powder is what we think of when we talk about a classic powder. Applied on top of your foundation, setting powder aims to reduce shine and ‘set’ your makeup so that it lasts as long as possible. Setting powder can either be tinted to match your skin or completely translucent so you’d never know it was there!

Setting Powder Brush

What’s the difference between loose powder and pressed powder?

Loose powder usually comes in a jar as it’s very messy to use! It has a much finer consistency than pressed powder and so you’ll find you get a much more lightweight coverage by using loose powder. If you’re planning on travelling with your powder, it’s best leaving your loose powder at home to prevent accidental spills.

Pressed powder, on the other hand, comes in a compact and has a semi-solid consistency thanks to ingredients such as silicone or wax. This makes it much easier to transport or use on the go, but be aware that the particles of pressed powder are much bigger and can result in a cakey appearance if you use a little too much. We’d recommend that you use a loose powder at home, but carry a pressed powder compact for light touch-ups throughout the day.

Are setting powder and translucent powder the same?

Many different kinds of powders can be translucent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s setting powder. Make sure that you check that the translucent powder you’re looking to buy is, in fact, setting powder if that’s what you’re looking for!

Are setting powder and baking powder the same?

Baking is a makeup technique rather than a specific powder, however, there are powders on the market that are described as baking powders such as banana powder. If you’re baking, you should apply translucent loose powder or loose baking powder liberally to areas such as under your eyes that you want to appear brighter once you’ve already applied your foundation or concealer.

Leave the powder to ‘bake’ for at least 20 minutes to allow your skin to warm the foundation and concealer as this will embed the powder and fix the product to your skin. Once you’ve done the rest of your makeup, brush off the excess powder and enjoy a longer lasting makeup look.

Pressed Setting Powder

What’s the difference between finishing powder and setting powder?

This comes down to function vs form. A setting powder sets your makeup and makes sure that it’s on your skin for the long haul, whereas finishing powder is used to soften the texture of your face and blur any pores for a filtered look.

Are setting powder and setting spray the same?

No – there are several differences between setting powder and setting spray. Setting powder is designed to absorb oil on your skin to remove any shine and prevent your makeup from moving around throughout the day. Setting spray, on the other hand, isn’t designed to interact with your skin, instead setting spray works to keep your makeup protected from external factors that could cause it to move.

Setting powder is applied during the makeup process to enhance the appearance of your foundation, whereas setting spray is applied at the end of your makeup routine to lock in all makeup including eye makeup and lipstick. It’s perfectly possible to use both as part of your makeup routine as they serve different purposes.

Why setting powder is important

Foundation tends to be very moist when applied to the skin which means to can easily absorb pollution, move around and be rubbed off. Setting powder is important as it acts as a barrier which protects your skin and keeps your makeup looking fresher for longer.

Which Setting Powder Should I Use For My Skin?

When looking for a new setting powder, understanding which setting powder is best for your skin is a great place to start.

Setting Powder Pot

Which setting powder is best for dry skin?

Setting powder is designed to absorb oils on your face to reduce shine, but if your skin is already dry you could run the risk of drying it out even further. To prevent this, the best setting powder for dry skin would be a hydrating setting powder.

However, you may wish to consider if you need setting powder at all. Since setting powder combats the effects of oily breakouts on the skin, something dry skin already lacks, you may find that it’s not a necessary part of your makeup routine. Combination skin should look to apply setting powder to oily areas of the face and either use a hydrating setting powder or no powder at all in oily areas.

Which setting powder is best for oily skin?

Oily skin is exactly what setting powder is designed to combat, so really any kind of setting powder should work wonders for oily skin! Make sure that you check the label of the setting powder you’re considering to see if it’s a hydrating setting powder as these are typically designed to suit dry skin.

Which setting powder is best for dark skin?

Setting powders that tout themselves as translucent can leave white layers on top of your skin – instead of choosing translucent setting powders, you’re much better off finding a tinted setting powder that matches your skin tone. Plenty of setting powders offer really diverse tints which should suit your skin tone and complexion.

Which setting powder doesn’t give flashback?

What’s the point of your makeup being on point if no-one’s going to take a picture of you? Whether you’re planning on being papped at the club or want your wedding photographs to look their best, you’ll need to find a translucent loose setting powder that won’t give you flashback and give you the Casper effect on film. If you’re planning your wedding makeup, make sure that you test a few out on film first just to be safe!

Setting Powder No Flashback

How To Use Setting Powder

So we understand the effects of setting powder and which setting powder we should choose, but how about how to use setting powder? We’ve got a advice on technique and setting powder application FAQs to help you apply your setting powder with ease.

How to apply setting powder

  • Apply your primer, foundation, contour and concealer
  • Blend well!
  • Wait on applying powdered makeup such as blush, bronzer, highlight and eye makeup
  • While your foundation is still damp, apply the setting powder using a makeup sponge, powder puff or powder brush
  • Keep applying powder until your skin has a velvety finish but there’s no visible excess
  • A lighter layer of powder will give a dewy finish
  • Try a heavier layer of powder for a matte finish on oily skin

Can setting powder be used without makeup?

If you’re not feeling foundation, you can still use setting powder to lock in a lighter alternative such as a BB cream or CC cream. You could wear setting powder without any kind of makeup coverage, but make sure to apply a moisturiser at least so that you don’t dry your skin out and the powder can stick to your skin.

Applying Setting Powder

Can setting powder be used as foundation?

Setting powder, or any kind of powder for that matter, could be used as a light-touch coverage. There are other alternatives such as BB creams and CC creams, but if you’re set on powder as your base we only ask that you use moisturiser first so that your skin doesn’t dry out and the powder has something to stick to.

Can setting powder expire?

Using expired makeup can have some seriously gross results, so always be careful to not use expired makeup of any kind! Expired setting powder expires after around 12 months, after which time it could begin to harbor bacteria and cause issues from skin irritation to acne, swelling and more!

Can you use setting powder as dry shampoo?

A little left field, but it’s totally possible to use setting powder as dry shampoo! If you have a translucent loose setting powder, simply apply it to your roots using a powder brush as you could apply the setting powder to your T-zone. Brush off the excess once you feel like the oil has been absorbed. Pressed powder will do in a pinch, but loose powder is much better.

Which Setting Powders Do Celebrities Use?

Sometimes we need to turn to our favourite beauty mavens to get recommendations about which beauty products we can’t live without. If you love celebrity recommended beauty goodies, take a look at which setting powders celebrity makeup artists are using…

What setting powder does James Charles use?

James Charles recommends Coty Airspun Powder in his list of Holy Grail beauty products. He says that it keeps his makeup on all day and is great for combo-oily skin.


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What setting powder does Kylie Jenner use?

Kylie Jenner admits that while her and Kim are competitive about their brands, she can’t resist reaching for a KKW Brightening Powder when it comes to setting her foundation.


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What setting powder does Jeffree Star use?

Jeffree has been known to dabble with KKW setting powders in the past, but now he’s created his own Magic Star Setting Powder we can’t see him using anything else! Describing the powder as “weightless and ultra-fine”, Jeffree added an extra sweet treat into his setting powder with a “faint smell of baked cotton candy.”


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What setting powder does Jaclyn Hill use?

Hill actually loves to use two separate powders in her famous beat – Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Airbrush Powder and Lancome Absolue Radiant Smoothing Face Powder. She first uses the Charlotte Tilbury setting powder to seal her foundation, then adds luminosity with the Lancome setting powder.


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What setting powder does Kim Kardashian use?

Bobbi Brown sheer finish loose powder is one of Kim K’s top picks when it comes to setting powder, used along with MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation.


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What setting powder does Patrick Starr use?

Patrick Starr may be the self-appointed baking queen, but even he doesn’t recommend that you bake or over-use setting powder if you have dry skin! He uses his MAC Patrick Starr setting powder for both baking and lighter coverage.


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Setting Powder at Beauty Base

We may not stock the setting powder used by the stars, but if you know anything about dupes you know that lesser known brands are often just as incredible as big name brand beauty products!

Check out our collection of dupe-worthy setting powders and more finishing beauty products right here at Beauty Base.


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