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Makeup artists rely on lots of tips and tricks that we mere mortals simply aren’t aware of (or, quite frankly, just couldn’t replicate). But finishing each and every look with a setting powder is one of those insider secrets that anyone and everyone can and should try.
If you’re wary of powder for fear of ending up with skin that looks cakey and chalky, don’t be. The latest formulas are silkier than ever, with a featherweight finish that will set and lock makeup in place while remaining completely undetectable. The best part? That holds true even for the cheapies you’ll find at the drugstore, which deliver results that are equally as impressive as their pricier counterparts.
Want proof? Check out the best drugstore setting powders, below.
Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Glow Highlighting Face Powder
Quite literally the absolute antithesis of the chalky and skin-dulling powders of years past, this leaves behind the most gorgeous, glowy finish. The dual-sided product features a foundation setting powder on top and a highlighting powder on the bottom; use them separately or blend them together for a super subtle radiance and added staying power, too.
Best Budget: Coty Airspun Face Powder
The OG of OGs, this has been a go-to for women since—wait for it—1935. (We appreciate that the vintage packaging speaks to that old-school history.) As the name suggests, the pigments are blended with air so that this feels totally featherweight. Also nice: It works just as well as a setting powder as it does for all-over coverage.
Best Translucent: NYX Professional Makeup High Definition Finishing Powder
If you’re looking for a totally undetectable setting powder that won’t alter the shades of your other makeup in the least, opt for a translucent formula like this one. Completely sheer, the silky, barely-there powder does it all: It sets makeup, tamps down unwanted shine, and magically blurs away the look of lines, prominent pores, and other imperfections.
Best Matte: Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder
Setting powders are an especially great option for anyone with oily skin; they’re choice for absorbing excess oil and sheen and are perfect to use as a quickie touch-up. We’re especially partial to this one from Drew Barrymore’s line. The finely milled formula looks just as great dusted over makeup as a finishing touch as it does worn solo, powdered across the skin to stop unwanted shine in its tracks.
Best Radiant: e.l.f. Cosmetics Halo Glow Setting Powder
Pretty much the real-life equivalent of your favorite Instagram filter, this pick uses finely-milled synthetic sapphire particles. These babies do two things: One, they blur away pretty much every line, pore, and whatever else needs blurring for a gorgeous soft-focus finish (hence the filter comparison). Two, they have just a hint of luminosity to them, making skin look fresh and healthy, though not overly or unnaturally shimmery. We just wish it came in more than two colors.
Best Loose Powder: Covergirl Professional Loose Powder
We love loose powders for their ultra-airy feel and buildable coverage that never feels (or looks) heavy on the skin—and this one is no exception. The applicator makes it easy to get the perfect amount of the luxe, fine-milled formula onto your brush. It’s as good at setting makeup as it is zapping shine, and we also appreciate that it’s cruelty-free.
Best for Fair Skin: Rimmel Stay Matte Long Lasting Pressed Powder
This comes in a lineup of 10 shades, seven of which skew towards the lighter side, ideal for fair complexions. It’s also ideal for oily complexions, thanks to its mineral-based formula that wards off shine for up to five hours at a time, rendering touch-ups basically obsolete. And while the coverage it’s light, it’s still totally buildable should you prefer more.
Best for Medium Skin: BLK/OPL True Color Soft Velvet Finishing Powder
Don’t be put off by the fact that there are only four shades to choose from; they all tout unique, color-adjusting pigments that blend in perfectly with your skin. That being said, it’s especially nice for medium skin tones given that even their lightest shade isn’t that light. Regardless of the color you choose, you get the same soft and (true to the name) velvety formula.
Best for Olive Skin: Maybelline New York Fit Me Mineral Loose Finishing Powder
The perfect topper for any foundation, this formula delivers a wash of sheer color that blends in beautifully. It comes in eight shades, including some nice picks for more olive complexions. And while the finish is matte, it never comes across as dry, even if you choose to add on layer after layer.
Best for Dark Skin: IMAN Second to None Semi Loose Powder
Powders can prove to be tricky for darker skin—if the color isn’t dark enough, you risk ending up with an ashy cast to the skin (no, thank you) or weird flashback in photos. That’s why we appreciate that this pick comes in shades that work with even very deep complexions. Although it's a pressed formula, it still has the airy feel of a loose one and also touts a unique oil-reducing core to reduce shine.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation
As a general rule of thumb, any and every kind of powder formula is a good bet if you have sensitive skin; because powders are waterless, they tend to not contain as many potentially irritating preservatives as their liquid and cream counterparts. This mineral-based, talc-free powder definitely does work great as a foundation, but it can be used as a topper to set other makeup in place as well. Plus, it has the added bonus of containing good-for-your-skin vitamins A, C, and E.
Best Skincare Benefits: Revlon PhotoReady Candid Anti-Pollution Setting Powder
Yes, setting powders already offer a host of different benefits, but if you want one that goes above and beyond, try this option from Revlon. It's great for setting makeup and evening out the complexion, but it also has serious skincare benefits—namely antioxidant and anti-pollution ingredients that protect (and perfect!) skin. Bonus points for the sifter top that prevents too much powder from spilling out.