The Best Setting Powders that are actually worth your money

Unlike a good blush or incredible lipstick, the best setting powder isn’t made to be a look—which is why it’s an easy step to skip when you’re pressed for time or money. It’s got a bad reputation of making your face look dry and cakey, which certainly doesn’t help either.

So let’s reframe it for you: Think of setting powder as a tool (and a highly underrated one at that) that can vastly extend the life of your makeup, like the way a topcoat does for your manicure. A few dabs can lock your makeup in place, keep shine to a minimum, and soak up sweat and oil—qualities that are undeniably useful when the weather’s hellishly humid or wet. It can be just as reliable during the winter too. The latest formulations include hydrating and brightening ingredients like vitamins C and E to give your skin a smooth Instagram-filtered finish, instead of one that’s rough and wind-chapped.

From Cover FX’s talc-free formula—perfect for those with sensitive skin—to Ilia’s natural loose powder, here Glamour editors tested the top tinted and translucent options in order to share which stood above the rest.

Best Setting Powder Overall: Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder

Talk to any makeup artist, and you’ll likely find this setting powder in their kit. That’s because one fine layer of this silky, hydrating formula rivals Instagram’s Subtle filter (you know, the one every influencer uses). The secret? The formula is infused with light-refracting diamond powder, which gives your skin a glisteny (but not sparkly) blurred finish. I’ve seen artists use it on a range of skin tones and never has it left a white cast. Skeptical? Read all its five-star reviews. This powder is a winner. —Lindsay Schallon, senior beauty editor 

Buy at Sephora $60

Best Drugstore Setting Powder: Maybelline Fit Me! Loose Finishing Powder

I’ve got super oily—but dehydrated—skin, so I’m constantly dealing with a complexion that somehow looks greasy and dry at the same time. This is the only drugstore powder that manages to put both issues to rest. I’ve found the trick is to press it in with a makeup puff (instead of swirling it on with a brush), which leaves behind a blurred, your-skin-but-better finish that looks flawless both in real life and photos. —L.S.

Buy on Amazon $11

Best Luxury Setting Powder: La Mer The Powder

I love a flawless no-makeup makeup look, and stan by any and all products that help me get a little closer to that. The translucent color works well on my fair skin, and since I don’t use foundation, I’ve been applying it over my concealer for a little extra sparkle. It sure is pricey, but if luxe beauty is your vice, then it’s totally worth it. —Talia Abbas, commerce writer

Buy at Sephora $125

Best Translucent Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

I’ve tried a lot of loose powders before, and they all either make my skin look blotchy, or go on white and make me look like a ghost. This does neither! It applies flawlessly and keeps my oily pores at bay, but not to the point that my skin produces more oil. Also, Jackie Aina loves it. In my opinion, there is no better endorsement than that. —Khaliha Hawkins, producer

Buy at Sephora $51

Best Loose Setting Powder: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Setting Powder

I’ve used setting powder only a handful of times before, since it always seemed like an extra step I could easily do without. However, the Fenty Pro Filt’r Setting Powder went above and beyond. True to form, the brand came through with a wide range of skin tones to choose from (eight is a lot for this kind of product—some brands offer just two), so it blended well with my medium-tan skin and yellow undertone. Rihanna knows a thing or two about being camera ready, and it’s obvious with this product, because the pore-blurring, mattifying effect would be worthy of digital camera days of the early aughts, or even the brightest of Lumee Lights—Erin Parker, commerce writer

Buy at Sephora $42

Best Pressed Setting Powder: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Pressed Powder

For someone who just started dabbling with setting powders, I really enjoyed this one from Neutrogena. The shade range isn’t as robust as some other brands’, but it’s still a great starter product since the pressed powder makes it easy to control the amount you apply—especially for smaller coverage areas like under your eyes. Plus, for someone who has dry skin, it’s formulated with hydrating and brightening antioxidants like vitamin B5 and vitamins C and E. —T.A.

Buy at Target $10

Best Setting Powder for Dry Skin: Tarte Shape Tape Setting Powder

My skin is Mojave Desert–dry, so setting powders aren’t something I typically gravitate toward (I’m more of a desperate-for-dewy kind of person), but Tarte’s Shape Tape Setting Powder has officially changed my makeup routine. It blurs any blemishes and sets my makeup without gathering in the cracks in my (and I can’t stress this enough) dry skin. Plus the little powder puff that it comes with is so soft and plush it’s worth the price of admission alone. —Shanna Shipin, commerce editor

Best Setting Powder for Acne-Prone Skin: Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder

I have combination skin, so it’s tricky to find a powder that can mattify any shine I may be dealing with without it clinging to dry patches. Most mattifying powders are way too cakey, and more luminous ones make me look too slick. Then I came across this Nars powder. It’s hefty enough to soak up any lurking oil, yet so finely milled that it takes a lot to overdo it and look powdery. Although it’s described as light-reflecting, there’s no visible shimmer—it just has a natural finish that makes my skin look airbrushed, which is always the goal. —Isabella Cacciatore, beauty associate

Buy at Sephora $49

Best Setting Powder for Oily Skin: Marc Jacobs Beauty Finish-Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder

This is the powder to grab in summer, when the heat is at its most unbearable, or before/after a workout. It’s so lightweight—and, real talk, so good at soaking up your sweat—that you’ll forget you’re even wearing makeup. —Anna Moeslein, senior editor

Buy at Sephora $59

Best Setting Powder for Sensitive Skin: Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder

I swear by the Cover Fx Power Play foundation and concealer, so trying the powder was a no-brainer. Unlike the foundation and concealer, the powder doesn’t have a large range of shades, so choosing between the light and dark was very time consuming. The Translucent light shade was perfect and didn’t leave a white cast on my face. It blended in well and didn’t let the oils in my skin shine through. —K.H.

Best Vegan Setting Powder: Ilia Soft Focus Finishing Powder

We all want a loose powder that will survive the humidity of the New York City subway system, right? Well, how about a powder that can combat sweat at the NYC Pride Parade? Yes, I’m serious. After testing this, I’ve concluded that either my skin is magic or this product is (and I’m pretty sure it’s the latter). Lightweight and cute, it’s dependable for any occasion. —E.P.

Buy at Sephora $45

Best Setting Powder for Combination Skin: Milk Makeup Blur + Set Matte Loose Setting Powder

This setting powder is seriously a dream. Not only does it eliminate oil and shine, but the lightweight formula keeps my makeup looking fresh all day. It lies perfectly over my concealer and doesn’t make my skin look dry or chalky. —E.P.

Buy at Sephora $38

Best Lightweight Setting Powder: Lawless Seal The Deal Loose Setting Powder

I’ve gone through a lot of loose powders over the years, some good, some bad. When I learned that Lawless Beauty was launching one with no talc, I knew I had to try it out. I’ve been using this for a couple weeks, and my skin is noticeably different. The best thing is that as soon as I started to use it, all my breakouts disappeared. I use the Brightening Translucent shade to set and bake my foundation, then dust on the Golden Translucent to contour. I really don’t think I’ll ever use another powder. Lawless uses mica, which is not only healthier than talc, but is the secret to making this powder so lightweight that it doesn’t cake onto your skin. —Azadeh Valanejad, contributor

Buy at Sephora $48

Best Antiaging Setting Powder: Onomie AHA Perfecting Setting Powder

I’ve fallen in love, and the object of my affection is this powder. The featherlight formula goes onto my skin seamlessly, leaves me looking fresh and rejuvenated, and doesn’t look even remotely mask-like. What’s more: It left my face feeling baby smooth. That’s probably thanks to all of its good-for-you ingredients, like skin-softening lactic acid and collagen-boosting peptides. Oh, and let’s not forget its inclusion of vitamin C, which helps block free radicals. Into it. —Jennifer Lance, weekend writer

Buy on their website $30

GLAMOUR article

CoverGirl Launched Clean Fresh, an Affordable, Vegan Beauty Line

The clean beauty market is on track to make $22 billion by 2024. Those environmentally conscious beauty enthusiasts may have already swapped out some of their old products for ones that are better for the planet, but CoverGirl is looking to make the jump to clean beauty easier and cheaper than ever with its newest range Clean Fresh.

Clean Fresh is formulated without talc, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, mineral oil, or sulfates, according to a press release. It’s also completely vegan, and since it’s CoverGirl, we also know it’s cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals.

The range is made up of four new products: Skin Milk Foundation, Cream Blush, Cooling Glow Stick, and Lip Oil. Together, they’re designed to let you create a full face of makeup — perhaps your first full face of entirely cruelty-free/vegan/clean makeup.

First up is Skin Milk, a liquid foundation that uses coconut and aloe for a dewy, moisturizing finish. It’s launching in 14 shades with an even split along the shade spectrum. Once your foundation is on, you can go in with the Cooling Glow Stick. Choose between four shades of shimmery pink designed to highlight cheekbones or anywhere else in need of some sparkle. Add color with the cream blush, then finish up the look with the high-shine, tinted lip oil.

CoverGirl Clean Fresh Cooling Glow Stick ($11)

CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation ($12)

CoverGirl Clean Fresh Cream Blush ($11)

CoverGirl Clean Fresh Lip Oil ($11, available exclusively at CVS)

Covergirl Clean Fresh Hydrating Concealer ($10)

Covergirl Clean Fresh Pressed Powder ($11)

Covergirl Clean Fresh Mascara ($11)

Covergirl Clean Fresh Prep & Set Water Mist ($10)

ALLURE article

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