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Pressed Powder vs Loose Powder: Which Setting Powder Should I Use?

Author: Marina

Feb. 04, 2024

189 0 0

Tags: Beauty & Personal Care

Wondering what the differences are between pressed powder vs loose powder? And what does setting spray do? We’ve got you covered with this handy guide as we delve into the different types of setting powders and what setting spray does, all to extend the wear-time of your makeup look. 

“Pressed and loose powders can be used as setting powders, meaning they help mattify skin for shine control throughout the day, plus they help extend the wear-time of your makeup look, keeping it in place for longer,” explains Janeena Rumsey, Glo’s Artistry Lead. “You can also finish your look with a setting spray for longevity and boosted skin nourishment.”


What Is the Difference Between Pressed and Loose Powder?

The main difference between pressed powder and loose powder is their formulas. “Pressed powder is a great option for on-the-go complexion perfection. As it is more densely packed than a loose powder, it tends to provide a bit more coverage, allowing for easy, mess-free touch-ups. Use a translucent, talc-free mineral pressed setting powder like our Perfecting Powder to set and mattify your cream or liquid foundation, to absorb any excess oil, and to blur any remaining imperfections,” says Janeena. “It extends the length of time your makeup will last without smudging or budging.” 

Loose setting powder is finely milled, super lightweight, translucent, and oftentimes tends to be more sheer than pressed powder. “Our Luminous Setting Powder features diamond powder, which helps to blur texture and provide a luminous glowing finish,” adds Janeena. “Loose powder can be used to set any makeup look in place—and can be used as part of the “baking” method in setting your foundation and concealer for all-day wear.” 

Loose setting powder is another great option for shine-control and naturally mattifies the skin to create a soft-focus, flawless finish. “If you are generally looking for a lighter or sheer effect, loose powder will be your go-to,” shares Janeena.



Is Pressed Powder the Same As Setting Powder?

Setting powder is an invisible step in your makeup ritual that sets the makeup in place with a translucent powder that keeps everything looking shine-free, flawless, and to enhance the staying power of your makeup look. You apply your setting powder over your makeup as a final step to lock it all in.    

With many types of face powder products available, it can get confusing as to what each powder does. “Pressed powder as a term can be used to refer to pressed setting powder or a pressed powder foundation,” explains Janeena. “A pressed powder foundation like our bestselling Pressed Base can be worn as a base with longwearing buildable coverage, and it can also be layered over any of our other foundations or concealers for a longwearing, flawless complexion.”

“Perfecting Powder on the other hand is a pressed setting powder. It is translucent, mattifying, and specifically designed to perfect the complexion, for a flawless, longwearing finish,” she adds.


Is Pressed or Loose Powder Better For Mature Skin?

“Whether pressed or loose powder is better for mature or aging skin is really all down to the look you want to achieve and your skin type,” explains Janeena. “That said, as skin ages, it tends to be drier, so needs a little radiance boost. This is where loose setting powders with blurring benefits can help. This type of setting powder imparts a lightweight, luminous glow for all day radiance as well as supporting the longevity of your makeup look. 

“If dull skin is a concern, you could also start with Loose Base—a loose powder foundation with customizable coverage from sheer to full. It has a dewy finish so gives that extra hydrated look. Then layer on your loose setting powder like Luminous Setting Powder to keep it in place all day, and you’re good to go!”


How To Apply Finishing Powder

“When you’re applying a finishing powder or setting powder, my top tip is to keep it lightweight and natural looking,” says Janeena. “Start off with a minimal amount and build from there. You don’t want to place too much on to begin with as it can look overdone.”

“As the finishing powder is quite literally meant to set your look in place, the trick to applying it, is to be gentle. Lightly sweep on your powder without dragging your skin as this can affect the placement of your foundation, concealer, blush or bronzer.

“Using your preferred powder brush—mine is the Tapered Setting Powder Brush, lightly dip into your powder, tap off any excess, then gently press and sweep across your face, paying particular attention to your T-zone if you’re prone to an oily shine in this area. As a little will go far, be minimal with your setting powder for the most natural look. 

“If you want to “bake” your foundation or concealer, after applying your setting powder, let it sit for a few minutes, then using a large fluffy brush, gently sweep away any excess, to avoid it settling into fine lines.”


What Is Setting Spray and What Does It Do?

“If you really want to ensure your makeup lasts all day, and your skin feels comfortable and nourished, a setting spray is the way to go,” explains Janeena. “A setting spray is essentially a liquid mist infused with nourishing hydrating ingredients that lock your makeup look in place. Our HA-Revive Hyaluronic Mist is powered by hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and botanical extracts to replenish moisture levels of both skin and minerals, and help your makeup stay put without smudging or settling into fine lines.”

And you can spritz your setting spray throughout the day to replenish your complexion and keep any touch-ups in place.


You’ve just spent a good chunk of time perfecting your foundation, bronzer, blush, and highlight, and step back to admire your work. It looks good, and you’re not about to let all that work go to waste. Enter: setting powder. 

This genius invention not only locks in your look, but it helps create a flawless finish that withstands anything the day throws at you—rain, heat, rubbing, and beyond. For the full rundown on what setting powder does, pro tips for application, and which products to try, keep scrolling. 

What Is Setting Powder?

True to its name, the ultimate goal of setting powder is to set your final makeup look to extend makeup longevity. Once applied, the powder absorbs oil through the day, minimizes the look of pores, and blurs tiny imperfections for a more even-looking complexion. 

“They provide a matte finish in most cases, though some setting powders have crushed pearl pigments for a bit of a glow while sprays provide a dewy, glowy finish,” notes celebrity makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran. She adds, “The great thing about setting powder is its ability to be applied multiple times during the day to control oiliness.” 

Pressed Vs. Loose Setting Powder 

Two categories of setting powder exist: pressed and loose. Pressed powders come in a compact while loose powders come in a jar. The former is arguably easier to apply and tote around for touch ups, though Jaikaran says that the latter is more finely milled and has a light, breathable texture for a super soft finish. Both get the job done, so it’s a matter of what you prefer. 

What Does Setting Powder Do?

Regardless of what type of setting powder you use, setting powder packs the following benefits: 

  • Extends the life of your makeup 
  • Provides a soft-looking finish
  • Soaks up excess oil throughout the day 
  • Enhances existing makeup coverage 
  • Makes pores a look smaller 
  • Blurs fine lines and other imperfections 
  • Helps blend makeup by creating a diffused look 
  • Can be used for touch ups throughout the day 

How to Apply Setting Powder 

Setting powder should be applied as part of the final steps in the makeup routine to ensure its durability. “When using a setting powder, it’s best to apply immediately after a wet foundation or concealer as the products will bond better creating a fixed, flawless finish,” Jaikaran says. 

A large, fluffy makeup brush is ideal whether using a pressed or loose setting powder. Swirl the brush over the pressed compact or lightly dip into the loose powder, then tap away any excess. (A little goes a long way.) Start in the T-Zone and wherever else you tend to get oily, then move on to the rest of your face. Make sure to blend well, then allow the powder to set for a minute. Using a clean and fluffy makeup brush, dust away any excess powder. 

4 Setting Powders to Try  

Sold on setting powder? Start with these recommended picks. 

  • Neutrogena Shine Control Pressed Powder ($14; Target):  Jaikaran recommends this setting powder for people with combo or oily skin. “The product really applies a natural, matte-finish to the final look and wears well throughout the day. It’s also formulated with a rice protein complex, which acts as a sponge to absorb excess oil,” she says. 
  • Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($43; Ulta): This award-winning product is a long-time favorite among makeup artists and beauty gurus. The silky powder provides a soft-focus finish and 24 hours of shine-free skin.
  • Kosas Cloud Set Powder ($35; Sephora): “It’s a sheer setting and smoothing powder baked with skincare that sweeps away shine and feels very lightweight on the skin,” says Jaikaran. 
  • Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Setting Powder ($36; Sephora) This super fine setting powder comes in 8 shades for a perfect color match against your complexion. It also blurs lines, pores, and imperfections and creates a soft and even complexion.

Pressed Powder vs Loose Powder: Which Setting Powder Should I Use?

What Is Setting Powder—Plus Pro Tips on How to Use It




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