Is face powder, a beauty favourite in the Eighties, finally making a comeback? It could be time to rethink an old classic.
Shine. We’ve always had a tempestuous relationship with it, particularly when it’s on our faces in the form of grease, oil and sweat, which have traditionally been seen as unladylike (but resolutely aren’t). Women throughout history have always tried to fight it with mattifying make-up. Early incarnations include Cleopatra’s alleged application of powdered crocodile dung, while other ancient versions were made with rice flour and lead. It had a lengthy reign that lasted right up until the Eighties. The matte look was what everyone wanted, and powder was the key soldier in this sebum-centred battle.
Then the Nineties happened, when the dewy, natural look became de rigueur and face powder fell off the radar. Since then, as ‘fresh’ and ‘healthy’ became the beauty buzzwords over ‘made-up’ and ‘matte’, our relationship with powder has waned. At best, we timorously slide a powder compact from our handbags to daub commute-induced shine before shoving it away out of sight. And though we may still use it on occasion, we give it such little thought (two of my friends still use the first compact brands they ever bought as teens) because powder, you know, just does its job.
But as trusty as those teenage compacts might seem, powder has come a long way in thelast few years in terms of technology, giving us good reason to think again about this beauty stalwart. Mobile searches for “where to buy face powder” are up 400%* and 33% of women in the UK bought face powder in the past year, up from 31% in the previous year, according to Mintel. There are other reasons we’re flocking to the powder aisles too. Rising pollution levels and warmer summers mean skin overproduces sebum to lubricate itself. Combine that with a love of flawless, ultra-matte skin again thanks to social media, and the a/w 2018 catwalks that prioritised matte looks (Givenchy, Chanel, Isabel Marant and more) and you’ll see why powder is more essential than ever before.
All of this has resulted in an undeniable bounty of next-level face powders that do more than just de-slick a forehead or set foundation; they’re ergonomically designed, full of cutting edge formulations that hydrate, last all day and suit every skin type. But with so much choice, what do we really need?
“Tinted or coloured powders are used to add coverage and translucent powders set and reduce shine,” says Laura Mercier ambassador and celebrity make-up artist Mary Greenwell. “But generally, powders are now so finely milled that they take away the shine but leave a glow instead of looking cakey.” Turn the page to discover the powders that deserve pride of place in your make-up bag…
bareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation
Blemishes causing a spot of bother? This clever new creation from bareMinerals helps keep breakouts to a minimum, with good old salicylic acid (everyone’s favourite zit-zapping exfoliant) and calming oat protein.
CYO Meet Your Matte Pressed Powder
Worried about looking too matte? Dab a little of this oil-absorbing powder on your face to set your make-up and tone down excess shine without looking like a waxwork. The silky formula feels like velvet on the skin, too.
Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Powder
The term ‘baking’ was coined by drag queens to describe dousing the face in powder and leaving it to set to avoid creasing. This powder is so finely milled that there’s no chance of that. It absorbs shine, sets make-up and lasts 10 hours.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder - Glow
This new Glow version of the cult classic adds a shimmer to the skin that makes you look like you’ve been kissed by the Sicilian sun, while keeping make-up on for 12 hours and absorbing excess oil.
Becca Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Loose Powder
This powder is an overachiever. Made with 50% water and glycerine, it cools the skin on application. The translucent shade suits everyone, and it nixes shine while also hydrating parched faces. The beauty desk is enraptured.
EX1 Invisiwear Compact Powder
Apply this lightweight powder with the washable sponge to add a hint of coverage and contend with unwanted shine. The sponge also has its own compartment, which stops any bacteria from contaminating the product.
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Genius Magic Powder
A loose powder that uses spherical silica to absorb sebum and reduce shine, this also reflects light thanks to tsubaki oil, which helps to replenish the skin’s natural radiance. Clever stuff.