We’ll cut to the chase—the short answers, is yes (at least in our humble-yet-expert opinion). Look, there’s no denying that powder is one of the O.G. beauty products out there, with a centuries-old history dating back to ancient times. But here’s the thing: It’s 2021 and all those decades-old uses for powder—namely mattifying shine, setting makeup—can now be achieved with new and improved skincare and makeup formulas. More specifically, these latest innovations don’t come with the many drawbacks that come with traditional loose and pressed powders. We’re talking making skin look dry and chalky, settling into fine lines and wrinkles, and leaving your complexion with an ashy appearance. “Powders age skin by enhancing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles—even ones you didn’t know you had—and ultimately separates when you add more as a touch-up,” explains celebrity makeup artist and Veil Cosmetics founder, Sébastien Tardif. No, thank you—on all of those. So, let’s talk through some of what powder was previously used for, and what you can use today instead.
As Foundation: While historically powders were always white, a rise of new skin-colored powders in the 1920s and 1930s led to powder being used as all-over foundation. There are still plenty of powder foundations on the market, but again, no matter how finely-milled they are, or how many light-reflecting minerals they tout, they simply will never look like skin. Dry powders are nothing like your moist skin, and that contrast makes them very detectable and noticeable. A better bet? The Veil Cosmetics Sunset Skin Liquid Foundation. The airy, whipped formula that melts seamlessly into skin, rather than sitting on top of it, making it appear smoother, more even, and with the perfect amount of natural radiance.
For Tamping Down Shine: The whole ‘powder your nose’ trope is so dated. Yes, powders are absorbent and will absorb unwanted oil. But in the process they can start to cake and crease, and this only happens even more the more layers of powder you add. There are far better ways to keep skin from shining than using powder. One of our favorite tricks? Applying the Veil Cosmetics AutoMATTE Mattifying Balm & Touch-Up. Yes, we said a balm. The velvety multi-tasker can be used as a mattifying primer, after moisturizer, pre-foundation. It’s non-drying, non-cakey, and a surefire way to keep a natural looking complexion. (Not to mention that it’s also infused with a host of good-for-your complexion ingredients, such as antioxidant-rich vitamin C and vitamin E, a great emollient and skin conditioner.) “Unlike powder, AutoMatte won’t dry out your skin, nor does it enhance peach fuzz,” explains Tardif, who adds that the formula smooths out skin while also ensuring foundation and concealer stay creaseless. Consider it, “an updated version of the powder compact,” he says.
To Set Makeup: Powder has long been used as a finishing step, though a recent explosion in the popularity of “baking” all over social media has made it more mainstream than ever. (Baking is the process of applying loose powder with a damp sponge over foundation and concealer and letting it sit—bake—for five to 10 minutes.) Now, here’s the thing: This does serve a purpose, but only in some very specific makeup routines. “Baking is great with drag and theatre makeup. Otherwise, forget it,” says Tardif. (We’re very willing to bet that stage makeup isn’t exactly the aesthetic you’re going for on a day-to-day basis.) Adding layer upon layer of powder destroys the integrity of the skin, he explains. Your complexion ends up looking dry and chalky, rather than healthy and glowy. A better bet? Once again, the Veil Cosmetics AutoMATTE Mattifying Balm & Touch-Up for the win. As long as you prep your complexion correctly with the right skincare and use makeup formulations that are suited for your particular skin type, you actually shouldn’t even need any type of setting product in the first place. Still, if you find that you want to lock things back into place mid-day, AutoMATTE can also be used on top of makeup (dabbed on with the included sponge applicator, a flat brush, or even your fingertips) to help mitigate makeup meltdown and instantly make your skin look fresh again.
The bottom line: The makeup you choose to use always boils down to a matter of personal preference. So if you really do prefer powder, go for it. But if your beauty goal is a radiant, youthful and healthy complexion, it’s time to leave powder in the dust (pun intended) in favor of more modern makeup formulas that enhance your complexion, rather than cover it up.