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Are Department Store Powders Really Better Than Drugstore Setting Powders?

Shopping for setting powders? We can help. Learn whether department store options are better

Learn whether paying more for a setting powder really gets you a better product

If there were a makeup bag MVP, setting powder would  win the award, hands-down. Why? Because setting powder works overtime to combat sweat, shine, and lock your whole look into place.

The downside to setting powder? Unlike that Vegas-showgirl inspired glitter eyeshadow that you only whip out once in a blue moon, you probably reach for your setting powder multiple times per day, from early morning makeup application to late afternoon touch-ups.

Since it’s such a high-traffic makeup item, setting powder usually disappears in the blink of an eye. But if you find your paycheck goes even quicker than your makeup, you’ll definitely want to consider switching to a drugstore setting powder.

Here’s what to consider when switching from a department store to drugstore setting powder.

The Downsides to Drugstore Powder

Drugstore setting powders typically contain an ingredient known as talc. Whether or not talc is harmful is currently up for debate. Johnson and Johnson, the largest baby powder manufacturer in the United States, was recently ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who died from using talcum powder daily for 35 years.

However, the debate comes from whether talc in cosmetics products is truly harmful, as some cosmetic chemists claim that only asbestos-infected talc causes cancer, and the fine milled talc in beauty products isn’t at risk. Furthermore, the American Cancer Society does not list talc as a known carcinogenic.

In order to truly determine if talc, or any other cosmetic product is harmful, its best to consult the Skin Deep cosmetic database, which lists the safety of ingredients used in the beauty industry on a 10 point scale. Skin Deep lists talc as a 5, and concludes that it poses a “moderate hazard.”

Whether or not you choose to bypass talc for safety reasons, it’s often not the best choice from a vanity standpoint either as it tends to create a super chalky look. Think of the white, cake-batter powdered faces which were popular in the 50’s, and you’ll understand the effects of too much talc in setting powder.

The current beauty trend leans glowing skin, which allows your natural complexion to shine through, and not the powdered up look of past generations. In fact, if you’ve got mature skin, powders containing talc will age you, as they tend to accentuate fine lines and wrinkles.

The Benefits of Drugstore Powder

Just because some drugstore powders don’t work doesn’t mean you should shy away from them as a whole. For instance, beauty brands E.L.F. and NYX make High Definition setting powder, which is very finely milled, allowing it to easily fill in every nook and cranny (AKA wrinkle) on your face, for maximum coverage.

Another great option when you find yourself on the drugstore powder aisle is mineral makeup, which provides a natural, airbrush effect and works on all skin types. Mineral powders have become increasingly popular in the last few years, thanks to Bare Minerals and the like. From a lower-end price point, Physicians Formula makes a highly rated drugstore version called Loose Minerals Airbrushing Powder, which not only has a built-in brush but also contains an SPF 30 sunscreen.

And if you’d like to avoid a one-size fits all translucent setting powder which often doesn’t work for darker skin tones, check out Maybelline’s Fit version, which comes in eight different shades and foregoes any chance of the dreaded chalky finish.

So is Department Store Setting Powder Really Worth it?

If you only find yourself powdering your nose once a day, and your budget allows for it, you definitely may want to consider a department store setting powder. That’s because, as a whole, department store products typically use higher-quality ingredients, and source raw materials from reputable suppliers.

Department store setting powder also often utilizes micas instead of talc in the manufacture of their products. Mica breaks down flat, so you can obtain many different looks based on its particle size, allowing you to achieve the look you desire such as a smooth matte finish, or a radiant shimmery one.

Our Takeaway

Overall, whether or not you should choose a department store or drugstore setting powder will depend on your budget, frequency of use, and desired results. Whichever type you choose, research your different options until you find the product which will best suit your needs.

Resources — Elle, Byrdie, Skin Deep

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