The Best Drugstore Setting Powders

Written by Marissa DeSantis
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No makeup look is complete without a dusting of setting powder. Sure, you can easily drop $30+ on prestige favorites, but there are plenty of drugstore setting powders out there that are just as good. When shopping for the best drugstore setting powders, you’ll come across two different types: loose or pressed. Then, you’ll need to decide between translucent or tinted — the one you choose will depend on what type of finish you’re looking to achieve. A translucent setting powder is the universal go-to, and typically features silica or talc to absorb oil and give liquid and cream makeup a smooth, velvety finish. Tinted powders, on the other hand, can be used be to color correct, brighten, and promote a more even skin tone.

One word of caution, though: If you’re being photographed or appearing on camera, the silica and talc that is in virtually every translucent formula (and most tinted formulas) can create a white cast. “You may have seen on red carpets when an actress has white on their face in photos; that’s because of silica,” makeup artist Mallorie Mason previously told Elite Daily.

How To Use Setting Powder (The Right Way)

Using a setting powder is pretty straightforward. Whether you opt for a loose or pressed powder, you want to apply it as the last step in your makeup routine. But to really achieve that airbrushed finish, you have to follow a less-is-more approach. To avoid over-applying, which can leave you with a white cast or a cakey finish, tap the excess powder off of your brush before sweeping it over your face. If you’re using a mattifying powder, you can concentrate your application along the areas of your face that tend to see the most shine, such as the T-zone (this is an especially helpful technique if you have dry or combination skin). For more precise application, you can use a makeup puff like the Beautyblender Power Pocket Puff, which is my personal favorite for setting concealer. Just remember, those same rules of tapping off the excess powder still apply.

Shop The Best Drugstore Setting Powders

In a hurry? Here are the best drugstore setting powders:

  1. Best Translucent Setting Powder: NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder
  2. Best Banana Setting Powder: Wet N Wild Photo Focus Loose Setting Powder
  3. Best Setting Powder For Dark Skin Tones: Black Radiance True Complexion Loose Setting Powder
  4. Best Pressed Setting Powder: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Powder
  5. Best Setting Powder With SPF: Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30
  6. Editor’s Pick: e.l.f. Halo Glow Setting Powder

1. Best Translucent Setting Powder

A translucent setting powder will give you a smooth, velvety finish without adding any color to your makeup. NYX’s HD Studio Finishing Powder is a vegan and cruelty-free translucent powder that uses just one ingredient to set makeup, absorb oil, and nullify shine: silica minerals. (Because of this, you really want to be reserved with your application to ensure that you don’t end up with a visible white cast.) The powder currently has more than 8,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, with multiple reviewers comparing it to the cult favorite (and much pricier) Make Up For Ever translucent setting powder.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 1 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I purchase this product again and again because it is simply the best. Why spend double or triple the amount on an HD powder? It's light and breathable, and the coverage is superb. Watch out for camera flashes though, because if you don't blend the powder well, you will see a white cast on your face.”

2. Best Banana Setting Powder

You’ve probably heard of banana powder before (even if you’re not entirely sure what it is). Basically, it’s a longtime makeup artist staple that was initially created for film and theater actors. The yellow-tinted powder still helps to lock in makeup and absorb oil, but it also adds a subtle brightening effect. Wet N Wild’s Photo Focus Loose Setting Powder is available in a banana shade that can be used by all skin tones to set makeup and create a soft-focus effect. It even includes talc and corn starch, two of the key ingredients in the original Ben Nye Banana powder.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 3 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I love this formula! It’s so smooth and gives you that soft airbrush type look. I love using it to set my concealer under my eyes and it doesn’t budge! It keeps everything in place with no flaking and it doesn’t smear.”

3. Best Setting Powder For Dark Skin Tones

Yes, translucent setting powders are meant to be a colorless way to keep your makeup in place, but they don’t always deliver on darker skin tones. If applying less powder isn’t cutting it, or if you just prefer a setting powder that adds a touch of extra color, try a tinted version like this Black Radiance True Complexion Loose Setting Powder. Available in two darker tints as well as a banana shade, the powder uses talc, silica, and cornstarch to smooth over liquid and cream makeup and prevent them from rubbing off. While the powder featured here is a loose formula, the brand also offers a pressed setting powder in three shades should you prefer something that isn’t quite as mattifying.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 3 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I love it. As a woman of color, it’s pretty hard to find powders with no flash back but this suited me well and the amount of the product would last for months. I highly recommend this.”

4. Best Pressed Setting Powder

If you prefer a pressed powder, which is admittedly easier to use on-the-go, Maybelline’s Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Powder comes in a translucent option as well as 23 tinted shades to match a variety of skin tones. You’ll find nearly 45,000 five-star ratings on Amazon for this noncomedogenic powder, which absorbs excess oil without clogging your pores. Talc is the main ingredient that helps to keep shine at bay, while perlite mineral micro-powders create a blurring effect that minimizes pores as it mattifies.

Finish: Matte Available Shades: 24 Cruelty-Free: No

Relevant Review: “This will forever be the only powder I use. It leaves a matte finish and always makes my foundation look flawless! I highly recommend this product!”

5. Best Setting Powder With SPF

There are quite a few benefits to this Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Pressed Powder, which gives you an extra boost of sun protection with SPF 30 (something that’s especially helpful for reapplying sunscreen throughout the day without having to mess with your makeup). Though it’s a pressed powder, it still uses ultra-fine minerals for a super-smooth application. Dry skin types will like the more natural finish that comes courtesy of chamomile flower extract, safflower seed oil, and vitamin E. This is also a hypoallergenic option that’s fragrance-free, so it’s ideal for sensitive skin types, too. And whether you choose the translucent powder or one of the tinted shades, the powder is free from talc and silica, so you don’t have to worry about any white cast showing up in photos.

Finish: Airbrush Available Shades: 3 Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “I have dry skin, so I actually am not into the whole matte look on me, makes my face look very flat and lifeless. This powder sets the liquid makeup I have on without taking away the natural skin-like finish I love.”

6. Editor’s Pick

“I’ve been loving this e.l.f. Halo Glow Setting Powder lately, which pairs perfectly with the brand’s Halo Glow Liquid Filter (which is the best drugstore beauty launch of the last year, IMO),” says Elite Daily beauty editor Adeline Duff. “Obviously, you can (and should) use this to set all of your other base makeup, as well — it’s the ideal finishing touch over any concealer, foundation, or skin tint. It gives my under-eye area that smooth, velvety look that I love, and it soaks up oil like a dream when I dab it onto shiny spots like my forehead and nose. Though it comes in three tinted shades, I find that it looks practically translucent on my (admittedly pale) skin — I apply it with a damp BeautyBlender and then blend it out using the same sponge or a fluffy brush. The finish is flawless, and the fact that it costs just $8 is just the icing on the cake.”

Finish: Satin Available Shades: 3; (Light, Medium, Deep) Cruelty-Free: Yes

Relevant Review: “Love this product! Great price and it’s great for my dry skin because it adds a little glow without looking glittery. Very finely milled and soft, and I really like how easy it is to get out with the packaging.”