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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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The best non-comedogenic setting powders for acne-prone skin

Our experts share 7 talc-free setting powders that won’t clog pores.

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Updated on Jan 29, 2024 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
Closeup of woman applying makeup to cheek with metallic brush against a light peach tile background
Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Updated on Jan 29, 2024 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

What is non-comedogenic makeup?
More

The key takeaways

  • Setting powders can be a game-changer for many, making pores appear smaller and skin smoother.

  • Many setting powders have a high talc concentration. Although safe for cosmetic use, talc doesn’t blend well and can absorb oils, leading to makeup separation and clumping.

  • Pore-clogging ingredients are common in many setting powders, which can lead to breakouts.

  • Non-comedogenic products reduce this risk, especially for acne-prone skin.

  • The article provides a carefully curated list of the top 7 non-talc, non-comedogenic setting powders, ranging from drugstore to luxury brands.

  • Connect with Curology to get a Custom Formula Rx* for your acne-prone skin

Setting powder might just be a complexion secret weapon. Dust it over your foundation or even on your bare skin, and you may notice your pores appear smaller and your skin looks smoother. Setting powders can also be an absolute game-changer in any makeup routine. They help ensure your foundation doesn’t rub off on your glasses or melt away in the heat.

Not all setting powders are created equal, but you don’t have to worry! We asked Curology’s licensed dermatology providers to share some of the best setting powders available today for acne-prone and oily skin.

What is non-comedogenic makeup?

Non-comedogenic means that the product does not contain pore-clogging ingredients. So, non-comedogenic makeup refers to products explicitly designed not to clog the pores. This is especially beneficial if you have acne-prone skin, as blocked pores can lead to breakouts.¹

You already know acne-safe makeup is smart skin care. Level-up the skin love with your own Curology Custom Formulaᴿˣ.*

Our medical provider, Donna, NP-BC, emphasizes the importance of being wary of pore-clogging ingredients not just in makeup, but also in other products, stating:

“We strongly recommend checking any and all non-Curology products for their potential to clog up your pores. Here is a link with a list of ingredients that we advise avoiding. Some of the most common comedogenic ingredients you may see in products are coconut oil and cocoa butter, so please steer clear of these!” — Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

What to look out for when choosing the best setting powder for acne

When selecting the best non-comedogenic setting powder, it’s important to consider several factors to help improve your skin’s health and the product's effectiveness. Here are some key points we use to curate our recommendations for the best setting powders for acne-prone skin:

Non-comedogenic ingredients

It’s a good idea to opt for loose powders labeled as non-comedogenic. This label indicates that the product has been formulated to reduce the risk of clogging pores, and in turn, reduce acne breakouts. 

For those with oily complexions, the right setting powder can be a game-changer. It can control shine, can improve makeup longevity, and can help give your skin that “flawless” look. It’s important to use a setting powder, particularly for those with oily skin types or those living in a humid climate.

Talc-free

A significant number of setting powders in the market contain talc. While talc is a standard ingredient, it has its downsides. It doesn’t always blend seamlessly on your skin. Instead, it can sit atop your skin’s surface, leading to potential makeup separation and a less-than-desirable cakey finish. Opting for talc-free powders can offer a smoother, more natural appearance.

Fragrance-free

While heavenly for your olfactory senses, fragrance in makeup products can be a hidden irritant for sensitive skin or acne-prone skin. Fragrances can aggravate your skin, leading to redness, breakouts, or other adverse reactions.² It’s also a must to differentiate between products labeled unscented and those that are genuinely fragrance-free. The latter is usually a safer bet for sensitive skin or reactive skin types.

Affordability

Quality should never be compromised, especially regarding skincare and makeup. However, finding a balance between product effectiveness and an affordable price is important. A good setting powder should offer exceptional value and not break the bank.

Variability

Everyone’s skin is unique, both in tone and texture. A good setting powder should cater to this diversity, offering a wide shade range. Regardless of your skin tone or desired finish (be it matte or luminous), there’s a product that can help! 

Look and feel

Above all, a translucent powder should enhance your skin’s natural beauty. It should provide a refined, airbrushed finish without feeling heavy or overt on the skin. The ideal powder would blend effortlessly, helping your makeup remain undisturbed while giving your skin a smooth, invisible finish.

Additional skincare benefits

When choosing a setting powder, especially for acne-prone skin, we encourage you to discover products that offer more than just makeup-setting capabilities.

Look out for setting powders that come with added benefits. Some powders are infused with hyaluronic acid. This provides hydration to your skin, resulting in a vibrant and glowy finish.³ For those concerned about sun exposure, a setting powder with SPF can be a fantastic two-in-one option.

Antioxidants are another beneficial addition, helping to protect your skin from environmental stressors.⁴ A setting powder with antioxidants may help fight oxidative damage so you are actively contributing to your skin’s health.⁵

Keeping these criteria in mind will guide you in finding a setting powder that enhances your natural beauty and supports the health of your skin.

Our selection of setting powders for acne-prone skin

There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best, so our team of licensed dermatology providers reviews and assesses countless products on the market to offer a few recommendations. So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our rigorous standards.

With the multitude of options available in the market, selecting the right product can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve curated a list of setting powders that stand out for their radiant finish and general compatibility with acne-prone skin.

Let’s get started!

1. Best Overall: bareMinerals Mineral Veil Setting Powder

What we like: Offers multiple translucent formulas catering to diverse skin needs

  • Soft-focus finish that complements a wide range of looks

  • Suitable for deeper skin tones with its tinted shade

  • A non-comedogenic formula

2. Best Budget: NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Setting Powder

What we like: A lightweight formula for multiple skin tones

  • Offers a decent shade range for its price point

  • Leaves a smooth matte finish

3. Best Radiant Finish: Glossier Wowder

What we like: Dermatologist-test and formulated without fragrance

  • A natural finish that adds radiance without excessive shine

  • Five shades suitable for a wide range of skin tones

4. Best Long Lasting: Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Setting Powder

What we like: Vegan and cruelty-free

  • Translucent, weightless formula that blurs pores and imperfections

  • Extends the life of foundation, eliminating the need for reapplication even in hot climates

  • Blocks shine without dulling the natural glow

  • Makeup remains waterproof with a glowy finish for up to 11 hours

5. Best Translucent: Pacifica Cherry Velvet Matte Translucent Setting Powder

What we like: Universal shade that works for most skin tones

  • Matte finish that can help control shine

  • Note: It contains added fragrance; it might not be ideal for ultra-sensitive skin

6. Best Shade Range: Makeup Revolution Conceal & Fix Setting Powder

What we like: A versatile shade range that allows color correction

  • Water-resistant and flashback-free 

  • Vegan & cruelty-free 

7. Best Texture: L.A. Girl High-Definition Pro Powder

What we like: Fine-milled powder that feels soft to the touch

  • Soft matte finish

  • Helps blur the appearance of fine lines and pores

The options listed above provide a spectrum of price points, finishes, and coverage levels for a range of skin tones. They are known for their excellent absorbency, range of shades suitable for all skin types, and lightweight formulas.

Prioritizing your skin health without compromising makeup quality is the key; with these products, you can confidently set your makeup, knowing your skin is in good hands!

Always remember that everyone’s skin is unique. Look to find a setting powder that aligns with your specific skin needs, whether you have sensitive skin or are seeking a dewy finish. After all, makeup is all about enhancing your natural skin tone and making you feel confident and radiant.

How to use a setting powder step-by-step

While many aim for a flawless skin look, you might wonder, how do professional makeup artists achieve that coveted translucent finish? The good news is you don’t have to be a makeup artist to nail your makeup look!

The answer often lies in the right setting powder and technique. Along with a setting spray, a good setting powder can help your makeup stay put, even during the most demanding situations.

Here’s how to apply setting powder so it not only sets your foundation but also helps your makeup remain fresh and flawless throughout the day:

1. Prepare your skin: Start with a clean and moisturized face. A good skincare routine lays the foundation for seamless makeup application. Our Acne Cleanser is a gentle clearing face wash and can help provide a blank canvas for makeup application. Follow up with our Rich Moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.

2. Apply foundation and concealer: Once your skin is prepped, go ahead with your usual foundation and concealer application for additional coverage.

3. Use a setting brush or sponge: Once you have the level of coverage you want, dip your clean makeup brush or sponge into the setting powder. Tap off any excess to avoid over-application.

If you’re aiming for an instant retouch or a seamless finish, you’ll want to avoid any excess powder. The trick is to apply the powder with a damp beauty blender or a flat brush, ensuring that you don’t leave any excess product on your face.

4. Apply the setting powder: Gently press or dab the powder onto areas you want to set, such as under your eyes, around your nose, and on your forehead. You can lightly sweep it across your face for an overall matte finish.

5. Blend well: Make sure there are no visible patches or caking. A well-blended loose setting powder will give a smooth, photo-ready appearance with a radiant finish.

While applying a setting powder can prolong your makeup’s longevity, removing it properly before heading to bed is vital. Sleeping with makeup on can clog pores and potentially contribute to breakouts. Use our Micellar Makeup Remover to gently and effectively remove makeup, ensuring your skin remains clean and healthy.

Remember, while makeup enhances your natural beauty, a robust skincare routine can lead to healthier skin. Prioritize both for the best results!

The role of makeup in acne development

Makeup has become a part of many daily routines, providing a confidence boost and a mode of self-expression. However, makeup’s relationship with acne can be a bit complicated. While makeup itself isn’t inherently harmful for your skin, specific products and ingredients can contribute to acne development.

As our medical provider Donna, NP-BC, points out, “Some skincare (and even haircare!) products may contain potentially pore-clogging ingredients. These comedogenic ingredients could cause (or worsen!) acne breakouts and clogged pores." 

It’s essential to realize that the effects of such products might not be immediate. Donna emphasizes, "Keep in mind that it can sometimes take several months for clogged pores or acne to arise when you are using a product that clogs pores.”

Always check ingredient lists and opt for non-comedogenic products since these are generally less likely to clog pores. Maintaining a consistent skincare routine that includes proper cleansing, especially before bedtime, can also mitigate the potential adverse effects of makeup on your skin.

If you’re struggling with acne or are unsure about the makeup products you’re using, seeking expert advice can make a significant difference. Get in touch with our licensed dermatology providers today and explore how you can benefit from our Custom Formulaᴿˣ for acne that’s designed to target your skin concerns.

Taking care of your acne-prone skin (with Curology)

The difference between clear, healthy skin and a persistent breakout can often come down to the skincare products you use and your routine.

Like our individual personalities, no two bodies are exactly alike. This uniqueness is precisely why a one-size-fits-all approach to skincare often falls short. For those with acne-prone skin, it’s not just about combating acne breakouts but also nourishing, hydrating, and keeping the skin healthy, even without makeup. A proper skincare regimen designed specifically for acne can significantly improve your skin’s appearance, health, and resilience.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology.

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At Curology, we understand the intricacies of acne-prone skin. Our licensed dermatology providers have extensive experience and are well-equipped to prescribe a high-efficacy custom formula tailored for acne concerns. This personalized approach can help you receive treatment uniquely suited to your skin type, challenges, and goals.

Starting your skincare journey with Curology is straightforward. By taking our brief skin quiz, you’ll be one step closer to a regimen designed specifically for your concerns, by professionals who understand and care about your skincare needs. Why settle for generic when you can have personalized skincare?

Begin your Curology journey today!* Let our experts guide you to a skincare regimen that can transform how you look and feel, makeup-free.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Sutaria, A.H., et al. Acne Vulgaris. StatPearls. (2023, August 17).

  2. van Amerongen, C.C.A., et al. Skin exposure to scented products used in daily life and fragrance contact allergy in the European general population - The EDEN Fragrance Study. Contact Dermatitis. (June 2021). 

  3. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (August 2021).

  4. Addor, F.A.S. Antioxidants in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. (May-June 2017).

  5.  Addor, FAS. Antioxidants in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. Ibid.

Jessica Lee is a certified Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She received her Master in Nursing from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA.

Donna McIntyre is a board-certified nurse practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

*Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Jessica Mefford, NP

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