Seriously, What's the Difference Between Finishing Powder and Setting Powder?

The makeup gods have blessed us with so many face powders, but it's hard to know what they all really do for your skin. Case in point: finishing powders vs. setting powders. What's the difference? To help clear it up, we reached out to makeup artist and beauty blogger Ivy Boyd. We had to know: is this a case of sneaky marketers selling me the same jar of tricks with a different name, or does each really have a purpose?

The verdict is: they're different. According to Boyd, it's a simple matter of function vs. form. "A setting powder does exactly that," she said. "It sets your makeup." She describes finishing powder, on the other hand, as more like a filter. "It is often translucent and is used to blur pores, soften texture, and even give an overall glow to the skin." Basically, finishing powder is for looks whereas setting powders help you get more hours out of your concealer, foundation, and other face makeup.

When applying setting powder, Boyd recommends using a damp beauty blender to press the loose powder on your under-eye and T-zone areas for an airbrushed look. Remember: press and roll, don't aggressively blend or rub. Finishing powder should be lightly dusted on. It's still a no-buffing zone. "Think of it like a veil," Boyd said. She recommends a large, fluffy powder brush for applying finishing powder, but she says you can still use a damp beauty sponge for your cheeks where pores are larger.

Ready to start shopping? Here are some of the most popular finishing and setting powders on the market now.

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