When using a liquid or cream foundation you're going to want to set the foundation with a setting powder to create that flawless, seamless look. Setting powders absorb excess moisture and oils and prevents the makeup from creasing or caking throughout the day. I find that setting powders are great for normal to oily skin. If your skin is very dry, adding a setting powder over your foundation may dry out your skin further. For those with very dry skin, skip this step and go for a liquid to powder foundation.
Setting powders come in a pressed compact or as a loose powder. Normally they are white in colour and go on transparent or they can be slightly tinted to a flesh tone. Either way, a good setting powder will be fine enough and soft enough to be absorbed into your skin and fill in the pores, giving a smooth look with no residual powder left over. I've tried a few setting powders and at some point you start to think that they are all the same. And that got me thinking, are they the same? What goes into these products? I did some research, I looked at my most commonly purchased products, shown below, and quickly broke down the main ingredients in all of them. You'll see that many of these ingredients are common to most of them.
Clockwise from the top:
Make Up Forever Super Matte Loose Powder Ingredients: Talc, Silica, Nylon-12, Silk Powder, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Dehydroacetic Acid. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Mica, Red 27 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 10 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Red 21 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Ultramarines, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 6, Manganese Violet, Chromium Oxide Greens, Chromium Hydroxide Green, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Slica, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Tin Oxide.
Joe Fresh Translucent Loose Powder Ingredients: Talc, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
NYX HD Studio Photogenic Finishing Powder Ingredients: Silica
Tarte Smooth Operator Ingredients: Amazonian Clay, Silica, Talc, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Kaolin.
Silica or Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), a natural mineral found in sand, clay and granite. It's very versatile in the makeup world, typically used to bulk up products. It is also anticaking, prevents products from clumping and it's very good at absorbing oils and moisture.
Talc or Talcum Powder (Magnesium Silicate), is used to absorb moisture, a bulking agent, and anticaking. Talc has become controversial over the years because in its natural form, talc is known to contain asbestos - a carcinogen. So when talcum powder is processed, they are manufactured "asbestos-free" for things like cosmetic use, but there is always that risk. Actually, a few years ago, CoverFX reformulated their products and completely eliminated talc from their entire line, replacing it with Mica. However, you still see talc in many cosmetic products today.
Mica or Sheet Silicates - Micas are a group of silicates that are physically and chemically similar, forming sheet layers. It is used as colour additives in makeup, and has reflective properties to give that shimmering effect in mineral foundation. It is also used as a bulking agent and is also good at absorbing moisture and oils. Working with mica poses a high risk of exposure through inhalation. I should mention that inhaling any fine particle poses a risk to your respiratory health.
Amazonian Clay or Aluminum Silicate. An ingredient used in all of Tarte cosmetics. Amazonian clay is collected from the banks of the river basin in the Amazon. The clay is collected through a selective process to maintain and preserve the environment and its natural resources. The clay is dried and then shaved into a fine powder which is directly used to bulk up Tarte cosmetics. Like the other silicates, it absorbs moisture and oil to mattify the skin, but this source of clay contains many natural nutrients that also promises to nourish and help improve the overall quality of skin.
Titanium Dioxide (TiO2), a natural mineral used as a colouring agent, a whitener/lightener, and also used as a UV blocker. This is a very common ingredient in sunscreen or sunblock. Titanium Dioxide is normally coated in silica and alumina what in sunscreen because they can be absorbed into the skin, which can then photo catalyze the production of free radicals (highly reactive compounds) that damage DNA (which then defeats the purpose of a UV blocker).
Phenoxyethanol - a preservative to minimize bacterial growth in cosmetics. Also a stabilizer in soaps and perfumes. May cause an allergic reaction, from eczema to hives.
Overall, each of the products mentioned perform similarly, they absorb oils, mattifies the skin, and gives your face that smoothed over look. However, I'm going to have to single out NYX's setting powder, I am not a fan. This is purely silica, and doesn't blend or absorb into the skin as well as the others and it leaves a white cast on my light-medium skin tone. I can only assume that the powder is not as soft, and being harsher, it doesn't melt into the skin as well or as quickly. If you want a drug store brand, I by far prefer Joe Fresh's setting powder. Last thing, if talc is a concern for you, try CoverFX's setting powder, which I have also used, but isn't pictured.
I hope this was informative for you guys. I wanted to learn more about what goes into a product and therefore, I am sharing with you what I learnt. All the ingredients can be found on the Sephora website or on the packaging of your product. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them in the comments below.
For more information, I will link my sources below in order as the information appears:
Until next time!