Friday, July 31, 2020

Setting Makeup

Sally Stone has kindly written a series of articles about makeup and makeup application that is specifically targeted for girls like us. The fourth installment of her series talks about setting your makeup after applying it.

By Sally Stone

If you don’t set your makeup or don’t do it properly, all of that hard work isn’t going to last. Setting makeup is important because it keeps that painted-on face from moving around or running off. Think about it: you are applying makeup to warm skin. Body heat alone is enough to ruin a good makeup job if it isn’t properly set. Effective setting can also delay makeup breakdown as the result of warm weather or humid conditions.

If all of your makeup products are powder formulas, you can wait to set your foundation after all products are applied. If you are like me, however, and use liquid foundation and crème contouring products, it is important to set those before applying powder blush and powder eye shadow, as those applied over unset liquids or cremes will not blend properly.

There are two common ways of setting makeup. One is to use a setting spray. The other is to use a setting powder. The way you apply your makeup will determine which method works best for your specific needs. I actually use setting powder and setting spray combined. Here’s my routine:

After putting on my liquid foundation and crème contouring products, I use a translucent setting powder to initially set them. I recommend translucent setting powder over tinted formulas because translucent powder will not alter the shade of your foundation the way tinted setting powder can. Using a tinted setting powder can also make the face look pasty and unnatural.

I begin the setting process by using a powder puff to press the powder into my makeup. Once the powder is on my skin, I very gently work it in using a soft powder brush. I twirl and lightly press the brush as I work the powder in. Again, you want the setting powder to get down deep into the pores to be effective. Then I use the same powder brush to remove any excess powder. Be sure to wipe away the excess setting powder very gently to avoid damaging the foundation as it takes a few minutes to achieve the full setting effect.

When I have finished setting my foundation and contouring, I then apply my powder blush and eye makeup. After all my makeup is on (including lipstick), I very lightly spritz my face and neck (with eyes gently closed) with setting spray. Avoid any heavy applications of setting spray because too much can actually cause streaks and runs in your makeup.

Setting can also be accomplished in layers, which is important if, like me, your makeup consists of a combination of powders and cremes. I recommend setting one type of makeup before trying to apply the other type over it.

Ultimately, setting makeup is a critical component of any makeup regimen. I’m actually still amazed that many cis-women don’t set their makeup at all. In my humble opinion, it is one makeup tip that is necessary for cis- and trans-women alike. And if done properly, set makeup can look as though it was just applied, no matter how long your day has been.

Source: Venus
Wearing Venus

Men, circa 1960
Men, circa 1960


  1. Great series

    I can't thank you for taking the time to write and share this.

    Together as a community we are one and stronger

  2. Stana,

    I use Urban Decay "All Nighter Setting Spray." It is an amazing product.


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