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Pinpoint powdering eliminated my shiny skin & blurred my pores

It's called "pinpoint powdering," and makeup artists have been doing it for years.
Pinpoint Powdering
TODAY Illustration / Sephora / Amazon / Julie Ricevuto

Achieving a flawless makeup look is no easy task. A lot goes into it, from application technique to finding the right products; but, in my opinion, nothing is more important than starting with a great base.

When it comes to creating the perfect complexion, I've teetered the line between dewy, glowing skin and total oil slick too many times to count. If I apply too much powder, the results are cakey and unflattering. Though, without enough powder, I end up looking like a grease machine.

However, at long last, I’ve discovered the trick to solving my complexion woes: pinpoint powdering. The technique recently went viral on TikTok for minimizing the appearance of pores and completely eliminating shine. To help explain this magical (and surprisingly easy!) method, we tapped New York City-based celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert, Neil Scibelli.

What is pinpoint powdering?

Simply put, pinpoint powdering is the act of strategically placing powder on sections of your face where you develop the most shine, thereby stopping grease in its tracks. “This is something myself and other makeup artists have been doing for years,” confirms Scibelli. “The technique zeros in on areas that you don't want shine in, without overly mattifying the entire complexion.”

According to Scibelli, the ultra-finely milled powder ingredients like mica, silica, dimethicone, and corn starch — which are all typically found in setting powders — are what help to absorb oil. “Some brands are also adding hydrating agents into the formula like avocado oil and hyaluronic acid,” he says, adding that these ingredients prevent the skin from drying out.

How to get the look

“First, you'll want a super finely milled powder — this can be translucent, tinted, loose or pressed — and you'll want a smaller, fluffy brush that’s not a blush or powder brush,” explains Scibelli. He recommends using the Sigma Beauty F35 Tapered Highlighter Brush or any brush you already own that is slim and pointed.

“Then, dip into your powder, tap off the excess, and apply your blurring powder in your T-zone, around the mouth and on the inner cheeks in a patting motion.” For many, this technique both absorbs shine while also blurring imperfections and large pores along the nose and forehead.

These results don't lie

While I was a bit skeptical at first, this trick lived up to the hype. I started by using my go-to tinted moisturizer to give my skin a bit of coverage. Then, I applied the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder (more on this product later) along my T-zone, focusing on the cheek area around my nose where my pores appear particularly large.

The result? Facetune-level perfection. I was shocked at how undetectable my pores had become. Although, I did get a little overzealous and applied more powder along my outer cheeks. That area tends to be drier than the rest of my face, so my skin looked and felt a bit too matte. Next time, I’ll simply stick to the areas Scibelli recommends — he is the expert, after all!

If you’re looking to give this trick a try for yourself but need a little help finding the perfect products for it, don’t fret! We gathered 12 shine-fighting options at every price point below, including a few that Scibelli recommends adding to your beauty kit ASAP.

Best products for pinpoint powdering, according to an expert

E.l.f. Halo Glow Setting Powder

Using this lightweight, talc-free powder, you can easily remove shine from your skin without compromising its luminosity. Not only does this option promise an "airbrushed finish" and give skin a soft-focus look when applied to the face, but it also won’t break the bank either.

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder

Tarte is known for its high-performance products, all of which are formulated with naturally-derived ingredients that are free of parabens and phthalates. “I'm a longtime fan of their Amazonian Clay line,” says Scibelli. “This translucent powder uses kaolin clay to absorb oil and shine while blurring the appearance of pores.”

Flower Beauty Light Illusion Perfecting Powder

To really nail that blurring effect, this perfecting powder from Flower Beauty can be tapped right over liquid foundation to deliver a soft-focus look.

MAC Blot Powder

“The MAC blotting powders have been an old-time staple in my kit, and some of my clients still really love the effects of them,” explains Scibelli. “They're super sheer but do come in various shades, and they absorb shine and control oil without feeling or looking like you have powder on.” Scibelli also shares that he packs this powder for midday touch-ups, photoshoots and TV appearances.

L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Creamy Powder Foundation

Those with dry or mature skin might appreciate this affordable option. The cream formula is made with ceramides, which help to lock in moisture and prevent flakey skin. Since this L'Oréal product acts as both a powder and a foundation, it can easily cover up imperfections while fighting shine.

This powder also leaves skin feeling hydrated, which is an important factor to consider during the winter months when skin is naturally drier. Scibelli suggests adding a moisturizer to your routine if you haven't already. “A moisturizer with hyaluronic acid locks in moisture quickly just before adding makeup over it,” he says. This will help to prevent any flaking from occurring post-powdering.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Loose Setting Powder

With each application, this gluten- and oil-free pick melts into the skin to softly diffuse pores for a velvety-matte and photo-ready finish. Pro tip: Be sure to tap off any excess powder from your brush before applying it to the skin. This will help you get a sheer application, while too much powder on the brush will compromise your results.

Maybelline Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder

Re-create your favorite Instagram filter in real life with this popular drugstore option that won’t settle into fine lines or appear chalky. The brand claims this finishing powder can last up to 12 hours, so you won’t have to worry about having to reapply throughout the day.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Setting Powder

Offering a smooth, matte finish, this powder truly acts like a filter for your face. It brightens the complexion and comes in eight versatile shades that blend well with all skin tones.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder

“To me, this is one of the holy grails of blurring powders and has been in my kit for a while,” says Scibelli. “The formula is silky smooth and lightly pigmented, so it comes in various shades. This one is great for pinpointing and for a day-to-night touch-up.”

BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation

This powder is a staple for many makeup artists — and for a good reason. While setting powders are often best for pinpoint powdering, Scibelli says that a powder foundation in your correct shade can typically work just as well. This particular formula holds up, without looking too heavy on the skin. As a bonus, the formula is vegan and talc-free.

KVD Beauty Lock-It Setting Powder

Thanks to plant-derived skin conditioners, this setting powder feels silky on the skin. The formula is made with micro-blurring technology and corn starch, which helps absorb excess oil and "diffuse pores." Plus, this shade is universal, so it works on a range of skin tones.

Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder

If you have oily skin, this product is for you. According to the brand, the formula was tested "for streaking and fading" on users in temperatures that reached 88 degrees Fahrenheit with a constant 80% humidity. The results showed that the long-lasting powder can absorb shine and resist sweat.

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