Powder's Gotten A Bad Rap
For years, I wrote in magazine articles to avoid powder after 40—unless you wanted to resemble a beignet. "Dewy" and "luminescent" were more flattering finishes for aging skin, according to nearly every pro I asked. Those experts also warned that powder settles into lines and pores, something no one wants ever. So I avoided powder and told magazine readers to do the same. Then, one day last winter, I popped into the NARS boutique on Bleecker Street in New York City and sat down with a makeup artist to try on a few products. When I left the boutique an hour later, I was wearing—and carrying—my new favorite powder.
So what happened? After applying NARS Sheer Glow Foundation ($45; narscosmetics.com) and Radiant Creamy Concealer ($29; narscosmetics.com), the makeup artist used a Mie Kabuki Brush ($55; narscosmetics.com) to dust Light-Reflecting Loose Powder ($37; narscosmetics.com) over my nose, chin and forehead. The effect was like soft-focus lighting, making my pores less noticeable, rather than more.
"Many of today’s translucent formulas are very silky and they blur the surface of the skin to hide imperfections like sun damage or rosacea,” explains James Boehmer, NARS Cosmetics’ celebrity makeup artist. This silkiness is courtesy of newer, more finely-milled formulas (as opposed to the dense, granular powders we swept on to control oil and “set” makeup in the ‘80s and ‘early 90s). And, while I was aware powders had become smoother in texture and were often laced with light-reflating particles, seeing (on my own skin) was believing.
I purchased that NARS Light-Reflecting Powder and, over the ensuing months, have also come to love It Cosmetics Bye-Bye Pores Silk HD Anti-Aging Micro-Powder ($24; ulta.com), a product that lives up to its name.
I've also discovered that, beyond blurring pores and fine lines, these new silky powders can soften brow pencil, blush or bronzer that's been applied too heavily; just sweep a pinch of powder over the area that needs toning down. A light layer across the brow bone helps prevent mascara tracks (for me, sticky sebum or eye cream pulls mascara off my lashes and onto my upper lids, leaving a trail of little black dots ). Finally, carrying powder in your bag is helpful for those times when you're overheated; a light dusting dials down the telltale flush or clammy skin of a hot flash.