Setting Powder vs. Finishing Powder: What’s The Difference?

There are so many different forms that makeup comes in, how am I supposed to know when to use what and how?! Setting powder… finishing powder… powder powder powder!?! It’s all so much!


Well hold your horses my beauties, I have some answers for you. In my recent review of  the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, I got a few comments that led me to believe people have some questions as to what these things even are. And that’s totally okay!

Setting Powder

Setting powders come in two forms – loose setting powders and compressed setting powders. Some people prefer pressed powder because they find it easier to use, but it’s really a matter of personal choice. Those with oily skin, or those who use a liquid foundation, often prefer a loose powder (I’m definitely a loose powder girl).

Finishing Powder

Finishing powders are usually translucent, like Ben Nye’s popular Banana finishing powder, but they can also be made to match your skin tone. Though they also come in both compressed and loose forms, finishing powders are more fine and are softer in consistency than setting powders. If you don’t know which type of powder is right for you, try them both and then decide! I personally use both, each for different purposes.

Their Unique Functions

Setting powder is designed to be used with your foundation. It helps to “set” or hold your foundation in place and prevent it from rubbing off. Setting powder can also help reduce the sticky feeling and shine that foundation often has. Some people use setting powder to absorb excess oil and to touch up their makeup throughout the day. Others use setting powder instead of a powder foundation because it’s more sheer and looks more natural. I personally think it’s too sheer to use instead of foundation, but you might not! Again, it’s a personal choice.

Finishing powder is designed to be applied on TOP of setting powder and all other makeup.  Makeup artists like using finishing powder because it helps make skin look smoother by hiding pores and fine lines, especially on camera. You’ve probably seen pictures of people with what looks like white dust on their faces… This is typical of someone using a finishing powder to set makeup rather than using it for its intended purpose – as an all over powder to finish your makeup. Finishing powder isn’t necessary on a daily basis, but is often reserved for special occasions when a lot of pictures will be taken.

I hope this helped answer some of your questions and I’d love to hear which powder you prefer and why! Let’s chat!

xoxo, Arielle


life style blogger

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