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Friday, April 15, 2016

Swatches + Comparison: Loose and Pressed Matte Powders by Surratt and NARS

Nars Surratt Loose Pressed Matte Mattifying Setting Powders Collection Comparison Review

I already made a post about setting powders; however, most of the products mentioned have been discontinued. So, I decided to make an updated post about the powders that I have been enjoying. 

I have an extremely oily t-zone and normal (not dry or oily) skin on the rest of my face. I find that when I don't set my foundation with a powder, my skin gets more oily throughout the day and my makeup tends to move or fade. So, I always set my face with a powder.

Generally, in the winter, I'll pair a luminous powder with a mattifying foundation or a mattifying powder with a dewy foundation to prevent over drying my skin & emphasizing dry spots. In the summer, I'm more likely to pair a mattifying foundation with a mattifying powder to prevent my greasy t-zone from looking like it got attacked by a lump of lard.

Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder Cartridge in Matte Puff Review

Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder Cartridge in Matte Review

Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder Empty Compact Review

Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder Empty Compact Packaging Size Comparison

($20 for 0.05oz/1.4g)

Packaging: The compact is sold separately for $20 and comes with a puff. It's bulky compared to the Nars pressed powder, but it's not as thick as the Nars loose powder. I find that it securely holds the refill cartridge in place and it can also be easily removed by poking the hole that's on the back of the compact. (I use a thin chopstick, but you can use a tweezer or pen.)

I also like that it has a mesh design, which prevents product from pouring out and making as much of a mess as traditional loose powders. It also prevents you from picking up too much product and over applying. (Pick up the product by dipping a fluffy brush, such as the Sonia Kashuk #19, into the refill cartridge and then, use a tapping motion.)

Color: The Matte one is translucent and is undetectable when applied lightly onto the face. I swatched it heavily on my arms in order for it to show up on camera. Surratt's version is more warm toned, while the Nars Light Reflecting powder is more cool toned. However, the difference is negligible as it's unnoticeable when applied lightly onto the face. It also comes in Eclatant, which leaves a glow to the skin. 

Formula: It has a silky texture that's suppose to "makes pores disappear." I find that it does blur the appearance of pores a little bit, but a silicone-based primer does a better job at that, while the powder works better at locking makeup in place and keeping oil at bay. It's very mattifying and is ideal for those with oily skin. A little goes a long way. So, make sure to not over apply it or else it can emphasize dry spots and cause your foundation to look flaky.  

Ingredients: Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Lauroyl Lysine, Boron Nitride, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Squalane, Silica, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Tocopherol and Hydrogen Dimethicone. [+/- (May contain): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499) and Tin Oxide]

Nars Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder Eden Beach Swatches

Surratt Beauty Diaphane Loose Powder Cartridge in Matte Swatch

Surratt Diaphane Loose Powder vs Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder Translucent Crystal Comparison Review

Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder Dupe Review

($37 for 0.35oz/10g)

Packaging: It comes in a plastic jar and a rubber twist-cap. The sifter is not as convenient as the ones with a built-in mesh, but it doesn't pour out as much product as other loose powders do. It also comes in a pressed version, which I find that I would always hit pan really quick (like after about a month) and it would get very difficult to pick up the product with my brush when half the product was still left in the pan. 

Color: It comes in only one shade called Translucent Crystal, which has light reflecting particles that can only be detected under direct sunlight. It looks completely matte under artificial lighting and is translucent when applied lightly. If you over apply it, it can create a white cast. Therefore, it's not ideal for baking and is most suitable for setting makeup.

Paraben & Fragrance-Free Formula: It's very similar to the Surratt one. The main difference is that the Nars version creates a blurring effect and diminishes the look of fine lines. (Click on the swatch pictures to enlarge). Again, because it's very mattifying, make sure to not over apply it or else it can emphasize dry spots. 

I've been using the Nars one for years because it's one of the few powders in the market that controls my oils very well without breaking me out. No matter how many new favorites I find, I always keep coming back to this one. 

Ingredients: Silica, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Dimethicone, Lauroyl Lysine, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Glycerin, Magnesium Silicate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Chlorphenesin, Polysilicone-2, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Aqua (Water), Barium Sulfate, Algae, Phenoxyethanol, Alumina, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Mica, cl 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), cl 77491 (Iron Oxides) and cl 77492 (Iron Oxides).

Nars Light Reflecting Setting Powder Loose vs Pressed Review
(This is an old picture taken from my pinterest page.)
Surratt Diaphane Loose Powder Cartridge in Matte Nars Light Reflecting Swatches

Nars Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder Eden Beach Review

Nars Pressed Powder in Beach vs Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder Review

($37 for 0.35oz/10g)

Packaging: It comes in the same packaging as the Light Reflecting loose powder.

Color: It currently comes in 8 shades. Eden is supposed to be for those with yellow, medium skintones, while Beach is for those with deep, yellow medium skintones. For my warm, NC30/35 skintone, I prefer Beach because Eden looks more beige, while Beach looks more yellow when I swatch them side by side. The difference is so negligible that those with warm, medium skintones can get away with wearing either shade. Also, although they're tinted, they don't change the color of your foundation or cause it to oxidize throughout the day.

Formula: It has a silky texture that feels thicker than the Light Reflecting one. It's still sheer and feels lightweight on the skin. It also sets my makeup and controls my oils very well without creating a white cast. 

Ingredients: Talc, Nylon-12, Magnesium Stearate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Silica, Dimethicone, Lauroyl Lysine, Diphenyl Dimethicone/Vinyl Diphenyl Dimethicone/Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Methicone, Chlorphenesin, Boron Nitride, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Trimyristin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Benzyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dehydroacetic Acid and Water/Aqua/Eau [+/- (May contain): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77492) and Iron Oxides (CI 77499)]

Nars Pressed Powder in Beach Swatch

Nars Pressed Powder in Beach Review

Nars Pressed Powder in Beach Compact Size Packaging Comparison
size comparison
($37 for 0.28oz/8g)

Packaging: It comes in a sleek, rubber compact that's very travel friendly. 

Color: It currently comes in 8 shades. The pressed version in Beach has shimmers and looks darker than the loose version. The shimmers are only noticeable under direct sunlight. The powder looks completely matte under artificial lighting. Also, the difference in color between the pressed & loose version is negligible because they don't change the color of my foundation when applied lightly onto my face. 

Formula: It has a silky and creamy-like texture that smooths onto the skin really well. It can be applied sheer with a fluffy brush, such as the Sonia Kashuk #19, or layered with a denser brush, such as the #29, #24 and #18 (comparison picture), for added coverage. It doesn't provide as much coverage as a foundation, but it's enough for a natural look. It also blurs imperfections and mattifies without over drying the skin or emphasizing dry patches. Therefore, it's ideal for pairing with very mattifying foundations and for the winter months when skin tends be drier.

Ingredients: Talc, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Nylon-12, Silica, Polyethylene, Zinc Stearate, Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Lauroyl Lysine, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Methylparaben, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Ethylparaben, Glucosyl Hesperidin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Serralysin, Curcuma Longa [Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract], Trisodium Edta and Tocopherol. [+/- (May contain): Mica, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77492 (Iron Oxides) and CI 77499 (Iron Oxides)]

Nars Soft Velvet Loose Setting Powder in Beach Eden Swatch

Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder Soft Velvet Eden Beach Comparison Review

Bottom Line: All of these powders work well for reducing shine, controlling oils and lengthening the wear of makeup. The key is to use a light hand! Both the Surratt and Nars Light Reflecting powder are the most mattifying of the bunch and are ideal for those with combination/oily skin. The Nars Soft Velvet powder is suitable for those who want some color without extra coverage, while the pressed version is suitable for those who want the option of added coverage. Also, it's worth mentioning that none of them have any detectable fragrance.

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


  1. Great post, we have similar skin types and I love the Nars Light Reflecting Powder, I think it looks so pretty! I also love a loose powder as I think my loose powder is more mattifying than the pressed although that's most likely just my own bias. Great post, thank you for sharing, there are so many amazing powders out there. Have you heard of the La Mer The Powder? So curious about that one x

    Kiran |

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Kiran! =) I haven't tried the La Mer powder yet, but I've heard alot of great things about it. People say that it doesn't settle into fine lines, so it may be great for setting the under eyes. It's actually less expensive by the gram ($65 for 25g) compared to the Nars one. I may just have to try it out next time.

  2. Hi! I'm deciding between the Nars Light Reflecting Loose Powder or the Velvet Loose Powder. Mainly to set my concealer and for oil control for my T-zone over just sunscreen (I don't use foundation). Which one would you recommend?? Thank you :)

    1. Both control oil very well, but the Light Reflecting one is a bit better in terms of oil control. Just make sure to use as little as possible to prevent creating a white cast. The Velvet Loose powder is more forgiving if you over apply it because it's tinted. By the way, I love your name! =)

    2. Thanks for your quick reply! (:
      (Cheers to Joyces)

  3. Wonderful article. I will be trying the surratt beauty loose powder once my current one runs out. I have tried their lipslique from b-glowing in the past and have been meaning to try more of their products.


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