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Image / Beauty

I tried €508 worth of setting powders, and these three came out on top

by Aisling Keenan
04th Dec 2018

Having spent over ten years trialling beauty products as my profession, I have developed incredibly high standards.

At the same time, I work in media and my remuneration doesn’t exactly have me gleefully palming €50s into the wind. So I’ve got lofty standards coupled with a strong desire to root out a bargain.

I added up the cost of the various ones I had trialled, most in the very recent past, and the total was €508 – a staggering amount of money. I also asked every makeup artist I know to send me their recommendations so I knew I’d be trying the best of the best. I took their suggestions into account when coming up with this metric for awarding points to powders:

The Gold Standard of Setting Powder

  1. It should remove shine immediately but also be long-lasting
  2. It shouldn’t add too much colour (that’s a bronzer or powder foundation job, gals)
  3. It shouldn’t move or change the look of your foundation
  4. It shouldn’t look or feel powdery or caked on
  5. It shouldn’t go patchy or stick to one part of your skin and not other parts

A big ask, I think you’ll agree. I was rather scientific in my testing – I gave each powder I tried a score out of five for all of the above, and then got an overall score for each one at the end.

In instances where there was a tie, I looked at the following criteria:

  1. Does it travel well? (loose setting powders tend not to…)
  2. Does it have a mirror for handiness?
  3. Does it look nice when you take it out to use it?
  4. Shade range and price relating to quantity of product


Three reliables that won’t let you down when it comes to removing unwanted shine, keeping your makeup in place and not looking like you’ve added three layers of plaster to your visage.

setting powders

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish, €42

I had a feeling Laura Mercier would come in first place, but alas, Ms Tilbury pipped her to the powdered post. While I’m only a relatively recent convert to Airbrush Flawless Finish, I heard from practically every beauty lover I know how incredible it is. With its infusion of almond oil and rose wax, it genuinely does give an airbrushed appearance to the skin. The best parts?

 – Its super fine texture feels weightless on the skin
 – Instantly removes shine without adding lots of visible product
 – Leaves a softened, blurred appearance to pores
 – Doesn’t settle into fine lines
 – Vegan and not tested on animals

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, €42

Iconic for a reason, Laura Mercier’s makeup artist staple powder comes in second. While it’s not the best for on the go, it earns and keeps its points for being so finely milled and translucent, and for being silky smooth on application. It lasts what feels like an eternity and your makeup will not budge with a dusting of this on top of it.

NYX HD Studio Setting Powder, €12.50

For the price, this powder really punches above its weight in terms of finish. Great for photos (selfies!) and ideal for every area of the face (particularly good under the eyes where weightlessness is paramount), there are very few powders on the market as good as this for just €12.50.


There were three more that came really close to the top three but lost out by, in one case, 0.25 of a point. Yes, I went there. Here are the 4th, 5th and 6th place winners.

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder, €5.99

For less than €6 you’re getting a ultra-fine powder that absorbs oil, leaving your skin matte and fresh for (in my case) six hours. After the six hour mark, I needed a top-up, but it still didn’t look caked when I added more. Win!

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Pressed Powder, €36

Pressed setting powder is the dream for anyone who’s doing their makeup on the go regularly. This one is from the absolutely amazing Ultra HD range from MUFE, and thoroughly deserves its place inside the top five.

Glossier Wowder, €21

A new one to me, this impressed me with its lightness – my skin felt super fresh and still dewy in spite of it being locked in place by this Glossier gem. And for €21, I’m not complaining!


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