Setting Powder vs Loose Powder, What’s The Difference?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

When it comes to makeup, your base is the most important part of your routine.

Cakey foundation or melting makeup will ruin a look. That is why setting powder is your base’s best friend.

But setting powder can be tricky. It can highlight a texture you want to keep hidden or leave your skin looking powdery.

Choosing the right powder can be difficult. The industry tends to muddle the names.

When it comes to setting powder vs loose powder, what’s the deal? Are they different? The answer is that loose powder is a form of setting powder. They are similar products, with packaging and formatting differences.

We’ll explain below.


What Is Setting Powder?

Setting powder sets your liquid or cream foundation, locking it in place.

It also helps keep base makeup from rubbing off. It eliminates shine, and allows your foundation to last throughout the day (or night).

The powder soaks up excess oils. It also prevents liquid foundation from melting or separating on the skin.

With the right powder, you won’t have to worry about your makeup. Whether you’re just trying to get through your workday or are partying all night.

Setting powder can come as a pressed powder or a loose powder, and which you should use depends on your skin type.

What Is Loose Powder?

Loose powder is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a container of finely milled loose powder that sets your makeup.

This kind of powder is often associated with the “baking” method. It is where you allow a bunch of powder to absorb into your skin before brushing away the excess.

It’s also popular for its ability to help define contour lines and highlight high points of the face.

Loose powder is ideal for setting heavy makeup looks. But you need to be sure to sweep the excess powder away to avoid looking cakey or powdery.

Setting Powder vs Loose Powder

There are two kinds of setting powder: pressed and loose (there is also setting spray as well) Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but both do virtually the same things.

Pressed powder is best for dry skin as it has extra oils that will help avoid highlighting texture. On oily skin, it can cause your makeup to slide around or look cakey.

With a pressed powder, a little goes a long way. It can be turned into a foundation. You can also use it as a base in your makeup routine or even beneath a liquid foundation to build up coverage.

There are two kinds of setting powder: pressed and loose. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but both do virtually the same things.

So, loose powder is suitable for oily skin as there’s less oil in such a fine powder.

Loose powder is great for long-lasting results and a chiseled look. But note that a lot of powder is needed for the baking method, which is then swept away.

How To Apply Setting Powder

You may think that using setting powder is as easy as brushing it across your skin. There are also helpful techniques that will keep your makeup from looking powdery.

It’s easy to overdo it with setting powder. This is especially because it’s our last defense against separation or smudging.

Pressed Powder

A little goes a long way when it comes to pressed powder, so be cautious about overdoing it.

Do not rub or drag the powder across your skin, as you’ll only wipe away your base.

Apply foundation and concealer. Then allow your base to dry down before applying your pressed powder.

Using a fluffy powder brush, dip it into your pressed powder. Tap off any excess, then lightly brush it along your skin.

Be sure to apply powder everywhere you put your concealer. As well as on any areas that may get shiny throughout the day.

Loose Powder

Loose powder is applied differently than pressed powder.

To start, wet your makeup sponge and squeeze out any excess water.

Collect powder onto your damp sponge. Then press it anywhere you have placed concealer or into high shine places. This includes the chin, nose, and forehead.

Let the powder sit on top of your skin for a few moments. You might look a bit crazy with a face covered in powder, but the results will be worth it.

While you wait, you can style your brows or begin your eye makeup.

Once the powder has set, you may brush the excess away.

To highlight contour, take your sponge and drag the powder along the bottom of your cheek contour to carve it out. This will not only highlight it but clean it up as well.

Give it a moment to seal, then brush away the excess with a fluffy brush to reveal a chiseled cheek.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).