Setting powder is pretty unexciting, as far as makeup goes, but would I take my metallic blue liquid lipstick with me on an overnight trip? Absolutely not. Setting powder, on the other hand, is non-negotiable — especially if you wear makeup on or around your eyes. The best under-eye setting powders, which come in two forms — loose or pressed — have ultra fine formulations and transparent finishes, though tinted versions do exist and serve their own purposes. These powders are particularly handy for setting your concealer, boosting its staying power, and preventing your eye makeup from smudging, without getting cakey or cracking throughout the day.
You may be wondering: Is there any difference between a "regular" setting powder and an under-eye setting powder? In short, the answer is no. “I use one powder for the whole face,” LORAC Artistry Advisor Kelsey Deenihan tells Elite Daily. Rather, Deenihan says, the difference lies in the application method: “Use slightly less under the eyes, so the skin doesn’t look dry, and use a little more over the T-zone to combat oil,” she says. Deenihan also suggests using a medium-sized fluffy brush, which provides a more even application and better precision than a large powder brush. If you’re doing the baking method, a damp makeup sponge works best for pressing the powder into your skin. Then you can brush away the excess with that smaller powder brush.
Another consideration for setting your under-eye makeup is choosing between a pressed powder or loose powder, though Deenihan makes that choice pretty simple, too: “If someone has oily skin I tend to go for a pressed powder, and for skin that's on the drier side, I use a loose powder.” Easy!
Ahead, find six of the best under-eye setting powders to keep your makeup looking smooth and fresh all day long.
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1. The Fan Favorite
Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder has been around since 1935, and according to its 38,000+ Amazon ratings, it still holds its own against all these newfangled, post-war powders on the market. You can use any of the five pigmented shades as a powder foundation, but the translucent powder is ideal for setting or baking your under-eyes. The feather-light formula blends into a smooth finish, and it doesn’t settle or crease over time, despite its ample coverage. Some customers aren’t into the powdery-floral scent, but I think it adds to the throwback quality (unless you’re allergic to synthetic fragrance, in which case you will not find this as charming as I do).
2. The Pro Pick
Deenihan loves using this LORAC pressed powder on her clients, both under the eyes and anywhere else makeup needs to be set or oil neutralized. Customers also love it for its silky texture and light, fresh feel, courtesy of cooling peppermint leaf extract, wild mint oil, and lime peel extract in the formula. One Amazon reviewer with tan skin reported that the finish isn’t totally translucent, but confirms that it blends beautifully into makeup. Alternatively, you can apply it over your bare skin for an extra smooth finish.
3. Best For Medium-To-Dark Skin
Although most translucent powders are designed to blend invisibly into all skin tones, Deenihan recommends that folks with olive-toned or dark skin use a banana powder (i.e., a yellow-toned powder) instead. Of all the banana powders on Amazon, this one from Black Radiance gets particularly good reviews. A few customers report that this $7 powder performs better than the expensive powders they’ve tried, and they love that it thoroughly sets their makeup while still giving them a little glow. As one reviewer wrote, “It melts right into my skin and makes my undereyes look like butter! I'm on the chocolate end of the spectrum and it doesn't give me an ashy cast.”
4. Best For Oily Skin
This Maybelline Matte + Poreless Powder is one of the best powders for oily skin you can get from a drugstore brand (it boasts over 8,000 five-star reviews on Amazon), and the translucent shade is a particularly good choice for setting, smoothing, and concealing your under-eyes. As a pressed powder, you’ll get more concentrated coverage than you would with a loose powder, according to Deenihan — a good thing if you have oily skin and your makeup tends to smudge, or slide off completely, a few hours after application. Even though the staying power is unparalleled, this non-comedogenic formula feels just as light and breathable on the skin under your eyes as a loose powder does.
5. Best For Sensitive Skin
If your eyes tend to get red, itchy, or swollen, try this gentle Dermablend setting powder. It’s dermatologist-approved, sensitive skin-tested, allergy-tested, and free of the potentially irritating additives like fragrance and phthalates. Beyond being the safest setting powder you can put on your finicky skin (and around your extra-sensitive eyes), it’s also one of the highest-performing. The powder is micronized and ultra silky, which makes it ideal for setting or baking; and reviewers stand by its promise to last up to 16 hours, even in extreme weather conditions like humidity and dry heat.
6. Another Drugstore Pick To Consider
This L’Oreal setting powder is another drugstore staple that lots of reviewers prefer to more expensive powders. It works on all skin types: Folks with oily skin say it keeps them shine-free for hours (even overnight and into the next day, as per one person who slept in their makeup), and those with dry skin report that say it doesn’t get clumpy or feel tight and uncomfortable around their eyes. Plus, it’s free of any shimmer or sparkle, unlike lots of comparably priced setting powders out there. Some people have reported flashback, however, so skip it if you’re being subjected to flash photography for an event (or your own purposes).
Kelsey Deenihan, LORAC Artistry Advisor.