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We have yet to meet or work with a makeup artist that doesn’t rely on a translucent powder as the final step for any look. A quick sweep of powder can make all the difference, working to blur and smooth away imperfections, all while helping to give your other makeup a little more staying power in the process. If the mere mention of any kind of powder conjures images of chalky, dry skin for you, fear not. The latest translucent powders on the market are more advanced than ever, truly an important product in your complexion-perfecting arsenal.
These are the best translucent powders to try for flawless skin.
Best Overall: Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder
Like we said, today’s powders are anything but chalky, and perhaps none less so than this formula. Byrdie Associate Editor Holly Rhue swears by the finely-milled, featherweight pick, which boasts light-reflecting particles to blur away the look of any imperfections. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also actual diamond powder in the mix to impart the prettiest (and subtlest) shimmer. Bonus points for the packaging that dispenses just the right amount of product, making powder overload a thing of the past.
Best Budget: Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder
From one of our favorite wallet-friendly beauty lines comes this powder, which works beautifully on its own or over makeup. Dust it on bare skin (well, bare except for sunscreen, of course) to help tamp down unwanted sheen and make prominent pores disappear. Or use it as the final step in your makeup routine to set everything in place.
Best Mattifying: Honest Beauty Invisible Blurring Loose Powder
A quick dusting of this formula immediately tamps down unwanted sheen and shine, instead imparting a soft-focus finish on even the oiliest of skin. Free of talc and a long list of other questionable ingredients, it uses rice starch to absorb excess oil on the surface of the skin. Use it in the AM as a final step before you head out the door, and/or to dust on your T-zone when you notice any pesky slick spots start to crop-up midday.
Best for Light Skin: Huda Beauty Easy Bake Powder
Another of Rhue’s picks, this comes in a nice range of eight shades, though it’s the translucent ‘Sugar Cookie’ hue that we especially like for fair skin. While you can’t tell simply by looking at it, it has neutral undertones that make for a subtle brightening effect, instantly enhancing your complexion. Not to mention that it also stays on for up to 10 hours, eliminating the need for touch-ups.
Best for Dark Skin: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Setting Powder
Powders now come in more shades than ever and we are here for it. This particular one is available in eight hues, five of which are especially good for covering a range of darker skin tones. Weightless and sheer, it blends beautifully into the skin, locking in makeup and smoothing out the look of any imperfections, and without ever creating any flashback.
Best Splurge: Shiseido Future Solution LX Total Radiance Loose Powder
Yes, this powder gives you all of the complexion-perfecting benefits we’ve been mentioning, but it also goes way beyond its standard responsibilities. The powder—one of the silkiest we’ve ever tried—contains a proprietary anti-aging ingredient, plus a radiance-boosting technology that makes skin look extra-glowy immediately and over time. Even the included powder puff is luxurious beyond belief, made in Japan with long fibers that make for seamless application.
Best for Radiant Skin: Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder
As a general rule of thumb, yes, powders are associated with a matte finish. And in fact, this brand does offer a standout matte option that’s completely translucent, but we’re slightly more partial to this variant. Extremely finely-milled, it absorbs oil and reduces shine, but is noteworthy for imparting the prettiest, natural-looking luminosity to your skin.
Best for Touch-Ups: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Pressed Powder
Keep this compact—a fave among pro makeup artists—on hand when you need to powder your nose. Specially made to be completely undetectable even the most intense HD cameras, you never have to worry about it caking or settling into fine lines. Plus, because it’s pressed, it’s ideal to keep in your purse (no worrying about spills), and comes in a conveniently portable mini size, too.
Best With SPF: ILIA Beauty Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20
Zinc is an essential mineral that is needed for numerous healthy bodily functions, including boosting the immune system, healing wounds, and assisting in DNA/protein synthesis and growth. Applied topically, it's shown to aid in wound healing and regeneration, as well as protect the skin by deflecting UV rays.
Ideally, you’re supposed to reapply sunscreen every two hours (if you don’t know, now you know). That’s an understandably overwhelming goal, which is why we appreciate products that make reapplication easier than ever. Like this translucent powder, which gives you all the same makeup setting, oil-absorbing benefits as any other formula, but comes with the unique addition of zinc oxide for extra sun protection, too. As if that weren’t already convenient enough, the component features a built-in brush.
Best for Picture Days: Range Beauty Smooth Out Translucent Powder
Makeup flashback—a whiteish cast that shows up in photos due to a camera flash—is a very real thing. If it’s an occasion where you know you’re going to be photographed a lot (a wedding, perhaps?) or you just love a good selfie, reach for this guy. The mineral powder comes in four tinted shades, all of which are translucent so there’s never any risk of flashback. It’s lightweight with the perfect demi-matte finish and works equally well dusted on allover or swiped just onto spots prone to an excess sheen.
Finding the best translucent powder is crucial as it not only blurs and smooth imperfections but also gives makeup the ability to last all day. The best translucent powder is Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder due to its finely milled, featherweight formula with light-reflecting particles that seamlessly blurs away imperfections. For a translucent powder that’s worth the splurge, Shiseido Future Solution LX Total Radiance Loose Powder is it with its silky formula, radiance-boosting technology, and glowy finish. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, try Flower Beauty’s Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder for its incredible quality and unbeatable pricing.
What to Look For in a Translucent Powder
Look for a translucent powder that offers to help with what you’re looking to achieve, explains Neil Scibelli, Makeup Artist & Beauty Expert. “For example, the blurring, pore minimizing, oil reducing, etc.” The main thing, he further explains, is to understand your skin's concerns and the type of finish you’re looking to achieve.
Based on what type of skin you have, you’ll need different powders. If your skin is on the combination to the oily side, says Scibelli, try looking for translucent powders that focus on radiance—usually containing light-reflecting properties. “Some brands even offer hydrating properties in their powders and contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid for dry skin types."
What does translucent powder do?
Translucent powder, explains Scibelli, can work to give a more airbrushed finish to your makeup. It will also absorb any unwanted or excess oil and can also work to blur the appearance of pores, uneven texture, and sometimes even discoloration.
How do you apply translucent powder?
Dip into the powder with a powder brush, dust off the excess with a tap or two, and then apply as needed, says Scibelli. He says, typically, you would apply it towards the end of your makeup regime. “For a more targeted application, use a skinnier brush so you can zero in on specific areas.”
Is translucent powder the same as setting powder?
Not exactly, says Scibelli. “A translucent powder is extremely finely milled, lightweight, and literally translucent, so there’s no color/shade (although some have come out with tints which I think is smart).” He says, a setting powder often will be your skin tone color, and is a little more pigmented than a translucent powder. Also, explains Scibelli, a setting powder works to set your makeup and add an almost extra layer of stay-proof action to your makeup whereas translucent works to make the existing product look more blended, creaseless, and smoother.