How To Use Powder Without Looking Cakey

How To Use Powder Without Looking Cakey


I spent my first, formative makeup-using years thinking dewy skin was the devil. I would pack on the powder. If matte skin had a poster girl for the years of 2001-2004, it was my teenage face. The particular product I had was also two shades too light for my skin tone, so not only did I look like a chalky, overdone terror, I also looked like I was celebrating Halloween all year round. Special shout out to Mum for not telling me I looked ridiculous!

Thing is, because my introduction to powder was go hard and fast and take no prisoners, I was pretty put off by the product once I worked out that the all over the face look was not good. So for a few years I refused to touch the stuff. But the reality was, powder wasn’t the enemy here. It was a) how I was using it, and b) the product I was using wasn’t right for me. Now, over a decade later, powder is a mainstay in my beauty bag and I use it every single day.

Plenty of people are still put off by it though. Or using it in the completely wrong way. So I figured I’d try and convince powder cynics that, if you use the right product the right way, you’ll find your makeup lasts longer, you’re shine free and – biggest benefit – it all looks incredibly flawless.

Choose wisely

In my opinion the best powder from a suit-anyone perspective is one that’s translucent, loose, and has a sort of soft-focus finish thanks to some light illuminating elements. You honestly can’t go wrong with one along these lines. Translucent powders can vary in colour – many are white, but don’t be put off by that. They don’t apply white unless you pack it on like crazy (we’ll get to that in a sec). Others are beige, or slightly pink/peach. But generally if it says translucent it should go on without depositing any noticeable colour.

Now, I say loose because I find loose powder is more versatile than a compact. Compacts are FAB for a party clutch or your handbag, like on the go stuff. But loose powder can be used more heavily on top of concealer, as well as to set makeup in general, so that’s why I prefer it.

If you’ve got really oily skin, you can skip over my ‘soft focus’ suggestion and go for the heavy duty mattifying powders if you like. The reason I’m pro a soft focus finish is because you lose that tell-tale “dull” effect of powder, and it lets the texture of your foundation shine through. Basically, you can still look dewy and glowy. But anyone with oily skin who really needs some control would probably say their skin is glowy enough thank you very much.

Don’t go mental with it

The biggest mistake I was making as a teen was literally wiping that powder across my face with the complimentary powder puff. It’s to pat powder on – and while it’s not my tool of choice (more on that in a sec!) when you use it properly it can still give a good finish. Basically, powder doesn’t need to be applied and applied and applied until your face cracks when you smile. Think of it as more of a little added extra as opposed to part of your base coverage. Some swear by only adding it to oil prone areas like the t-zone. I personally apply it all over my face, because I have a weird thing where all my foundation disappears in like, 2 hours if I don’t really set it in there. But one thing everyone who uses powder effectively will tell you is – start light. Only use what is absolutely needed! And don’t buff it in, powder is meant to be dusted on gently. Patting it on your loose powder, tapping off excess, and lightly dusting what is left across your face should do, to be honest. With maybe one more go over the t-zone.

Go get yourself a big, fluffy brush

The bigger and fluffier the better! Well, not really but there’s no strict rules here. Something titled a ‘powder brush’ will generally do you well. The overall rule is the bristles should be spaced enough that it’s soft and moves easily when you brush it along your hand, unlike say a buffing or foundation brush which will have very dense bristles. You want the fluffiness so the powder doesn’t go on super concentrated, which’ll leave you with a cakey finish. My personal favourite is It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Jumbo Powder #3, but there are plenty of great ones out there!

So there you go! Convinced yet? You totally are. I’m honestly such a fan of setting powder now – it’s like I’ve come full circle, except instead of ol’ Casper the friendly ghost, now I’m this gently mattified, glowing angel and everyone can’t help but stop and stare at my flawless, poreless skin… or you know, just walk right on past me.

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