These products can lock in a look, but they might do more harm than good if they are used incorrectly.

By Rebecca Norris
May 24, 2021
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Powder is a popular makeup type across all categories, from blush and highlighter to bronzer and sunscreen. Unlike hydrating creams, powder-based formulas leave skin matte, which can be beneficial for those with oily or combination skin types, but it might be problematic for those with mature complexions. The reason? Powder—particularly setting powder—settles into creases, exacerbating the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But there is still hope: With the right application, these formulas can benefit anyone, whatever their age. Ahead, two makeup artists share how to apply setting powder for a seamless, youthful finish every time.

woman applying makeup to face with brush
Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images

Use setting powder only where it is needed.

According to Chanel national makeup artist Kate Lee, powder should only be applied where it is needed—not blanketed all over the face. Since these products remove moisture, applying them all over might diminish your visage's glow. With that in mind, Lee says to concentrate on shiny areas only. "[Dust] those areas and leave the rest," she says. If you find that even a targeted method results in a too-matte look, change up your tools. "Using a damp beauty sponge for powder is a nice way to remove shine without a powdery finish," she shares. Looking for a sponge option? We like the Beautyblender ($20, sephora.com).

But what if you prefer a powder-based foundation, one that needs to be applied all over to ensure proper coverage? YSL Beauty's director of education and artistry, Paul Garcia, notes that you absolutely can apply these base formulas from forehead to chin—you simply need the correct brush. Heed his advice and skip the included sponge applicator and reach for the fluffiest brush you can find, instead.

Those with mature skin should focus on the center of the face.

While catering to the shiniest areas of your face and applying powder with a light hand is helpful, Garcia adds that, as we age, it's equally important to focus powder primarily in the center of the face (like your cheeks and nose), where it is less likely to sink into laugh lines. If possible, avoid the areas around your lips, eyes, and forehead, where lines are most evident.

Consider powder alternatives.

According to Lee, powder isn't integral to an effective beauty routine. "I do not use powder at all. I prefer to use an anti-shine product in its place," she says; if you're looking for a product to try, we like Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray ($35, sephora.com). With that said, if you feel you absolutely need a light dusting, she says to reach for the finest translucent powder you can find and, again, apply it only where it is needed.

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