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How To Use Setting Powders – Complete Guide


There has been a lot of questions asked about how to use setting powder and the proper steps to use them and moreover why even use setting powders in the first place. I myself had quite a lot of questions about them initially when I started to use them as part of my daily makeup routine. If you are also new to setting powders or thinking about using them, then this guide is for you where I answer most asked questions as well share an easy guide of when and how to use them.

I have been using setting powder roughly around 3 years and definitely have practiced different techniques and ways of applying them for different makeup routines.

Why I moved Over to Setting Powder from Compact Powder?

I started using setting powder around 3 years ago and Laura Mercier Translucent setting powder has been my go to since then. I have branched out a little more last year and tried some setting powders for dry skin specially around winter as my skin felt too dry to use the Laura Mercier one during that weather. 

I am in my 30s, and a lot of you might be thinking whether you can use setting powders at that age or not. Yes, you absolutely can. I have been using it every single day and have no problem with any of my makeup though out the day. 

In my 20s and in my early 30s, I was used to applying compact powder after foundation, but over the years I really struggled with them, mainly because, they never matched the foundation, so the end result was always weird. And during summer months, I literally had to buy multiple shades of compact as well so I can keep up with my skin darkening because of the sun.

I did knew a bit about Banana Powder, not sure if you are familiar with them. Every beauty YouTuber used them, and I wanted to try them as well, but never found a shade that matched my skin tone.

When I discovered translucent setting powders, I just had to get it. And have never looked back. 

Setting Powder, Compact Powder, Finishing Powder?

What is the Difference?

This is one of the most asked question and honestly, initially I had the same question too. As I have used this product over the years, I will share my personal experience as well as the key difference between all of them, so when you go out shopping for each one of them, you know exactly what to look for.

Compact Powder Setting Powder Finishing Powder
It smoothens your foundation
It sets all of the foundation & concealer applied
It blurs and smoothens your makeup
Perfect for touch ups
Reduces the need for touch ups
Air Brush Look and Long Lasting finish
Replacement for Foundation with lighter Coverage
Absorb Extra oil that leads to makeup bleed
Provides professional looking finish to your makeup
Need to Match Your Skin Tone
Can be Translucent
Can be Translucent
Blending Powder Texture (Smooth)
Smooth but Powdery texture
Smooth & Powder Texture

How to Use Setting Powder On Your Face?

I wanted to share a beginner guide on how you can apply setting powder on your face. 

Step 1: Apply Your Primer & Foundation

First finish with your basics on your face depending on what style of foundation you want to apply. I usually start with a primer if I am wearing foundation, but you can skip it if you are applying tinted moisturizer or CC creams. 

If your foundation does not have SPF, I suggest applying Sunscreen before you apply any makeup. 


Step 2: Apply Your Setting Powder

After you finish applying your foundation and concealer (this is optional), you can immediately apply the setting powder and press it a bit while applying so that it can set your makeup in place. This will magnifying the liquid foundation and set the base for contouring and highlighting. 

Step 3: The finishing Touches

After a few minutes, I usually wait for a minute and it works for me since I don’t use a lot of liquid foundation, but if you are applying more, I would recommend waiting for around 3 minutes for it to dry and then you can follow up with contouring, highlighting and filling up your brows. 

How to Apply Setting Powder with a Brush?

This is how I apply my setting powder for my daily makeup routine mainly because it is quick and easier to apply. I also don’t have to worry about not being able to uniformly apply the powder every where. 

I use a powder brush which has a bit of stronger bristles to be able to hold on to the powder and even apply on my face. The brush is wider so it covers more area and moreover does not concentrate the powder in one place. 

Step 2: I use the brush and and dab on the lid and make sure that I dust extra powder, so I have a uniform application.

Step 3: I apply the powder with the brush with a painting like movement. Not sure how else to explain it, but rather than dabbing, its painting. This way the brush applies enough pressure for the powder to blend with the foundation or concealer. 

Step 4: I waiting for a few second. If I see any shiny area, I repeat the steps.

Step 1: I use the lid of the setting powder to take out the desired amount that my face will need. You will eventually figure out this with practice. This helps me to not take a lot of powder which can make my face look powdered instead of natural. 


How to Apply Setting Powder with a Beauty Blender?

If you always use beauty blender for your makeup or you don’t have a wide powder brush handy, you can also use a beauty blender to apply the setting powder. It is a bit tricky and requires a bit more time than using a brush. 

So if you are pressing for time like me, I would recommend investing on a powder brush that can do the job well. But below are the steps you can take use a beauty blender for application instead.

Step 2: Dab the beauty blender and take a little bit of setting powder. The blender is spongy, so it will absorb the powder pretty quick, so no point taking a lot. Also using a beauty blender just for setting powder might also be a better idea since it might be wet from the foundation and the powder will just stick to the sponge.

Step 3: Dab the powder on the skin and continue doing that all over the face and ensuring that you don’t have patchy sections. This would be even better if your foundation has somewhat dried. 

Step 4: Wait for a a minute for the baking or blending of the powder and the foundation to happen and you are ready for finishing touches.

Step 1: The same as above, use the lid and take out the setting powder. I used to shake the box and use the powder form the container itself, but it was messy and the oil from the brush goes back to the container and it does not feel hygienic.

How to Apply Setting Powder Under Your Eyes?

The under eye area can feel specially tricky while applying the setting powder specially because most of use do our eye makeup first and that section has a lot of corners.

For this reason, I use a small buffing brush instead of the big Powder brush specially if I want to set my under eye concealer. This helps you to apply the powder near the corner of the eyes properly without smudging the eyeshadow or eye liner.

Should You Apply Setting Powder Without Foundation?

Since the primary purpose of setting powders is to set your makeup it does not really make sense to use it when you have no foundation on though there are some hacks I have discovered that have helped my oily skin with setting powder. 

This is the biggest reason I use them.

Since I have oily skin, which gets worse throughout the day, I use setting powder even when I have just moisturizer and sunscreen on because it blots out all the oiliness in my face and does not make me look like a greasy frying pan hahaha!

This is an excellent hack that has helped me go without foundation. I use it also with tinted moisturizers which have no foundation like feeling. Honestly, this feels more natural to me now that I am in my 30s.

Word of Caution: Its really important that you clean your face at the end of the day even if you did not apply makeup. Setting powder act as a pore blocker to block the oil secretion, so they can literally block your pores causing acne and all sorts of other problems. 

How to Use Setting Powders Without Looking Cakey?

If you like to wear full coverage foundation and don’t want your makeup to look cakey, and eventually look patchy during the day, I have a few tips for you:

Tip 1: Don’t overuse the setting powder. Use as much as you need. Reapply only on areas which are oily but again very little.

Tip 2: Use a brush, this smoothly and evenly applies the powder and the results are always amazing.

Tips 3: This is specially for dry skin, use a face serum with your foundation, like Hyaluronic aside serums are awesome hydration booster and will make the application smoother and won’t tighten after applying setting powder. 

I have actually tried some awesome setting powders under $50 just for Dry skin, so check it out. 

let me know in the comment below if I have missed something or if you want to add something cool like a hack that you use with your setting powder that will be helpful to me and other ladies.


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About Suchi

A Techie turned Fashion blogger, I have been in your shoes. I have gone from looking like I was trying to fit into my teen clothes, to now a stylist and blogger known to be classy and elevated style. I can help you look your best without spending too much time, effort and money into your wardrobe. 

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