Monday, February 18, 2013

Do I Need This? Fancy Finishing Powder

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Welcome to the first installment of "Do I Need This?", a series about new and trendy beauty products (or just those that might be unfamiliar and baffling to both of us). I'll offer my experience and opinion about whether or not I think that the product under consideration is worth shelling out for. Obviously, you don't need ANY beauty products, so the answer is always going to be no, a little bit. But is it going to change your life (or face)? Is it going to make things easier? Are you going to notice any difference at all if you use it? That's what I'm getting at. You may disagree with my verdict, because we all have different bodies/faces/brains/desires, but I'll try to give you a starting point at least.

Short answer: No.

What is it?
A shitload of fancy, extremely fine, color-correcting and/or highlighting and/or perfecting and/or HD and/or reflective finishing powders have been coming out from high-end cosmetics companies lately. These are not your average powder for setting or mattifying your foundation. These are supposed to have all sorts of extra-special effects that basically make your skin look flawless, like you have Oprah's most flattering lighting team following you around at all times. They include the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders ($45), NARS Translucent Crystal Light Reflecting Setting Powder ($34), Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder ($32), and (the one that has been around forever) Guerlain Meteorites Perles Illuminating Powder ($58). There are many more from Mac, Urban Decay, etc. Blog reviews from Temptalia (here too), Musings of a Muse, and Project Swatch make these sound really cool (and you can read them for details of how these things work). So why is my answer no?

Why you don't need it:
Basically, this comes down to weighing what these powders do against their cost. Most of these things are fucking pricey. From descriptions, these powders seem to be the kind of thing that will serve to polish an otherwise already polished look. So if you have your face looking almost flawless, these will add just a little something more. In my opinion, it's not really worth spending $30+ for just a little touch of something barely noticeably better to add to an already existing makeup routine. Maybe for your wedding photos, these would be worth it. But for everyday face? No. You might disagree, but we're cheap as fuck around here, so what do you expect?

I'm not saying that these are bad products or that they are useless. But you probably don't need them unless you've mastered everything else makeup has to offer and are desperately trying to find one more thing that will make some difference, any difference, there has to be more out there, doesn't there, oh dear god please no have I reached the end of makeup at last???

The only one of the above I have tried myself is the Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder. I had a mini/travel-size pot of it, and it annoyed me so much that I ended up throwing it out. First of all, I used it at least a dozen times, because I assumed that it had to do something or it wouldn't be so popular. I didn't notice anything special. It mattified, sort of. It was powder. I just didn't see this being something I'd care about using on a regular basis.

The worst part, THE WORST PART, is that the incredibly fine powder is really fucking messy. If you so much as exhale in the next room with the jar open, everything you own is going to be covered in a fine veil of white dust. All of my other makeup is covered in this. And when I touched a brush to it, it kicked up a cloud of dust so fine it looked like smoke and made me cough. (The pressed powders in the list above obviously won't have that kind of problem.)

I've also tried the e.l.f. Studio High Definition Undereye Setting Powder. I didn't notice much difference between the performance of this one and the Make Up Forever powder, except that the e.l.f. one has little particles of sparkle in it. They're not very noticeable. Musings of a Muse says that the e.l.f. version is comparable to higher-end powders. I think it works fine for setting concealer. If you have dry skin, you might find that coarser-grained powders don't look as good as this does. If you'd like to foray into the world of HD powders, I'd suggest starting with this $3 version. It seems to be a dupe or near-dupe for some of the more expensive ones.

If you just want to set your makeup and get a matte finish, I recommend trying Maybelline Mineral Power Finishing Veil Translucent Loose Powder ($10). It will mattify and leave a soft, flattering finish. It's very fine, but it won't make you sneeze. It also won't turn you into a magical princess, but it will make your face look better, and you won't end up on the street desperately clutching your jar of pretty, shimmery face powder and muttering to yourself about your skin's diffuse glow.

What do you think? Do you want to try this shit anyway? Have you tried it already?


  1. Isn't the MUFE powder the one that photographs horribly and makes it look like you blasted your face with baby powder?

    I got a fancy finishing powder when I first started getting into makeup thinking it was one of those things you had to have, but found it didn't really do anything except make my makeup feel cake-y. Also, I thought the Nars powder in Temptalia's review made her skin look really unnatural and odd, though that could just be the result of using an HD camera. What are your thoughts on finishing spray? I assumed it was a bogus product until I got a sample of Urban Decay's All Nighter, and it did actually noticably extend the wear time of my foundation.

    1. I have an idea for a future post in this series on finishing sprays. The problem is that I can't bring myself to spend the money on one of the more expensive ones! I have the $3 e.l.f. version, but I'd like to do a test to see if it works any better than misting plain water over my makeup. How did you manage to get a sample of Urban Decay's?

  2. I got it in a bundle of samples from Sephora a few months back. It might have been in the It Kit? I don't exactly remember, but it was the same size as the old travel size and it was awesome! The new travel size is twice the amount for $14, which I think is only $2 more than before, which isn't so painful since it does last a while. As much as i love the stuff, I don't think I could ever bring myself to purchase a full sized bottle. Nyx just came out with their own setting sprays! I want to give them a try but am waiting to see some reviews on them first.

    1. Oh, cool. Temptalia mentioned she doesn't use the sprays, because it's just fancy water (paraphrasing). I'll do some ingredients research and see if any of them have something special going on. Even $14 is too much for a little bit of fancy water, in my opinion.

  3. Ugh I know everyone loves those Urban Decay setting sprays but the one I got just doesn't really do much at all for me. At least I got it on clearance :/

    I liked the ELF HD powder. Revlon has an aquaminerals (or something) setting powder that I'm using now that I actually really like.

  4. I have to say I LOVE your post. Not only did I laugh so hard that I cried, but your honest presentation of these powders was awesome! I will admit I own a bunch of these powders (guilty) and mostly the higher end ones. However I agree you truly don't need them all. Moreover you can find many of them as dupes and for far less. I bought the ELF one for 6 bucks. I apply this after I put on all my makeup and it sets it nicely. I also own the ambient powder and while it does look nice, oh man is the price tag steep.

    Also if you want to do research on the setting sprays, google the site Paula's choice. She already did it for the Mac one that I checked. just look for the brand you want to review and then the product. :-)

  5. corn starch + baby powder = decent enough finishing powder

  6. corn starch + baby powder = decent enough finishing powder


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