How to Use Setting Powder the Right Way
How to Use Setting Powder the Right Way

How to Use Setting Powder the Right Way

5 minutes read

Truly the Marmite product of any beauty cabinet, setting powder seems equally beloved or cursed depending on whose opinion you seek out. But when used correctly, setting powder can enhance make-up’s longevity, smooth uneven skin texture, and keep oil at bay, and we’re here to argue its case.

So read on for everything you need to know on when and how to use and apply setting powder to make the most of this often-overlooked beauty must-have.


What is setting powder?

Setting powder does exactly what it says on the tin (or glamourous gold packaging); it sets your make-up perfectly in place. Elite setting powders are light and invisible and prevent foundation or concealer from crumpling or moving while remaining undetectable. Check out

Setting powder is a slightly different beast to finishing powder (which adds an additional burst of radiance or glow to the skin), or powder foundation, a highly pigmented loose or set powder that provides a full coverage finish in place of its liquid counterpart. Think of setting powder as an ally or right-hand man to foundation, working with it to ensure it stays put.

Setting powder can be reapplied as needed throughout the day and won’t show up under pesky flash cameras. Of course, many prefer a dewy finish to a flat matte, but this doesn’t mean that setting powder can’t come into play. We promise that placing it strategically across the face in areas susceptible to oiliness will keep your make-up in place and have an utterly natural finish. And their hard work doesn’t stop there; a sweep of setting powder will also smooth out skin texture.

how to use setting powder

When to use a setting powder

Setting powder is a friend to all, and those with oily, dry or combination skin types can benefit from a swirl and swish of it when carefully applied. Setting powder is the last step in your base make-up and should be reached after you’re happy with your foundation and concealer application. However, the biggest mistake people make when using setting powder is letting your liquid complexion products dry before applying. If you apply dry setting powder to your wet foundation and concealer, the combination of wet and dry products will create a bond that ensures everything is correctly sealed. So, aim for that sweet spot when your foundation and concealer are still a little sticky.


How does setting powder work?

We’ve all been left frustrated after painstakingly applying our base make-up, only for it to have melted and shifted before the day is out. The concept of setting powder ensures that your hard work can compete with oily skin, hot and humid weather or just the frenzy of everyday life. They absorb excess oil on your face and help to mattify skin. But even if you love the idea of a fresh, dewy complexion, there are areas on the face that could often benefit from a little matte touch, for example, your T-zone.


Setting powder is usually a loose, very finely milled powder containing ingredients such as talc and silica that work as powerful little sebum absorbers to mattify and set make-up. They often also include bonus skin-enhancing ingredients such as hydrating squalene and vitamin E or protection in the form of antioxidants or SPF. Translucent setting powders are often available, but you can find a multitude of shades, too, meaning they can add a touch of extra coverage. They’re also a great alternative if you find make-up-setting sprays a touch sticky.


Read Next: Summer Make-up Tips To Stop Make-up From Melting  


How to Use Setting Powder: A Step-By-Step Guide


Pick up a brush

Setting powder is one product that requires a brush for its application. This ensures you get maximum control over how much product you use. Pick a soft and fluffy brush that will cover lots of ground but keep the distribution of the setting powder nice and even.


Tap away excess

Less is more when it comes to setting powder, so dip and swirl your chosen brush into the powder, then tap on the side of the pot to ensure any excess is removed. This will avoid applying too much product and disrupting the natural finish.


Pick your target areas

Add to naturally oilier areas of the face such as your nose, forehead, and chin. Under the eyes is a helpful place to apply it, as we often place eye creams and concealer to help secure mascara. If you’re after a flatter matte finish, sweep all over the face.


Repeat as necessary

Build up your coverage gradually until you reach your desired finish. For example, suppose you would like to cover a particular area of the face thoroughly. In that case, you can apply your concealer and set it with powder before repeating the process (concealer then setting powder) to ensure each layer of the product has something to adhere to, ensuring a longer-lasting make-up look.


5 best setting powders to buy

mattifying powder

Try: Clarins Ever Matte Loose Powder

Infused with peach milk to mattify and hydrate, this soft powder will both set and enhance your make

Pat McGrath Setting Powder

Try: Pat McGrath Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Setting Powder

The world-renowned make-up artist Pat McGrath is famous for her perfect yet natural skin finishes, so her setting powder is one to be trusted.


Urban Decay Powder

Try: Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Setting Powder

Promising to waterproof your foundation, this is a must-have for party girls and boys who need their foundation to last into the early hours.

Fenty powder

Try: Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder

One for those who like their make-up to mimic the effect of social media filters, it’s a superfine and lightweight powder that won’t show up under flash.



  • What is setting powder and how do you use it?

Setting powder is the last step in applying your base make-up and ensures that your hard work doesn’t shift throughout the day. Tip your brush into your powder pot and gently sweep over oilier areas such as the nose.


  • When should you apply setting powder?

After your foundation and concealer, but before they have thoroughly dried onto your skin. Creating this wet-dry fusion will ensure the products properly bond together for a long-lasting finish.


  • Do you use setting powder before or after foundation?

Traditionally, setting powder comes post-foundation and concealer. However, if you are after a super subtle and natural finish, you could pick up a tinted setting powder and apply it directly onto the skin.

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