Setting Powder Has Entered Its Barbie Era

Your translucent powder is shaking.

Originally Published: 
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

The biggest takeaway from the world domination of Barbie this summer was that pink really can be everyone’s color. And while the pink wave will ebb, there’s one product that would really benefit from being pink forever: setting powder. There’s been a recent surge in the magical brightening and blurring powers of pink setting powder on TikTok, and brands have newly-formulated versions in light-as-air textures that are perfect for creating softly-filtered, airbrushed looks.

Colored setting powders aren’t exactly a new invention, and pro artists have been using them for decades. “As a makeup artist, I began my training and career in theater makeup. These types of powders have been commonly used for hundreds of years in opera, ballet, theater, and drag to counteract harsh lights that may ‘wash out’ a performer on stage,” says Victor Cembellin, M.A.C Cosmetics’ senior national artist. “Today, the use of colored powders predominantly has to do with adjusting the complexion based on camera output and lighting,” explains Eddie Duyos, Make Up For Ever’s head of pro education and artistry for North America. As with all many beauty trends, TikTok recently discovered the skin-enhancing benefits of pink powder and it officially crossed into the mainstream.

Bobbi Brown, makeup artist and founder of Jones Road Beauty first discovered these tinted face powders while in Paris during the ’90s for a photo shoot. “I wandered into a French perfumery and saw they were selling them there,” she says. “I thought they were interesting, so I bought them in every color to take home and started playing with them. I started using the pink and peach powders to correct sallow and yellow undertones in the skin.”

The most recognizable pink setting powders come from two French brands: Guerlain and Givenchy. Guerlain launched the now iconic Météorites Pearls in 1987 — little comets of pastel-toned powders that imparted an otherworldly glow when applied, each shade cleverly designed to impact the complexion in a specific way. Givenchy has its cult-favorite Prisme Libre Setting & Finishing Loose Powder, which has seen a viral resurgence thanks to TikTok beauty influencers like Emira D’Spain. The illuminating, blurring formula features four variations of powder shades sequestered into quadrants, each hue carefully selected to correct specific color-correcting concerns; the brand’s new Prisme Libre Blush takes this concept and intensifies the pigment into a blurring, brightening blush formula.

How Do Pink Setting Powders Work?

Jamie Greenberg, a celebrity makeup artist and founder of Jamie Makeup, delves deeper into the wizardry behind these powders. “A lot of makeup formulation goes back to the basics of color theory,” she says. Color theory places primary and secondary colors on a wheel-like grid, and the rule of thumb is that to minimize one shade, you should use the color directly opposite it on the wheel. “Pink is the opposite of green on a color wheel, so that means it cancels out green,” she says. “Orange is the opposite of purple, so a peach tone can cancel out the purple you see in dark circles.”

“Pink-toned powders are great for correcting dullness or sallowness on the face and immediately brighten up the skin,” says Brown. She uses yellow (or peach) tones to take down redness on light to medium skin tones, and to further correct under eye darkness after using a concealer. Brown is such a believer in these powders that she recently formulated a feather-light version, Tinted Face Powder, in Pink and Rose shades. “It's designed to seamlessly blend into your skin to set your foundation, color correct where needed, and minimize any shininess without looking heavy or cakey,” she says.

Pink Powder For Dark Circles

These powders are most useful in spots where darkening is most prominent, and for many people, that happens to be the under eye area. “Try placing pink powder under the eye — it will counteract dark circles and majorly brighten up your complexion,” says Greenberg. If your under-eye doesn’t need a lot of camouflage and only a little correction, you might be able to use just a dusting of pink powder. She prefers a smaller eyeshadow brush for applying powder under the eyes, making sure to blend the powder from the inner corner of the eye outward.

For those who need a little more intervention, a color corrector followed by concealer has been the typical path. And while there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, layering a tinted pink powder on top of the concealer to set it would just be the cherry on top of a perfectly-iced under eye.

Beyond just pink, peach- and coral-toned powders help to add the additional layer of color correction that can brighten the under eye even more, says Duyos. Pick your fighter depending on the shade of your under eye. “If one is quite violet under the eye (aka dark circles), peach tones tend to counteract and neutralize these shades. If one is a bit hollow under the eye, I find pink setting powders can add brightness to counter depth,” says Cembellin.

Duyos likes applying tinted powders under the eye with a damp sponge to get more of a full coverage finish. “The application should start on the lower inner corner of the eye and follow the lower lash line in a slightly upward angle to give the illusion of a brighter, more lifted eye,” he says. Courtney Bostick, vice president of sales and education at Danessa Myricks Beauty, shares another added benefit that some new-age powders offer: “Apart from helping brighten, they can be blurring, so it can help make the under-eye area appear smoother,” she says. Danessa Myricks Beauty’s Evolution Powder in Pink and Deep Peach were developed and tested with 8K TV, film and flash photography in mind, and were designed to leave skin looking smooth and filtered.

Pink Powder For The Face

If you struggle with a dull complexion, Greenberg promises that a pink or peach powder will become your new favorite beauty swap. “Pink powder can help enhance and brighten areas of the face that are usually shadowed or darker,” she says. In her experience, it’s both multifunctional and minimalist. It actually does the work of a few products: “Instead of fussing with extra concealer that can end up looking cakey, or translucent powders that just don’t do much, pink powder color corrects, sets your makeup, and reduces shine throughout the day without the need for a ton of extra products,” she says.

Brown has some tips to work these powders into your regular beat. “If you use foundation, apply that first, and follow that up with concealer to cover any dark circles, blemishes, or hyperpigmentation,” she says. “Then, set your foundation with the powder that best matches your skin tone.” She recommends using a full, fluffy brush, dipping it into the powder, tapping off any excess, before gently sweeping it across the cheeks, chin, and forehead to create a finished look.

The Right Pink Powder For Your Skin Tone

The best part of incorporating a pink powder into your routine is that it can work for all skin tones. Duyos says that a warmer-toned pink powder that veers into peach territory is best for deeper skin tones — they recommend Shades 3.0 and 4.0 from Make Up For Ever’s new HD Skin Twist & Light 24hr Luminous Finishing Powder

“It’s all about technique,” agrees Greenberg. “For paler skin tones you can essentially use pink powders in place of a translucent powder. For deeper skin tones, you can achieve the same gorgeous brightening effect by layering the pink powder with a pink blush,” she says, suggesting a way to get more intense pigment payoff.

Cembellin’s partial to M.A.C Set Powder in a variation of shades. “I have used the Deep Peach powder quite often on my clients with rich, deep skin tones to brighten the complexion, and yet have also used the same powder on a lighter-skinned client to create a bronze, sun-kissed effect. In many cases a pink setting powder on a lighter skin tone will help one achieve a porcelain, perfected complexion.”

This article was originally published on