Fighting Shine? You Need One Of These Setting Powders

Setting powder has long been a staple in most make-up bags, despite getting significantly less love than some other hero products. While it’s unparalleled in its ability to set make-up and prevent oiliness, the drawbacks of creasing, flashback in photos and an overly matte finish are undeniable. That said, the best setting powders can fix make-up, control shine, conceal breakouts, and are far easier to work with than thick, creamy textures. For example, make-up artists usually advise that those who wish to try contouring for the first time use a powder contour, not a cream kit, as it’s easier to layer and buff to seamless perfection, and there’s little more effective against an oily T-zone than a sheer veil of the translucent stuff.

But with the advent of “glass skin” and our general preoccupation with looking dewy at all times, powder has fallen by the wayside. Perhaps it’s down to unwelcome associations with “baking”, the technique invented by drag queens and popularised by the Instagram make-up set, which involves using hefty amounts of powder to affix make-up. Or maybe it’s just a natural casualty of the pursuit of round-the-clock radiance. Happily, powder formulas have advanced at a rate of knots in recent months. BECCA Hydra Mist Set & Refresh Powder is formulated with 50 per cent water and glycerine, meaning that, despite resembling a loose powder, it feels more cooling than chalky once applied. Likewise, By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder is infused with skincare favourite hyaluronic acid. The HA microspheres attract water and so help to “blur” and “fill” imperfections, without looking ashy or settling into creases. It’s gossamer-light, so don’t be perturbed by the opaque white colour, as it settles to a soft-focus effect on all skin tones.

Glossier Wowder is delivered in a Korean-inspired cushion compact, with the powder sitting beneath a sheer layer of netted film. Simply press and swirl your brush over the centre to pick up a light dusting of the kaolin clay infused formula (that’s to mop up oil), and dust all over. Meanwhile, Vitamin E helps to keep the powder feeling silky rather than dry on the skin – nobody wants a patchy effect. Beauty Pie One Powder Wonder looks almost sparkling in the pressed compact, but buffs onto skin with a believable luminosity that helps to tackle dehydration and the appearance of large pores, making it ideal if you need all-day hold but still want a candelit glow.

Of course, the “go big or go home” option is surely Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder Glow. A brand already beloved by make-up artists for its classic translucent setting powders, this latest offering sits somewhere between the original formula and a highlighter. Infused with pearl pigments and micro-refined silica, it offers an incredibly light-reflecting finish that still grips onto make-up for dear life.

Aside from the additions of microspheres and luxurious-sounding crushed gem particles, one thing that makes 2020’s powders better is the notable absence of talc. Apart from the health concerns around the inclusion of talcum powder in beauty, many cosmetic chemists have chosen to remove it from their products altogether as the finish is resolutely chalky. In the ’90s, super-matte was considered chic, but now that dewy skin is in, talc is fast becoming a thing of the past in beauty circles. Instead, additions like silk, peptides and collagens (like the hydrating and firming complex found in It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder) offer a healthier-looking fix that still helps tackle shine.

The powder revolution is in no way limited to base, as a slew of recent lip launches demonstrates. Giorgio Armani Lip Magnet gives a featherweight wash of colour over the lips with a finish that resembles the effect created by that classic make-up artist trick: blotting a richly pigmented lipstick. Likewise, MAC Powder Kiss lipsticks offer a softly diffused, just-been-kissed look, while Chanel Lip Powder Duocombines a hydrating balm with a loose pigment powder for effortless texture.

Blurring but not masking, hydrating but not greasy, and shine controlling while still offering a healthy glow, powder can finally sit in that sweet spot between functional and fun. And remember, when it comes to powder – if in doubt, buff it out.

See Vogue’s edit of the best setting powders below…

Pat McGrath Labs 

A swish of this setting powder will leave skin glowy and radiant, while getting rid of any unwanted shine. It feels feather-light and imparts a soft-focus veil over skin thanks to amino acid pigments that work with your skin rather than against it.

Buy at Selfridges $50

Glossier

Since Glossier is a brand dedicated to dewy skin, the launch of Wowder was somewhat unexpected. The loose, light-reflecting powder won’t leave you without a glow though, it’s designed to set make-up whilst maintaining a radiant complexion.

Buy on their website $27

IT Cosmetics

Perfect for top-ups on the go thanks to the mirror inside the compact, IT Cosmetics’s Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder blurs imperfections and is enriched with a blend of peptides, silk, collagen and antioxidants.

Buy at Selfridges $26

Kevyn Aucoin

Thanks to microspheres in this silky smooth powder, expect any surface imperfections blurred without the hefty “powdery” finish, and skin to remain shine-free for longer.

Buy at BeautyBay $32

MAC

If an oily T-zone is your nemesis, look to MAC’s classic Blot Powder for long-lasting matte. With a good shade range and an impressive shine-combatting formula, it offers decent coverage without looking caked-on or flat.

Buy on their website $24

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Finish Loose Powder is lightweight enough that you can barely tell you’re wearing it, plus, its oil-free formula is enriched with vitamin E for comfortable wear. Great for setting make-up that you need to last all day.

Buy on their website $30

Chanel

A glow isn’t the first thing you’d associate with powder, but Chanel has somehow created a formula that reduces shine while retaining radiance with its Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. Natural-looking, flattering and the best setting powder for when you need to add a subtle hint of warmth to a pale complexion.

Buy on their website $40

Charlotte Tilbury

Promising to diffuse light over skin to boost radiance, this loose powder from the queen of red carpet make-up is formulated with tsubaki oil and squalane to nourish and strengthen skin. Plus, it smells like rose.

Buy on their website $33

Hourglass

Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powder is a cult classic for good reason – you can fake a full night’s sleep with the luminous, diffusing, flawless finish it creates. It’s like having your own Instagram filter in your make-up bag.

Buy at SpaceNK $45

Laura Mercier

A finely-milled and lightweight powder, Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder Glow acts as the perfect finishing touch for make-up. Highly pigmented, only a small amount is needed each time, so one pot will keep you going for ages.

Buy at Cult Beauty $30

Beauty Pie

Blurring, radiance-boosting and pore-diffusing, this all-in-one powder is suitable for all skin types, and won’t ever settle into creases.

Buy on their website $26

La Mer 

Formulated with the brand’s patented Miracle Broth, which is made up of hydrating marine ingredients, La Mer’s finishing powder might be expensive, but it certainly does the job well. It’s translucent enough to be imperceptible on the skin, so you can look forward to the most flawless finish.

Buy at SpaceNK $75

VOGUE article

What Actually Is An Essence – And Why Does Your Skin Need One?

If your aim each day is to drench your skin with hydration, there is a product that can help you out. No longer solely known to the “skintelligent” (those who know their way around a multi-step skincare routine), the essence is fast becoming a formula that many of us rely on for a healthy, luminous complexion. However, it’s frequently misunderstood. Hailing from Korea, as many useful skin trends do, the liquid is often confused with a toner, but is actually an entirely separate product designed to be used after cleansing and toning, and before serum.

“An essence is predominantly used to assist all the other products in your routine,” says Julia Marinkovich, UK representative for the Korean brand COSRX, who describes them as a skincare staple. “They are multi-functional miracle workers that hydrate and rebalance the skin, housing many active ingredients that work to penetrate the skin much deeper, further enhancing subsequent skincare products and boosting the effectiveness of your whole beauty regime.” Marcia Kilgore of Beauty Pie is a fan too: she told Vogue recently that an essence is “the perfect power-magnet prep to heighten the performance of whatever you apply next”, highlighting its ability to nourish, smooth and pH balance the skin, softening the epidermal layers to allow faster penetration of actives – Beauty Pie’s Japanfusion Hydra Prep Essence Lotion is an unsung hero in the brand’s offering.

While essences are nothing new and have long been available via more niche brands, over the past year the beauty mainstream has cottoned on to their efficacy, thrusting them into the spotlight and making them more accessible to consumers. Take Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Micro Capsule Skin Replenishing Essence, which is packed with antioxidants to protect skin from external aggressors, and offers minerals to boost skin’s hydration levels, as well as lipids to bolster the skin barrier. It’s a multitasking product that really does work, particularly for older skins: “Ceramide levels drop precipitously as we age, and this formula contains skin identical ceramides that support the skin barrier and help improve texture,” says Dr Dendy Engelman, the brand’s consulting dermatologist.

La Mer is another well known brand that has recently added a Treatment Lotion to its much-loved skincare line. Utilising the miracle broth technology found in all its products, combined with softening waters, a revitalising ferment and a number of sea minerals, it’s designed to deeply hydrate the skin. Then there is Clarins’ barrier-bolstering Nutri-Lumière Renewing Treatment Essence, and Caudalie’s brightening and smoothing Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence.

Meanwhile, when Vintner’s Daughter – a brand that shot to fame by offering a single product – introduced a second, founder April Gargulio didn’t unveil a cleanser or a moisturiser, but an essence. “The Active Treatment Essence was created to be the perfect hydrating complement to [the original product] Active Botanical Serum’s multi-correctional moisture,” Gargulio tells Vogue. “In one perfectly calibrated formula Active Treatment Essence delivers many products in one – deep hydration, collagen-building vitamin C, two sizes of plumping hyaluronic acid, brightening plant stem cells, revitalising microalgae and B vitamins, pre and probiotics, 60 plus nourishing nutrients and micro-exfoliators for cellular regeneration.” An exhaustive list of skincare benefits, and yet more reasons to consider incorporating one of these multi-taskers into your routine.

Other notable essences to try are Skin Regimen’s Microalgae Essence, a near all-natural product which helps recharge and hydrate the skin thanks to energising unicellular microalgae; COSRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which is loved by Emily Ratajkowski and, yes, really does contain snail secretion filtrate to repair damaged skin; and SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence, which is forever sold out, and for good reason. It’s achieved cult status thanks to its ability to lift, firm, hydrate, smooth, and generally make skin glowy as can be.

Unlike a toner or micellar water, your essence should be applied like a serum: “Instead of using a cotton wool pad, apply four to five pumps of essence into the palms of your hands and then press the product into your skin, avoiding dragging it,” says Marinkovich. Use it morning and night, post-toner and pre-serum, and enjoy. For the sake of an additional 20 seconds, it’s a no brainer – isn’t it?

VOGUE article