We Tested 32 Setting Powders—These 14 Are Worth Buying

Author: Liang

Feb. 04, 2024

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Tags: Beauty & Personal Care

These are the best setting powders tested by Byrdie.

"I recommend a finely milled powder that won't settle into lines," says MUA Jamie Dorman. To help you narrow down your options, we tested nearly three dozen setting powders in The Lab, evaluating each formula for its absorbency, look, feel, wear, and shade range. LYS Beauty's lightweight, breathable, photo-perfect Triple Fix Powder was the winner, but we found several formulas worth considering.

Whether you have a particularly oily complexion, are battling humidity , or simply want your foundation and concealer to last more than a couple of hours, setting powder is where it's at. As the name suggests, this makeup product sets your creams and liquids, preventing them from creasing and helping them stay put all day (or night).

What To Look For

Best Overall

Lys Beauty Pressed Setting Powder

Sephora

$19

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Eliminates shine

  • Blends effortlessly

  • Doesn't feel dry or tight

What We Don’t Like

  • Nothing

LYS Beauty Triple Fix clocked perfect scores all around in our lab tests. Our tester, who has combination skin with dry cheeks and an oily T-zone, tried the translucent shade. She said that it immediately eliminated shininess without making her face appear overly dry. Her skin didn't feel tight either. She was surprised to report that this pressed powder is also slightly moisturizing, likely due to the hyaluronic acid, a go-to skincare ingredient that famously holds more than 1,000 times its weight in water.

The mattifying finish was natural-looking with a subtle glow. It blended effortlessly with our tester's natural skin tone without any remaining residue or white cast in sight. This setting powder even smoothed out her pores and corrected for redness around her nostrils.

No matter how much she applied, our tester said the lightweight and breathable formula "went on like a second skin." What's more, it set her makeup with a photo-perfect finish and held up in the hot sun. Considering the accessible price point, there's nothing we don't like about this product.

Type: Pressed | Shades: 6 | Finish: Matte/natural | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"No matter how much I applied, it was very lightweight and breathable. The texture felt like the softest feather against my skin." —Danielle Ransom, Product Tester

Best Budget

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Loose Setting Powder

Amazon

$7

$8

$12

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Affordable

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Mattifying effect

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly messy

On a budget? Wet n Wild makes a great setting powder. Our tester said this wallet-friendly formula did wonders in soaking up oil on her skin. Not only that, but it smoothed out her complexion and delivered a natural-looking, mattified effect.

The universal translucent shade blended well into her fair skin without appearing chalky or patchy. Since it's a loose powder, the only thing to note is that the application can get slightly messy.

Type: Loose | Shades: Translucent | Finish: Natural/matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore

L'Oréal Infallible Pro Sweep & Lock Loose Powder

Amazon

$14

$8

$17

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    3.5

    /5

What We Like

  • Affordable

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Not chalky or cakey

What We Don’t Like

  • Hard to remove sticker

  • May need retouching

If you're looking for a drugstore setting powder, L'Oréal Pro Sweep & Lock is a solid choice. This universal translucent powder didn't appear chalky on our tester's medium-dark complexion, leaving her with nothing more than a smoother version of her natural skin tone.

The finely milled formula delivers a soft mattifying finish without feeling overly dry or appearing cakey. While you might need to retouch after a few hours, our tester loved how it helped set her makeup, made her pores less visible, and evened out her skin texture. The only other thing to note is that the sticker was really hard to remove upon first opening the container.

Type: Loose | Shades: Translucent | Finish: Soft matte | Cruelty-Free: No

What Our Testers Say

"I was pleasantly surprised by how it looked on my medium-dark skin. I expected to look ashy once I put it on, but instead, my skin still looks full of color without being oily or dry."—Kiara Timo, Product Tester

Best Splurge

Chanel Natural Finish Loose Powder

Ulta

$63

$52

$52

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    4.5

    /5

What We Like

  • Included applicator

  • Not heavy or cakey

  • Extends makeup wear

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

  • Contains fragrance

If you can swing the steep price, your complexion will thank you for investing in Chanel's Poudre Universelle Libre. This setting powder earned perfect scores in all categories, absorbing oil effortlessly and tackling excess shine.

After trying shade 30 (medium with neutral undertones), our tester said that it blended beautifully into her skin without feeling heavy or cakey. And at the end of the day, her makeup was "still very much intact." She also liked the included applicator, which makes it easy to press the loose powder onto oilier areas.

Type: Loose | Shades: 8 | Finish: Natural/semi-matte | Cruelty-Free: No

What Our Testers Say

"It was easy to blend everything into the skin, and the container has a little filter, which helps to not use excess powder."—Gibreel Martinez, Product Tester

Best Shade Range

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Setting Powder

Sephora

$22

$36

$36

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Not heavy or cakey

  • Good for baking

What We Don’t Like

  • Contains fragrance

In terms of shade options, Fenty Pro Filt'r is a clear winner. With a diverse range of skin tones in mind, this loose setting powder comes in eight hues ranging from Coffee (very deep) to Butter (light with warm undertones) to universal translucent.

Our tester tried Butter on her oily/combination skin, and it did a fantastic job absorbing grease without feeling heavy or cakey. She liked the mattifying effect and said that it offers a natural finish when used for setting and baking makeup.

Type: Loose | Shades: 8 | Finish: Matte/natural | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"Even after baking my face with the powder, it doesn't look caked-on and provides a great natural look."—Jessica Lee, Product Tester

Best with SPF

Supergoop! Mineral Setting Powder

Amazon

$35

$35

$35

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    3.5

    /5

What We Like

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Controls shine

  • Good for touch-ups

What We Don’t Like

  • Finicky container

This sunscreen-infused setting powder makes it easy to reapply SPF throughout the day, even when you're rocking full glam. Our tester was pleasantly surprised by how well it absorbs oil and controls shine, noting that a little goes a long way.

She said that her skin and makeup looked visibly better under a light dusting of this powder, and she appreciated the additional SPF 35 sun protection. Though getting the product out of the container can be tricky, the built-in brush is convenient for touch-ups and on-the-go use.

Type: Loose/brush-on | Shades: 4 | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Texture

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Setting Powder

$42

$42

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Blends effortlessly

  • Not too heavy or light

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

After trying shade 4 (medium deep), our tester said that Pat McGrath's Sublime Perfection blended effortlessly into her natural skin tone. It immediately soaked up excess oil and left her face smooth without a caked-on feeling.

Not too heavy or light, with a stunning radiant finish, this virtually flawless setting powder lives up to its name. In the end, we only wish the price were a little more accessible.

Type: Loose | Shades: 5 | Finish: Radiant | Cruelty-Free: No

What Our Testers Say

"I absolutely love this powder. It blended so well with my skin, and it feels amazing. It is not too light or heavy." —Jaryee "Jay" Cooper, Product Tester

Best Matte Finish

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Sephora

$28

$41

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    4.5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    4.5

    /5

  • Wear

    3.5

    /5

What We Like

  • Controls oil

  • Eliminates shine

  • Natural-looking results

What We Don’t Like

  • May need retouching

  • Contains paraben

For a mattifying effect, reach for this pressed powder compact from Charlotte Tilbury. Our fair-skinned tester tried shade 1 and said that just a light dusting absorbed oil well and eliminated shine.

The ultra-fine powder blends well into a translucent finish, even when applied over cream blush. Our tester was left with natural-looking results that helped her makeup stay put. Having said that, you might need to touch it up every few hours if you're spending time outside in a particularly humid climate.

Type: Pressed | Shades: 4 | Finish: Matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Radiant Finish

Rare Beauty Always an Optimist Soft Radiance Setting Powder

Sephora

$45

$25

$25

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Blends effortlessly

  • Seamless results

  • Controls shine

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly cakey application

Rare Beauty's Always an Optimist Powder was also a hit in The Lab. Our tester tried the lightest shade, a soft pink designed for fair complexions. She was worried that it would look too pink, but it blended beautifully into a truly translucent finish.

The application was slightly cakey, but once she dusted off all the powder, our tester said that the final look was seamless. Her skin was smooth and shine-free with a subtle hint of radiance.

Type: Loose | Shades: 5 | Finish: Radiant | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Skin

Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder

Sephora

$25

$25

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Controls shine

  • Long-lasting

  • Lightweight feel

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

For oily complexions, we recommend Hourglass Veil. This translucent setting powder instantly absorbs excess grease, eliminates unwanted shine, and even blurs the appearance of pores.

Our tester said that it feels super-light on the skin and sets makeup beautifully without caking up or creasing under the eyes. Not only that, but the long-lasting results hold up all day. While we wish it were a little more affordable, this loose powder might be worth the investment.

Type: Loose | Shades: Translucent | Finish: Natural | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Touch-Ups

Blk/Opl Finishing Powder

Amazon

$13

$14

$10

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Controls shine

  • Lightweight and breathable

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly messy

If you need something for touch-ups, Black Opal's Soft Velvet Finishing Powder might be your best bet. After trying the Neutral Light shade, our tester said that it does an excellent job absorbing oil and covering shiny spots. Thanks to the brand's Shade IQ technology, the multi-colored pigments blended effortlessly with her natural skin tone and left her with a mattified complexion and a soft focus, airbrushed effect. The jet-milled formula also felt lightweight and breathable on top of your foundation.

Type: Loose | Shades: 4 | Finish: Soft matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"This powder is wonderful for covering up any shiny spots. It sits on my skin pretty lightly and doesn't feel heavy at all."—Amber McCleese, Product Tester

Best for Under-Eyes

Saie Airset Radiant Loose Setting Powder

Sephora

$30

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    4

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

  • Wear

    3

    /5

What We Like

  • Controls shine

  • Smooth, cake-free results

  • Lightweight feel

What We Don’t Like

  • Finicky container

  • May need retouching

Saie Airset is perfect for setting the under-eye area. Our tester tried the translucent shade and said that it delivered a smooth, invisible finish without any caking or creasing.

This loose setting powder was a little tricky to get out of the container, but we love how it instantly absorbs oil and keeps makeup in check. Our tester said that she was shiny again after about five hours on a humid day, but it still did the trick and felt comfortably lightweight over concealer and foundation.

Type: Loose | Shades: 3 | Finish: Radiant | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Multi-Use

Beauty Bakerie Baking Powder

Ulta

$24

$24

$22

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    5

    /5

What We Like

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Extends makeup wear

  • Good for baking

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly messy

Beauty Bakerie's Face Flour earned perfect scores in all categories. After trying the light brown Almond shade, our tester said that it absorbed quickly into her skin, eliminated shine, and blended well with her natural skin tone.

In addition to setting makeup and controlling shine, this multi-use loose powder is clutch for face-baking. You can count on smooth, crease-free results with a soft-matte blurring effect that won't flashback in photos.

Type: Loose | Shades: 6 | Finish: Soft matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Value

Juvia's Place I Am Magic Loose Setting Powder

Ulta

$14

$33

Our Ratings

  • Absorbency

    5

    /5

  • Overall Look

    4.5

    /5

  • Wear

    4

    /5

What We Like

  • Reasonably priced

  • Excellent absorbency

  • Lightweight and breathable

What We Don’t Like

  • Can get cakey

  • Minor white cast

  • Slightly messy

This setting powder from Juvia's Place is very reasonably priced, especially considering how well it works. Our tester used the lightest White Sands shade. She loved the lightweight and breathable feel, mattifying effect, and natural-looking finish.

The loose powder did impressive work absorbing oil, leaving not even the slightest glimmer of shine on our tester's oily T-zone. Though there was a slight white cast at first, it blended out with minimal effort. Other than that, you'll want to start with just a light dusting to prevent it from getting cakey.

Type: Loose | Shades: 3 | Finish: Natural/matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Key Features

"The powder dried into a smooth, slightly matte finish. There wasn't even the slightest glimmer of shine in my oily T-zone."—Danielle Ransom, Product Tester

Compact powder is the ideal way to set the makeup. They are versatile and handy, but it can be tricky to know how to choose compact powder with the perfect shade that matches your skin tone. Compact powders are the best cosmetics to use when you do not want to use foundation. They are ideal for touch-ups or when you are too lazy to do makeup. Compact powder is also a great way to make your skin glow when your face looks dull or greasy. These powders are available for barely to full coverage, and you can choose them according to your skin type. Keep reading to know more.

Keep In Mind

Keep In Mind

  • Technique: Compact powder is used to set the foundation, manage shine, and give the skin a smooth, matte, or radiant appearance. It is applied using a brush, sponge, or puff.
  • Brushes: A large, fluffy brush is perfect for a natural, sheer finish. For more coverage, a smaller, denser brush is ideal for building up layers and precision application. Sponges and puffs are great for a heavier, more matte finish.
  • Formulas: Compact powders usually come in either a pressed or a loose powder form.
  • Skin Type: Dry skin types should use pressed powder as it has more oils and would otherwise look cakey on oily skin types.
  • Application: Use a fluffy brush to lightly sweep compact powder over your face. For a natural, matte finish, start with a tiny amount and build it up as necessary.

Compact Powder – How To Select & How To Use?

Let us now discuss a few interesting points on how to choose compact powder shades.

Select The Perfect Shade of Compact Powder

  • Regardless of the brand, always choose a shade that matches your skin color.
  • If you end up picking up a compact that is a few shades lighter than your skin tone, your skin may turn grey or ashy in some time.
  • Know your skin type and the coverage level you are looking for before buying a compact powder.
  • If your skin tone is on the lighter side, you can opt for a compact with a pink undertone and one or two shades lighter than your skin tone. If your skin tone is on the deeper side, go for a compact with a yellow or orange undertone and a color that matches your skin tone.
  • Always try the product on the face and not on the back of your hand.
  • Ask your makeup artist for suggestions.
  • Marin McCathy, a professional makeup artist and founder of Marin Eve Makeup, says, “Powder foundations are great for coverage.” However, as every compact has a different coverage level, you need to pick one that delivers what you want. If you want a more natural makeup look, then opt for one with sheer coverage, or you can even try translucent powder. A medium or full coverage powder evens out the imperfections and unevenness.

Fun Fact

Fun Fact

It is believed that one of the first compact powders was created by French perfumers during the reign of King Louis XIV in the 17th century.

Now, let us tell you how to find the right compact for different skin types.

For Oily Skin

  • An oil-control matte finish powder is ideal for oily skin as it controls the excess oil secretion.
  • Avoid powders that provide shine and radiance as they might make your skin look oilier.
  • Investing in a sweat proof and waterproof compact powder also helps.
  • Before starting your makeup, apply a primer. It mattifies your skin and controls oil as well.
  • Use a makeup brush or a sponge to evenly apply the compact all over your face. Apply an extra coat on the T-zone. Alternatively, press a powder puff into the skin for the most long lasting finish.
  • A great tip is to rub an ice cube on the face before applying the compact. This controls the excess oil secretion and minimizes the appearance of pores. Try out Studio Fix Powder by MAC.

For Dry Skin

  • Don’t go for a matte finish compact as it makes your skin drier. Instead, use a cream-based compact or translucent powder to make your skin look healthier and less flaky.
  • Start your makeup by massaging the moisturizer into the skin for hydration. Give it some time to get absorbed. Then apply the compact powder. This helps your skin look hydrated and smooth, without drying it out.
  • To prevent your skin from looking patchy and uneven, do not build up layers of foundation. Keep it simple with just two to three coats of foundation.
  • Avoid applying powder on the areas which are usually dry, such as the cheeks, and around the nose area.
  • Use tinted powder if you have very pale skin or if you want to avoid foundation.
  • Highlighters or mineral-based powders are good choices for dry skin as they add radiance and make the skin glow.

For Sensitive Skin

  • Look for mineral-based powders as they do not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients that are usually found in the conventional powders. Mineral powder is best suited for sensitive skin.
  • Another option is to look for non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic powders for sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, or vegan compact powders are also great options for this skin type.
  • Whether your skin type is oily or dry, consider its sensitivity while choosing a compact powder. Choose the one which is skin-friendly and has SPF.

Now that we know how to select the ideal compact powder for different skin types, let us get into how to choose a compact powder for dark skin. Scroll down to know more.

How To Choose Compact Powder For Dark Skin

  • Shade Match

You may opt for a highly pigmented, yellow-based compact powder that effortlessly complements your dark skin tone. This is truly important, as choosing a powder that is a few shades up or down can actually make your skin look dull and gray.

  • Type Of Finish

Go for a matte finish if you want to effectively control oil and avoid a shine and opt for a dewy finish if your aim is to get a naturally radiating appearance.

Quick Tips

  • Sanitization is very important, so remember to clean your tools before applying the powder.
  • Always carry a blotting paper in your makeup kit to quickly mattify your skin and improve the skin texture.
  • Avoid using sponges to apply the powder as sponges have a tendency to absorb most of the product. They are ideal for touch-ups.
  • Invest in good quality brushes as they provide a better finish and give a professional touch to your look.
  • The correct technique to apply a compact powder is to first deposit the product, and then blend with either a brush or a sponge, instead of just dabbing and leaving it. Makeup artist Marin suggests, “A great way to cover blemishes is to apply the powder very concentrated onto the area with a q tip and then blend lightly with a brush.”

Quick Tip

Quick Tip

Invest in a fine-milled and lightweight compact powder as it gives your makeup a light and radiant look.

Infographic: Tips To Pick The Right Compact Powder For You

No matter how top-quality your compact is, if it does not cater to your skin type, it is not going to help you. There are all kinds of makeup products out there but before investing in them, understand your skin type first.

In the infographic below, we have put together all the tips you would need for a quick reference before choosing a compact powder for yourself. Check it out.
Save

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

The market is brimming with endless options for compact powders for different skin types and tones. And it gets easy to pick the best compact powder for your skin type and tone when you know the tricks. We hope the tricks and tips discussed In the article will help you pick the right one. So take this article on how to choose compact powder as your guide and get closer to perfecting your touch-ups and long-lasting setting of your makeup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pressed powder and compact powder?

There is no difference between pressed and compact powder. It is a semi-solid powder that comes in a compact and provides a matte finish. Both of these can be applied with a powder brush.

Is setting spray better than compact powder?

Depends on your needs. Setting spray sets your makeup in place and provides a dewy finish, while compact powder absorbs excess oil and sweat and evens out your complexion. It also has a different application method.

Can I use baby powder as a compact powder?

Yes. Baby powder can be used as an alternative to compact powder to get that matte finish. However, as the powder does not come in different shades, you may be unable to match your skin tone.

Can I use eyeshadow as a compact powder?

No. Eyeshadow will not be able to set your makeup or eliminate excess moisture on your face.

Key Takeaways

  • Always choose the shades that match your skin tone and offer suitable coverage and undertone. Try them on the back of your hand while buying to have a better understanding.
  • If you have oily skin, oil control, matte finish, and sweat and waterproof are mandatory features to look for in a compact powder. Apply it on the T-Zone with a brush or a sponge.
  • For dry skin, a cream-based compact or translucent powder is a must. Apply moisture and one layer of foundation for a seamless finish. Avoid skin areas that dry a lot.
  • For sensitive skin, mineral-based non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic is the best option.

Learn how to choose the perfect face powder shade through this informative video. From blush to other makeup tips, discover expert advice to enhance your complexion and achieve a flawless finish.

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Marin McCarthy

Professional Makeup Artist

Marin McCarthy is a licensed professional makeup artist with over five years of experience. She is the founder of Marin Eve Makeup. Her company specializes in wedding parties on the beautiful Vancouver Island, BC. Her greatest passion is making people feel beautiful inside and out! more

Nisha Baghadia

Contributor

Nisha is a contributor to StyleCraze and has 3 years of experience in content writing for different genres. She is a makeup aficionado and combines her love for makeup and writing to provide her readers with the latest information in the beauty world. When she is not working, Nisha loves trying out the newest makeup fads and curling up with... more

Madhumati Chowdhury

Associate Editor

Madhumati is an associate editor with seven years of professional experience. She has previously worked as an editor, proofreader, and a writer with various organizations, helping her navigate through the various facets of content creation and refinement with ease. She graduated in English Literature from Jadavpur University, West Bengal. Her educational background lends a critical perspective and depth to her... more

Vaishali Sinha

Beauty & Lifestyle Writer

Vaishali Sinha is a beauty and lifestyle writer with five years of experience in writing for various genres. She has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She combines her passion for beauty and lifestyle topics with her artistic background as an Indian classical vocalist to bring a fresh and creative perspective to her writing. Her writing style... more

We Tested 32 Setting Powders—These 14 Are Worth Buying

How To Choose Compact Powder Shades For Different Skin Types

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