Celeb Makeup Artists Say This Controversial Item Can Make or Break Your Makeup


(Image credit: @zoeisabellakravitz)

Setting powders are a controversial makeup item that folks either love or hate. Personally, I haven't used one in years because my skin barrier is slightly damaged, resulting in me having combination skin. If I tried to use a setting powder, my skin would be drier than the Sahara Desert. But as my skin continues to heal, I might consider adding one back into my routine.

Makeup artists have pretty positive things to say about them too. When used correctly, setting powder can create a gorgeous, airbrushed finish that photographs well. Luckily, I also happen to have a few celebrity makeup artists on speed dial who are here to help those of us who may not be well-versed in using one. Keep reading for their best application tips and favorite ones to try.

What Is a Setting Powder?

If you're a total makeup novice, don't worry—celebrity makeup artists are here to explain exactly what a setting powder is and how it can be beneficial to your makeup routine. "A setting powder does exactly [what it sounds like]," says celebrity makeup artist Judi Gabbay. "It sets foundation into place and locks in your base for all-day wear. It also mattifies and blurs pores, leaving skin looking finished and perfected."

Celebrity makeup artist Sara Talias also says it's a key player in creating that Instagram-ready look. "Setting powder is the secret to long-lasting makeup looks," she shares. "The right setting powder will give the perfect finish to the skin and keep makeup in place all day long." Allison Kaye, another celebrity makeup artist, even adds that setting powder will really keep your cream products in place and keep them from creasing. 

How to Choose a Setting Powder

Celebrity makeup artist Elizabeth Seropian has a few tips for choosing a setting powder. "Selecting the right setting powder involves considering your skin type and desired finish," she says. "For oily skin, look for oil-absorbing powders with ingredients like silica and rice powder. Dry skin benefits from hydrating powders containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Translucent powders work universally, while tinted ones can help with additional coverage. Avoid powders with heavy fragrances or irritants if you have sensitive skin. Testing a small amount and observing how it reacts to your skin throughout the day can help you find the perfect match."

How Do You Apply Setting Powder?

Every makeup artist I consulted agreed that the best way to apply powder is with a powder puff or a small/medium powder brush. "After applying and blending all your wet products, such as foundation, concealer, and cream contour, make sure there are no creases. Then gently pat the setting powder into the skin," Talias explains. "My favorite way to apply setting powder is with a triangle powder puff." 

Gabbay also has a few more tips. "If you're looking for a light set, try using a small, tapered dome brush and dust powder just in the center of the face. Think center of the forehead, under the eyes, and chin. This technique will leave skin looking as natural as possible, leaving the outer parts of the face dewy. If you tend to get shinier throughout the day and want to lock in your foundation, use a powder puff. This will give you the most coverage and prevent shine from peeking through. Work your setting powder into your puff, tapping any excess on the back of your hand. Push the powder into the skin in a patting motion, making sure to never drag or pull as it will disturb the product underneath."

Keep scrolling for each MUA's setting powder picks.—they have recs for every skin type.



Best Setting Powders for Oily Skin

Best Setting Powders for Dry Skin


(Image credit: @januaryjones)

Best Setting Powders for Combination Skin

Best for Deep Skin Tones


(Image credit: @emmanuellek_)

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.