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?