The Best Translucent Powders That Extend the Life of Your Makeup

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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: “Translucent powders are beneficial for all makeup wearers for three reasons: helping to set your makeup for extended wear as well as blurring fine lines and minor blemishes to create a silky smooth skin finish,” says makeup artist and StyleSeat Pro Manuel Espinoza. 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-enhancing arsenal.

Meet the Expert

  • Manuel Espinoza is a makeup artist and a StyleSeat Pro based in Los Angeles with over a decade of experience in the industry.
  • Neil Scibelli is a New York City–based celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert. He focuses largely on fashion, celebrity, and television as well as sharing his beauty education via contributions to various makeup outlets.

These are the best translucent powders to try for beautiful skin.

Best Overall: Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Translucent Setting Powder

Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Imparts a slight shimmer

  • Blurs pores

What We Don't Like
  • Packaging could be improved

Like we said, today’s powders are anything but chalky, and perhaps none less so than this formula. Byrdie Senior Editor Holly Rhue swears by the finely milled, featherweight pick, which boasts light-reflecting particles to blur away the look of any blemishes. Espinoza is also a fan, lauding the truly translucent formula that leaves an invisible finish on all skin tones. 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.

Size: 0.36 oz. or 0.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder

Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Translucent Finishing Powder
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Works on its own or over makeup

  • Blurs pores

What We Don’t Like
  • Included powder puff is a little flimsy

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.

Size: 0.28 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Mattifying: Honest Beauty Invisible Blurring Loose Powder

Honest Beauty Invisible Blurring Loose Powder
What We Like
  • Great for absorbing excess oil

  • Talc-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say that it accentuates fine lines

A quick dusting of this formula immediately tamps down unwanted sheen and shine and imparts 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 a.m. 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.

Size: 0.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Mattifying, Runner-Up: Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Invisibmatte Blotting Powder

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Great for absorbing excess oil

  • Easy-to-use pressed compact

  • Blurs pores

What We Don’t Like
  • Only comes in a translucent shade

As the name suggests, think of this as a powder version of those handy-dandy blotting papers. In other words, it’s a must if you have super-oily skin, absorbing shine and diffusing the look of pores all at the same time. We’d be happy with that, but it also helps set your makeup, too—can your blotting papers do that?

Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Light Skin: Huda Beauty Easy Bake Powder

Huda Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Large shade range

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don’t Like
  • Strong scent is polarizing

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 radiance-boosting effect, instantly enhancing your complexion. Not to mention that it also stays on for up to 10 hours, eliminating the need for touch-ups.

Size: 0.71 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Shiseido Future Solution LX Total Radiance Loose Powder

Shiseido Future Solutions LX Total Radiance Loose Powder

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Extremely soft and silky

  • Large shade range

  • Comes with a very luxurious powder puff

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

Yes, this powder gives you all of the complexion-enhancing 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: It's made in Japan with long fibers that make for seamless application.

Size: 0.35 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Touch-Ups: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Pressed Powder

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Pressed Powder

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Favorite among pro makeup artists

  • Blurs pores

  • Easy-to-use pressed compact

What We Don’t Like
  • Has bad flashback

Keep this compact—a fave among pro makeup artists—on hand when you need to powder your nose. Specially made to be completely undetectable with 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.

Size: 0.21 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best With SPF: ILIA Beauty Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20

ILIA Flow-Thru Radiant Translucent Powder
What We Like
  • Has mineral sun protection

  • Great for absorbing excess oil

  • Great to use on the go

What We Don’t Like
  • Wish the SPF was slightly higher

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. As if that weren’t already convenient enough, the component features a built-in brush.

Size: 0.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Picture Days: Range Beauty Smooth Out Translucent Powder

Range Beauty Smooth Out Translucent Powder

Range Beauty

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • No flashback

  • Great for absorbing excess oil

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited shade options

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 ideal demi-matte finish and works equally well dusted on all over or swiped just onto spots prone to an excess sheen.

Size: 0.67 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dark Skin: Glossier Wowder

Glossier Wowder
What We Like
  • Dermatologist-tested

  • Great for absorbing excess oil

  • No flashback

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

We kinda wish we had come up with the clever name for this powder…as well as the amazing formula itself. It comes in five shades—not necessarily a ton—but this does include three options that are great for darker and deeper skin tones. It tamps down shine, blurs the skin, and sets makeup, all without caking or creasy or any flashback.

Size: 0.25 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Shade Range: Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder

Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder

Kosas

What We Like
  • Large shade range

  • Lightweight

  • Great for absorbing excess oil

What We Don’t Like
  • Can look drying on dry skin

This aptly named pick does have a lighter-than-air feel on skin…and looks equally light. It offers the softest, barely there wash of mega-sheer color, and, to that point, comes in an impressive array of 10 hues. Since it does have some oil-absorbing properties, it’s best for balanced, combo, or oily skin.

Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Pressed: Bare Minerals Original Mineral Veil Pressed Setting Powder

Bare Minerals Original Mineral Veil Pressed Setting Powder

Ulta

What We Like
  • Good for all skin types

  • Easy-to-use pressed compact

  • Blurs pores

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers say it’s not for combating shine

Sure, it may be the mineral foundation from this brand that gets all the buzz, but don’t sleep on their pressed setting powder. “This is one of my favorites because it not only sets makeup to extend wear, but it also improves the appearance of pores over time,” says Spinoza. It comes in six shades, including a translucent option. All of them are talc-free and infused with not only minerals but also hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E and shea butter, ensuring a non-chalky, non-cakey texture. Plus, if you don’t want to worry about messes and spills, a compact, pressed option like this is the way to go.

Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Radiant Skin: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • No flashback

  • Large container

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

As a general rule of thumb, powders are associated with a matte finish, but not this one. It imparts a gorgeous (yet natural) glow to the skin, more of a luminosity than anything else, thanks to the addition of a pearl blend and amino acid powders. Still, it also blurs away the look of blemishes and somehow manages to absorb oil as well—and lasts for up to 12 hours. “It’s super dense and smooth and creates a beautiful soft skin effect,” says Espinoza of another one of his favorites.

Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Combination Skin: Saie Airest Radiant Loose Setting Powder

Saie Airest Radiant Loose Setting Powder

Sephora

What We Like
  • Good for all skin types

  • Fragrance-free

  • Hydrating

What We Don’t Like
  • Only comes in three shades

If your skin has some dry parts and some oily parts, reach for this guy. “It has squalane in it, which is super hydrating and keeps the skin looking plump and radiant,” explains Espinoza, who is a fan. And for the slick spots, this touts a unique aerated-cream technology that helps to absorb excess oil, too.

Size: 0.14 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

Finding the best translucent powder is crucial as it not only blurs and smooths the skin 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 blemishes. 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

Skin Concerns

Look for a translucent powder that offers to help with what you’re looking to achieve, explains Neil Scibelli, makeup artist and 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. 

Finish

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."

FAQ
  • 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 a powder brush into the powder, dust off the excess with a tap or two, and then apply as needed, says Scibelli. “For a more targeted application, use a skinnier brush so you can zero in on specific areas,” he says.

  • Is translucent powder the same as setting powder?

    Setting powders set your makeup and add an almost extra layer of stay-proof action to your makeup while translucent powders work to make the existing product look smoother and more blended, explains Scibelli. Setting powders are also a little more pigmented than translucent powders and often come in the same color as your skin tone, he says.

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. Since she rarely wears powder, she relied on the input of makeup artists, consumer reviews, and tons of friends and colleagues when putting together this list.

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