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The Right Way to Apply Your Setting Powder for a Flawless Makeup Look

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Main image – Live That Glow

A translucent powder can be a surprisingly useful product to have in your makeup bag. It might sometimes look invisible, but it can do wonders for your makeup’s overall finish. So, who needs one and why?

Well, dry skin types in need of a glow are best to avoid powders because of their ability to mattify the skin even further. However, if your skin looks a little shiny after applying makeup, it needs a helping hand in the mattifying department or if your makeup tends to slide off within the hour, you’ll know to invest in one. 

Identifying when in your regime to apply it is easy too. It’s the last step in your face makeup application. As a beauty editor and consultant who pretty much tests products for a living (job perks!), I tell my makeup clients to think of setting powder as the padlock that helps to lock up your makeup when it’s finished. 

But if you’re still unsure of how to use yours, I’ve set out a step by step to show you how and where to apply it. All so that your makeup can look less shine-heavy, more glow-ready.   


Step 1: Use the right amount

Setting powders can come in two forms – loose powder and pressed powder. For the pressed option, swish a large brush around the palette, pressing down slightly as you go. Give the bristles a short blow to get rid of the excess and you should then have enough for your entire face.


Girl showing how to use setting powder

Image – Live That Glow


For loose powders, you need to be a bit more careful about swirling your brush into it so that you don’t gather up too much powder at once. Most loose powders have a second lid with small holes in, meaning the powder can be slowly filtered through but if not, just gently dot your brush directly into the powder a couple of times, then make sure you generously tap off the excess.

Getting rid of the excess will mean your face isn’t caked in powder so that some of your natural glow can still show through.


Step 2: Press over your T-zone

Instead of sweeping your brush over your t-zone, use a pressing motion with your brush. The t-zone is the area that usually shows the thickest amount of oil so needs more heavy duty mattifying. Pressing the powder in, rather than sweeping it, means it will penetrate deeper into the skin, rather than just sit on the surface.


Step 3: Sweep over your chin and cheeks

Here, you can either use the same brush or a puff to apply setting powder (try e.l.f Halo Glow Powder Puffs, £4 from e.l.f. UK /$4 from e.l.f. US). These areas are often the ones where your makeup tends to rub off easily, particularly if you rest them in your hands when you’re concentrating at work or on the phone, for example (just me?!). A sweeping motion with your brush works too if you don’t typically get very oily here, or if you find your makeup on your chin and cheeks tends to stay put. 


Girl showing how to apply setting powder to cheeks

Image – Live That Glow


Step 4: Don’t forget your under-eye area

Take a smaller brush and dust some translucent powder under your eyes too. This is where you need to be very careful about how much you use – just do one quick dab into your powder with your brush – not forgetting to blow off the excess – as you don’t want to fill the lines around your eyes up so heavily that they become cakey and as a result, more noticeable.

I use Real Techniques Brightening Concealer Makeup Brush (£7.99 from Look Fantastic UK /$6.99 from Amazon US) for under my eyes as it’s the perfect size to get into that nook. 


Girl showing how to apply setting powder to under eye

Image – Live That Glow


My top rated makeup powders

  • My all-time favourite setting powder is Bare Minerals Mineral Veil (£31.50 from John Lewis UK /$35 from Bare Minerals US). The name describes it perfectly as it is like a very thin veil over your skin and banishes all shine.
  • Another one I really rate is Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (£21.50 from Look Fantastic UK /$47 from Laura Mercier US). It is very subtle but controls shine brilliantly and also allows my makeup to stay in place for most of the day.
  • And finally, if you’re on a budget, e.l.f Halo Glow Setting Powder (£8 from e.l.f. UK /$8 from e.l.f. US) sets your makeup brilliantly and even adds a soft glow that doesn’t look shiny. It feels really lightweight too.


The takeaway

So you see it’s pretty simple to know whether you need a makeup setting powder or not. If you’ve applied your makeup and still feel like you’re in need of some shine control, a setting powder will do the trick. Equally, if you just want your makeup to stay on for longer and to ‘set’ in place, then of course a setting powder is a great product to invest in. 

Don’t forget to blow or tap off the excess so that your powder doesn’t look too cakey, remember to press it into your t-zone too to ensure it reaches deeper into your skin and always apply a small amount of powder on your under-eye area too.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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