Face powder seems like such a simple concept, but all the different formulas and brushes can get complicated. But when you nail the application, the rest of your makeup looks bomb. That's why we enlisted Lijha Stewart, Make Up For Ever's Director of Artistry and Education, to outline the most common mistakes people make when applying powder — and how to fix them.
1. You're using the wrong tools.
The BeautyBlender is a really helpful makeup sponge, but it's important to know how to use it properly — and many people don't. Choose a sponge such as the BB only if you want more of a full coverage look. That pressing motion you see beauty YouTubers do with a sponge? It's because they want heavy coverage, explains Lijha.
If you have oily skin, your best bet is to use a powder puff with loose powder. "It absorbs oil and creates a velvety matte skin finish," adds Lijha. But if you're looking for a soft, glow-y complexion? A powder brush will help create that.
2. You don't clean your brushes often enough.
As long as you're not sharing your brushes with friends (and only using it on your face), Lijha recommends deep cleaning your brushes about once a month. She advises using a small dab of shampoo and mixing it with water to get out any makeup residue. Then, leave the brushes to dry on a paper towel.
That doesn't mean you're off the hook for every day maintenance though. Spray on an instant brush cleaning spray (such as Make up For Ever Instant Brush Cleanser) and rub off the residue on a paper towel after every use. It's fast and easy, and will help keep your brushes soft and shiny.
3. You store your powder in the bathroom.
Make sure you store your powder in a cool, dry place like your bedroom. Humidity can wreak havoc on your face powder, screwing up the application. "The formula is more likely to clump together in the packaging because of the moisture that gets into the compact," says Lijha. Additionally, it also affects the pigments.
4. You choose the wrong shade for your skin tone.
You might think that you just have to match the color to your skin and you're good to go, but powder can actually be a little more tricky than that, especially, if you have oily skin. If your skin tends to get greasy, Lijha recommends going a shade or half a shade lighter. "This is because when powder touches oil, it oxidizes," she explains. "Then the powder will possibly get more peachy or brown, depending on the shade." If you have dry or combination skin, however, matching your powder to your skin is fine.
5. You're using the wrong formula for your skin type.
Whether you have oily or dry skin seriously matters when it comes to choosing a face powder. If you have oily skin, look for a powder that contains talc, like Make Up Forever Super Matte Loose Powder. "Talc is an oil absorbent and will help combat oily skin," explains Lijha.
Those with dry skin should find a powder that has hyaluronic acid, which has hydrating and moisture-boosting properties. Lijha recommends Make Up Forever Pro Finish Powder. Powders that contain silica, like Make Up Forever HD Powder, are very popular with all skin types, but tend to work best on skin that's on the drier side since silica helps the powder glide over skin with a little texture. Those with really oily skin might find it too greasy, since silica also has slight oil-building properties.
6. You're using too much powder.
To keep your skin from looking cakey, only use one coat of powder on your face. If you apply too much, spritz a setting spray, which Lijha says keeps the powdery look in check and will make your skin look dewy.
7. You don't remove excess powder.
You know how celebs can look a little powdery under bright lights? That's often because they didn't do this one important step. If you're applying powder over your foundation, remove the excess with a clean fluffy brush by lightly dusting it over your face. A sponge will just remove your foundation with it.
It's especially important to remove excess translucent powder because it pops under flash photography. Lijha's tip? Take a selfie with the flash on your phone. If you don't see white blotches on your face, you're in good shape.
8. You don't use moisturizer first.
"Always start with the emollient-rich item first," explains Lijha. That means apply heavier moisturizer first, and lighter serums last. This will keep your powder smooth and clean.
9. You apply powder on the outer edges of your face.
Stick to your T-zone when it comes to applying powder, since that's where the majority of oil buildup happens. "You can dust around the outer edges of your face, but be careful around the hairline," says Lijha."It's difficult to remove powder residue from your hair!"