Top Makeup Tips Revealed with Differences Between Setting Powder vs Finishing Powder


Have you ever wondered what the difference between setting powder vs finishing powder is? Then you are not alone. Many people often ask this question, even those who have been using or shopping for beauty and makeup products for quite some time. You must have seen or heard of setting powder or finishing powder and may be wondering if they are the same or different products.

For some people, it may even be more confusing because they may be wondering which of these powders (setting powder vs finishing powder) is important for their beauty routines and which one they need or don’t need.

This article will explain the differences between setting powders vs finishing powders and how you can use them for best results. You can also scroll down to watch the video from Elle Leary Artistry

What is Setting Powder?

Setting powder helps to hold your foundation in place (set or fix it) after you have applied it. It prevents it from rubbing off or smearing. Setting powders help you get more out of your foundation, concealer by effectively keeping them on your face (skin) for long. Most foundations won’t stay for too long if setting powder is not applied.

It can be used in reducing the pasty feel and shine of foundation soon after its applied. Setting powders are also used in smoothing out blemishes as well as absorb excess oil and retouching of makeup if it has worn out.

Types of Setting Powders

There are two kinds of setting powders: loose setting powders and compressed or compact setting powders. They all perform the same functions and you can decide on whichever one you want to use.

However, people with oily skin and those who use liquid foundations usually prefer to use the loose setting powders. The compact setting powders contain components or ingredients like silicon or its derivatives and waxes. You may want to avoid it if your skin is sensitive to any of these ingredients, or you can check ingredients before buying any of them. If you are using eith setting powder vs finishing powder, always know that they all have variants that may be in loose or compact form. 

Setting Powders for Oily Skin

Oily skin can be the result of overactive sebaceous glands under your skin and this can be a real challenge when applying makeup. Setting powder is a very essential component of makeup for people who have oily skin. Setting powder vs finishing powder both work in the same manner in this regard since they both dry out or absorb excess oil secreted by the skin to extend the viability of the makeup and keep it dry. 

The makeup alone without setting powder may not last long because the oily secretions will cause it to wear away quickly. However, when setting powder is applied, it absorbs excessive secretions of sebum (oil) from the skin and firmly holds the makeup in place for a long time.

1. Dermablend Setting Powder

Dermablend Loose Setting Powder, Translucent Powder for Face Makeup, Mattifying Finish and Shine Control, 1oz
Source: Amazon

This is a translucent setting powder that sets your makeup for up to 16 hours without smudges and prevents it from wearing off. it blends in smoothly with your skin complexion and mattifies easily. It is a fragrance-free and non-comedogenic loose setting powder. It is a good option for people with sensitive skin, it comes with an applicator and it is easy to apply.

2. Aesthetica Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Aesthetica Translucent Loose Setting Powder
Source: Amazon

This is a lightweight formula that soaks up excess oil while softening fine lines and concealing pores. This setting powder causes makeup to adhere to your skin for hours making the hard work you put in applying your makeup worthwhile. It is very easy to apply and also gluten and cruelty-free.

3. Aesthetica Banana Loose Setting Powder 

Aesthetica Banana Loose Setting Powder - Flash Friendly Superior Matte Finish Highlighter & Finishing Powder - Includes Velour Puff
Source: Amazon

It is specially formulated to set freshly applied makeup and it has the ability to tone down and neutralize any blotchiness and under skin tone discolorations. Follow the simple step by step instructions enclosed in the pack to see how easy it is to apply it.

4. Vinchy Dermafinish Setting Powder

Vichy Dermafinish Setting Powder, 0.99 oz
Source: Amazon

Vinchy setting powder form a protective barrier on the skin that prevents makeup from wearing off easily. It provides a smooth velvety skin finish that protects the skin and extends the viability of your makeup. It is made from ingredients with mineral-rich volcanic water. It is also lightweight, non-comedogenic, suitable for sensitive skin and easy to apply.

5. Buttercup Sacha Setting Powder 

Sacha BUTTERCUP Setting Powder. No Ashy Flashback. Blurs Fine Lines and Pores. Loose, Translucent Face Powder to Set Makeup Foundation or Concealer. For Medium to Dark Skin Tones, 1.25 oz.
Source: Amazon

This loose translucent powder does not cause any flashbacks and it provides a smooth mattifying finish that absorbs excess oil leaving your skin dry and preserving your makeup. Sacha setting powder is suitable for all skin types and it is non-comedogenic and cruelty-free.

Setting Powder vs Setting Spray

With all the explanation about setting powders and finishing powders, I guess you are wondering what is the difference between setting powder vs setting spray? One of the major differences between setting powder and spray is in how the products are used.

Powders are used as the final step when applying complexion makeup like foundation and concealers. On the other hand, finishing sprays are used for fixing or holding makeup in place after you have completed applying your entire makeup.

Sprays contain bonding agents that when sprayed to the face, they tend to stick and bond with the makeup which prevents it from falling off easily. They eliminate any powdery finish that is left on your face from makeup making the skin to look more real.  Alternatively, you can use setting powder to hold your makeup in place. Powders are usually preferable for people with oily skin and it also helps to prevent excess oil production.  

Pressed Setting Powder vs Loose Setting Powder

Setting powders are often available in the form of pressed powder or loose powder. Pressed powder is usually compressed and denser than loose powder. It is compact and usually available in semi-solid form. It is often better to apply pressed powder with a makeup sponge.

Loose powder, on the other hand, is usually available in powder form. It is less dense and thinner than pressed powder and often contains less oil. Loose powder tends to control shine better than pressed powder and it also conceals wrinkles and pores effectively. The best method for applying loose setting powder is to use a soft brush or powder puff.

When to Apply Setting Powder?

The best time to apply setting powder is usually after you have finished applying your makeup. This is usually the last step in your makeup routine so that the powder can be effective in keeping the makeup in place for a long time.

Setting powders also cause creamy or liquid makeup to have a dry matte-like finish. You can apply it using a small brush to lightly sweep over the areas you want to apply it. Avoid pressing firmly or rubbing it on the makeup you have already applied.

Setting vs Finishing Powders Video

What is Finishing Powder?

Finishing powder is used for final (finishing) touches after you are done applying your foundation and setting powder. This is the main difference between setting powder vs finishing powder. Finishing powders can also be used for finishing touches on other makeups as well. It is commonly used in blurring fine lines and pores to give you that picture-perfect look.

You don’t have to use it every day, but it may be necessary to use it if you are going to be in front of the cameras most of the time to prevent flashback effect. When using it, make sure you apply it well and blend it in with your makeup to avoid having white marks of flashback effect on your pictures.

Finishing powders also are available in both compact and loose powder forms. You can get any type that you prefer. Some of the best finishing powders that you can use include:

1. Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil Finishing Powder

bareMinerals Mineral Veil Finishing Powder - Original
Source: Amazon

This translucent finishing powder provides a flawless finish with perfect foundation extending properties. It provides sheer coverage and it is suitable for all skin types. It also minimizes fine lines, absorbs excess oil and softens complexion to provide an airbrushed appearance.

2. Amazing Matte Loose Finish Powder

jane iredale Amazing Matte Loose Finish Powder , 0.35 Ounce (Pack of 1)
Source: Amazon

Amazing matte loose finishing powder is a great product from Jane Iredale skincare collections that provides a smooth matte finish that feels like silk. It is comfortable to wear, it absorbs excess oil and takes away any shine. It provides medium to sheer coverage and you can apply it with chisel powder brush for best results.

3. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores - Poreless Finish Loose Setting Powder - Universal Translucent Shade - Contains Anti-Aging Peptides, Silk, Hydrolyzed Collagen & Antioxidants - 0.23 oz
Source: Amazon

This finishing powder provides a beautiful airbrushed skin look with its optical blurring technology that tends to cover the appearance of any imperfections. It also contains hydrolyzed collagen that clears any appearance of wrinkles. Besides collagen, it contains several other ingredients like antioxidants and peptides that are vital for a healthy and beautiful looking skin. This finishing powder is suitable for all skin types.

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder

Tarte Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder
Source: Amazon

This is a translucent finishing powder that produces a smooth silky finish on your skin that makes your makeup to last for an extended period of time. It is made from Amazonian clay and it diffuses skin imperfections without appearing chalky. It works by absorbing excess oil to produce a mattifying finish while balancing the skin by hydrating to improve the appearance of dry and flaky skin.

5. Mirabella Perfecting Loose Finishing Powder

Mirabella Perfecting Loose Finishing Powder - Shine-free & Oil Control Translucent Matte Face Makeup, 4g/0.14oz
Source: Amazon

This loose finishing powder provides a perfect luminous airbrushed skin finish that is good for high definition pictures because it prevents the dreaded flashback effect. It also blurs away imperfections and pores to create a smooth and tone perfect skin. It contains Vitamin E antioxidants, collagen and peptides that are needed for healthy skin and it does not contain parabens, gluten, talc, fragrance and other sythetic irritants. It is suitable for any skin type, it is easy to apply and it stays for a long time while keeping your makeup in place as well.

Finishing Powder for Dry Skin

The most important thing about using finishing powder for dry skin is to ensure that your makeup stays intact for a long time and it covers the lines and creases that are often common with dry skin. Finishing powders can also provide a matte finish to your skin.

The best types of finishing powder for dry skin are those that contain moisturizing or hydrating agents like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, coconut oil etc.

Most finishing powders are produced in various shades for different skin tones. It is always good to use the right shade of finishing powder that matches best with your skin tone.

Finishing Powder for Dark Skin

It is important to ensure that you are using finishing powder that is not in contrast with your skin tone. If you have dark skin, always ensure that your finishing powder has the same shade as your skin tone. This will make your makeup look flawless, you don’t want to have contrasting shades on your skin.  

How to Apply Powders?

There are certain techniques that you need to use in applying powder (whether it’s setting or finishing powder) to your face.  You will find the video below very helpful if you are trying to find out the best way of doing this for the best results.

FAQs Setting Powder vs Finishing Powder

Is Setting Powder Necessary?

Setting powder is not necessary but it is important if you want your makeup or foundation to last for a long time. Also, you don’t want your makeup to be rubbing off or looking creamy and oily especially if you have oily skin.

You can use setting powders to ensure your makeup is set and does not wear out in a short time. It also helps in keeping your face dry from oily skin and the creamy feel of foundation.

What Brush is Best for Setting and Finishing Powder?

There are several brushes that you can use for applying setting and finishing powder, if you are wondering about the best brush to use for setting powder vs finishing powder. Some of the brushes that you can use for best results include Kabuki Brush, Contour Brush, Pointed Precision Complexion Brush, Blush Brush, Medium Powder Brush, Medium Tapered Brush, Setting Powder Brush.

Can Setting Powder be Used Without Foundation?

Yes, you can use setting powder without foundation, but you need to ensure that the powder blends well with your skin tone and color. However, you need to know that setting powder alone may not be able to conceal things like acne scars or large pores if you have textured skin. One of the similarities between setting powder vs finishing powder is that you can also use finishing powder without applying foundation. 

It is also recommended that you prep your skin well and prime it with a moisturizer to keep your face hydrated when using setting powder without foundation.

How Do You Know When to Apply Setting Powder?

The best time to apply setting powder is when you have finished applying your foundation and concealer after which you can go ahead and apply any other makeup like blush or bronzer. Setting powder is meant to hold your makeup and foundation in place so that it sets nicely without wearing off or faling off. So it is best to apply it after your foundation makeup has been done, not before the foundation is applied.

How to Choose Setting Powder Color?

Make sure the color of your setting powder matches exactly with the shade of your foundation makeup which should also match with your skin tone. You don’t want to wear makeup that appears streaked because of mismatched color tones. You can use skin tone charts to find the best setting powder color for your skin.

Is Translucent Powder the Same as Setting Powder? 

Translucent powder refers to a sheer colorless facial powder that performs the same function as setting powder. It is applied over makeup foundation to set it and keep it in place over a long period.

Is Finishing Powder and Setting Powder the Same?

No, finishing powder and setting powder perform very differently. Finishing powder vs setting powder differ in the sense that finishing powder creates nice shades for that picture-perfect look whereas setting powders are used in locking your foundation or makeup in place so that it does not wear off quickly as well as giving the foundation a dry smooth feel.

Can Finishing Powder be Used Alone?

No, finishing powder and setting powder perform very differently. Finishing powder creates nice shades for that picture-perfect look whereas setting powders are used in locking your foundation or makeup in place so that it does not wear off quickly as well as giving the foundation a dry smooth feel.

What is Loose Powder Used for?

Loose powder is used as a setting powder to ensure that your makeup stays for a long time. It is thin in consistency and it can absorb excess oil or liquid to create a matte skin finish. Loose powder is also used for eliminating excess shine which can cause makeup flashbacks.  Setting powder vs finishing powder however, do have some similarities because both powders can be found in form of loose powder. 

Best Setting Powder for Oily Skin

When you deal with oily skin, the best setting powder will be one that mattifies the look of your skin and keeps it looking shine-free all day.  There are countless matte setting powders on the market, but one of the best for oily skin is the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. This cult-favorite powder comes in various shades and is meant to erase shine all day without feeling heavy or cakey on your skin.

What Does Setting Spray Do?

Setting spray is used for fixing makeup to keep it in place for a long time. It is used when all makeup has been applied, this is usually the last step in applying makeup. The spray contains bonding agents that bind to the makeup and keep it in place.

Does Setting Powder Clog Pores?

Most setting powders cannot clog pores if they are removed and washed off at the end of the day. You need to remove makeup, wash and moisturize your face before going to bed to avoid clogging your skin pores with makeup.

 Does Setting Spray Prevent Oily Skin?

Setting spray cannot prevent oily skin but it can help makeup to last long by absorbing excess oil or sebum secretions from the skin when it is used after makeup is applied.

Setting spray works primarily to keep your makeup for a long time and it also absorbs excess oily secretions from the skin. Setting spray by itself alone cannot prevent oily skin.

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