Best setting powder UK Laura Mercier Setting Powder

Best setting powder: Set your makeup with the best powders for oily and dry skin from Laura Mercier to e.l.f

1st November 2021 | Author: Amira Arasteh

One of the most underrated products in any makeup collection – and one we just can’t live without – is the best setting powder.

As its name suggests, it helps set your makeup in place but it does so much more than that.

If you’ve got fine lines or wrinkles, especially around your eyes, you need setting powder. If your skin is oily or shiny, get yourself some setting powder. If you live somewhere warm, we highly recommend setting powder (and we’re also jealous!)

READ NEXT: Best setting spray

What’s more, many of the best setting powders can give an extra oomph of brightening and hydrating effects to your skin and leave you with a flawless finish. It’s a super handy makeup staple to have in your handbag, and while it may seem like yet another makeup product – and yet another expense – you’ll save time and money by not having to re-apply makeup.

Below we’ve handpicked the best setting powders to hopefully suit most budgets and explained more about what it is, and how to use it.

What is setting powder?

As you can read in our face powder guide, the best setting powders are made up of oil-absorbing minerals and are used to “set” your base products in place. They’re different from finishing powders and are typically used below other powder products and below your setting spray.

The best setting powder can also help remove that sticky or shiny feel to your makeup, by replacing it with a matte one, and is predominantly used to stop makeup from falling into the fine lines or wrinkles on your face.

Setting powders can come in a loose form or as a compressed compact. There’s no real difference in their performance and it will be down to your personal preference as to which one you opt for. The pressed compacts are easier to travel with, whereas the loose forms are usually finer and more buildable. This makes loose setting powders better suited for setting under eye makeup.

They can also come in different shades. If you want to avoid what’s known as “flashback,” which is when the light is reflected from the areas where you’ve applied setting powder, we recommend you opt for a lightweight and translucent powder. This is also so it doesn’t alter your skin tone or interfere with the tones of produces you’ve just spent ages applying.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Baking, setting, loose and pressed: What’s the difference between makeup powders and which do you need?

How to use setting powder?

The best setting powders are actually much more versatile than you might realise. They can be used to set base products, as well as lock-in lip colour, tame oily patches, and help tone down your blusher or bronzer.

You don’t have to wait until your entire makeup look is complete and it’s actually best to apply setting powder when your foundation (or concealer/tinted moisturiser/BB cream/CC cream etc) is still wet. We prefer to use a loose powder and pick up a small amount using a damp beauty blender. We then dab that powder onto our skin, gently. The heat from our face effectively melts the powder into our face, and then we go in with another light dusting.

You can also apply a lot of powder in one, using a brush, and then once it’s melted and locked into place, you can use a fan brush to remove any excess.

Best Setting Powder

  1. Editor’s Pick: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder £32
  2. Bargain Buy: e.l.f Translucent Mattifying Powder – £4.50
  3. Luxury Buy: Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder£45
  4. Best setting powder for mature skin: Vichy Dermablend Setting Powder£18
  5. Best pressed setting powder: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish£35
  6. Best high-street setting powder: No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder£11
  7. Best setting powder for dry skin: NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder £30


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1. Editor’s Pick: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

£32 | Buy now from Lookfantastic

Why we love it: The Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder is the best setting powder we’ve ever used, and one that is a popular choice across the globe if its numerous awards are anything to go by.

Not only does it keep makeup in place for up to 12 hours, while also keeping your face free of oils and shine, but the superfine, loose powder means it’s easy to apply different amounts to different parts of the face, depending on where you need it most – for us, it’s often our pesky T-zone and chin.

It’s easy to blend, and thanks to the micro-refined silica making it lightweight, you won’t have that caked-on effect that sometimes can be unintentionally achieved with setting powders. Perfect for keeping your face looking flawless all day long.

More recently, Laura Mercier released a trio of so-called “light-catching” versions of its iconic setting powder which the brand describes as now coming in a “luminous, light-creating finish for all skin tones.”

Just like the original, the super-finely milled powder sets makeup for 12 hours with a blend of skin tone contrasting and correcting pearls. According to the brand: “Unlike other luminous powders that emphasise imperfections, the weightless pearl blend becomes one with skin, blurring and smoothing the appearance of texture, pores, and fine lines.”

The three shades are:

Celestial Light: Perfect for Fair to Light Skin Tones
Honey Star: Sets medium skin tones with olive and golden undertones
Cosmic Rose: Ideal for medium-deep to deep skin tones

Buy now from Lookfantastic

2. Bargain Buy: e.l.f Translucent Mattifying Powder

£4.50 | Buy now from e.l.f

Why we love it: The perfect go-to setting powder if you don’t want to spend a huge amount; this is also a great choice for anyone unsure about investing in a powder.

Don’t be deceived into thinking this setting powder’s cheap price makes it poor quality. This Translucent Mattifying Powder will set your makeup and soak up oil like many more expensive powders we’ve used.

It’s a great size to stick in your handbag for when you’re on the go, too. Although it comes with a sponge applicator, we prefer to scratch the surface of this compact with the end of a makeup brush and some tweezers and then use a medium-sized makeup brush to apply it as a powder in our problem areas.

FURTHER READING: Why we love e.l.f makeup so much 

Buy now from e.l.f

3. Luxury Buy: Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder

£45 | Buy now from Feelunique

Why we love it: An invisible veil is exactly what we expect from the best setting powders and Hourglass’ translucent setting powder ticks all the boxes – other than the price!

It gives a veil-like finish because it doesn’t include talc, which is the ingredient found in many powders that can create a chalky look.

It also includes a diamond powder that leaves your skin with this radiant but blurred effect while keeping your makeup in prime condition as the hours pass by.

Unlike some other translucent powders, this one actually goes on translucent so there’s even less risk of a ghost-like finish at the end.

Although it’s pricey AF, a little does go a long way so you don’t need to be too liberal with this powder to get the desired result.

Buy now from Feelunique

4. Vichy Dermabled Setting Powder 

£18 | Buy now from Boots

Setting powders should be all about preventing makeup from falling into the fine lines and creases in your face, which should make them ideal for older people, but not all setting powders are created equally when it comes to ageing skin.

The best setting powder for mature skin that we’ve found is the Vichy Dermablend Setting Powder, available from Boots. It comes with a water-resistant finish and is great for making foundation last all day. The brand claims that, when used with Dermablend foundations, this staying power last even longer but we haven’t put that to the test yet.

The reason why this setting powder is so great for mature skin is that it has a microfine texture that is translucent meaning it doesn’t affect the shade of corrective foundation or concealers that have been applied to mask the appearance of dark circles that tend to show up more often as we get older. It also provides a mattified yet natural-looking finish.

Other benefits include the fact it’s hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin – as is the whole of Vichy Dermablend range – and its non-comedogenic. This means it shouldn’t weigh the skin down and make it feel clogged up. You can read more in our What does non-comedogenic mean when it comes to makeup and skincare? guide.

FURTHER READING: Best foundation for mature skin UK: Get a dewy, natural finish without favourite foundations for older skin

Buy now from Feelunique

5. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish 

£35 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Why we love it: Charlotte Tilbury strikes again with yet another golden product.

Aptly named, we can confirm this setting powder really does achieve that perfect, airbrushed look. It’s so popular, one is sold every second – according to Charlotte Tilbury!

Plus, because the powder is fine, you don’t have to worry about it sinking into any fine lines or leaving your makeup with a cakey finish.

This powder is great for removing your skin surface of oil and shine but not dehydrating the skin, thanks to the rose wax and almond oil.

Your skin is also left looking brightened due to the reflecting particles in it. We’re impressed with this pressed powder option, for sure.

Charlotte Tilbury recently released the Airbrush Bronzer, which has a similar consistency to the Airbrush Flawless Finish powder, as well as the £26 Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray which both offer similar skincare benefits if you want to complete the flawless skin set.

READ NEXT: Charlotte Tilbury serum review

Buy now from Cult Beauty

6. No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder 

£11 | Buy now from Boots

No7 Setting PowderNo7

Why we love it: If, despite our reassurances, you’re looking to spend a little more on the best setting powder than e.l.f’s £4.50 model, Boots’ No7 Perfect Light Loose Powder is affordable, reliable and performs better than its price would suggest.

The loose powder is fine, super soft and lightweight, blending easily onto your skin and disguising any flaws and fine lines on your face.

It also contains Vitamin E and pro-vitamin B5 to keep your skin hydrated. Reviews are strong for this one, with many saying it’s a CoverFX setting powder rival that comes in at twice the price. You can read more about this and other such cheap alternatives to premium products in our best cheap makeup alternatives UK guide.

FURTHER READING: No7 Retinol concentrate review

Buy now from Boots

7. NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder 

£30 | Buy now from Lookfantastic

Why we love it: NARS’ Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder contains minerals that make sure all oil and shine are mattified, but also includes glycerin and Vitamin E to hydrate and nourish drier skin simultaneously.

This is great for all skin types as you won’t get that cracked or flaky texture to your makeup, but particularly good news for dry skin.

A lightweight setting powder that keeps your skin glowing as you say goodbye to visible pores and fine lines, blurring your skin into a perfect finish, this powder is also available as a compact pressed version, should that be your preference.

Buy now from Lookfantastic

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