It's an eternal quest, an ancient quest, one I've been battling since approximately 2014: how on earth do you calibrate your makeup to walk the extremely narrow tightrope between glowy and oily? If you're anything like me, it's a daily standoff. Too much powder and I look like a Founding Father, not enough and you could practically surf down my forehead. Particularly in warmer months, most of us are craving fresh-faced dewiness but are reticent to go fully powder-free and risk excessive oil. So what's the solution? A surprisingly straightforward technique called pinpoint powdering that strategically mattifies different zones on the face for a perfect glow every time.
Editorial and celebrity makeup artist Nikki DeRoest—she works with celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Rosie Huntingto-Whiteley, and Emma Roberts—first demonstrated the technique on her Instagram IGTV last night, quickly drawing in nearly 16,000 viewers. In the video, she lays out the basic premise: isolate areas you want to stay matte by using a very small, tapered brush and loose powder rather than using a large, fluffy brush for a more general dusting. "I think we just have gone into autopilot with powdering dating back to when we were young and learning from our mothers," DeRoest explains to Byrdie exclusively. "But we don't need to, or particularly want to, powder our entire face."
In her video, DeRoest first explains her chosen tools, swapping out a traditional large powder brush in favor of a fluffy, domed brush for precision. The density of the brush matters, too. For DeRoest, she likes to stick to a looser brush with more fluff for a softer look, but says a denser brush or the tip of a beauty sponge can work for those preferring a full face. A denser brush or sponge will pack the powder in a firmer way, not dissimilar to the "baking" powder technique, DeRoest reasons, so be sure to match your tools with the makeup aesthetic you're going for that day. For the demonstration, she dips her brush into Shiseido Synchro Skin Loose Powder ($38) but "I also love By Terry's Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder ($60) which is lighter than air, and Bobbi Brown's Sheer Finish Loose Powders ($42) which also comes in six shades for all skin tones," she tells us.
From there, the next step is determining which areas of the face to powder and where to leave dewy. Though DeRoest says exactly where to powder will always ultimately depend on individual factors like skin type and texture but her general guidelines will work for most. She suggests keeping the powder towards the center of the forehead, along nasolabial folds, and the sides of the nose. If your skin skews especially oily, DeRoest says you could sweep some of the leftover powder under your eyes, too. "There will always be outside factors: what kind of moisturizer, what type of foundation, how heavily are you wearing a face covering," she explains to Byrdie. 'But places on you want to stay 'unpowdered' are usually the places you would also highlight." For DeRoest, she likes to keep the glow and shine on the sides of her forehead, the tops of her cheeks, and the corners of her nose and jaw.
The technique, used by top artists around the world, can be applied to light makeup, a full face, or nothing at all. In fact, in DeRoest's video, she's foundation-free and uses pinpoint powdering "to subtly give my face some dimension and blurring as well." If pinpoint powdering in all its genius simplicity has you thinking about ways in which you could hack other parts of your routine, you're not alone—and it's also DeRoest's goal. "As an artist, I am constantly trying to break down people's ideas on techniques because we don't always need everything or need to do every single step the same as everyone else," she says. "So when I am teaching, I am always pushing people to really think about customizing their makeup for their needs, their look, or situation that day."
And if, like me, said situation feels permanently oily? DeRoest has a silver lining for that, too: "I will always say, even to my oily friends, you are better off oily than dry. Oil and shine hide so much more than dry, dull, or cracked skin, and ultimately you will always look younger and healthier. I think we need to get away from thinking oily is such a bad thing!"
After a pep talk like that and with this new technique in my arsenal, I think I'm ready to throw away my all-over powder brush forever. It takes up too much room in the brush jar, anyway.