Finally, A Setting Powder For People Who Hate Them

Photo: Streetstyleshooters/Getty Images.
I'll be the first to say: I don't like powder makeup — really anything that comes in a compact. Where makeup is concerned, I use liquids and creams and anything I can rub into my skin with my fingers or dapple lightly with a Beautyblender. It's easy, and I feel glowy — and not covered up — afterwards.
Still, the caveat to a routine consisting of a lot of sheer, cream-based pigments — bright pink liquid blush, bronzer drops, and a chubby highlighter stick down my nose nose and over both cheekbones — that no one talks about is that if unprotected, it tends to melt away.
I find this most frustrating when I'm going out at night. I love the way my makeup looks before I leave the apartment — things are dewy and fresh and my face has dimension. But once I've Ubered to dinner, housed my fourth of a burrata appetizer and one and a half margaritas, I'll catch my reflection in the mirror of the bathroom and it looks like my contour, blush, and highlight have collectively sunk into my skin leaving it bare and a little flat.
Setting spray or powder should be helpful with, you know, 'locking' makeup in place. Though in my experience, setting sprays don't really do anything, except feel nice when it's hot out and give me a dewy glow for a minute. In fact, they might even speed up the melt-off. A veil of setting powder is worse because it makes my already-dry skin look and feel drier and prone to those cracking veins of concealer under my eyes.
Though in recent years, makeup brands have attempted to counter the "cakey powder" narrative with options that work to set makeup in place, without drying out the skin underneath it. Quietly, there have been updates to ingredient formulations. There's been a reduction in the use of talc — a controversial mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, used in powder to absorb oil — and an integration of hydrators, like squalane.
I've tried a few of the newer powders, both loose and pressed, with 'radiant' claims. But my favorite, by far, is the Saie Airset Powder. Founder Laney Crowell describes it as an "aerated-creamy formula" that's "specifically formulated for people who aren't fans powder."
My skin after using the Saie Airset Powder.
Saie Airset Radiant Loose Setting Powder
The Saie Airset presents like most others in the category: it's loose on the bottom and there's a little sifter with holes that allows you to pour a little bit up onto the cap. There are three shades, I used the lightest, which is like a white beige, and apply it as the final step of my makeup routine using what might be the softest makeup brush I've ever touched to my face: the pinpointed fluffy brush, which you can buy with the Airset powder. I'm not too precious, but Stevie Rose, Saie's Head of Education, instructs to "sweep and roll under your eyes first, then along your T-Zone to set your makeup, but keep your glow."
It feels like nothing, but makes my skin look a little more velvety on the onset. I tested it out on a Friday night during a recent snowstorm in NYC. At the end of the night, around 1 a.m., my makeup didn't look all that different from when I put it on seven hours prior. There was some wear, but I still had pinch of color on my cheeks and no apparent dark hollowing under my eyes, a telltale sign that my concealer failed. I'm not oily, so I can't speak to how it does at eliminating excess oils in the skin. Though an early reviewer says: "It kept my oily skin under control without making my skin look cakey." For many of us, it seems, translucent setting powder is experiencing a rebrand.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Makeup

R29 Original Series