When you spend a good amount of time applying your makeup, the last thing you want is for it to disappear within an hour or two. Fortunately, there is an easy way to combat faded foundation and vanishing concealer: setting powder. Unlike the cakey powders of our past, the best drugstore setting powders use new technology to absorb excess oil and set makeup for long-lasting coverage sans chalky buildup.
Worried about wiping off that glow with a thick layer of powder? Don’t be. We reached out to celebrity makeup artists for their opinions on the best drugstore setting powders with the smoothest finishes. From barely-there translucent formulas that hydrate and plump to oil-banishing minerals that completely transform your T-zone, we've rounded up the best drugstore setting powders that deliver dewy (not oily) complexions that last well into the night.
If you have sensitive skin, celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert Neil Scibelli recommends using this lightweight mineral powder from Neutrogena, which he says gives the appearance of "radiant skin." Simply wear alone as a light foundation or dust over your base to set makeup in place.
Honey Artists celebrity makeup artist Min Min Ma's favorite powder of the moment is this lightweight formula that she says "goes onto the skin evenly and smoothly." She recommends applying with a "big powder brush on bare skin or over foundation." And if you need to touch up throughout the day, Ma suggests using a "small blending brush such as Sigma Beauty's Tapered Blending Brush ($16)" to set smaller areas.
According to Scibelli, this HD powder from Nyx is comparable to luxury brands, as it "blurs the look of pores, softens any fine lines, and sets a matte finish to your makeup." Pro tip: Scibelli says that a little bit of powder goes a long way, further warning us to "dust lightly" when applying to a full face of makeup.
Celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, also of the Honey Artists group, recommends a translucent powder like this formula from Black Opal for deeper skin tones. She notes that "deeper-toned powders can build up and oxidize throughout the day, which alters the color of your foundation." Whereas this formula is "truly colorless," so it will set your makeup without affecting the color of products already on your face.
Scibelli keeps this powder in his makeup kit particularly for clients with "more oily-prone skin types," as he says "the rice protein formula acts like a sponge and absorbs oil throughout the day." To control excess oil, Scibelli recommends dusting this powder over your T-zone to set makeup and to keep this compact on hand for touch-ups as needed.
According to Ma, this powder foundation creates a nice amount of coverage for those who prefer to go sans foundation or concealer. However, if you are looking to use this formula to set your makeup, Ma recommends using a lighter hand and applying said powder via Nyx's Lightweight Powder Brush ($22) for long-lasting wear.
Are you constantly fighting your T-zone? If so, Ma recommends using a mattifying setting formula like this translucent powder from Inglot, which comes in a variety of shades that match nearly every skin tone.
"I'm partial to loose powder when I want to set my foundation," explains Honey makeup artist Marie-Josée Leduc. "It's the perfect option for all skin types. I apply it ever so lightly so it won't look too noticeable. I prefer a light finish. The goal is to hide blemishes but to not end up with a cakey finish. So to achieve this look I use this L'oréal Infallible Pro-Sweep & Lock. Always get the translucent, colorless shade so you can't go wrong."
"My other favorite is this beause I really like the grain—it's superfine," explains Leduc. "It leaves a nice finish, never accumulates in creases around the eyes, creates a soft-focus effect, and it sets makeup. The result is a dewy look—not oily and not dry looking, the perfect healthy glow!
"Instead of reapplying powder throughout the day, use a rice paper first to remove extra unwanted oil," suggests Leduc."Then with a soft brush refresh your face with a tiny amount of loose powder only where it's needed. Less is more when it comes to powder so be light-handed." This lightweight powder from Covergirl is buildable so a little goes a long way.
This translucent powder is finely milled and semi-matte, so you can still achieve that glowy look if you're trying to pull off long-lasting makeup radiance.
This powder has been around since 1935 and is made with literal air. How can anything ever feel super cakey if it's blended with actual air? The good thing is it locks your makeup in place and you'll forget you even applied it.
It doesn't have to cost a million bucks to get your makeup to stay all day. You can avoid cakey makeup at all costs with these conveniently priced options—a win-win.