How do you choose your powder? Do you seek out loose, pressed, glimmery, matte, translucent or with colour? And how many smashed powders do you have quarantined in a zip-top bag at the bottom of your handbag or in your cabinet? Love them or not, powders are an integral part of a well-edited makeup wardrobe. No longer used to keep evil spirits away or to powder wigs (then again), face powder options today are endless, expertly formulated and awash in options targeted at skin type, finish and desired illumination. Despite declining use around the end of the second world war due to the emergence of liquid foundations and other new makeup, face powders today are technical marvels that have incorporated strides made in the understanding of skin and light. And so in this post, I share quick tips on finding a powder for your skin type and the key ones living in my makeup cabinet.
Blot, Finish or Total Cover
With powders, one and done is tricky, thus your starting point should be guided by your skin type. Also, your powder should be applied after foundation and concealer, to lock them onto the skin, extend wear time and decrease excess shine. Increasingly, I’m seeing people with oilier skin types advocating for applying powder before foundation, as a way to reduce oil production and lengthen wear time. I can’t attest to the effectiveness of this but if your skin is oily, it may be worth it to experiment. Otherwise, a good powder should also diffuse imperfections without being mask-like, while allowing light to play over your face in a flattering way. A powder consisting of evenly blasted pigment particles will deliver a satiny finish, while unevenly blasted powders, which are usually less expensive, are more likely to have less uniformity in application and shorter wear time.
With this skin type, a blotting powder should be with you as frequently as your ID. Choose oil-free powders, use blotting papers to reduce shine and decrease the number of times you apply throughout the day to prevent caking. You also want to ensure your powder does not contain too much mica, pearl or glitter powder. Oily skin plus overly shiny powders are not terribly compatible.
Normal to Combination Skin
There’s more wiggle room here, as you may apply only where you absolutely need to. A powder that is finely milled and evenly blasted will offer a reliable and flattering finish and keep you from looking like a layer cake.
Exercise caution in choosing your powder to prevent a flattened, aged appearance and settling into lines. With this skin type, a properly formulated powder can offer dimension and luminosity, while preserving your makeup as the day progresses. If you’re dry with a t-zone that likes to shine, focus your powder there and thin out the application on the rest of the face. Be mindful as you apply, as I’ve seen too many people with t-zones that look chalky and grey because of over powdering.
My HG Powders (so far)
Caron Loose Powder
Parfums Caron debuted their iconic translucent powder in 1939, about thirty-five years after the company was initially founded by Ernest and Raoul Daltroff in Paris. Ernest was a chemist and perfumer, and with his brother, they went on to helm one the most storied perfume houses in history. Since the launch of the powder in 1939, to this day the production method remains a secret as deep as an abyss. At present, there are nineteen powder shades in Caron’s portfolio and there is a choice between pressed and loose.
Caron Loose Powder becomes a ghost on your skin, as it is just that good in melding with your skin without a fight. Wearability over the course of the day is unparalleled. If you are fragrance averse, then steer clear of this powder. Otherwise, it is like fragranced silk and will transport you back to a different era. The pressed version is more travel and handbag friendly, but apart from that, it’s large enough that you’ll have it for an extremely long time.
Moving now to Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder This powder has been awash in plaudits about its wear, performance and ability to impart a filter worthy finish to the face. The formulation of this powder blurs imperfections, brightens, and imparts a luminous finish. As evidenced in the photograph, I have made quite a dent in this powder.
I wore it when I took passport photographs and the outcome was bright and beautiful. This is also a gorgeous compact to pull out on a night out, because of the stunning, rose gold, art deco inspired packaging. It really is an extraordinary powder, because of the nano-particles and hydrators such as almond oil in the formula. Thus, it’s been excellent for my dry skin without making it grey and flat.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder SPF 15
Next is Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15, a pleasure to behold and to use. Around 2013, Chanel opted to change its packaging from the black compact with a white embossed emblem to the current off-white compact with a black embossed emblem. Thus, the level of chic was increased even more, if that’s possible for Chanel. When I became aware of this powder I was immediately intrigued, and after doing battle with myself, I bought it on a typical late night internet spree.
This powder is brilliantly formulated with ingredients such as white rose and cotton flower, meant to protect the skin. It imparts radiance without heaviness and is perfect for the person who likes a light approach to powder. It imparts a glow to the skin, miraculously without the usual components used in glowy finishing powders. As the hours tick away, this powder remains on the skin and simply makes you look polished and brightened without being overt. Such lightness does not come cheap, but it makes up for it with the packaging and more importantly, performance.
La Mer The Powder (0riginal Version)
To round out the stash is La Mer’s The Powder (original version). La Mer The Powder is milled with a sleuth of minerals including talc, mica, titanium dioxide and silica. However, it also includes malachite, tourmaline and La Mer’s ‘miracle broth’. Powders that are evenly blasted usually apply with more ease to the skin than those that are not. Thus, La Mer’s The Powder is engineered to ensure symmetry of each and every particle to facilitate a magnet-like adherence to the skin.
This powder is traceless and is ideal for a perfected finish, without the overly powdered effect some powders impart. On darker skins, it also sinks right in, and when compared to un-powdered skin, the brightening effect this gives is beautifully apparent. Ideally, this powder should be applied with a light hand using the largest and roundest brush in your collection. Conversely, I also press it into the skin with a round powder puff, ensuring to pick up the tiniest amount of powder because an overzealous application may just turn a face grey.
You should expect about six hours of true wear, depending on your skin type. It makes even-textured skin more uniform and works brilliantly as a subtle illuminator, making it worth its price in usage, formulation and volume. La Mer The Powder (the original), is packaged in a frosted, heavy plastic container and contains .88 ounces/25 grams of product, whereas the new powder contains only 8 grams of product and is priced higher than the original.
I cannot imagine doing makeup without using powder, as it pulls everything together, brightens and keeps makeup in place. Remarkable technological advances have been made and each skin type has been covered. There’s plenty to choose from at all price points, just keep in mind that the technologies you find in a higher priced powder would be difficult to pull off below a certain dollar amount. You want to spend a bit more for powder and foundation, everything else in between is to me, negotiable.