Skip to main content
United States

Types of Makeup Powder and When To Use Them

Types of Makeup Powder and When To Use Them

We’ve come a long way from the compact and puff. Powder-formulated makeup has evolved so that even products that were once only available in liquid or cream form (like foundation) have now been dried and finely milled. 

It can be hard to differentiate between certain types of powder and even harder to decide when you should use them. Don’t worry. The team at RMS Beauty has the scoop on what’s available in the powder realm, how to use each type, and a few tips and tricks to help you apply face powder like a pro. 

Seven Types of Makeup Powder

You’re already used to powdered blush and shadow, but face powder is a different category. Here, we’ll cover seven face powders and help you learn what you need to know about each one. 

1. Translucent Powder

Available in transparent or extremely low-intensity colors, translucent powder helps absorb shine from oilier areas and can provide sheer coverage in areas where you only need a little covering up. 

Translucent powder, setting powder, and finishing powder are similar but aren’t exactly the same. You can wear translucent powder alone (without makeup underneath) to absorb oil and provide ultra-light coverage. Think of it as the clear mascara of facial powders. 

You can use translucent powder if you want slight coverage without putting on makeup or if you want to “spot treat” areas that are particularly oily. It’s also great for adding coverage without weight to the corners of your eyes and around your nostrils. 

2. Setting Powder

You know the urge you get to dust a little powder on your face after you apply liquid foundation? Setting powder is the solution to scratch the itch. 

Setting powder is made to soak up oil, so if you want to retain a dewy finish, this isn’t the powder to use. Also, the ingredients in a setting powder are usually so oil absorbent they can dry your skin. Traditionally, you’ll find talc in a setting powder. At RMS Beauty, talc is never allowed in our products because of its carcinogenic nature.

You can use setting powder when you’re finished with your makeup application. A light dusting across your face will help your makeup stay put and absorb excess sebum on your skin. 

  • One to try: RMS Beauty “Un” Powder. It might sound “un” believable, but there’s seriously nothing like our “un” powder. It’s formulated with light-reflecting pigments and created to absorb oil without leaving behind a trace of residue.

3. Finishing Powder

Finishing powder sounds like setting powder, but the two are not the same. Finishing powder is like finishing school-it refines. Instead of giving your makeup added longevity, it creates a real-life filter on your skin that looks polished and flawless. 

Finishing powder is milled extremely fine so that just a small dusting of the powder can create an airbrushed finish on your skin. Finishing powder doesn’t contain the same type of oil-absorbing ingredients as setting powder. Many finishing powders contain hydrating, skin-nourishing ingredients that allow you to retain a luminous, living finish. 

You can use finishing powder instead of setting powder to create a believable finish that isn’t entirely matte. You can also use finishing powder on key areas of your skin to cover fine lines and wrinkles and diminish the look of pores. 

4. Powder Foundation

Richly pigmented, powder foundation is like your favorite liquid or cream-based makeup but in powder form. Unlike other powders, powder foundation is heavier and not as blendable or moveable. 

Powder foundation usually lasts longer than other powders and doesn’t require an additional powder to be applied to set it. You may think a powder foundation is the ultimate solution if you have oily skin. While it can be helpful, many powder foundations contain ingredients that can make oily skin oilier. 

Instead, choose powder foundations with plant-based ingredients that are pigmented without harsh chemical dyes. These can cause your skin to become overly dry, leading to even more oiliness. 

Use a powder foundation when you want a quick, easy foundation application that is practically impossible to mess up. Using the right brush is key, and focusing on pressing the powder into your skin instead of sweeping it across so it sits on top. 

5. Mineral Powder

Any powder can be a mineral powder. A mineral powder is a powder that is formulated with natural minerals from the earth. Silicas, iron oxides, and zinc oxides are often used in place of ingredients like talc, which we’ve already discussed. 

Mineral powders can still be tricky. Just because your powder is mineral-based doesn’t mean it can’t contain ingredients that aren’t good for your body. Bismuth oxychloride, for example, is a manmade powder created from the combination of lead, copper, and chloride. Unfortunately, this known irritant can cause itching and even rashes. 

To ensure your mineral powder is safe, always shop with a brand you trust, like RMS Beauty. When you know your brand’s commitment to the safety and quality of ingredients, you can trust the items you purchase from them. 

You can sub out mineral powder for any currently used powder. One of the benefits of mineral powder is its ability to reflect light, making it a great option if you prefer a more luminous look. 

6. Pressed Powder

Powder that comes in a compact has been milled and pressed, typically by exerting a high heat and pressure on the milled powder. There are other methods of pressing powder, like adding binding powders or a little oil to pressed powder. 

A compact of pressed powder usually comes with a sponge or “puff” for application, but using a brush is a better way to get the product onto your skin evenly. Save the puff for touch-ups during the day. 

  • One to try: RMS Beauty Luminizing Powder. The ultimate way to add dewy moisture to your skin that’s also light reflective. Our luminizing powder adds shimmer without glitter and is never baked, so it won’t dry your skin. 

Pressed powder is a great addition to your desk drawer or handbag, allowing you to touch up your makeup on the go. 

7. Loose Powder

Loose powder usually comes in a tub with a perforated top that allows a small portion of the powder to pass through for use. Loose powder is easy to apply, stays fresh, and creates an airbrushed finish. 

You can find both translucent and finishing powders in loose form, as well as powdered foundation. Keep in mind that it is possible to get a little messy with a loose powder. Additionally, the right brush makes all the difference. Use a wide, densely bristled brush for proper application. 

Depending on the formula, you can use loose powder as a finishing powder or as a setting powder. Loose luminizers are great for adding a touch of shimmer to the skin on your face, shoulders, and collarbones. 

Tips and Tricks

Follow these easy tips and tricks to avoid a powdery, ghost-like finish.

Don’t Bake

Baking your makeup is an outdated trend that involves putting a heavy coat of powder over your makeup (usually under your eyes), leaving it to sit for a few minutes, and then wiping away the excess. 

The goal is to get better coverage, but the result is usually cakey and unattractive. 

Keep Your Pressed Powder Clean

It can be hard to keep bacteria out of a compact of pressed powder, especially if you routinely use the included face puff. If you notice your powder developing shiny spots, this means your powder has been compromised and needs replacing. 

Store your face puff separately from your pressed powder to avoid it altogether. It’s also important to never touch the puff to your face and back into the powder if your skin is sweaty. Routinely cleaning the puff will also help keep your powder (and skin) safe. 

Ingredients Matter

Powder is powder, right? Wrong. Just like the ingredients in your skincare matter, the ingredients in your color cosmetics, like makeup powder, matter too. High-quality, plant-based ingredients are key to keeping your skin safe and your makeup long-lasting. 

At RMS Beauty, we’re ingredient obsessed. What we put into our products is just as important as what we keep out. That means every ingredient is intentionally added because of its skin-nourishing benefits. 

Update Your Powder Room

If you’re still using the same powder you’ve used for years, level up! There are new options available, and they all have benefits that can help you create the looks you love. Stuck in a powder rut? RMS Beauty can get you unstuck with powders that are formulated to help your skin and enhance your radiance. 


Talcum Powder and Cancer |

How to Control Oily Skin | American Academy of

Mineral Cosmetics and Bismuth Oxychloride Testing and Analysis | Contract Laboratory

Thanks for contacting us! We'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for subscribing Thanks! We will notify you when it becomes available! The max number of items have already been added There is only one item left to add to the cart There are only [num_items] items left to add to the cart

Change Shipping Country