Imagine spending a good chunk of your Friday night color correcting, concealing, applying your foundation, and contouring only to have your hard work melt off by the time you make it to the bar. Truth be told, forgetting a delicate dusting of setting powder is almost worse than forgetting your primer before you apply your base.
“Think of setting powder as the varnish a painter uses to protect pigments from fading over time on her canvas,” makeup artist Clarissa Luna says. “It literally ‘sets’ your foundation and concealer, and stops it from moving around on your face. And it creates a smoother finish and a flawless look overall.”
While setting powder is deemed necessary by most major makeup artists and influencers (hey, Patrick Starr!), it’s not always easy for those with darker skin tones to find the right one. Most powders are white or translucent, and can sometimes leave an ashy cast — or worse, photo flashback. “A lot of cosmetic companies have yet to make a universally-true translucent formula,” Luna continues. So, to combat that, look for a selection that has been finely milled and tinted with your complexion in mind. See the pro picks ahead.
It’s never easy to let go of something you love. Really, it’s one of the hardest conclusions a person will ever have to come to, acknowledging — and then accepting — that a part of your life is no longer servicing you as it once did. I have suffered two great disappointments of this kind, two crushing blows of realization that a thing I had built my life around wasn’t working for me the way I wanted it to. The first, years ago, was smoking weed. (“It’s actually really good for anxiety,” everyone would tell me, while my hands shook and my heart raced and my vision blurred and I considered calling my parents to tell them I loved them before I died.) And the second, far more recently, was essential oils.
Here’s where that ill-fated love story begins: me, over the age of five but definitely no older than 10, huffing the huiles aromatiques in their frosted-glass flacons that my mom kept on her dresser. And here is where it ends: around two decades later, relying on an expensive cocktail of skin-care products enriched with oils, both essential and non, to tackle problems ranging from acne to redness to sensitivity to just… problematic. According to my internal narrative, I had bad skin, and I was using good products to treat it. But it never got better. Why?
There’s that quote that’s always attributed to Albert Einstein, even though it might well have originated in an old Narcotics Anonymous handbook from 1981 and never been spoken at all by the German-born genius: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So maybe I’m insane! Or maybe I’d just invested so much in the idea that natural “toxin-free” products with organic essential oils were Good and my skin was Bad that it was hard to flip that script.
The first step was a kind of trial separation from my bergamot and neroli and orange blossom and lavender and all the aromatherapeutic blends I used to inhale deeply for ten breaths as I massaged them into my skin. I found a line of products that I liked that happened to leave out essential oils. The brand’s founder, chemist Marie-Veronique Nadeau, said that she formulated an essential oil-free range as a way to “eliminate one factor in the guesswork with sensitive skin issues, and that it did. I used them consistently for a few days, and that was it. Irritation: gone. Redness: gone. Weird flakiness around my mouth: gone. Breakouts: gone. Like magic — or, at the very least, like normal, balanced skin.
And because I’m not insane, I haven’t gone back to my old ways. I no longer use any essential oils; in fact, I scan every ingredients list with an eagle’s eye before trying anything new, and if I see any of my old floral-extract friends, I’m out.
This, I should mention, is controversial. I know, I know — controversy should be limited to discussion around things like Michelle Wolf and the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, not whether or not I like putting essential oils on my face. But you’d really be surprised: I’ve sat down with esteemed founders of popular skin-care brands who balk at my suggestion that essential oils do not work for me. They act like I’m lying, or like I am an idiot who has put pure undiluted tea-tree oil on my face and wondered why it burned, which I haven’t. “I’ve seen severe contact dermatitis from a variety of products containing essential oils,” a board-dermatologist with a medical degree once told me, which is to say: I am not making this shit up.
But for every brand that puts essential oils in their formulas like they’re going out of style (and they’re really not — people have been using them for thousands of years, which is a good indicator that they’ll probably never stop), there’s another brand that’s wising up to the fact that, while they’re not inherently bad, they just don’t work for everyone. Peet Rivko and Drunk Elephant have sworn them off entirely; Trilogy and Sunday Riley both offer some essential oil-free formulas. And if you find your skin in constant turmoil for a reason that remains a mystery, consider taking a break and seeing what happens. Breaking up was hard to do, but things are so much better on the other side — which, coincidentally, is exactly what I’d say to my pot-peddling high-school boyfriend, too.
When it comes to your makeup, you fall into one of two camps: You either like your face matte, or you like it dewy. Often, that means you either use a setting powder, or you don’t. But now, thanks to a new generation of finishing products, those on team glow are about to get a taste of the powder life they’ve avoided for so long.
Whether it’s mineral, loose, or pressed, the main goal of any good powder is to keep your makeup as creaseless as possible all day long — and more often than not, that means you’re getting the mattifying treatment. But a baked-to-oblivion undereye isn’t everyone’s goal; some just want a radiant, healthy sheen. That’s where the three new launches ahead come into play. These formulas include ultra-refined particles that are lightweight, silky, and — yes — really hydrating. They keep your T-zone free from the dreaded oil that hits without fail at 3 PM, but make everything else look seriously lit.
Bonnets aren’t exactly the kind of thing you put on before sending a “you up?” text. Most are oversized, blindingly bright, and have that unmistakeable plastic sheen. When it comes to protecting our strands overnight, that’s perfectly fine. But for sexy sleepovers? Maybe not so much.
That’s why we’re excited to see more brands introducing cool, innovative bonnet designs that are not only pretty enough to wear to bed, but could actually pass for daytime hair accessories. Best part: They extend the life of your look, help retain moisture, and fight split ends — all while looking damn cute, to boot.
Check out our favorite re-usable styles, ahead.
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