Most of us know the term “powder your nose”. It is a euphemism carried over from the late 1800s to describe a room where women would excuse themselves to apply more powder to their face, fix their hair or use the restroom. Today women still touch up to maintain a clean fresh look and use setting powders and other makeup sealants to absorb excess oils to reduce the dreaded “shine”.
Setting your makeup is the last and most valuable step in your daily makeup routine to establish makeup longevity. Without this step your makeup will smudge, run, cake or discolor regardless of the brand that you use. Yet, one of the most common mistakes we make is thinking we can forgo the setting process altogether especially if you’re already wearing primer.
If primer helps makeup last longer, why is a sealant still necessary?
It is a question that we are asked all the time. The idea behind face primer is to prep your skin and create a surface that makes application easier for foundation and concealer to glide across and adhere to. Some will even help reduce pore size, minimize oil build up and offer other skincare benefits. While primer does help keep foundation and concealer on your face longer, it does not make your base, mascara or lipstick immune from rub-off or smearing. Only makeup sealants like setting powders or sprays prevent makeup transferring onto clothing and allow you to layer makeup products over one another without smearing or absorbing the color underneath. Sealants help create that flawless fresh look and help keep colors true to wear.
While certain formulas do require you to set them with powder, not all makeup has to be set with powder. There are many options and choosing the right setting sealant really comes down to what is best for your skin type and preference. Some people choose translucent powders while others prefer finishing powders. Pressed powders are popular because they are tidy and easy to use on the go. Setting sprays or balms are widely used for bridal, editorial and stage makeup. Below are a few of the most commonly used sealants.
LOOSE TRANSLUCENT POWDERS
Most professional makeup artist will say that translucent powder is a must-have for any look. It’s color-free and invisible making it extremely fool-proof. The other advantage in using translucent powder is that its uses go beyond serving as the final step in your makeup routine. It can be used to matte oily lids, help lift sweat from different parts of the body ie. hands and feet, plump up lashes between layers, catch shadow fallout, freshen hair when dry shampoo isn’t available and much more.
There are some downsides however when it comes to using loose powders. Often they come in bulky jars that don’t store very well, require a powder brush to apply and really don’t like being transported anywhere. Loose powders can be slightly messy to carry around every day in your handbag.
PRESSED SETTING POWDERS
For regular makeup, pressed setting powders are used by most because they generally come in slim compacts, easy to use and extremely travel friendly.
Unlike setting sprays, they don’t consist of alcohol, which can be irritating and drying for certain skin types. Most people have adverse skin reactions to some of the ingredients found in loose or mineral powders, such as mica and bismuth, causing skin to become itchy and red.
When using pressed powders it’s important not to over apply them as they can be slightly opaque in coverage. There are pressed powders that target different skin types so choose one that is formulated for your skin type. Choosing the right powder will prevent your skin from looking dry or cakey.
While we love setting sprays, there are a few things to consider before buying them.
• Skin type matters: Always make sure the spray is formulated for your skin type. If you have dry skin, choose a formula that is geared toward your needs (usually, that means it contains little to no alcohol). If you have an oilier skin type, choose a formula that will help minimize the shine that may peek through.
• Why do you need it? Choose the right setting spray for the job at hand. If you need makeup to stand up through tears, and weather conditions then you will need a heavy duty spray. There are three basic spray formulas:
- water/acrylic based
- alcohol/water/acrylic based
- alcohol/water based
Understanding the differences in performance between these ingredient combinations and what they can provide, is the key to getting satisfactory results. Some sprays are more moisture and rub proof than others, and it depends entirely on the percentage of alcohol or acrylic that is blended in the formulation.
• What finish do you want? It is important to know what kind of texture (finish) each spray will leave on top of your makeup. Some acrylic/water based sealers may leave a semi-matte texture on makeup, depending on the type of makeup you want to seal, and if it is powdered before you apply the spray.
Typically balms come in compacts and have a solid silicon texture that goes on clear. They are best applied after your foundation is completely dry but can be applied before makeup and double as a second primer. Like most compact products, they come with a sponge.