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Best setting powder 2023: For every skin type, to achieve the perfect finish every time

best setting powder

Whether your skin is oily or dry, create a flawless canvas for your makeup with the best setting powders for all skin types

As well as locking in your makeup, the best setting powders have the power to lift your complexion and create a smoother, more polished finish. Even if you prefer a more dewy look, some strategically placed powder over your foundation, BB or CC cream will ensure your makeup stays put, while also blurring fine lines and enlarged pores in the process. And who doesn’t want that?

And those who might be concerned that setting powder will always deliver a mask-like finish, with caking or creasing, should rest easy in the knowledge that the products we’ve tried and tested below are so sophisticated that, if applied in the right way, they’ll deliver that most sought-after no-makeup look. In fact, even you won’t feel like you’re wearing them.

So no matter your skin tone, skin type or concern, or your desired finish, below you’ll discover the best setting powders available now.

READ NEXT: Prefer a spray? Check out our best setting spray list

Best setting powders: At a glance

How to choose the best setting powder for you

What factors should I consider when buying a setting powder?

From translucent to tinted, pressed powder to loose, there are myriad options available. Finding the right formula can be tricky – but there’s something out there for every skin type and tone.

Your first decision will involve choosing between a translucent or a tinted powder, both of which come in either pressed or loose formats. Translucent powders are commonly used to mattify, without altering the colour of your liquid base, since they’re see-through. However, while this is true for the most part, there is a risk of them looking ashy on dark or black skin. If opting for a tinted powder – pressed or loose – the goal is to pick a colour that’s as close as possible to your foundation, although some prefer to go one shade lighter for a brighter look, particularly for setting concealer under the eyes. Those who prefer a fuller coverage should opt for mineral varieties that tend to be more pigmented.

There’s no real difference between pressed and loose powders, other than the texture; the former are “pressed” into a compact, making them more convenient for application on-the-go.

How do you use setting powder?

Whether you have oily skin or dry, the less-is-more approach is best. Place your brush or beauty puff in the powder, then tap off the excess. Apply until you achieve the desired finish. Be wary of being too heavy-handed – your brush may look like there’s no product on it, but it’s likely holding more than you can see. Keep in mind that it’s always easier to add rather than remove. Note that those with drier skin should use a large brush to apply a gentle dusting; it will allow for a lighter touch than a puff.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t essential to cover your entire face with powder. Feel free to focus only on areas that can become oily and porous throughout the day, such as the forehead, chin and nose, for example; you can leave the cheeks powder-free. For seamless application, use a mirror in an area with soft, natural lighting.

How much should I spend?

Most setting powders cost between £20 and £30, but you could splurge on higher-end options that deliver rich formulas in premium packaging. At the other end of the scale, you can also find great drugstore options for less than £10 that do just as great a job as their more expensive counterparts. As with all makeup and skincare, it’s about finding the right product for your skin type.

How we test setting powders

Our makeup-loving testers put a number of setting powders through their paces over the course of a week, trialling several brands at a range of price points. They’re applied each morning using either a powder brush or the puff that comes with the product (or both, in some cases), with our testers noting everything from how well they layer over an SPF and foundation, to how long they last throughout the day. They also look at how easily a powder blends into the skin, its finish, and whether any top-ups are required through the day – all while considering price, pack size and shade range.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best foundation brushes

The best setting powders you can buy in 2023

1. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish: Best setting powder for oily skin

Price when reviewed: £38 | Check price at John LewisAs those with particularly oily skin will attest, finding makeup that doesn’t begin to slide by mid-morning is no mean feat – but we may have found a solution in this medium-coverage pressed powder from Charlotte Tilbury. Despite its ultra-fine texture, it provides great coverage, without feeling heavy or cakey. Light-reflecting particles deliver a brightening effect to skin while mattifying, while reducing the appearance of pores at the same time. We found this formula super long-lasting, making it a great choice for those with oilier complexions. However, packed with nourishing rose wax and almond oil, we’re pretty sure it would suit those with dehydrated skin, too. It’s a tad pricey, but it’s guaranteed to be your oily T-zone’s new BFF.

Key details – Pack size: 8g; Shade range: 4

Check price at John Lewis

2. e.l.f Halo Glow Setting Powder: Best budget setting powder

Price when reviewed: £7.50 | Check price at BootsEnsuring that your makeup lasts the day doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour – as this loose setting powder from e.l.f proves. The breathable formula is available in three shades, mattifying and smoothing, while feeling weightless on the skin. We found it worked brilliantly on our tester’s combination complexion, and although there was a touch of creasing under the eyes towards the end of the day, it wasn’t anything a touch-up couldn’t fix; the rest of her makeup still looked flawless. Since it’s ultra-light, it’s easy to apply, too – and offers excellent value for money.

Key details – Pack size: 6.8g; Shade range: 3

Check price at Boots

3. Westman Atelier Vital Pressed Skincare Powder: Best skincare-infused formula

Price when reviewed: £69 | Check price at Cult BeautyAs the most lightweight of all the products here, if you’re looking for a matte finish without that heavy powder feeling, this neat compact from celebrity makeup artist Gucci Westman offers a perfect middle-ground. One dusting of this micro-milled powder instantly evens skin tone and sweeps away shine, with its feather-light texture delivering a natural, second skin-like finish. The range is made up of three tinted powders, plus there’s a translucent and a pink-toned brightening option too. We tested a tinted powder and found it offered the perfect sheer, veil-like coverage. But what makes this powder special is its ability to improve the condition of skin over time. Packed with vitamin C and probiotics, it protects skin from environmental stressors, while quinoa seed extract helps to re-texturize and minimise the look of pores. It’s skincare disguised as makeup, and we love it.

Key details – Pack size: 5g; Shade range: 5

Check price at Cult Beauty

4. Kevyn Aucoin Loose Powder: Best setting powder for long-lasting makeup

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at AmazonWe loved the silky, pro-level finish of this micro-fine powder. We tried it over both concealer and Chanel’s Water-Fresh Tint, with it delivering superb soft-focus coverage without dulling. It also expertly blurred fine lines and pores, evening out skin tone and texture without looking “dusty”. However, we were most impressed by how long it lasted – if after-work drinks are calling, you won’t need to worry about reapplying. Plus, if you’re a fan of a beauty puff, this powder comes with a super-soft version included for easy application on-the-go. Note that it’s available in only one shade, which although slightly tinted, could pass as translucent. The brand describes it as “universal”, but since we tested this product on a medium skin tone, we can’t say for sure how it would fare on darker skins.

Key details – Pack size: 12g; Shade range: 1

5. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder: Best setting powder for radiance

Price when reviewed: £21 | Check price at BootsA glow isn’t something you would usually associate with a setting powder, but Fenty Beauty has somehow managed to create a genius formula that gently mattifies while maintaining a radiant, soft-focus finish. Available in eight superfine shades, the range has been designed to cover every imaginable skin tone. We tested “banana” (not to be confused with the yellow-hued colour-correcting “banana powder”) and found it weightless on the skin, perfectly pigmented to blur fine lines and pores as well as some light acne scarring. The powder also proved long-lasting, which is helpful considering the powder is packaged in bulky – although, without doubt, aesthetically pleasing – jar that isn’t especially portable. Still, it was a huge hit and a product we’ll continue to use.

Key details – Pack size: 28g; Shade range: 8

6. Be + Radiance Set+Glow Probiotic Powder + Highlighter: Best multi-purpose setting powder

Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at Feel UniqueAvailable in a whopping 17 different shades, Be + Radiance’s Set+Glow is a probiotic-infused setting powder and highlighter that works to boost the skin’s microbiome while instantly delivering a radiant complexion. It’s packed with skin-loving ingredients, including organic moringa to soothe and boost barrier function; arrow root powder to mattify; and jojoba oil to hydrate and regulate the secretion of sebum. We were a tad overwhelmed when it came to choosing the right shade, ending up with a hue that was perhaps a shade too dark. Nevertheless, we still loved the results. It goes on silky-smooth, absorbing excess oil and diffusing light for a radiant finish without the shine. And if you’re having trouble choosing the right shade, the brand is happy to help, so make sure you reach out. Plus, the convenience of having a setting powder and highlighter in one is undeniable.

Key details – Pack size: 10g; Shade range: 17

Check price at Feel Unique

7. By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder: Best setting powder for dry skin

Price when reviewed: £34 | Check price at Cult BeautyThose with a dry complexion needn’t feel fear about applying setting powder. By Terry’s translucent Hyaluronic Hydra Powder is infused with hyaluronic acid to deliver deep hydration while giving a plump, smooth finish and strengthening the skin’s protective barrier – and it really works. We found it brilliant for mattifying excess shine without over-drying or impacting the colour of the foundation beneath. It feels weightless and silky, proving particularly great for mature skin, since it doesn’t sit in fine lines and wrinkles like some powders can.

Key details – Pack size: 10g; Shade range: 1

Check price at Cult Beauty

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