And they really do, and I know that because I bloody use them daily and I bloody love them.
POWDER ONE: Loose Powder
Which will: Set your makeup, remain invisible, not create or exacerbate your lines.
Face powders have copped a bad wrap in the past, mostly because they deserved it. It was horrible. Thick, salmon-toned and utterly unbelievable despite being the final product on a face, and the one meant to really ram home the “this is just great skin, obviously” effect.
While loose or translucent powders have always been different, far more lightweight and devoid of colour, they too had some work to do. For years I would shun them when having my makeup done for shoots or events because they made fine lines stand out and aged me, but now I not only sit quietly as they apply the powder right at the end (EVEN under my eyes) to set my makeup, I do it myself at home when I really want my makeup to stay in place. (In conjunction with primer used before my foundation.) Even if that makeup is only BB or CC cream.
I put this down to better technology, better and tinier particles, light-reflecting pigments and even the addition of skin care ingredients in some brands. Many loose powders now work to actively blur fine lines and soften the look of the skin, which is a complete contrast to what we have come to expect from them.
Do this: Take a clean, small blush brush (with no blush or bronzer on it at all) and dip it into your powder, tapping off the excess. Now lightly dust the brush down your T-zone (middle of the forehead, nose and chin) as well as anywhere else prone to shine. It’s also not a bad idea to set all of your undereye concealing and brightening work with a touch along there too.
I like: Laura Mercier’s Loose Setting Powder.
POWDER TWO: Hair volume powder
This will: Add fullness, texture, grit and instant volume to even the cleanest or flattest or slipperiest of hair.
Also referred to as ‘hair powder’ or ‘texture powder’ (by hairdressers) or ‘magic dust’ (by me), this is very fine, wet dust that comes in a wee little container, generally around the size of a Milky Way, and takes your hair from flat, dull or too-clean and perfect and too shiny, to cool-girl film clip hair very, very swiftly indeed. It makes your hair look matte. Slept-in. But also fuller. Like you had an awesome blow dry and hot rollers yesterday, but then went out all night and slept on it. Perfect.
It’s a dry hair product, a finishing product, so you only use it once hair is completely dry if you’ve just washed it, or at any time if your hair is not just washed. It is horrible when used on wet or even damp hair. Don’t do it.
Do this: I have provided instructions on how to use it many times, but basically, you want to very lightly sprinkle/tap the product onto the scalp, all over the head. Quickly and randomly. I lift up sections and tap on the underneath so as to get the volume and texture without the visible heaviness on the scalp, which can happen if you use a lot, because it’s a no-turning-back product, and by that I mean, if you go overboard, you’re screwed. So start lightly. Even by tapping it out onto fingers and then massaging those fingers into the scalp.
On photoshoots I note the stylists will often use the powder on my mid-lengths to ends as well, for that piecey, rock girl, matte, dishevelled look, which I sometimes do, but find it weighs my fine hair down just a touch, so only when my hair is SUPER CLEAN and super boofy and the only way to remedy it is with a shittonne of texture and the kind of facial expression that assumes I meant it.
I use: Pretty much all of them. Don’t style hair or travel without them. Am a long time fan of the original, Aveda’s Pure Abundance Hair Potion, but currently using Redken’s.
POWDER THREE: Dry shampoo.
This will: Save your arse when your hair is dirty and uninspiring. Also: add volume and interest when your hair is clean.
I really probably can’t write too much about this Desert Island, can’t-live-without, Top Five, Must-have, go-to product, since I have done so so extensively in the past, (and even created a how-to video on it, which seems ridiculous but many dry shampoo users are simply not using enough product, or using the product close enough to the scalp, or massaging it in fully) but suffice to say, I’m an enormous fan and generally have around four cans on the go at once. I use it to liven and puff up greasy hair, but also love it on clean hair to make it a little more matte (not gritty and textured, as per hair powder) and add some gentle second-day-ness to it.
(And yes, it is a powder. A really, really fine one. Like talc.)
Do this: Spray no more than 10cm away from the scalp. Use a fair whack of product. (Go for the Batiste coloured versions if you hate the grey-wig hair look this creates because of your darker hair.) Allow the product to sit on the scalp for 15 seconds. Massage in with hands if you’re short of time, or blow dry through with a brush for the perfect crime (i.e.: undetectable). Blondies tend to get even more use out of dry shampoo, because of their bleach, and can use it for 2-3 days in a row before succumbing to a wet shampoo (how old school) but us darker haired and fine hair babes can usually only get one day of dry shampoo on hair that’s worn out, and one day when it is up. (The REALLY PUSHING IT dirty hair final frontier.) Also, keep in mind you will look like you have dandruff if you use dry shampoo too many days in a row, cos that shit builds up. Definitely shampoo twice when you finally succumb to a hair wash.
I use: All of them, but am especially partial to the Batiste brunette one.