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No matter whether your makeup routine is a complex, multi-step process or a simple, swipe-and-go situation, a finishing powder is an invaluable asset. “The most immediate benefit is shine reduction, while the long-term benefit is enhanced staying power of your makeup,” says New York-based makeup artist Shayna Goldberg. And if you equate powder with matte skin, guess again. “Finishing powders come in a variety of finishes, and don’t necessarily have to result in mattified skin, so they really can work for all skin types,” explains Goldberg. To that point, there are a variety of formulas out there that can offer the above-mentioned effects, plus blur away blemishes and spots and even enhance radiance.
Here, the best finishing powders you can find on the market today.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish
Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Rose wax, almond oil, and light-reflecting pearls | Size: 0.28 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
It should come as no surprise that this formula basically has its own fan club. True to its name, the ultrafine particles create an Instagram filter-esque effect, magically blurring away the look of lines and blemishes with one fell swoop. It’s also incredibly lightweight and feels great on the skin, thanks to the addition of ingredients such as rose wax and almond oil. It’s a favorite of Goldberg’s, who lauds it for the soft matte finish and buildable coverage.
Best Budget: Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder
Skin Type: Oily | Size: 0.28 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Affordable, yes. But lacking in quality, definitely not. Dust it on solo to minimize the look of prominent pores and excess shine, or over makeup to boost longevity. Either way, the mattifying formula gets the job done.
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder
Skin Type: All | Size: 0.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
There are so many things we like about this drugstore staple. There’s a great array of shades to choose from (eight to be exact, a lot for a powder of any kind), the gentle mineral formula, and the shine-controlling, skin-smoothing effects, just to name a few. The wallet-friendly price tag is the cherry on top.
Best Translucent: Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder
Skin Type: All | Size: 0.36 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Let’s be real: Translucent doesn’t always mean undetectable. Many translucent options we’ve tried leave behind a weird cast or chalky finish but not this one. "It has the most natural finish and actually works on the widest range of skin tones of any of the other translucent powders I’ve tried," says Goldberg. Plus, it’s also infused with diamond powder for the perfect amount of light reflection without any flashback.
Best Pressed Formula: Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder
Size: 0.31 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Goldberg recommends using this pressed option to help set the foundation. “It absorbs the perfect amount of excess oil so that skin ends up looking just slightly dewy, never shiny,” she says. Super-fine powders and a featherweight texture also make this feel insanely light on the skin, always a good thing in our book.
Best Loose Formula: Glossier Wowder
Key Ingredients: Diamond powder, kaolin clay, and vitamin E | Size: 0.25 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
“This is by far my favorite loose powder, allowing the skin to look like skin while eliminating shine and leaving behind a perfect, soft glowy finish,” says Goldberg. Dust it on all-over or just on areas prone to sheen; either way, it never looks chalky or settles into lines, and Goldberg adds that it also behaves beautifully with flash photography. Also nice: It’s talc- and fragrance-free and dermatologist-tested, so it's great for those with sensitive skin.
Best for Dark Skin: Mented Cosmetics Skin Silk Loose Setting Powder
Key Ingredients: Vitamin C | Size: 0.92 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Powders can pose some serious issues for those with darker complexions; many are too light, which ends up coming across as chalky and results in flashback in photos. Happily, while this option only comes in three colors, two of those are geared towards deeper skin, and they all offer great shine-control and, indeed, a silky smooth texture.
Best Multi-Tasking: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
Skin Type: All, especially oily | Size: 0.52 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Prefer to keep your routine simple and streamlined? Reach for this two-in-one, another one of Goldberg’s favorites. “It’s iconic because it has such a wide range of uses,” she says. "Wear it alone as a foundation over moisturizer (use the included sponge for that) or dust it on with a fluffy powder brush if you want it to act as any other loose translucent powder would," she suggests. Either way, you get up to 12 hours of wear-time and a gorgeously velvety finish.
Best with SPF: Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 14 | Size: 0.24 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
In case you missed it, you really should be reapplying your sunscreen every two hours. It’s an admittedly lofty goal, which is where an SPF-infused powder, like this one, can come up huge. Dust it on in the a.m. as a little extra layer protection, but then reach for it throughout the day to not only absorb shine and touch up your makeup but also add back some of that needed sunscreen. This particular one also has the added benefit of blurring away spots and blemishes and is filled with skin-soothing, plant-based extracts, too.
Best for Oily Skin: Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder
Skin Type: Oily | Size: 0.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
True to its name, think of this as the powder version of those annoying to deal with blotting papers. It’s completely undetectable (on all skin tones, we might add), instead simply stopping shine in its tracks, without ever settling into pores or lines. And if you use it over the foundation, it will up its staying power, too.
Best for Dry Skin: By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder
Skin Type: Dry | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Size: 0.35 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Once again, the name really says it all. There is indeed hydrating hyaluronic acid in this formula, which boasts a supremely silky texture that blends beautifully into the skin. Still, it definitely has that mattifying effect many people crave from a powder without ever being drying.
Best Natural: W3ll People Superpowder Brightening Powder
Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Organic squalane, magnolia bark, and lactic acid | Size: 0.26 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Generally speaking, powders tend to contain fewer chemicals than other products, but this one really takes the clean beauty cake with a minimal ingredient list that relies on natural ingredients. It comes in one universal shade, a sheer, glow-enhancing tone that is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want the classic matte finish. But yes, it still does all the standard finishing powder duties; think stop shine and up the staying power of other makeup.
Finishing powders deserve a spot in pretty much anyone’s makeup routine and the featherweight, blemish-erasing Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish is our overall top pick. If you’re in search of a translucent powder the Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder (view at Hourglass Cosmetics) has a lovely, skin-like finish; if you want more pigment and coverage, the Maybelline New York Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder (view at Ulta) is a good pick and also comes in an impressive array of eight shades. We’re also big fans of the Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 (view at Sephora) for daily use, given that it pulls double-duty as an easy way to reapply sunscreen.
What to Look for in a Finishing Powder
Loose vs. Pressed
Don’t get too hung up on this difference, as it really is a matter of personal preference, says Goldberg. (Also, depending on your application technique, you can usually score both types of effects from either product.)
Again, not all powders are mattifying, so Goldberg recommends checking the description to see if it describes the finish as matte or natural/radiant.
Most of the finishing powders out there are pretty translucent (even if they do have a tint to them), but some may pack more pigment than others, so check on that as well, suggests Goldberg.
If you’re looking to use it instead of any other makeup, you may like the more pigmented, opaque options.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She holds a BA in Journalism and English from New York University.
Meet the Expert
Shayna Goldberg is a New York-based makeup artist and consultant who often works on editorial as well as brand campaigns.