Friday, July 10, 2009

Setting Powder

Setting powder has many functions: setting makeup so it doesn't come off, mattifying, absorbing oil, as well as others, depending on the product. Many setting powders diffuse the light being reflected off of the products on your face, giving it a more matte or even airbrushed appearance.

You should be getting all of your coverage from your foundation and concealer. You should not attempt to get more coverage from your setting powder, it should just give your face a softer look and help the foundation and concealer to stay on longer. The one exception is for those who use mineral makeup over liquid foundation, but you need to have a very light hand when doing this or it will look fake.

All liquid and cream foundations need to be set because if they aren't, they can melt off of your face as it's combined with oil and heated. Setting powder can also be used on top of mineral foundations to soften the appearance. The same rule about liquids and creams apply to other products like eyeliner and cream eyeshadows - they always need to be set with powder. This article is about setting foundation.

If you need a full description of the application tools, please see the previous foundation articles.

Types of Setting Powder
    Loose Powder - Laura Mercier
  • Loose - This is powder that comes in a jar and isn't pressed or packed in any way. Loose powder may come in colors, translucent or transparent. Colored or translucent powders usually contain talc and other traditional ingredients. Transparent powders are usually silica based. If you have an allergy to either of these products, make sure you check the ingredients before purchasing. I use loose setting powder and carry a travel brush with me.

  • Pressed Powder - MAC Mineralize Skin Finish
  • Pressed - This is powder pressed into a compact. It's convenient to keep in a purse or for traveling. It also usually has traditional ingredients, like talc. If you can afford multiple ones, you can throw one of these in your purse, one in your bathroom, anywhere you might need it for touch ups. You can keep a travel brush on you to apply this or some come with a spot to place a puff or round sponge.

  • Mineral Setting Powder
  • Mineral - This is a special loose powder made to use on top of mineral foundation. It is also made of mineral materials. You don't really need to use a setting powder with mineral foundation, but it will diffuse some of the light reflected by the minerals to give your face a softer look. It will also help to absorb more oil. You will need to carry a travel brush to use this one too for touch-ups.
You can use any type of setting powder on top of any kind of foundation, feel free to mix and match products if you prefer certain types over others.

Application Methods
    Power Brush
  • Powder Brush - This is the most common tool used with setting powder. It gives a light dusting of powder just so it sets the foundation and will absorb the oils. Powder brushes come in several sizes and shapes, but usually they are big, round, and puffy with a longer handle. The larger and rounder the brush, the more evenly dispersed the product will be placed. Work a little powder into the bristles and gently apply it all over your face over foundation. Some set with powder lightly and some work it into the skin. It depends on the products that you are using and how you prefer to apply makeup. I prefer to buff a very light amount of powder into the skin all over. If you just brush the powder across the skin and don't blend it in at all, you can have a chalky look.

  • Kabuki Brush
  • Kabuki Brush - Some people use a kabuki brush to set powder. This is especially good for people who want to buff setting powder. They are denser than powder brushes, but not as dense as buffer brushes. Buff the powder into the skin in a circular motion evenly all over the face. The Laura Mercier powder works really well with a kabuki brush. This is a good way to get a natural looking finish instead of having the powder sit on top of the skin.

  • Buffer Brush
  • Buffer Brush - This can be used for serious coverage. Some people use a liquid foundation and a mineral foundation on top as a setting powder for really full coverage. You will apply the powder just as you would apply mineral foundation by buffing it in a circular motion into the skin. Do not buff with pressure over a wet foundation like a cream or liquid that does not dry/set itself at least somewhat or you can smear the makeup off.

  • Cosmetic Sponge
  • Cosmetic Sponge - Yes, these can be used for powder too. I would recommend using a wedge sponge. To set with a cosmetic sponge, you have to use it dry. Get a little powder on the sponge, you only need a small amount to set foundation. Gently roll the powder onto the skin. You want to use a pressing motion, rolling from one side to another (left to right or vice versa). This will really set the foundation well and prevent shine.
You will not want to use flat brushes like a foundation brush because it will apply the powder too thick and you can end up with a cakey or streaked look. I do not like using puffs to apply powder because you will be much more likely to get the cakey look from poor application. If you only use a puff for quick touch ups in your purse that's fine, but a brush is always better.

Recommended Products

Laura Mercier Loose PowderBest Talc/Overall Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent
  • Creates a soft focus appearance
  • Lightweight with sheer coverage
  • Absorbs Oil
  • French cashmere talc based
  • This is what I use on my clients and what I will use myself when I need to purchase new setting powder
  • Also comes in beige (warm) if you find the translucent makes your skin too cool toned
  • $34/1 oz or $20/0.33 oz at Sephora (1 oz is a huge container)
Bare Minerals Mineral VeilBest Mineral Setting Powder (Overall #2): Bare Minerals Mineral Veil (Original Formula)
  • All natural minerals - talc, silica, paraben, sulfate, fragrance, and dye free
  • Sheer coverage
  • Oil absorbing
  • Comes in 4 formulations, however I only recommend the regular mineral veil
  • I currently use this, but will be using Laura Mercier when I run out
  • $19 / 0.47 oz at Sephora, Ulta, or Bare Escentuals
Make Up For Ever HD PowderBest Silica Setting Powder: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder
  • 100% mineral silica powder
  • Slightly mattifying
  • Does not dry out skin
  • Completely translucent
  • Used by professional makeup artists for TV, movies and photo shoots
  • $30 / 0.35 oz at Sephora
MAC Set PowderIndustry Standard: MAC Cosmetics Powder
I didn't specify a particular kind because they have all kinds that are used:
  • Select Sheer / Pressed
  • Select Sheer / Loose
  • Mineralize Skin Finish
  • Mineralize Skin Finish / Natural
  • The most common MAC setting powder used by professionals is Invisible Set Powder, but it's only available at Pro stores or ordered online with a MAC PRO card (you need to be a professional in the industry to get this card)
These are all quite expensive. I do like giving less expensive alternatives, however I just haven't found a powder that doesn't cause break outs that isn't high quality (and high price tag). I have not tried either, but I would recommend trying E.L.F. Mineral Booster or Everyday Minerals Finishing Dust. They should have the same ingredients as the Mineral Veil. I use the Everyday Minerals mineral foundation and is the same quality as the Bare Minerals foundation. I will include these to try next time I have an order to place.

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