Game, Set, Match

November 5th, 2014

November 5th, 2014

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Powder is a kit staple.  Doesn’t matter if you’re on a beauty shoot, backstage at a fashion week or painting actors bright blue for the next blockbuster, if you want what you’ve created to stay put, you’ll need to powder down.

If you look back through the annals of time, the need to set make-up was well known by the time of Cleopatra whose face powder was made of crocodile excrement, while the less wealthy went with wheat flour.  In Japan, geishas whitened their faces with rice flour.  By the 15th century, growth in the use of rice and wheat for face powder was so high that it had a detrimental effect on the production of rice and white flour, while another boom came in the 20th century with theatre coming into picture and actors needed it for their make-up.  In order to meet the demand, many nations started experimenting and Laughton & Sons, an English company based in Birmingham, came up with the first compact or compressed powder in 1923.  The fashion for carrying a compact to house the powder soon took hold, these compacts now becoming collector’s items.

vintage bourjois ad vintage ad

As you’d expect powder technology has moved on since the ‘20s and this has interestingly created some major make-up mishaps when stars have misunderstood the difference between setting and finishing powders.  Confuse the two and flash bulbs will highlight the mistake in all its powdery glory.

Nicole Kidman powder powder disaster Drew Barrymore powder angelina powdered

Setting powder is what we think of as the classic variety; it goes on after foundation to get rid of shine and set it so that it lasts.  It can be translucent or tinted to match the skin.  Setting powder comes loose, pressed or mineral and in a variety of colours, translucent or transparent.  Coloured or translucent offerings usually contain talc and other traditional ingredients, while transparent versions are usually silica based.  While it’s not entirely necessary to set a mineral foundation, it will diffuse some of the light reflected by the minerals to give the face a softer look.

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Best for situations where there’s a lot of photography, rather than an essential step for everyday make-up, finishing powder is generally white and used after setting to blur fine lines and pores.  Take care around powerful cameras and flashes – use too much or don’t blend well, and you’ll end up with a powder explosion due to light from the flash bouncing off certain ingredients, causing the dreaded chalky-white flashback.  But for normal life, applying a finishing powder for setting won’t have terrible consequences if you remember to be sparing and blend well.  HD powders are usually finishing powders, as shooting in high definition found that other powders can be too heavy and highlighted on film.


Warpaint recommends our faves for every situation, game, set and match.


Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder (£29)

Laura Mercier

Givenchy’s Prisme Libre (£33.50)


 NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder (£26)


Dior’s Airflash Matt Touch (£30)



MUFE HD Microfinish Powder (£12.50)



Smashbox’s Photo Set Finishing Powder (£19)

smash box

 NYX’s Studio Finishing Powder (£9.50)



MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder (£20.50)



Clarins’ Mineral Loose Powder (£30)


 Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Mineral Makeup SPF 15, £28

Bobbi Brown

Urban Decay Surreal Skin Mineral Make-up, £21



Jane Iredale amazing base® loose mineral powder (£28.50)

There’s a whole heap of Specialist powders for use in SFX, prosthetics, bodypainting, remedial camouflage and film and TV effects make up.

lovely red woman lips isolated on white

Besame Brightening Violet Powder (£22) is made new, but from vintage formulations, so creating a classic Violet Powder – designed specifically to reduce redness.


 RCMA Dulling Powder (£7.95) is a mattifying agent (TS-100), and provides a total matte finish on shiny textured appliances, especially silicones.  It is best used in very small amounts on prosthetic applications or direct-to-skin stippling products that dry shiny.



Principality Bruise Powder (£8.50) give you a very authentic bruise whether fresh or days old.


 Dermacolor Fixing Powder (£11.15) The miracle camouflage system from Kryolan has the amazing fixing powder, blemish be gone.


 Dirtworks Dirt Powder (£11.95) For every mucky situation you can think off PPI’s Dirtworks have a dirt powder to match.



Maekup Rubber Dust (£6) is a vulcanized rubber compound for producing gravel type effects in wounds or for the addition to blood products as a texture modifier.





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By Warpaint Magazine

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