Reach for These 12 Finishing Powders for Beautiful-Looking Skin

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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 blemishes and spots and enhance radiance. Keep an eye out for product format, finish, and coverage. These are available as both pressed and loose powders, with finishes ranging from matte to radiant. And some offer more coverage than others, so it's great to know up front how heavy, or not, the final effect will be.

Here, the best finishing powders you can find on the market today.

Our Top Picks
The ultrafine particles create an Instagram filter-esque effect, magically blurring away the look of lines and blemishes.
The mattifying formula helps to minimize the look of prominent pores and excess shine.
This gentle mineral formula comes in a wide array of shades and works to control shine and smooth the appearance of skin.
This pick is infused with diamond powder for the perfect amount of light reflection without any flashback.
It absorbs the perfect amount of excess oil so that skin ends up looking just slightly dewy, and never shiny.
This formula allows the skin to look like skin while eliminating shine and leaving behind a perfect, soft glowy finish.
This option only comes in three colors, two of those are geared towards deeper skin, and they all offer great shine-control.
This 2-in-1 works alone as a foundation over moisturizer or acts as a loose translucent powder to lock in makeup.
This translucent powder has the added benefit of skin-protecting SPF.
A powder version of blotting papers, this pick stops shine in its tracks without settling into pores or fine lines.

Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish

CHARLOTTE TILBURY Airbrush Flawless Finish Micro-Powder
What We Like
  • Gives a natural look

  • Blends effortlessly

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Rose wax, almond oil, and light-reflecting pearls | Size: 0.28 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Byrdie / Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish setting powder is fantastic; it will keep your makeup in place, give your skin a natural glow, control shine, and give your skin a velvety finish." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Budget: Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder

Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder
What We Like
  • Controls shine

  • Long-lasting

  • Easy to apply

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy during application

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.

Skin Type: Oily | Key Ingredients: Silica | Size: 0.28 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder

maybelline fit me loose finishing powder
What We Like
  • Gentle formula

  • Lightweight

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy when applying

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Silica | Size: 0.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Translucent: Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder

Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Natural looking

  • Creates no flashback

What We Don't Like
  • Tad pricey

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Mica, Synthetic Sapphire | Size: 0.36 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Pressed Formula: Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder

Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder
What We Like
  • Lasts all day

  • Shine-free

  • Extremely lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Silica | Size: 0.31 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Loose Formula: Glossier Wowder

Glossier Wowder
What We Like
  • Controls dewiness

  • Vegan

  • Natural-looking glow

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy when applying

“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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Diamond powder, kaolin clay, and vitamin E | Size: 0.25 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dark Skin: Mented Cosmetics Skin Silk Loose Setting Powder

mented-cosmetics-silk-skin-loose-setting-powder
What We Like
  • Lasts all day

  • Glides on easily

  • Natural looking

What We Don't Like
  • Could use more shade options

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Vitamin C | Size: 0.92 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Multi-Tasking: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
What We Like
  • Numerous shade options

  • Long-lasting

  • Goes on smoothly

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel heavy

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.

Skin Type: All, especially oily | Key Ingredients: Silica | Size: 0.52 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best with SPF: Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20

Ilia Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
What We Like
  • Includes SPF for skin protection

  • Infused with botanical extracts to soothe

  • Virtually weightless

What We Don't Like
  • The smell

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Non-nano Zinc Oxide 14 | Size: 0.24 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Invisibmatte Blotting Powder
What We Like
  • Lasts all day

  • Retractable and magnetic for travel-friendliness

  • Natural Looking

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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.

Skin Type: Oily | Key Ingredients: Silica | Size: 0.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dry Skin: By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder

By Terry Hyaluronic Pressed Hydra-Powder
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Glides on and blends smoothly

  • Regenerates the skin

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey


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.

Skin Type: Dry | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Size: 0.35 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: W3ll People Superpowder Brightening Powder

W3ll People Bio Brightener Baked Powder
What We Like
  • Prevents makeup creasing

  • Infused magnolia bark calms skin

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • May not brighten enough for some

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.

Skin Type: All | Key Ingredients: Organic squalane, magnolia bark, and lactic acid | Size: 0.26 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict


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.) Makeup artist Khera Alexander points out that "the difference between loose and pressed powders...is that loose powders tend to be much lighter in texture and are more finely milled."

The Finish

Again, not all powders are mattifying, so Goldberg recommends checking the description to see if it describes the finish as matte or natural/radiant. Matte makeup has been trending for some time, so if you've been on the fence about trying it, know that you'll be in good company if you take the jump.

The Coverage

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. Knowing how heavy the coverage will be can prevent you over applying your powder, as can being well-versed at powder application.

If you’re looking to use it instead of any other makeup, you may like the more pigmented, opaque options.

FAQ
  • What is the difference between a setting powder and a finishing powder?

    A setting powder is used for the purpose of keeping your makeup from wearing off. Conversely, a finishing powder is used to give your face a smoother, lightly airbrushed look that makes blemishes less prominent.

  • Where do you put finishing powder?

    Surprisingly, the answer to this question is not "everywhere," says Byrdie writer Julyne Derrick. "Instead, press the brush into the skin under the eyes and then in a line from your forehead, down the bridge of your nose to the chin—as well as any other areas that are typically oily throughout the day," she says.

  • Can I use just powder on my face?

    You can definitely use only powder on your face, but don't expect the same results as if you had applied foundation or creams too. Powder alone can't fully conceal blemishes. However, used alone it will slightly diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as prevent shine.

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.

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