Before answering the question ‘how to apply setting powder,’ we should answer ‘What is setting powder? There are major differences. Setting powders have several uses, but the main one is keeping makeup flawless for a day of work or a glam night out. Nearly each brand has their own version of a setter, whether a loose powder, pressed powder, or spray. There’s benefits to each formula, but we’re going to focus on powders for now.

We’ve had our fair share of good and bad experiences with these beauty powders. A face setter can make or ruin your entire look pretty easily. We’ll do an in-depth exploration on the differences of loose and pressed formulas, when to use them, and how to use each type of powder.

Keep reading for our best tips & tricks on how to apply setting powder for flawless results every time.


In-Depth Exploration: What Is Setting Powder, Loose vs Pressed?

Setting powders typically include smoothing and blurring ingredients like silica and oil absorbing powders such as cornstarch. These powders typically come in two forms: pressed and loose. Pressed powders are, in general, heavier, while loose powders are usually lighter. Loose powders are almost fluffy in texture with very little pigment and the tiniest, finely-milled particles. Pressed formulas hold more pigment and usually apply more product at a time, AKA they tend to be heavier.

There’s a time and place for both formulas. Pressed powders offer more convenience and less mess. They often provide a bit of coverage, with some being able to be worn alone as foundations. And, they’re perfect for on-the-go touch-ups. Loose powders can have pigment, too, but most don’t offer any coverage and are really just for setting makeup. They can be used as ‘baking powders’ to really lock in makeup.

Both formulas set makeup and extend it’s wear time, can blur pores, control excess oil, and help prevent creasing. With so many on the market, it can be hard to find one that doesn’t settle into lines and pores, doesn’t look cakey, and one that simply works for you skin type. But, that’s where we come in. Even if you don’t have the best one for you in your makeup bag, it’s more important to know how to apply different setting powder types.


SETTING POWDERS WE LOVE

Laura Mercier Powder Translucent Setting Powder

BEST LOOSE SETTING POWDER:Laura Mercier Translucent Powder

Price: $40.00

Buy now

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish best powder

BEST PRESSED SETTING POWDER:Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish

Price: $46.00

Buy now

ILIA soft focus talc free setting powder

BEST TALC FREE POWDER (LOOSE):ILIA Soft Focus Finishing Powder

Price: $34.00

Buy now

Kosas Setting Powder

BEST TALC FREE POWDER (PRESSED):Kosas Cloud Set Baked Powder

Price: $35.00

Buy now

makeup forever setting powder

BEST SETTING POWDER FOR OILY SKIN:Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Translucent

Price: $39.00

Buy now

Rare beauty setting powder

BEST SETTING POWDER FOR DRY SKIN:Rare Beauty Always An Optimist Powder

Price: $22.00

Buy now

Previous
Next

These are just our top picks. For even more of our favorites (and for our favorite setting sprays) visit our MILABU PICKS article, ‘The Best Setting Powder (And Sprays) For A Flawless Finish.

MAKEUP TOOLS WE LOVE

ALL-OVER SETTING BRUSH :Rare Beauty Powder Brush

Price: $28.00

Buy now

PRECISE SETTING BRUSH:Real Techniques

Price: $7.99

Buy now

BEST MAKEUP PUFF:beautyblender Power Pocket Puff

Price: $18.00

Buy now

BEST BEAUTY SPONGE:beautyblender PRO Makeup Sponge

Price: $20.00

Buy now

Previous
Next

How To Apply Setting Powder With A Makeup Brush?

Whether pressed or loose, you’ll want a fluffy brush that doesn’t pick up too much product. This is important because we are not trying to bake. You only need to apply a little bit of setting powder in some area of the face, and on different makeup products.

TO SET CONCEALER / SMALL AREAS

  1. If using a loose powder, tap out a small bit into the lid.
  2. Starting with a smaller brush, swirl into the powder.
  3. Tap off any excess.
  4. Press, don’t buff, into your skin, concentrating on areas your makeup tends to set quickest, such as the t-zone, smile lines, and under the eyes.

TO SET THE ENTIRE FACE

  1. If using a loose powder, tap out a small bit into the lid.
  2. Use a larger fluffy brush, swirl into the powder.
  3. Tap off any excess.
  4. Using a light hand, press and sweep (don’t buff!) the powder onto your skin.
  5. Apply in light layers, picking up more as needed. Concentrate powder in areas your makeup tends to settle or you get the oiliest, like the forehead/t-zone, chin, and jawline.

See It In Action ▶️


How To Apply Setting Powder With A Powder Puff Or Sponge?

Puffs and sponges are best used for small areas and baking. Baking is when you pack on powder onto an area you want to set, let it ‘bake’ for about 5 minutes, then dust off the excess with a fluffy brush. This is how to apply setting powder when you bake. You will use a lot of powder here.

TO SET CONCEALER / SMALL AREAS

  1. If using a loose powder without a sifter, tap out a small bit into the lid.
  2. Press the puff or sponge into the powder. If you pick up too much, press the puff or sponge into the back of your hand or into the lid a time or two to remove and work the powder into the puff/sponge.
  3. Press the powder into your skin. If baking, leave a visible layer of powder.
  4. Dust off any excess with a small fluffy brush to diffuse the powder. If baking, wait 5 minutes before doing this.
  5. Repeat steps on any areas you wish to set.

See It In Action ▶️


How to apply setting powder in areas you might not have considered!

KEEP YOUR LIPSTICK FROM BLEEDING / CLEAN IT UP

For this hack, you’ll need your favorite concealer too.

  1. Apply your lip of choice.
  2. Using a small flat detail brush, ‘line’ the edges of you lips with concealer.
  3. Next, dust some powder over the concealer to lock it in for a feather-free, bleed-free lip look.

SET LIPSTICK WITH LOOSE POWDER

  1. Apply an opaque coat of your favorite lipstick.
  2. Take a tissue and place it against your lips.
  3. Use a small fluffy brush (like an eyeshadow blender brush) to dust some translucent powder over your tissue-clad lips.
  4. Apply another layer of lipstick.
  5. Repeat the tissue-powder step and voila! Your favorite lipstick has been transformed into a long wearing formula

MAKE IT MATTE

  1. Apply 1-2 opaque coats of your favorite lipstick.
  2. Use a small fluffy brush (like an eyeshadow blender brush) to dust some translucent powder over your lips. Apply generously and watch your favorite satin lipstick turn matte.

What Are MILABU PICKS?

MILABU PICKS are makeup products that lead the industry in their price categories (i.e. value, pro-grade, luxury) and product type. These products are reviewed and chosen by the Milabu team on a yearly basis. Many of these makeup products exceed the industry standard favorites, and some of them are, to this day, the industry standard leading the makeup industry.

Edited by Maddie

*Some links to purchase are affiliate.

Back to top