Setting Powder Gets Hip

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Setting powder. It sounds like something dusted over a Civil War reenactor for realism. Or if it does sound cosmetic, it sounds like the heaviest, most old-lady, chalky thing out there. Sure, even young people have their favorites, but I have a hard time believe that someone who's not already on the bandwagon is going to get on when you call it something as drab as “setting powder.”

When the whole goal of mornings is to get out the door, you want to rely on a few products whose results you can see—and that’s how setting powder gets forgotten. If you’re not familiar with its magic, setting powder can sound like a superfluous trill note on a laborious, mysteriously long makeup routine. People on parade floats need setting powder—what if you’re just ducking down to that ramen place a few blocks over?

Turns out, setting powder makes just as much sense to wear out to ramen as tinted moisturizer. And when it’s Nars Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder in Translucent Crystal, it might be only thing you need. There’s no color, no shimmer, no shine—just your skin with a more refined finish.

If you’re new to the idea, let me explain how it fits in to your routine: You’ve got on your tinted moisturizer, BB cream, foundation, or whatever skin-shade goop fits your fancy. Oftentimes, especially for the naturally shinier set, you want to dim down some of that resonant gleam you have afterwards. Skin-colored powder on top can be chalky and just too matte. The goal is to absorb some oil throughout the day, but you also want a little luminosity, too—making the most of those locally-produced face oils and getting with the glow. After your tint, you don’t necessarily need more color on your skin—you just need a better finish.

And that's what Nars' is going to give you. It's super pressed so you don’t lift too much product off—not like it’s really even possible to OD on it since it goes on so lightly. It’s never chalky or masque-like, and it’s better at absorbing oil and perfecting the skin’s surface than laying down a blizzard of beige powder and hoping all sins stay buried. And the tiny light-reflecting mineral particles keep the matte in check while still adhering to the glow incentive. In the compact, it’s a gleamingly bright white, even though it goes on almost invisibly. The effect is not about color, it’s about finish. I love applying it with the Nars Powder Brush #10, whose gentle, long brush glides and bends over skin, giving you an even, light coverage. Used on bare, moisturized skin, it's just as lovely—more moon glow than you have naturally, if that's what you're looking for. Really, 2015 should be all about the setting.

—Trace Barnill

Photographed by Tom Newton.