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Liz Who?


My name is Liz and I blog as a hobby. I like all things bright and beautiful!

Email me at liz [at]

Disclosure: Most of the products I review here are press samples unless stated otherwise. FYI!




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Reader question: Is finishing and/or setting powder important?

Hello Liz, first up, thanks for providing us, your readers, so much info on make-up, fashion, etc, etc! Love love LOVE your blog! Anyway, I hope you can help answer my question.

My sister told me that I need to use finishing/setting powder after I put on my make-up so I finally bought one - Laura Mercier translucent setting powder. After a few days into using the product, I noticed that my skin became dry and flaky especially in the cheeks and forehead area. I use a fluffy powder brush to apply it (I even tap the brush to make sure that I don't get too much powder on my face). I was hoping there's an alternative product that I can use to set my make-up as I've never had this problem with my skin before. Is a finishing/setting powder a must or can I skip this part altogether?

I hope to hear from you! - Kaya

Thanks for reading my blog, Kaya! ;) Your flaking and dryness may be an allergic reaction from the product. That is, there might be an ingredient in your new powder that's causing the dryness. It's best to stop using it for now and observe! If you're still using it and the reaction has stopped nonetheless, it could be that your skin was just adjusting to the new product and is a-ok now.

So is it absolutely necessary to use a loose setting powder? Yes, if you're using wet makeup (liquid or cream foundation, BB cream, tinted moisturizer etc.) underneath! The powder helps the wet makeup solidify and settle better, the way sand was used to dry up ink in handwritten letters. This step extends the wear of your wet face makeup by a couple of hours or even more if you're using an oil-absorbent one. Who doesn't want a face that's oil-free longer?

Ideal tools for applying loose powder: kabuki brush and fluffy powder brushes

However, if you're just using a powder foundation, I think setting powder is redundant. The powder foundation should stay put for a decent number of hours through oil and sweat - if that's only what you're after. Thing is some powders have built in "special effects", like an extra glow or a more poreless, smooth look, that would still enhance the makeup underneath (wet or dry). I am inclined to consider this kind of product as a finishing powder since it helps improve the finish of the makeup you already have on.

The Guerlain Meteorites Perles in Teint Dore 03 is a finishing powder

Palgantong Theatrical Powder is a setting powder although it could also be a finishing powder since it has a super smooth, poreless finish

Personally I rarely ever use a setting powder when I'm just wearing powder foundation. But when I'm wearing liquid foundation or BB creams, I always always dust on a layer of setting powder on my t-zone at least. Sometimes, when I'm out for something important or just have extra time to do my makeup, I add a finishing powder on top of my foundation + setting powder pa. It's not important but I think it makes all the difference I need for my complexion.

Time to weigh in! Do you guys wear finishing and/or setting powder on a regular basis? What are your favorites?

Reader Comments (29)

I do use a setting powder after using liquid products, particularly after using BB creams. I find that it makes my face less oily and sticky! Though it only last usually for four hours, then I need to retouch around the T-zone area. Thanks for another info, Ms.Liz!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNina

I always use liquid foundations since it lasts longer on my oily skin. Finishing powder for me is like icing on the cake. So a good one is a must to set a perfect foundation. Currently I have MAC Prep+Prime, MAC MSF Natural and In2It dual powder foundation (which I use as a setting powder). I love all of them bec it controls my oilies esp the Prep+Prime and In2It. In2It is an amazing find because its cheap but really works!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManilaJen

I just found the ELF HD powder in my mom's drawers and I'm really liking it! It's very fine though so it gets all over the place.

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKhristine

Which is better, Setting powder or HD powder?

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLian

Thanks for this info Liz. I don't always use setting powder but if I'm going to have a long day, I put on some. The Guerlain finishing powder looks unforgettable!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaybelle

Setting powder makes my skin look flaky as well. :( I stopped using one since I like the dewy look anyway. Yun nga lang, the make up does not stay on as long talaga compared to when you set it with loose powder!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYana Tan

I think it is, as Liz said, a conditional step. If you're applying something wet beforehand (sunscreen, liquid foundation) then you might want to set with powder unless you want a makeup meltdown in our wonderful tropical weather:) I usually go for translucent powders only because I don't really like altering my skin color. Translucent setting powders also tend to make occlusive sunscreens more bearable to wear. It absolutely helps to have sun protection on the powder as well! My favorite powder product for day would have to be Smashbox's photo set finishing powder spf 15 which is zinc-oxide based. It absolutely looks undetectable in harsh sun (with proper application, well I checked with a x12 magnifying mirror) and sets liquid sunscreen beautifully! For touch-ups I prefer pressed since loose powder is well...loose:) I recently started using E.L.F.'s two way cake pressed powder which is Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide based. Not bad for it's price IMHO<3 Hope this helps!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGino Erana

i just put Face It Oil Cut Pore Powder Pact after I put my BB cream with a Kabuki brush or powder brush for daily use.It helps seals the Bb cream and prolong the appearance of my oilies. I want to try Be Nye and Palgantong Powder. Be Nye first but its out of stock at style quarter. Know any other seller of Be Nye?

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercouchpotato_md

@couchpotatomd Also wanna get Ben Nye! Its what Kim Kardashian's makeup artist recommend daw. Been reading good reviews too. And its cheap. Bingo!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManilaJen

Since my cheeks are quite dry, I tend to skip setting powder on them and just apply to my t-zone very lightly. Very lightly because even though my t-zone gets quite oily, a bit too much powder on it makes the powder 'clump up' around certain areas and dry it out too. I have very temperamental skin :/

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAri

I use Ben Nye Banana Visage mixed with Ellana's finishing powder which comes in different shades depending on your tone or needs. Try it! The finish is not flat at all, adds dimension and brightness to your face.

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersoleil

I only use a finishing powder if the finish of my face base is too dewy/shiny -- as is the case with VMV's Skintangible, haha. With bases that have a cream to powder finish, like Etude House's Sun BB, I leave it as is for a more natural, youthful look. I've also seen makeup artists recommend applying finishing powder with a sponge or puff instead of with a brush (the brush having the purpose of "knocking off" the excess powder). I've tried both, but seen no big difference. Maybe because the loose powder was so soft and finely milled. :p

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEula

Yes I do! Setting powder is important for me especially (like what you said) if i wear liquid foundation. I have an oily skin and setting powder makes it less oily (though I still need to blot after 3-4 hours). By the way Liz, can you please recommend a setting powder that's good enough for oily skin (plus it has to be noncomedogenic too coz I am prone to breakouts). Thank you!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPrincess Julia

Palgantong Theatrical Powder fan here! Might try Ben Nye Banana Powder after.
@couchpotato_md: Ben Nye is also available at Kalm Cosmetics (online seller in fb). :)

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJas

Of course a setting powder is a must after applying liquid products for oily-skinned people like me. Otherwise my face feels rather sticky and will oil up faster.

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAviva

Thanks for another eye opening post! I don't use setting powder and I'm planning to buy one, I think I'll go with Palagantong since it has many great reviews, though Guerlain Meteorites also sounds nice, now I'm torn between them. hahahahah

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Ms. Liz..I have very dry skin..i find using liquid foundation suites me the most. I'm actually afraid to use a setting powder as it might dry out my skin ....can you recommend a setting powder for dry skinned girls like me?

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternica

Boohoo. I still haven't found my HG setting powder. What's the best setting powder/finishing powder for oily skin? Thank you, Liz!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterzinfandel

I actually don't a lot of times since I have dry akin and it's like my skin absorbs all the moisture it can get from my makeup haha!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCam

@Jas thank you for recommending a Be Nye seller... will check it out. :)

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercouchpotato_md

I have a super oily face but what really works for me is using primer as a powder! It helps by not caking make up over the face! I use Smashbox's clear primer on my T-zone after foundation and I'm oil free the entire day even if I use Shu's mousse foundation. It also gives my skin a slight glow by letting the oils settle on my face. And since I'm not stripping my skin of those oils I find that I oil up less. If I do use setting powder, I pat it on my face with a sponge applicator because the brush doesn't deposit enough of the product. :)

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAthena

I was also told by a friend who has experiences in makeup that setting powder is important. But even if I apply powder after liquid bases, my skin gets oily easily. I don't know if my skin is just really oily, or using the wrong liquid base, or the problem is with my setting powder. So now, I avoid using liquid foundie or BB creams, I stick to powder foundation.

Liz, is this because my skin oxidizes easily? I am not very familiar with that skin condition, I hope you can help me with this.

Thank you.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Jane Rosell Jaime

I use ellana and krave foundations and I don't know I feel like I always need to use finishingpowders after the foundation. Mas feeling ko mas smoother and dating nga. I think siguro dahil oil-abslrbing ung finishing powder. As for setting powder, kala ko the same lang sila ng finishing powder. Pag naka liquid foundi ako i still use my finishing mmu powder to set my foundation. I find that my foundation stays for 4-6hrs if i do that. Kaya i dont see the diffrence between setting and finishing powder e

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralen

Hi Liz! Thanks so much for your response. I will try using the powder again and see what happens. :)

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaya

Wow! Those precious pearls again from Guerlain! What a dream! I didn't know they were finishing powder! I wanted to get myself one for highlighting, pwede pala sya as overall face powder.

@Jas: Thanks for telling us about Kalm Cosmetics. I'm a Ben Nye user as well and it's been hard to get my hands on the powder because it's always out of stock!

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYani

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