Rant & Rave: Finishing Powders

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Finishing Powders

Sometimes they are hard to see, except in person, but they can have a really lovely effect by imparting a more natural finish to the skin that setting powder can often mattify.

— Christine

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33 Comments

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I love the ones that make my skin poreless. I hate the fact that every brand labels some of their powders as translucent and they are NOT translucent.

Can anyone suggest any finishing powders? Currently I’m using MAC Mineralize Skinfinish (Medium Deep) to set my face and Ben Nye Banana to bake but I think the Skinfinish adds to much color to my face and looks kind of cakey. I want something light with a nice, subtle glow all over. Lately I’ve been looking into Laura Mercier Translucent Powder or NARS Light Reflecting Powder. Anyone have any other suggestions?

How about MAC Prep + Prime Translucent Finishing Powder? It’s gorgeous and photographs like s boss! Matte, but not flat and still kinda subtlety glowy.

Interesting.. I’ve been using the hourglass diffused (yellow toned) to just set my makeup. The dim shade (beige), seems quite glowy, but not ott. Hourglass powders are one of my first experience into this setting powder trend. I like it, but I’m always on the lookout to try something new and was considering the Mac mineralize myself. You mention it’s cakey.. Does it add a subtle glow? It seems highly talked amongst beauty bloggers, recommending it to people that don’t like powder. I haven’t used the LM powder myself but I hear it’s really good.

I love it, I’ve used it for years but recently I want something more finely milled. Maybe I’m too heavy handed but the color I use seems quite dark and orangey. There’s not any reflects so there isn’t a glow.

I love the subtle glowy luminosity they give my face! Especially considering that my current foundation is more matte than I had expected. So far, I am still loving my WnW Reserve Your Cabana as my finishing (plus setting powder!) It works! Keeps me glowy, not oily. Plus keeps everything perfectly in place!

As I get older (+40 yrs), and fall/winter sets in, finishing powders are quickly becoming necessities. My skin is now normal/dry, and my new fave is the ELF Illuminating Palette ( it appeared briefly in summer, sold out in nanosecond, and now it’s back online). It’s only $6 for 4 powders, suppose to be dupe for Hourglass Ambient Powders. I don’t think it highlights very much, but it makes an awesome finishing powder — doesn’t settle into fine lines, doesn’t cake up my foundation, and gives a soft, natural glow for photo-shopped look. I dust over my foundation, then pat a setting powder just over my nose. I love it so much I bought 2, one for home and another for work!

Bad setting powdered can make foundation look cakey, emphasize pores and make the skin look dull…a good one blurs pores, gives a natural matte finish and even texture. I love UD loose naked powder and Gurlean (sp?) pressed finishing powder.

I like finishing powder… I use a clear one and after I use the big powder brush for all over and then a fluffy eyeshadow brush to put more right under my eyes to keep my eyeliner from smudging

Yes~ They are difficult to qualify and difficult to ‘see’ in a review. I love Hourglass and frequently use a touch of finishing powder over setting powder to maintain more skin like look without the greasiness.

I use the Too Faced Primed and Poreless pressed powder to set my makeup even though it’s a finishing powder (apparently), so I quite like them. The fact that they aren’t very visible makes it so they don’t look cakey like some traditional setting powders do, and I find them easier to touch up throughout the day.

I like the NYX loose HD powder a lot. It’s $10 and easily better than MUFE’s $30+ version (MUFE’s is actually too finely milled, so it has an odd texture, doesn’t adhere well, and slips into fine lines). Elf has a $3 version, but it’s not pure silica powder like the others; it has silicone and other nasty things that our oily skin doesn’t like.

I have terribly oily skin! I don’t even use foundation because it wouldn’t stick. I use Becca’s matte primer, MUFE full cover concealer, and the NYX powder (plus whatever blush/highlighter on top of that). I find that the powder provides an extra layer of oil absorption and softens the outlines of my spot concealer.

Thank you! I need to try that one. My skin is not that terribly oily, more like mixed/oily but I have trouble keeping it from shining during the day. And nothing I do can make my pores thighten much even though I use all kinds of cleansers and masks regularly.

Hard to detect a difference but nice when they work as they set without making the skin look chalky or matte or they add life back to matte foundation!

Thank you Christine for this topic! I’ve been confused about this for a long time – setting powder versus finishing powder. I’ve always used setting powder for my oily skin. Because of that and being MAC NC45 in skin tone, I didn’t think finishing powder could be an option for me. I assumed most finishing powders had whitening/brightening/shimmering additives, and I didn’t want to appear ashen or oilier. Nevertheless, in my quest to have the look of beautiful skin, I purchased one anyway when I discovered a deep/dark option by Alima called Radiant Finishing Powder. I mix it with a gold/copper highlighter and a bronzer and apply to my upper cheek area for subtle highlight. However, I would really appreciate reading how others use finishing powder because I really would like to maximize my usage of this.

It’s definitely an extra step I only take for special occasions. I have oily skin, so I already have to use a matte setting powder, and some finishing powders can put a bit too much sheen back on my face. But there is a subtle difference that can be really nice when I want to look a touch nicer than my everyday look.

I prefer a finishing powder for setting as my skin is dry. I use a regular setting powder on just the tip of my nose ,forehead,& chin.

I guess what I hate about them is that I never know when one is a finishing powder or a setting powder or both. I do love it when a product makes my skin look luminously lit from within and blurs pores and any imperfections.

Now I am really confused. Setting powders are different than finishing powders? I honestly thought it was the same thing just that some brands called it finishing and some setting. I have no clue what to buy now. *sob*

Setting powders “set” the makeup, keeping it in place and prevent the base from moving around; these powders tend to have a fluffier texture. Finishing powders are silkier in texture and translucent in appearance — it diminishes the look of lines and pores, giving the skin a soft focus and flawless finish.

Finishing powders are meant to be used after a setting powder, as it is not an ideal powder to “set” makeup, especially on oily skin — though it can be used as a setting powder if one so chooses. The confusion between the two, is due to, as mentioned previously, the inaccurate naming of powder products by many brands.

My impression is that the primary purpose of a setting powder is to ‘set’ your base foundation/base product, and additionally blur pores and other imperfections and keep oiliness down during the day, and the finish usually leans matte. Finishing powders can be used alone, on top of a setting powder, or as a setting powder, and usually imparts some kind of special finish (the current look to go for seems to be a subtle ‘let from within glow’ rather than shiny-ness) in addition to blurring pores and other imperfections. In my personal experience younger/oilier skins do well with a setting powder, maybe with a bit of finishing powder on top, and older/drier skins look better with more finishing powder in the mix, maybe even substituting it for the setting powder. Hope that helps. I used to think they were two different words for the same thing, too.

I use a pressed powder (Charlotte Tilbury) over foundation where oily and to set under eye concealer, corrector (Bobbi Brown yellow powder). I used Hourglass Ambient Lighting at the end to diffuse light and, hopefully, imperfections. Hourglass is a nice to have day-to-day, pressed powder a must for my t-zone.

The right finishing powder blurs imperfections in my older skin really beautifully. The only downside is the price, since I use it instead of setting powder (far too matte for me at this point) get the best effect using it from hairline to neckline!

I use the Urban Decay Naked Loose powder, which they define as a finishing powder, but I use it as my setting powder. It’s not “lit from within” enough for me to treat it like a special product (e.g. only use it on my cheeks, or put it over other powder). I am curious about other finishing powders that may be less super-subtle-skin-look, but I’d have to start swatching in-store, and I’m not quite that curious yet.

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