Ultrafine powder applies smoothly, and a little product goes a long way. Effectively smooths over fine lines and wrinkles without settling into them. Keeps concealer and foundation securely in place. Powder has a subtle shine that's not overwhelming or glittery.
Product sits at a higher price point than its competitors.
Powder sits lightly on top of makeup or on bare skin to smooth out imperfections. Gives off a beautiful matte finish without making skin look dry. Prevents foundation and concealer from creasing and separating throughout the day. Powder photographs well even with flash.
Product is easy to spill while opening and using.
The powder feels silky and lightweight on your skin. Effectively blurs imperfections while keeping makeup in place. Formula never settles into fine lines or wrinkles. Powder sits at a slightly lower price point than some of its competitors.
Powder has sheer, sparkle-like finish that may not fit every occasion.
Works all day to combat oil and shine. Gives foundation a finished, airbrushed look and keeps makeup locked in place all day. Gives a natural glowing look without appearing glittery. Photographs well; no washed-out look even with flash.
Powder has a strong scent that may not appeal to everyone.
Prevents oily skin from looking too shiny while keeping dry skin looking dewy and hydrated. Powder feels lightweight and is truly translucent. Holds makeup in place all day without settling into fine lines and wrinkles. Powder doesn't attach itself to dry patches on your skin.
Sheer finish looks quite sparkly in natural light.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
When you take the time to put on foundation and concealer, you want it to last all day. Setting your makeup with powder can help lock it in place for long school or work days, but if you don’t want your foundation to look cakey or heavy, translucent powder is your best bet.
Unlike other powders, translucent powder is colorless and sheer, so it doesn’t add any real coverage to your skin. It helps set liquid and cream foundation and makeup, and it blurs imperfections and smooths the look of your pores to give your makeup a flawless finish. Translucent powder is also extremely effective at reducing shine, making it an ideal option for oily skin.
If you want your makeup to look as fresh as possible, it all comes down to choosing the right translucent powder. You have to decide on a pressed or loose formula, what ingredients are best for your skin type, what finish you prefer, and what other features would make a translucent powder the best fit for your makeup routine. Our shopping guide can help you find the best powder for your makeup bag.
Translucent powder is available in two formulas: loose and pressed.
Loose translucent powder is exactly what it sounds like — powder with a consistency similar to flour or baking soda. It usually comes in a jar or tub and features smaller particles that have been finely milled. Because of its fine texture, it usually has a lightweight look and feel on the skin.
Pressed translucent powder uses the same base ingredients as loose powder, but binders are added to turn it into a semi-solid product that’s pressed into a compact. It usually has a slightly heavier look and feel on the skin than loose translucent powder, so it may give your makeup a cakey appearance if you apply too much.
Loose translucent powder is messier to use because of the loose nature of the product. It doesn’t travel well, so it isn’t the best choice if you want to bring your powder with you for touch-ups throughout the day. Pressed translucent powder, on the other hand, is extremely easy to take with you on-the-go, which makes it the better option if you want a powder for touching up your makeup.
Incredibly fine with an airbrushed finish
La Mer The Powder carries a hefty price tag, but its luxurious feel and finish blow away other powders on the market. Made with airspun seaborne particles, it has a lightweight texture that glides over the skin for a flawless but natural look. We love the slight sheen it provides, making it a terrific option for dry and mature skin.
When choosing a translucent powder, it’s important to consider your skin type to make sure the formula contains ingredients that agree with your skin. Overall, powders are a better match for oily skin than dry skin, so pay attention to the ingredient list if you have dry skin.
For oily skin, a translucent powder should have ingredients that help absorb oil and reduce shine. Talc, cornstarch, rice starch, clays like kaolin, and silica are all ingredients to look for. Some formulas even contain salicylic acid, which can absorb oil and help prevent breakouts.
If you have dry skin, choose a translucent powder that won’t dry out your skin. Avoid formulas that absorb oil or reduce shine because they usually contain ingredients that will pull moisture from the skin. Instead, opt for powders infused with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and/or hyaluronic acid.
While translucent powder is extremely helpful in smoothing out the skin, blurring imperfections, and reducing shine, there can be one drawback — the possibility of flashback in photos. Flashback occurs when the flash from a camera causes a white cast to appear on your face where you applied the powder because some ingredients reflect the light.
If you’re not taking photos, flashback won’t be an issue. However, if you need a translucent powder to use for special occasions when you will be posing for pictures, avoid any formulas that contain silica, which is the main culprit of flashback. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can sometimes cause flashback, too.
If you have oily skin, it helps to use blotting papers to absorb excess oil before touching up your makeup with translucent powder.
Most translucent powders have a matte finish because they’re meant to reduce shine. The powder has a mostly flat finish, which means it adds no glow or dimension to the skin. For oily skin, a matte finish translucent powder is better since your skin is usually shiny enough on its own.
If you have dry skin, a matte finish powder can accentuate flaky patches and make your complexion look dull and dehydrated. Instead, opt for a translucent powder with a luminous or dewy finish, which adds a soft glow to the skin to make your complexion look fresh and healthy.
While translucent powder is essentially colorless, it usually does have a slight white or pink cast. It blends into the skin easily, but if you have extremely tan or dark skin, it can make you look ashy. To address this problem, some translucent powders are available in multiple “shades.” There are usually light and dark shades, so deeper-toned skin doesn’t end up looking too pale.
To protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer, you should wear a dedicated sunscreen every day. For extra protection, you may want to choose a translucent powder with SPF. Sunscreen should also be reapplied throughout the day to maintain protection, but applying a lotion or cream over your makeup can ruin your entire look. A translucent powder with SPF makes it easy to apply a fresh layer of sunscreen whenever you need it without spoiling your makeup.
If you want a translucent powder with some sun protection, choose a formula with at least SPF 15 for adequate protection.
Blend a small amount of translucent powder over your lips to give shiny lipstick a matte finish.
Translucent powder varies in price based on its ingredients and special features. Most translucent powders range from $4 to $95.
Inexpensive: The most affordable translucent powders typically contain lower-quality ingredients like talc and silica, and as a result, they can cause flashback in photos. They may contain SPF but usually only come in one shade, which may be a problem for deeper skin tones. These powders tend to cost between $4 and $22.
Mid-range: Mid-range translucent powders usually contain average to high-quality ingredients, so they’re often talc- and silica-free. However, they may contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which can cause minor flashback issues. They often have some type of SPF and come in multiple shades, making them an option for a range of skin tones. These powders usually cost between $22 and $58.
Expensive: The most expensive translucent powders contain the highest-quality ingredients, so they’re usually talc- and silica-free and don’t contain any parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. They may contain SPF, and they often come in multiple shades to fit more skin tones. These powders usually cost between $58 and $95.
If you apply too much translucent powder and your makeup looks cakey, mist your face with a setting spray to help tone down the powdery look.
Excellent and affordable setting powder
bareMinerals Mineral Veil Setting Powder is lightweight and sheer, so you never have to worry about it making your makeup look cakey or heavy. The minerals it contains help blur the appearance of pores and fine lines to give you a lovely soft-focus finish. It’s available in a couple of different finishes and colors, so it should work with all skin types and tones. We love that the high-quality, paraben-free formula isn’t as pricey as other high-end options.
There are plenty of high-quality translucent powders on the market — you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a powder that suits your skin type and makeup routine. Viseart Seamless Setting Powder is a great option for occasions when you’re taking photos because it’s silica-free and won’t cause flashback. It effectively absorbs oil and reduces shine and boasts a vegan formula to boot.
We also love Givenchy Poudre Première Mat & Translucent-Finish Loose Powder for its superfine texture that looks and feels extremely lightweight on the skin. It has a matte finish to help keep oily skin shine-free all day.
Q. Can I apply translucent powder with a sponge?
A. While translucent powder is usually applied with a brush, you can use a beauty sponge if you prefer. Some pressed translucent powders include a flat sponge applicator, while loose formulas often feature a puff that works similarly to a sponge. With a sponge, you can press the powder into areas that get oily or where your makeup tends to fade or crease throughout the day for better staying power. The pressing motion can actually help smooth out the look of your pores, too.
Q. Can I use translucent powder if I have dry skin?
A. Dry skin usually doesn’t require translucent powder for setting foundation because there aren’t many oils in your skin to break down your makeup. However, in hot weather or other situations where you might sweat, you may want a powder to help lock your foundation in place. In that case, avoid mattifying or oil-absorbing powders, which can dry out your skin. Look for formulas that add hydration so your complexion looks as healthy as possible.
Q. Does translucent powder expire?
A. All makeup products can go bad over time, but powders have a longer lifespan than cream or liquid products. Pressed translucent powders are usually good for two years, while loose translucent powder typically doesn’t expire for at least three years.
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