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The Easiest Setting Powder Makeup Hacks That Will Transform Your Makeup In Less Than Five Minutes

Photo by Emma Innocenti/Getty Images

If you’re someone who considers setting powder to be a finishing makeup step reserved only for special events or when you’re doing a “full face” of glam, we’re here to change your mind. The truth is, dedicating a few moments to dusting on setting powder can make all the difference in the longevity of your makeup look. Even if you have products with impressive stay-all-day powers (like setting spray, long-lasting foundations, and more) that make setting powder seem like a superfluous step in your routine, hear us out: A dusting of setting powder is as essential as your morning cup of coffee. Think of it as an energy boost for your skin and a life preserver for your makeup.

From giving oily skin a gorgeous matte finish to smoothing fine lines and keeping your under-eye makeup from creasing, setting powder is a power beauty product you need in your makeup bag. Below, we’ll walk through four different ways to use this versatile face powder like a pro.

How to Apply Setting Powder with a Powder Brush

Ready to banish a shiny T-zone once and for all and maximize your makeup’s staying power? All you need is a few tools and a light dusting of finishing powder to achieve a mattifying finish that lasts.

Step 1: Choose your product.

Nix those mid-afternoon touch-ups with one of our favorite setting powders, CIATÉ LONDON Extraordinary Translucent Powder. Whether you’re setting your concealer, masking under-eye circles, or preserving your finished makeup look, this lightweight loose setting powder can do it all in just a few brush stokes. Even better, there’s no flashback on any selfies you snap at your desk. It will leave you with a soft-focus complexion IRL.

Once you’ve chosen your powder, you’ll need to arm yourself with the perfect applicator. Reach for a powder brush like COMPLEX CULTURE Plush Powder Brush. The dome-shaped brush head gives you an easy application with an even deposit of powder, no matter how bleary-eyed you are in the a.m. Even better, it's 100% cruelty-free, eco-friendly, vegan, and made with synthetic fibers. This brush also appeals to our thriftiest senses, since it doubles up as a blush brush for your favorite blushes.

Step 2: Set your T-zone (and any other areas that need it).

If you’ve got oily skin, you’ll want to finish your face makeup by applying a light dusting of translucent powder to your oil-prone areas. A quick swipe over your T-zone (your nose, forehead, and the top of your chin) will keep your favorite products in place, no matter how off the charts the temps get, to ensure excess oil doesn’t seep through your makeup.

For mornings when your late-night Netflix binging is showing, your setting powder is your best co-conspirator for masking pesky under-eye circles. After you’ve applied under-eye concealer, foundation, and your regular face concealer, apply a generous powder coat over it. Swirl your brush into the product, tapping the brush handle a few times to minimize fallout (this is less important if you're using a pressed powder, but really important if you're using loose). The key to a look that says, “I’ve totally slept eight hours” is patience: Allow three to five minutes for the product to set before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Finish with a final dusting.

After you’ve completed your eyeshadow and nailed your highlighter, give your face an all-over dusting with a few light strokes of the brush. You’ll want your face to be as neutral as possible to avoid the powder settling into fine lines and looking cakey. Keep your eyes closed and don't laugh or smile for at least three to five minutes to ensure a crease-free finish as the powder sets to mattify your complexion. Prior to applying your makeup, be sure to treat your makeup to skincare essentials (like moisturizer) to ensure your skin is hydrated and to minimize the chances of creasing.

How to Apply Setting Powder with a Makeup Sponge

Not looking to add a new makeup brush to your roster? Your trusty makeup sponge is more than up for the beauty challenge.

Step 1: Choose your product.

Makeup sponges deliver major versatility in coverage and application, thanks to their unique shape and texture. We love how the BEAUTYBLENDER Original BeautyBlender Makeup Sponge gives you total control over where your makeup is going with its easy-to-use teardrop shape. Plus, each compact sponge lasts a whopping three months, saving you from last-minute drugstore runs.

Laura Mercier is a powerhouse makeup artist, so it’s no surprise that her LAURA MERCIER Translucent Loose Setting Powder is one of our favorite loose powders to work with. It’s hard to knock a setting powder that works for any skin tone and type, from oily skin types to those with dry skin. With a silky, light texture, you won’t even feel this powder on your skin. It’s a certified cult-fave that lives up to the hype.

Step 2: Press onto the back of your hand.

A gentle hand is key in keeping your bathroom counter—and your face—from translucent powder overload. Tap your makeup sponge into the powder and then press onto the back of your hand to test how much product the sponge is packing. You’re looking for an even coating without excess loose powder.

Step 3: Tap & press onto your face.

Once your sponge is loaded, gently tap and press the powder over any areas prone to oil, taking extra care to press over anywhere you’ve done your best product blending—think the tops and sides of your cheeks (to preserve your bronzer and blush) and nose. Just a few soft pats all over should be enough to give you a natural look without any caking.

How to Use Setting Powder to Set Your Lipstick

In between snacking and latte-sipping, your lipstick is working overtime to stay in place. Give your lips a helping hand with a dusting of translucent setting powder and save your coffee mug rims from a rainbow of accidental lip prints.

Step 1: Choose your product.

On the hunt for the perfect matte lipstick? We’ve got our favorite lipsticks on lock, whether you like the classic crayon applicator or liquid lipsticks. Best of all, all of these products play well with translucent powder, extending your color and keeping those smudges at bay.

When applying setting powder to your lips, you’ll want to reach for a brush that can handle silky powder and creamy lipsticks without clumping or leaving uneven streaks. COMPLEX CULTURE All Over Highlight • Powder Brush is a multitasker’s dream because it can play dual roles as a highlighter and setting powder brush.

Step 2: Swirl & tap.

After you’ve applied your matte lipstick, tap your brush into your translucent setting powder and then press the bristles against the back of your hand. You’re aiming for a light dusting, rather than a dollop of powder. If you’ve loaded your brush up with too much powder, tap away any excess back into the product pot and test again.

Step 3: Apply the powder.

Gently tap the powder onto your lips, tackling one lip at a time. Move quickly and lightly, and try to avoid pressing the brush too firmly into your lipstick. Give the powder a few minutes to set and then celebrate your maximum color-staying power with a sip from your favorite morning beverage.

How to Use Setting Powder to Boost Your Lashes

Pull a classic makeup artist secret out of your pocket and add some oomph to your lashes by applying translucent powder in between coats of mascara. Whether you’re aiming for longer or fuller lashes, skim our favorite mascara tips and product recs so you can wield your wand like a pro.

Step 1: Choose your product.

When applying your powder, make sure you choose a slim fluffy brush. An eyeshadow brush like the SIGMA BEAUTY E25 Blending Brush will do the trick; it lets you lightly dust your lashes without smudging your eyeliner or leaving a powdery residue on your foundation.

Step 2: Apply mascara, then powder.

Dip your eyeshadow brush into your setting powder, then tap off the excess. Apply a light dusting of powder to your upper and lower lashes, using a light touch to avoid clumps.

Step 3: Apply a second coat of mascara.

Coat those lashes a second time with your mascara, and that's it! You’ve just achieved fuller, longer lashes in seconds.

Setting powder is a total game-changer for anyone who’s hoping to stop the dreaded complexion shine that seems to creep up by lunch time. Not only will it ensure your matte finish lasts all day, but it also stops your makeup from melting off your face. To try some of our favorite powders and brushes, simply subscribe to the IPSY Glam Bag.Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
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Article Last Updated March 26, 2021 12:00 AM