Just want to address some questions about the whole finishing powders situtation. Recently, there have been many versions of finishing powders available on the market, and finishing powders have different functions from other powders. I know that some people are also confused over the one million and one type of face powders you can use on your face to create that perfect flawless canvas...so I hope to clarify a few of those murky areas (though I must preface my rambly post by saying that I am not an expert on this topic, and whatever advice and tips I am about to dispense are based purely on my own experience). Ultimately, you choose what you know work for your own preferences.
To me, finishing Powders are NOT setting powders.
While some women might choose to skip the setting, and go straight on to finishing, I must say that the two types of powder are entirely different products. If you go to a makeup counter, the BA should be able to tell you what's the difference. If they don't, well, hopefully I can try to explain here.
Setting powder - main function is simply to set your foundation, especially if you use a liquid or cream foundation. In our humid weather, this is necessary, because setting your foundation means it will last longer, and you don't end up looking shiny and greasy after a short while. However, some women might skip this step if they don't have an issue with foundation sliding off their faces (lucky you!). Usually setting powder might come in different shade range (Chanel, Lancome, Dior, MUFE, Bobbi Brown etc all have various shades of loose powder that matches the foundation shade) but many setting powders can also be translucent. Overall, setting powder provides zero to quite sheer coverage that shouldn't interfere much with the finish of your foundation.
I also find that some setting powders have more oil-control properties than others.
Application - when I am setting my foundation, I use powder puff & the press and roll method to apply the powder onto my skin.
Some of my most recommended setting powders:
- Chanel Translucent Loose Powder - this is finely milled, and contains a lot of product. I think it's available in 4-6 shades, and does make my makeup last nicely throughout the day.
- Chanel Ultra Fine Loose Powder - this is a clear loose powder that adds a more refined finish to the face, while it is translucent, it does make my face look a little fairer -- just a tiny tiny bit.
- La Mer Loose Powder -- This was one of my first loose powders before the rest came along. I think that it is worth the $124 price tag at that point I paid for it. It is a decent performer that sets your foundation beautifully. I think there are 3 - 4 shades, and one of them contains quite noticeable shimmer... if you want a natural finish, be sure to choose the shade which is not glowy/ shimmery (I can't remember the names of the shades though). It took me about 2.5 years to finish this product.
- Suqqu Chiffon Feel loose powder - Super soft, and I like how the pink tinged powder gives my face a soft radiance without any shimmer. Currently it is my everyday loose powder (taking over the places of my Chanel powders) and I love it to set my foundation and concealer day to day.
- Lancome Teint Miracle loose powder - a setting powder that has a slightly glowy finish. I don't normally reach for this unless I want a ultra matte foundation to look less flat.
- NARS loose powder - not to be confused with their Light Reflecting Powder which is clear. The NARS loose powder comes in a few shades, and provides sheer to light coverage. You can get away with decent coverage if you go for tinted moisturiser and set with this loose powder. It is also my only setting powder I would use with their Sheer Glow foundation to make it last the whole day.
- Ettusais Mineral BB loose powder - much like the NARS loose powder, but softer in finish. Again this has some coverage, and it does set makeup beautifully.
- Dermablend Setting Powder - super finely milled and clear, this really sets your face too, and feels like nothing at all.
Finishing powder - main function is to give the face an overall smooth finish. Now this smooth finish can be slightly shimmery, velvety matte or very invisible. To me, this is the final step of my makeup routine. I prefer a powdered smooth finish, the dewy moist skin look is a def no no for me. While I might look a little powdery immediately after my makeup is done, usually after 15-20 minute, when the makeup is settled into the skin, the finish is very natural (I hope).
Application - when I am using a finish powder, I use a large fluffy brush to dust it mainly on the centre of my face only.
The festive season seems to be the fave time for beauty houses to release finishing powders in all pretty packaging and forms, some with beautiful oversprays, thoughtfully scented to add that luxe factor and also not to mention, they looks so gorgeous displayed on your vanity table. In this case here, some finishing powders add shimmer that might be perfect if you are going out at night and you want to look particularly sparkly. The shimmer bits are fine and sparsely packed, so you could get away with dusting the powder all over your face. If the shimmer bits are anymore densely packed, you are better off using it sparingly as a highlighter on selected parts of your face only.
Here is a rundown of the various categories of finishing powders & my recommendations:
Flawless + Smooth + No Coverage, no shimmer
- NARS Light Reflecting Powders (both the pressed and loose versions) - I cannot stress enough that these are finishing powders. You can't use these powders and expect them to control oil, make your foundations last longer, and all those things that you expect a regular setting powder is supposed to do. These powders merely 'seal' your final makeup, and rendering a smoother finish that makes your skin photograph well. Along the same lines, I would say that the MUFE HD loose powder is a dupe...and the Dermablend Loose Powder as well. That NARS has a pressed version makes it one of my most reached for finishing powder (it has seen some pan hitting action lately).
Flawless + Smooth + Brightening + Sheer Coverage, no shimmer
- MAQuiLLAGE Aura Veil powders (both the 2011 and 2012 release) These powders contain 7 shades that serve to correct and give your face a radiant glow. They do have some slight coverage, so I think they are suited for light to medium skin tones...They are my fave everyday finishing powder, they add enough coverage without looking cakey, and makes the finish of my makeup velvety smooth and soft. If you can get your hands on these, I really highly recommend.
- very similar to the MAQuiLLAGE powders is the Diorsnow Fresh Reveal powders, I use the shade 001. (there are 3 shades) They give your face a soft velvet finish (but not as soft looking as the MAQuiLLAGE powders).
Smooth + Radiant, slightly shimmery/ glowing, very very sheer coverage
- Guerlain Meteorites (loose or pressed)
These are strictly finishing powders in my opinion. They are very sheer, and they are great to add a nice glowy finish to your skin. But they don't actually set your foundation/ base. It is my pet peeve when people trash products without actually knowing what they do. Personally for me, I don't use the meteorites enough to get the rave about the glowy finish it gives, but I get suckered into getting a few of them just for collection's sake---also, it seems like such a hassle to open the tin and dip my brush into it everytime I use it.
- Hourglass Ambient Light powders - these get a lot of rave, because they are so versatile to use as face highlighters, and overall finishing powder. I have been enjoying these, they seem to light up my face but not in a noticeable way. And I supposed if you build up the application, you can also use these to highlight your face. Bonus? They are very long lasting!
Bobbi Brown also has a series of color correcting loose powders, and I believe those are classified as finishing powders too, ie you should set your foundation as per normal, and use these special loose powders strictly to add radiance, correct any residual redness which your foundation has not even out...or add more radiance (aka liveliness not the disco ball variety) to your face.
Finishing powders are NOT highlighters, and vice versa.
That all over face glow can also be achieved by several makeup bases, such as the following:
NARS Radiant Primer
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector
Some people like to use this underneath their foundation, which I found to be quite useful - you can use such products to 'glow-ify' a particularly matte finish foundation without having to purchase another foundation.
I hope I have not left anything out.
But my overall face routine would be something like this:
1. Apply base/ primer/ bb or cc cream -- this is my first step to even out skintone and add sun protection
2. Apply choice of foundation.
3. Brighten under my eyes.
4. Set foundation, and if I am feeling especially meticulous, I use a separate powder to set under my eyes.
5. Conceal random spots if necessary. I have a separate entry on why I do this here.
6. Proceed to do my bronzer/ blush/ brows... (and eyeshadows the full works).
7. Dust on Finishing powder of choice depending on my mood.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but with these steps, I don't normally touch up my face for the rest of the day. I just need to blot 2 - 3 times a day, and only if I need to, I will use a touch up powder (which might be another entry altogether).
Hope I cleared up some queries, and I would love to hear what are your thoughts on the whole setting vs finishing powders discussion, and finally if you have further questions please leave them below!