How to Use Loose Setting Powder

We know why you’re here. Setting powder sits on your vanity and you stare at it occasionally, admitting to yourself, but I’m not sure how to use setting powder or what does loose setting powder do? Whether you are newly initiated to setting powder or a long-time user not maximizing its power or simply looking for the best setting powder for women of color, you’ve come to the right spot. We’ve developed a complete point-by-point breakdown on how to apply setting powder and choose the right product for you. Read on for the do’s the don’ts of how to use setting powder so you can start capitalizing on its benefits in your makeup routine! 

Choosing the Right Powder & Brush

As with any task, you’ll need the proper tools to apply setting powder correctly. First thing’s first, choose a quality setting powder that is easy to blend and provides a natural-looking finish. There is a wide variety of setting powders available on the market, but too many provide insufficient coverage, or more often, fail in flawlessly uniting with foundation, which will create a cakey finish. 

At Mented, we saw a need in the market for makeup for women of color and particularly quality setting powder, which is why we have launched our own high-quality loose setting powder. Designed to set foundation with an undetectable finish, our setting powders also mattify oily skin without drying it out. We chose to develop tinted powders, as opposed to a translucent setting powder because they bring an added dimension of brightness and vibrancy to your complexion. Our soft, lightweight setting powders are made to blend perfectly with any foundation, such as our buildable, moisture-rich foundation sticks. Covering the gamut of skin tones, our loose setting powder line is available in three shades: 

  • Light/Tan
  • Medium/Deep
  • Deep/Rich

If you’re unsure what your skin tone is, visit our foundation shade finder to find the best foundation for olive skin, medium skin, deep skin, and every shade in between! 

In addition to your setting powder, you’ll also need the right brush to apply the powder. For a loose setting powder, you’ll want a brush with plenty of surface area for blending. Applying powder with a brush, as opposed to a puff, gives your makeup that enviable soft-focus, diffused look. Stippled brushes are preferred for setting powder buffing since they feature two types of bristles:

  1. The black bristles near the handle - these are denser and help collect the product. 
  2. The outer white bristles - these are lighter, providing airbrushed coverage. 

There are a myriad of powder brushes on the market, but Mented makes choosing one easy with our stippled Loose Powder Brush. It has exactly what you want in a powder brush: it distributes a light, even layer of powder without disrupting the foundation underneath.

How to Apply Setting Powder in 4 Steps

After you’re ready to go with the right tools, setting powder can be applied in 4 simple steps:

#1 Prep Your Skin

Take care to cleanse and moisturize your skin before applying setting powder so you enjoy even coverage. When you apply foundation, be sure to completely blend it in, and that it’s still wet, before applying setting powder. This allows the products to properly integrate for flawless coverage.

#2 Tap the Product Into the Lid

Flip your jar of setting powder upside down so some product falls through the sifter and into the lid. Dip a fluffy powder brush into the powder in the lid. Doing it this way - rather than dipping into a larger pile of powder - gives you more control over how much product is on the brush. It also avoids the mess of powder puffing all over you and your dresser. 

#3 Get the Right Amount on Your Brush

Tap off any excess powder back into the lid. You can also turn the brush upright and tap the handle. This makes the product fall further into the brush. Remember you can always layer on more product, so it’s best to start light-handed and build as needed.

#4 Buff Your Face

Apply setting powder near the center of your face and work your way outwards. Buff in small circles lightly with your brush. Avoid stroking your face, pressing too hard or being too rough since this will disrupt your foundation. You’ll know your technique is on point when your makeup has achieved a diffused, velvety finish. 

10 Ways To Use Setting Powder

You might be eyeing this list surprised by the diversity of setting powder applications. If ever there were a multi-purpose beauty product, setting powder is it. Here are 10 ways to incorporate setting powder into your beauty routine.

#1 Setting Foundation

This is the tried-and-true way to use setting powder. Dusting powder on after foundation application seals in the foundation’s moisture, so it looks fresh for longer. The oil-fighting minerals in powder also control shine, a big benefit for women with an oily skin type. 

Additionally, powdered colors layered directly over foundation - including blushes, bronzers and contour shades - have a tendency to streak. This noticeable makeup faux pas occurs when the pigmentation from a powder grabs onto the moisture in your foundation. A setting powder effectively works as a barrier between the foundation and the rest of your facial makeup to set your makeup and prevent unwanted smears.

Pro Tip: When applying setting powder, consider how much you want to put where. The more product you apply, the more matte your finish will be. If you’re going for a carefree summertime look, less is more when it comes to setting powder, especially in areas with dewy highlights like above the cheekbones. If a refined matte finish is your goal - think 90s Vogue covers - then liberally apply more powder, especially in your T-zone.

#2 Veiling Naked Skin

For the days you go foundation-free, you can get some coverage on your bare skin with a tinted setting powder. Dusting it over your face will minimize lines and pores, while keeping your oily T-zone in check, giving you a fresh glow. Since setting powder coverage is minimal, it’s not going to conceal blemishes. For spots you want covered-up, dab on concealer and then veil your skin in the setting powder.

Pro Tip: For this not-quite-naked skin technique, be sure to moisturize well and try a primer. Powder adheres to foundation. When going sans-foundation, you’ll need another product that stands-in as an adhesive for your setting powder.

#3 Brightening Under the Eyes

Wake up with tired-looking eyes? Don’t fret. All you need is concealer and setting powder for an instantly brightened eye. 

First, apply concealer under the eyes. It’s a good idea to start at the inside corner of the eyes and blend outwards. Use only as much concealer as you need to avoid product settling into fine under-eye lines. Blend in the concealer with your finger or brush using patting motions - the preferred technique for this delicate skin area. 

Now apply a setting powder, slightly lighter than your skin tone. Try pressing the brush or puff delicately over the area - again, not using too much product. The effect is a lightened, no-bag eye area with a perimeter that maintains a dewy finish. 

#4 Setting Eyeshadow & Eyeliner

You may be able to apply eyeshadow like a pro, but it’s all for not if oily eyelids cause your eye color to fade or streak during the day. Avoid eyeshadow transfer by lightly dusting setting powder after primer application, but before eyeshadow application. The same goes for eyeliner. Dust setting powder along the lash line before eyeliner application. For ultra smudge-proof eyeliner, apply a touch of setting powder after applying eyeliner too.

#5 Blending Eyeshadow

Bold and deep eyeshadow shades are fun to play with, but sometimes after you experiment with them you think, oh no, this is too much. Not to worry; there’s an easy solution. Dip your blending brush into setting powder and lightly blend it over your eyelids. This reduces the vibrancy of the shadow. If you have different eyeshadow shades on your lids, setting powder also blends them together for a smoother color transition.

#6 Making Lipstick Last

Whether it’s your favorite Mented nude lipstick like Nude LaLa or one of our bold red lipsticks, you don’t want to worry about having to constantly re-apply. One setting powder trick is to outline your lips with a brush dusted in setting powder. This creates a sharp, no-smudge outline. Another trick is to place a one-ply tissue over the lips and then lightly tap a brush with setting powder over the tissue. This sets the lipstick for lasting wear. 

#7 Diffusing Heavy-Looking Makeup

You’ve just put on a bright berry blush, like Mented’s Berried Away. The color is beautiful, but you put on more than you need and you want to tone it down. Don’t reach for the makeup remover! Instead, diffuse the color with setting powder. Using a brush, buff the setting powder over the area of concern. With this easy move, you’ll have a toned-down, perfect shade for your complexion.

#8 Buffing It All into Perfection

As you probably have caught on, setting powder is great for blending makeup together. After you have applied all of your facial makeup, sometimes the colors from different products might look a bit harsh or don’t come together into a unified look. Maybe you see your contour color lines, or the blush color and bronzer aren’t in harmony, even after blending them well. 

Now is the time to grab your powder and brush and get to work. Dip the brush in setting powder and make light, quick circular motions around your face. Try sweeping motions from the bridge of your nose outwards. The result is a gorgeous, soft-focus finish where makeup looks less stark and seamlessly integrated together. Now you’ll be set with the techniques behind how to make makeup last all day and achieve that perfectly blended look. 

#9 Sandbagging for Under-Eye Eye Makeup

In a real world sense, sandbags are used to stop water from coming into a certain area. The same idea applies to this next technique: to keep eye makeup from falling down and mixing into makeup below the eye. 

The first step in sandbagging is coating a generous layer of setting powder under your eyes. Do this by patting the powder on with a moist sponge. Don’t brush or wipe. The goal is a clean, thick coat of powder that doesn’t disrupt your foundation underneath. Get as close to your lash line as possible. Now apply your eye makeup. When you are done, dust off the excess setting powder with a brush. 

#10 Baking for Mega-Highlighting

Rather than buying a separate product to create dramatic highlights, use your trusty setting powder. First, apply concealer to the areas you want to highlight. These areas will depend on your age, complexion, desired makeup look and other factors, but many women choose to highlight:

  • below the eye
  • below the contour of the cheek
  • the bridge of the nose
  • the center of the chin

Next, like the sandbagging technique, generously apply a setting powder by dabbing it with a moist sponge onto the skin. To achieve noticeable highlights, use a setting powder a shade or two lighter than your complexion. 

Now bake your powder by letting it sit on your face for 5-10 minutes. During this time, the setting powder and concealer fuse together as a product of your natural warmer body temperature. The powder needs to be applied shortly after concealer application, while the concealer is still wet, for this to work properly. 

After you are done baking, brush off the excess setting powder with a brush. Baking creates a bold highlight, so it’s a technique best saved for special occasions.

Setting Powder 

By now you’re probably among the setting powder converted who will testify to it being a game-changer in a makeup routine. This guide on how to use setting powder, combined with Mented’s loose setting powder and stippling brush, are sure to take your makeup game to the next level.