beauty

TRIED AND TESTED: I tried 7 cult setting powders in 7 days to see which ones stay all day.

Mamamia’s Tried and Tested series is your weekly review of the latest to hit our desks in beauty, health and wellness. You won’t find any #sponsored content here, just honest, relatable and independent advice. This week, Senior Lifestyle Writer Amy Clark road-tested seven cult setting powders.

My name is Amy and I’m a face sweater.

Day and night, and no matter the season, it seems my body’s way of regulating temperature is producing tears of sweat under my eyes and along my hairline. Oh, and I’m always on SULA.

Sweaty. Upper. Lip. Alert.

I’m that much of a face sweater, I’ve even tried a face antiperspirant. Hint: it didn’t go so great. My coping strategies for managing said face sweat consist of: having cold showers in the morning, washing my hair at night to avoid hot blow-drying in the AM, and taking breaks in between stages of doing my makeup to sit in front of a fan.

That’s the morning sorted, but during the day, I rely heavily on setting powder. It’s for this reason I’ve been road testing seven different ones over the last week to find out which are the best for anyone out there struggling to manage their sweaty face, too. Here’s what I found.

WATCH: Here’s how to add a dash of colour to any makeup look, post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

But first, let’s talk about how to apply setting powder.

For sweaty face people like myself, the inclination is to simply dunk your face in a vat of setting powder and go on your merry way. Sure, that’ll keep your face nice and matte, but the downside is you lose all of the glow, dew and vibrancy that make you look healthy and alive.

Where you put your setting powder will depend on your skin type i.e. where you actually get oily. That’s your T-zone (across your forehead, down the nose and on the chin) for most of us. I also powder into my hairline and under my eyes where I’ve applied concealer for good measure, keeping my cheeks free. You can powder your whole face if you want, but start slow and build up to the coverage/finish you like.

Once you know where you want to powder, the easiest way to do it is: Gently dunk a fluffy powder brush into your loose powder. Tap excess product off the brush, either on the side of your arm or on the side of the powder container (I do this because I’m a stinge and don’t want to lose any product!). Then, lightly take your brush over the areas you need the powder and you’re done.

ADVERTISEMENT

Now, onto my setting powder reviews.

Side note – for the sake of this experiment, which I took very seriously, I wore the same primer, foundation, concealer and setting spray each day. They are: The POREfessional Hydrate Face Primer ($56), Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector ($75), Flower Light Illusion Full Coverage Concealer ($9.99) and M·A·C Prep + Prime Fix+ Mattifying Mist ($39).

1. RCMA The Original No-Colour Powder, $23.95.

RCMA The Original No-Colour Powder
The RCMA The Original No-Colour Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
RCMA The Original No-Colour Powder
Me post-massage, with makeup still on! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT

What the brand says:

"RCMA No Colour Powder will be your go-to product for all of your baking and setting needs! Not only will it keep your foundation/concealer set and dry without “caking," it will never alter the colour of your base since it has no pigment!"

What I thought:

This is a very serious setting powder for very serious sweaters living in very serious humidity. The packaging is nothing special - it literally comes in a chicken salt shaker. RCMA is hard to apply because you need something to decant the powder into, but once you figure that situation out (I emptied some powder onto a plate), it's exactly as advertised.

The powder is fairly thin and a little goes a long way. When you brush it over the skin, you wonder if it will look like a glob of baby powder forever, but with a bit of blending, it does completely disappear into the skin. The finish is matte, velvety and diffused, and it really does last all day. For context, I wore this on the weekend when I went and got a hectic massage. 60 minutes of my face being smooshed into a towel later, makeup was still on. If you want your face to look like a smooth bit of paper, this is the powder for you.

2. Nikkia Joy Cosmetics Perfecting Velvet Finishing Powder, $55.

Nikkia Joy Cosmetics Perfecting Velvet Finishing Powder
The Nikkia Joy Cosmetics Perfecting Velvet Finishing Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
Nikkia Joy Cosmetics Perfecting Velvet Finishing Powder
Makeup artists swear by this vanilla-scented powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT

What the brand says:

"Our Velvet Finishing Powder is a multi-use, soft-focus finishing powder that controls shine for up to 16 hours. Gives the skin a smooth, matte finish whilst deeply conditioning - use underneath makeup to smooth texture and control oil production and on top of makeup to lock in place and prevent caking/separation."

What I thought:

Nikkia Joy Cosmetics is an Aussie brand out of Melbourne with a niche following of people OBSESSED with this setting powder. It was the third most spoken about when I asked the You Beauty Facebook group for their favourite powders - one woman said it's legit changed her life. So I had high expectations for this miracle powder and honestly, it didn't disappoint. The powder is very fine and has a soft-focus finish to it. It also looks and smells like vanilla!

The brand suggests applying with their version of a beauty blender, and if you're a YouTuber or you live in constant humidity, you might like to give this technique a try. The rest of us can do without the sponge because really, who has the time? I'm going to say this a lot, but the Nikkia Joy powder does stay ALL DAY. It also looks really subtle and natural on and is comfortable to wear. And you don't always get both from setting powders.

3. RIMMEL LONDON Transparent Loose Powder, $15.95.

RIMMEL LONDON Transparent Loose Powder
The RIMMEL LONDON Transparent Loose Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT
RIMMEL LONDON Transparent Loose Powder
So cheap but so good! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What the brand says:

"A silky, loose transparent powder to set foundation and remove shine." Short and sweet.

What I thought:

This powder is exactly as advertised. A silky powder to set foundation and remove shine. When I first applied it, I thought it looked a bit powdery, but after a few minutes, it settled in and played nicely with the natural oils/sweat on my face. The finish has the soft blurred effect you want from a setting powder and visibly brightens the areas you apply it to - great for under the eyes!

It also lasts really well all day and didn't make my makeup look powdery as the hours wore on. If I had to criticise it, I could mention how the holes in the tub are quite big, which means A LOT of powder comes out at once. But that's really just nitpicking, especially considering it's almost always on sale half price at most chemists.

ADVERTISEMENT

4. 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Setting Powder, $39.95.

100% Pure Bamboo Blur Setting Powder
The 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Setting Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
100% Pure Bamboo Blur Setting Powder
This one's a great natural beauty option. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What the brand says:

"The 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Powder is the closest thing to a real-life Instagram filter. This translucent setting powder made from Bamboo Silica provides a flawless, silky finish as it helps to set makeup and ensure you look radiant all day (and night). Free of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide."

What I thought:

ADVERTISEMENT

No joke, when I first opened this translucent setting powder, I thought it looked like something out of my pantry. I was sceptical to put it on my face. Is it cornstarch? I wondered. Baking powder, perhaps? It's also annoying to tap off excess product without wasting it because the lid isn't flat. But I can vouch for it being the best natural setting powder I've tried.

As soon as you pop it on your face, the white powder disappears, leaving behind silky, blurred, matte but luminous skin. It also doesn't make you work too hard to blend it in. Truthfully, I've been using this product for weeks because I've been so impressed. If buying and using natural, vegan and even gluten-free products is important to you, this setting powder is a goodie.

5. Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder, $74.

Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
The Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
Hourglass glow is a lot. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT

What the brand says:

"A light dusting of this weightless, vegan finishing powder will instantly blur imperfections and set makeup. The result? An airbrushed, luminous-looking complexion that lasts all day."

What I thought:

So, let's acknowledge $74 is a sh*t tonne of money to spend on a powder. No one needs a $74 powder, nor any powder or product, really. But it is a very lovely setting powder. As soon as you open the box, you're transfixed by the packaging. It's chocolate brown, gold, sleek and shiny, but also clever because the concave pan has tiny holes in it and a little plug in the lid to stop too much product coming out at once.

If you're after a matte look from your powder, this isn't the one for you. The finely milled powder has light-reflecting particles in it so when you swipe it over your face, it catches and reflects light for that 'lit from within' look. Again, that luminous finish lasts all day and looks just as great when you get home at night as it did when you left the house in the morning. I would use this powder for special occasions, or when having my photo taken because it's the perfect mix of nixing shine and adding glow.

6. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $62.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
The Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
I only put makeup on this day because of the story, but the powder is amazing! Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT

What the brand says:

"An essential for makeup artists worldwide, this award-winning powder blends seamlessly into the skin, setting makeup for 12 hours and creating a flawless matte, soft-focus finish without any flashback."

What I thought:

This powder is hyped for good reason. It really is the ultimate matte-finish setting powder around. Again, $62 is a lot of money to spend on a powder, but used correctly, a pot of this should last you a while. A lot of people ask how this product is different to the Hourglass one above, and the answer is the finish. Where Hourglass is all about creating glow, Laura Mercier is designed to make skin look like skin, but at its best. It's also twice the size of the Hourglass product and costs $10 less.

This powder is everything you want it to be. A super fine formula that doesn't look like powder on the skin. A true translucent shade that also comes in a deep translucent for darker skin tones. A matte finish that de-slicks your face with just the tiniest hint of something that keeps it looking like you're alive. Essentially, everything everyone says about the Laura Mercier setting powder is true.

7. Models Prefer Soft Touch Mineral Powder in Photo Ready, $16.99.

Models Prefer Models Prefer Soft Touch Mineral Powder in Photo Ready
The Models Prefer Soft Touch Mineral Powder in Photo Ready. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.
ADVERTISEMENT
Models Prefer Models Prefer Soft Touch Mineral Powder in Photo Ready
THAT GLOW. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

What the brand says:

"A smooth, lightweight finishing powder with sheer long-lasting coverage. Micronised technology creates a light-reflecting finish for a soft focus and natural glow."

What I thought:

Yes, I had to include one powder that's kind of a setting powder but isn't in the mix because if you're an Hourglass fan, this is life-changing. Technically, this Models Prefer powder isn't designed to be a heavy-duty powder to set your makeup in place. Rather, it's a finishing powder you apply all over your face to lightly set your base products while giving a glow people will stop to compliment you on.

You should also know the Models Prefer Soft Touch Mineral Powder in the shade Photo Ready is a very, very close dupe for the Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Powder in Mood Light ($73). Yes, the Hourglass product is a creamier powder that glides on like fairy dust, but the Models Prefer dupe delivers a spookily similar effect at a quarter of the price. Even less when it's on sale. Dust it all over your face and watch as it's transformed into a glowy, beautiful being lit by the moon and the stars.

ADVERTISEMENT

The final verdict on the best setting powder...

I enjoyed using all of these setting powders. I enjoyed how they made my face look even more. The only one I personally wouldn't use again is the RCMA The Original No-Colour Powder ($23.95) simply because it's just too much work to blend in, but it'd be great for those who wear full coverage foundation and need it not to budge.

So, which is the best setting powder? Seeing as you're forcing me to choose favourites, they'd be:

Best all-rounder setting powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $62.

Best serious setting powder: Nikkia Joy Cosmetics Perfecting Velvet Finishing Powder, $55.

Best cheap setting powder: RIMMEL LONDON Transparent Loose Powder, $15.95.

Feature image: Supplied/@theamyclark.

Have you got any great setting powder recommendations? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Mamamia's Tried and Tested series drops every week. Want us to trial and review a product or treatment you've seen everywhere? Easy, just send an email to [email protected] 

You can catch up on more from our Tried and Tested series here:

Need some extra cashola? Take our survey to win a $50 EFTPOS voucher.

MMSurvey

00:00 / ???