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What Is a Mattifying Powder?

By T. Alaine
Updated May 21, 2024
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A mattifying powder is a cosmetic product that is designed to prevent the shininess on skin that is caused by oiliness. These powders can be found in both loose and pressed formulas, and they can be either translucent or available in a variety of skin tone shades. Using a lightweight mattifying powder with or without makeup can help the wearer achieve a shine-free complexion without the unwanted caking that might result from heavier products.

The primary reason for a person to use a mattifying powder is to absorb any excess oil produced by the skin that would otherwise accumulate on the face in an unsightly manner. Excess oil on the skin can be uncomfortable with or without makeup. A bare face with oily skin will simply appear to be excessively shiny. People who have oily faces are likely to experience difficulty getting makeup to stay in place on the skin, and some oil is likely to bleed through and show a shine. Applying a mattifying powder over bare skin or makeup can make people feel neater and more polished because they are not dealing with a greasy complexion.

Mattifying powders generally are able to absorb oil because they are significantly comprised of talc. Talc is a chalky mineral that attracts and neutralizes oil, resulting in a smooth, matte skin finish compared with a greasy, shiny one. The texture of these products is often very light, which is achieved by tempering the chalky talc powder with ingredients such as calcium, mica or rice powder.

A wide variety of variations on mattifying powders in the cosmetic market means that there probably is one to suit most individual preferences. For example, some people are partial to loose powders, and others prefer a compact of pressed powder. Both types of products will help absorb oil and create a silky matte texture, but they have slightly different benefits. Loose powder can be somewhat messy and more difficult to apply, but people who use a lot of powder per application might prefer this type of packaging. Compacts of pressed powder are excellent for traveling because they are smaller and a bit neater to store and apply.

Many mattifying powders appear to be a shade of white in the packaging, which means that they are translucent on the skin. Translucent powders are suitable for every possible skin tone because they impart no color of their own. Other powders might come tinted in various "nude" shades, each of which are designed to flatter skin tones all the way from very light to very dark.

In many ways, a mattifying powder might sound similar to a pressed powder foundation. Some iterations of these two types of cosmetics serve similar purposes, but there are a couple of potential differences. Unlike foundations, mattifying powders are not designed to provide full coverage, which is why they often are translucent and very light in texture. Powder foundations might help decrease shine, but because they are often heavier formulas, using them over the top of foundation can result in a heavy, cake-like texture.

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