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Monday, May 28, 2012

Review + Comparison: Setting Powders (Burberry, Dior, Becca, and MAC)

Burberry No.01, MAC NC30, Dior 002 Medium, Becca Cardamon

Setting powders prolong the wear of your foundation by mattifying and absorbing oil without adding coverage. In general, they help prevent your skin's natural oils from breaking down your makeup as quickly. Therefore, those with oily skin should not skip this step in their makeup routine. 

I have an oily t-zone and normal skin on the rest of my face. I've tried the Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder and MAC Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder and they all mattified my skin and reduced any shine that I had on my face; however, they all broke me out. Regardless, I would still recommend these 3 powders because they all work well for lengthening the wear of your makeup and just because they broke me out, it doesn't mean they will break you out too. 

To apply, use a large fluffy brush, such as the Chanel #1 (review) or Posh Retractable Kabuki brush (review). Swirl or dip your brush into the product, tap off any excess and buff onto your face, concentrating on areas where you are most oily. (Do not use a dense brush or else it'll pick up too much product and your makeup will end up looking powdery and unnatural.)

Currently, I have 4 setting powders in my collection. Read on to see how they differ from one another. =)

Dior DiorSkin Forever Wear-Extending Invisible Retouch Powder ($42 for 12g): The compact comes in a velvet pouch with a thin sponge and a full-size mirror inside.  I'm not a fan of sponge applicators in general because I find them to be unsanitary. If I need to touch-up throughout the day, I just carry a retractable brush with me. However, I do appreciate the large mirror, which is very handy when you're applying your makeup on the go.

I bought it in shade 002 Transparent Medium and it looks pinkier and more cool toned than my other setting powders. Also, it looks chalky when swatched on my fingers and arms. However, when I apply it onto my face, it's translucent and doesn't change the color or the undertone of my foundation. Also, it's very sheer and it feels lightweight on my skin.

I've tried applying it over my Dior Forever foundation, but the finish ended up looking too matte and unnatural. The foundation already has a matte finish, so when you use a setting powder that's very mattifying, it's just overkill. I prefer to use the Dior setting powder over my MUFE HD foundation, which has a natural finish. It mattifies my skin without creating a mask-like effect and it lengthens the wear of my foundation.

According to the ingredients list, the Dior setting powder "may contain" Bismuth Oxychloride; however, it's a relief to know that it has not given me a horrible skin reaction. (I usually get an itchy rash and tiny bumps all over my face if Bismuth Oxychloride is one of the product's main ingredients.)

Active Ingredient: Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) 5%
Other Ingredients: Talc, Polyethylene, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Isopropyl Isostearate, Silica, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Aqua (Water), BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid

[+/-(May Contain): Cl 77007 (Ultramarines), Cl 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride), Cl 77491, 77492, 77499 (Iron Oxides), Cl 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)]
Burberry Sheer Luminous Pressed Powder ($45 for 10g): The compact comes in a velvet pouch with a full-size mirror inside and Burberry's signature check pattern embossed on the powder. It has a magnetic closure and it's slightly heavier than the Dior and MAC compact, which makes it feel more luxurious. It also comes with a mini brush that fits in the outer pocket of the velvet pouch. The brush is soft, narrow, and dense; however, it is not ideal for applying setting powder because it picks up too much product, does not distribute evenly and creates a sharp line. It's more appropriate for contouring, since it offers precision and fits into the contours of the face really well. 

I bought it in shade No. 01 because it has a yellow undertone. (Shade No. 02 is for those with a pink undertone.) The product is translucent and doesn't add any color or coverage to my skin. It feels so silky smooth and lightweight on my skin. Also, it has a strong, but lovely scent. Others may find it overpowering, but I assure you that the scent dissipates within minutes of application. 

When I use the Burberry powder to set my MUFE HD foundation, it doesn't control my natural oils from breaking through as well as the Dior setting powder. However, I love using the Burberry powder to set my Dior Forever foundation because it takes the shine away without making me look powdery or too matte (like the Dior setting powder does) and it just leaves a natural finish to my skin.

Ingredients: Talc, Zea Mays (corn) Starch, Silica, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Zinc Stearate, Calcium Carbonate, Zeolite, Sorbic Acid, Methylparaben, Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Difluoroethyl Peg Phosphate, Propylparaben, Tetrasodium Edta, Tocopheryl Acetate, Parfum (fragrance), Butylparaben, Alpha-isomethyl Ionone, Bht, Panthenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxycitronellal

[+/- (May Contain): Mica (Cl 77019) Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891), Iron Oxides (Cl 77491, Cl 77492, Cl 77499), Ultramarines (Cl 77007)]

MAC Select Sheer Pressed Powder ($23 for 12g): I usually get this at the Estee Lauder Company Store for around $16. It doesn't come in fancy packaging like the other 3 setting powders do, but it is the most affordable of the bunch. Like many other setting powders in the market, it comes with a thin sponge applicator and a small mirror inside. Although the mirror is small compared to the other ones, I don't find it to be an issue because it's still big enough to apply makeup on the go.

I'm an NC30/35 in MAC foundations, W4 in L'oreal True Match, 127 in MUFE HD and 031 mixed with 021 in Dior Forever. I use the MAC powder in NC25 to set my foundations because it doesn't change the color of my skin tone. The MAC powder in NC30 oxidizes throughout the day and makes me look orange. However, since my Dior Forever foundation in 021 is too light for me, I use the MAC NC30 powder over it to darken it. Using MAC's Select Sheer powder is a more affordable option to adjust your skin tone, instead of buying different shades of high-end foundations to match your Winter color and Summer tan. 

The MAC powder does look slightly powdery when I see myself upclose in the mirror. (I never really noticed this until I compared it to my other setting powders.) However, it's not really an issue because it's barely noticeable, especially from someone else's view. 

It keeps my natural oils at bay for at least 4 hours, which is what most powders do. Although it doesn't feel as lightweight and it doesn't lengthen the wear of my foundation as well as the Dior powder, I still keep repurchasing it because it does a good enough job for me and the price is reasonable.

Ingredients: Talc, Silica, Octyldodecyl Lactate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Nylon-12, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmiatate, Lecithin, Aluminum Sulphate, Zeolite, Zein, Perfluoropolymethylisopropyl Ether, BHT, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sorbic Acid, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben

[+/- (May Contain): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891), Iron Oxides (Cl 77491, Cl77492, Cl77499), Chromium Oxide Greens (Cl77288), Ferric Ferrocyanide (Cl77510), Ultramarines (Cl77007), Red 6 Lake (Cl15850), Red 7 Lake (Cl15850), Red 30 Lake (Cl73360), Yellow 5 Lake (Cl19140)] 

Becca Fine Pressed Powder ($42 for 10g): The compact comes in a zippered nylon pouch with a full-size mirror inside and a cute powder puff that feels more durable than the thin sponge applicators. The exterior is made of rubber and it's similar to NARS packaging, but it also has a metal center, which gives it weight. It's actually the heaviest compact of the bunch.

I bought this in shade Cardamon, but it's too dark for my NC30/35 skin tone and too light to use for contouring. Wheat or Mocha would have been a better color choice, but was out of stock.

The powder feels silky, though not as silky as the Burberry powder. Also, it has a strong scent that's not pleasant, but it quickly dissipates within minutes of application. (It is important to mention that other people have smelled it and loved the scent.) 

The main issue that I have with this is that it does not keep the shine away on my oily t-zone. My natural oils start breaking through around my nose area within an hour of application. It actually feels too "hydrating" on my skin. Therefore, those with dry skin will benefit more from this powder because it doesn't dry out the skin any further or make it look flaky.

Ingredients: Talc, Dimethylimidazolidinone Rice Starch, Mica, Aqua (Water), Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Myristate, Octyldodecanol, Isopropyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-150, Ricinus Communis (Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil), Cetearyl Alcohol, Quaternium-26, Silica, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Carnauba (Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax), Candelilla Cera (Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax), Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Stearic Acid, Cera Microcristallina (Microcrystalline Wax), Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Parfum (Fragrance)

[+/- (May Contain): Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Ultramarines CI 77007, Yellow 5 Lake CI 19140, Yellow 6 Lake CI 15985]

Bottom Line: If you want a good setting powder that's affordable, then the MAC Select Sheer powder is for you. If you have a bigger budget, then I recommend getting the Dior setting powder, which is the most mattifying powder of the bunch. It works especially well with foundations that have a natural finish because it keeps the oils at bay, while still maintaining a natural look. The Burberry Sheer powder is more ideal for setting matte foundations because it's not overly mattifying to the point that it would dry out your face. It just takes the shine away and leaves a soft, natural finish to the skin. Those with dry skin will find the Becca powder to be a more suitable option since it won't accentuate dry patches or dry out the skin even further.

Note: The Dior and Burberry setting powder are available at Sephora and at Nordstrom. The MAC setting powder is available at Nordstrom. The Becca setting powder is available at Sephora.

*This post contains affiliate links. None of the products mentioned are sponsored.

What do you use to set your makeup?


  1. I don't usually set my makeup, I like using concealers. THese powders look really nice though. MIght give the DIor one a consideration.

  2. I just bought Burberry Sheer Powder in translucent first I thought it would be too light for my skin..but you were right, translucent 1 is more of a yellow undertone which is perfect for us NC30 people... :) And what you said about it is perfect when combine with matte foundation (I was using Estee Lauder Double Wear when the counter lady tried the powder on me) and my skin looked soooo flawless..

  3. fantastic review - thanks!


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