After 20 hours of research evaluating 86 products, we picked Hourglass Ambient Lighting Finishing Powder as our top choice.
What is a setting powder, you may ask? Well, let us tell you. It is one of the most versatile beauty products you can have in your make-up bag and a total game changer for just about any occasion.
Setting powder typically goes on after foundation and concealer to lock in your base, smooth out imperfections, and absorb oils in the skin. Setting powder can be used right after application to help make-up last longer, reapplied throughout the day to retouch any shine or imperfections, or it can be used all by itself to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. Like we said, total game changer.
Here's the deal:
So, now that you know why you need a setting powder, where to begin?
Lucky for you, we've researched products, read reviews, and even tested a few ourselves to bring you the most comprehensive list of setting powders. We've even categorized them to help you find the product that is perfect for you.
You might also be wondering:
If setting spray is more your speed, or you're in need of a good blush, foundation, highlighter or bronzer, we've got you covered there too. We are more than happy to help you with anything you may need to beef up that beauty routine!
Ever wished you could get that Snap Chat filter glow in real life? Well, with Soft Light Blurring Powder by BECCA, you can. This product is a loose setting powder that acts as a veil to blur imperfections and set makeup with a subtle luminosity and dimension for a flawless finish.
Only available in one shade, which can be a bit too light for some skin tones and may not be absorbed as well into dry skin. Also, the packaging (while gorgeous) is a bit bulky and, shall we say, extra. That being said, it may not fit in a small clutch or handbag if you want to bring it with you for touch ups.
Soft Light Blurring powder essentially acts as a light veil over your makeup either as a last step to your beauty routine to prolong wear, or throughout the day to refresh and perfect your complexion.
Well the powder does not come with a brush or powder puff, for the most perfected application try with a Kabuki brush—we love this Soft Kabuki Brush by BECCA for a smooth, even application.
Soft Light Blurring Powder goes above and beyond what you would expect from your typical setting powder to create the ultimate dream filter. It’s ultra-soft, micro-fine, and will not set into lines or wrinkles.
Additionally, it contains ceramic microspheres that softly scatter light to blur imperfections and create a natural glow. This product is also free of parabens, sulfate, and phthalates—which we love.
Unfortunately, this product is currently only available in one universal shade—Golden Hour—which, while quite versatile, may be a bit too light for some skin tones.
While this product is often sold out on Sephora you can usually find it at a lower price on Amazon anyway. Currently you can snag it for about $27, which is about $10 less than retail price. If all else fails, you can buy this product at just about any beauty store— including Ulta.
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder will not only blur imperfections and reduce the appearance of shine, but it will also hide pores leaving skin silk-like and smooth.
It was a close call between this product and The Powder by La Mer, but the products are actually quite similar and we just could not stomach the $95 price tag of La Mer. However, if you’re looking for something that’s a bit of a splurge, definitely check out The Powder. Formulated with airspun seaborne particles, some of the lightest materials on earth, this luxurious, sheer powder appears to float over the skin for an imperceptible finish.
Honestly, reviewers didn't have many complaints about this product. While the majority of customers love it, some did report that it takes quite a bit of product to actually notice a difference in pore size—leaving skin feeling cakey and stiff.
Simply sweep a small amount of powder onto skin using your favorite kabuki brush or beauty blender. Can be worn over makeup to set for a pore-blurring shine-free finish that lasts, or on bare skin to minimize the appearance of large pores and create an airbrushed finish.
This anti-aging, skin-perfecting powder utilizes real silk to diminish the appearance of pores, and hydrolyzed collaged to bur away fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also enriched with loads of antioxidants and peptides to give you a shine-free, airbrushed finish.
Only available in one shade, but it’s primarily meant to blur imperfections and hide pores with its Optical Blurring Technology. Developed by plastic surgeons, you know this stuff has gotta be good.
While not the cheapest option on your list, this powder is much more reasonably priced than most of the products on our list. So the perfection option if you’re looking for a good, middle-of-the-road product to set makeup, diminish pores, and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
Sigh…is there anything Charlotte Tilbury does NOT do well? This makeup brand consistently delivers high quality product and, of course, the Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder is no exception. This ultra-fine setting powder is breathable, blurs imperfections, and reduces oil and shine.
While we love the incredibly fine formula for a barely there feel, it doesn't have quite as much staying power as some of the others on our list. That being said, this one is small enough to keep in your handbag for retouching throughout the day as needed. On the other hand, some reviewers say that the product goes quickly (especially if you’re using this without a foundation, or retouching multiple times through the day) and does not last as long as many of the other powders on our list.
Product does not come with an applicator brush or puff, but any powder brush will do (if you don’t already have one, try the Powder & Sculpt Brush from Charlotte Tilbury—you will NOT regret it). With the brush, apply this product to the T-zone, and any other oily areas. Remember to apply outwards and upwards for the most flawless finish.
Pro tip: This product can be used over foundation and concealer, but it's also pigmented enough to wear on its own as well. Just keep in mind, if you plan to most frequently wear this product on it's own it will not last as long as if used solely as a setting powder.
This breathable, micro-fine powder is so comfortable and easy to wear. It essentially functions as a cashmere veil over your skin, but does not cake or sit in fine lines—brightening and perfecting your finish. The rose wax and almond oil will hydrate skin, while still absorbing access oil—creating a flawless finish on even the oiliest of skin. Additionally, the light-reflecting ingredients diffuse light for a luminous and even all-day finish.
As an added bonus, this product is formulated without sulfates, but unfortunately does contain parabens and phthalates.
While this powder only comes in three different shades (Fair, Medium, and Dark), they are versatile and very blendable with all skin tones.
$45 for 8 grams of product is pretty pricey (and puts this at one of the most expensive products on our list), but for a light-weight product that will truly leave you feeling like you’re wearing nothing at all we really find this to be worth every penny. Additionally, if you have oily skin and have struggled to find something that will give you that truly flawless, airbrushed finish, definitely consider giving this product a try.
While this was another close call for us, we went with NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder as the best drug store setting powder because this product is quite similar to Makeup Forever HD Microfinish, as well as Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (packaging and all). This powder is made of 100% pure silica minerals to minimize imperfections and absorb oil while keeping your makeup in place from morning to night.
Like we said, we’re not crazy about the fact this product contains parabens, but what this product lacks in formula it well makes up for in budget and finish. So well worth a try if you’re looking for a quality setting powder at a lower price point.
Apply with either a powder puff or kabuki brush (for budget options, check out this brush from Amazon or this one by e.l.f) without fear that any bacteria from your face will contaminate the product via the applicator (thanks to the parabens).
While the parabens in this product will extend the shelf life of the powder, some customers prefer to avoid products containing parabens due to the belief that they are linked to cancer (claims which have been rejected by the American Cancer Society). But other than that it’s 100% silica, which will set makeup and leave skin looking radiant and luminous.
However, if parabens are a total deal breaker for you, check out e.l.f High Definition Powder which comes in three shades (Shimmer, Translucent, and Corrective Yellow) which conceals fine lines and hide perfections, and, like all e.l.f. products is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and not tested on animals (love that!). This one includes a powder puff, but the packaging is quite large for a finishing powder and may be tough to fit into a small purse or clutch.
This powder only comes in one shade, Translucent. However, it applies neutral, so it works on all skin tones.
At $6.99 for .21 ounces this is the best value on our list! While it may not be quite as long-lasting or photo ready as some of the other products on our list, it is definitely worth a try if you’re looking for an everyday setting powder that will minimize imperfections and absorb oil.
Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Finish Pressed Setting Powder is great for just about any skin type—normal, oily, dry, or combination. But, especially great for oily skin. The powder is lightweight, oil-free, and enriched with Vitamin E so you’ll feel like you’re wearing nothing at all, while still creating the perfectly even look that will last all day.
More expensive than some of the other Faves on our list for a very similar quality product.
The powder comes with a puff applicator, which should be pressed into the powder and gently tapped on the face—especially in areas that tend to shine. This powder will set and perfect foundation for a smooth, flawless finish all day long. Or it can also be reapplied as needed throughout the day to absorb excess oil and shine.
Do be aware that it can look a bit heavy or cakey if too much is applied, so if you’re struggling to achieve the perfect balance maybe try with a powder brush rather than the applicator.
Sheer Finish Pressed Setting Powder by Bobbi Brown is 100 percent oil-free and oil absorbing. It’s also enriched with Vitamin E for comfortable, light-weight wear.
The reason this setting powder made it so high up on our list is because of its versatility. In addition to being great for all skin types, the unique yellow base of the powder compliments all skin tones to create a natural-looking finish—even on pink complexions. It’s available in 9 different shades, and comes in both a matte and natural finish.
Another pro-tip to keep in mind, it does provide a bit more coverage than your typical powder, so consider going a shade lighter than normal to achieve a more natural finish.
One of the drawbacks of this product is the price. However, it is a great quality product that comes in a wider variety of shades than many of the other products on our list. So, if you’ve been struggling to find the perfect match for your skin tone, definitely give this product a try.
This translucent powder from Laura Mercier is the best of the best. We know because we've tested it ourselves. It's great for blending, baking, and setting your foundation. Why we love this product so much? It's formula is ultra-lightweight and gives you a natural (never cakey) look.
While there are so many things we love about this powder, the formula is maybe our favorite of all the products on this list. Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate has a very similar consistency to sand, which gives this powder a natural, light-refracting sheen. The Borosilicate combined with the Silica create a softer glow than you would expect with pure Silica, which is perfect for special occasions and flash photography (no white out effect!).
Unfortunately, one of the things we love most about this product also has its downfalls. That being said, the Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate does not dissolve in water, so it won’t absorb oil as well as other products on our list. Additionally, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate
Comes with a powder puff applicator (though we would suggest the Velour Puff, which is sold separately), and the packaging is designed to prevent you from getting too much product on your puff or brush—which, again, makes this perfect for anyone with sensitive or dry skin that won’t easily soak up excess powder. Remember to apply after anything creamy (i.e., after foundation and concealer), but prior to any powder based color (i.e., blush and bronzer)
While there are a number of different application techniques for this powder, this is the most effective approach we’ve found. First, massage powder into the puff by folding both halves together and then tab powdered side on the back of your hand to remove excess. Then, fold the puff in half, gently pressing and rolling the puff onto skin—focusing on areas where makeup breaks down the most (think T-zone).
However, if you're not a fan of the puff applicator, you can also apply with damp Beauty Blender sponge for a streak-free look. Or use a big fluffy brush, which is especially great for retouching throughout the day. When applied, this powder leaves a semi-matte finish but as it wears throughout the day it develops into a beautiful glow. Trust us, you're going to love it.
Lightweight, easy-to-apply, loose powder that blends effortless to set up makeup for up to 12 hours or longer. Locks in makeup for long-lasting wear without adding weight or texture. Creates a flawless, matte finish with no flashback in photos. Effectively blurs fine lines and imperfections. Set make-up for prolonged wear
Although this product is only available in two shades, both are truly translucent, incredibly versatile, and work on all skin tones. Translucent is perfect for all fair to medium tan skin tones, while Translucent Medium Deep is great for medium-deep to deep skin tones.
We think $38 for the best powder is a pretty good deal. Not to mention, you only need a little bit of the product to lock your makeup in place for the entire day. This 1-ounce container will easily last you six months to a year. The less you have to apply, the less you have to buy. Pair this powder with the Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil Free Photo Edition Foundation and your face will be flawless.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder is perfect for just about anyone. College student studying into the wee hours of the morning? Check. New mom who hasn’t had a decent night sleep in ages? Yep. Anyone looking for an airbrushed look for a special occasion on a budget? You bet! This powder can seriously fake a full night sleep in just one application and creates a luminously flawless appearance that will defuse light like a real-life Instagram filter.
Really the only downside to this product is the price (the most expensive on our list in fact), but, trust us. It's so good you will not regret the investment. Some reviewers also report that the packaging is not very protective, so be very cautious with this powder if you're traveling or taking it with you on the go.
For flawless application, use the Ambient Powder Brush to dust Ambient Lighting Powder all over the face.
Pro tip: Powders can be combined and layered to create a multi-dimensional glow. For example, start with a base of Dim Light all over the face, add Mood Light on the cheeks as a blush, and finish with Luminous Light as a highlighter.
By manipulating and filtering out harsh light, this powder will brighten and smooth the complexion, concealing skin imperfections, pores, and wrinkles. The state of the art formula delivers a multi-dimensional luminescence to every skin tone, making it appear softer, younger, and perfectly lit in any lighting—including flash photography.
What we love most about this powder is that it comes in six universally flatter shades that mimic natural light sources, from morning light to candle light.
In terms of shades available, Ethereal Light is a great option if you're looking for something cool that mimics a moonlit glow—even in board daylight. Diffused Light will help conceal redness and appears soft and warm—like a ray of morning light. Dim Light is a neutral beige powder with peach undertones that both blurs imperfections and highlights with a balance of warm and cool tones. Mood Light is soft and forgiving if you're looking for something to brighten your complexion. Luminous Light is a GORGEOUS champagne pearl powder that mimics an incandescent candle lit glow—day or night (perfect for date night or special occasions). And, finally, Radiant Light warms the complexion for a sun-kissed, golden glow.
All in, this product offers something for every skin tone and occasion. Purchase one .35-ounce product, or a custom palette with your choice of 3 different shades. Nothing like having a personal lighting technician at your disposal, right?
In addition to being the most effective setting powder on our list, it is, unfortunately, also the most expensive. However, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, go with the custom palette and select your favorite shades—it's essentially getting 3 quality products for the price of 1, which is an amazing deal.
Also don’t forget, with setting powder a little does a long way. So a .35-ounce product will you last you longer than you’d expect.