Like all makeup products, face powders have gone an incredible transformation in recent years. The new powders are lighter than ever, undetectable, and can give the face a subtle yet polished finish without caking or having that dreaded floury look of yore. Once upon a time translucent powders still had a white cast to them, so I used to prefer ones with just a hint of beige pigment in them. But the new generation is, indeed, sheer.
These three powders are my current top picks. They're different from each other and each has its particular strengths. I use them almost every day.
NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder. I'm a huge fan of the loose version, but needed something for my makeup bag so I bought the pressed one to carry with me. They're not exactly the same: the loose powder if applied just right is truly an airbrushing wonder (it's very easy, though, to go overboard), while the pressed is more forgiving but slightly less of a miracle worker. The compact comes with a thin sponge (I don't use it), and is sleek and sturdy enough to bang around a makeup bag or an evening clutch. It's completely sheer with no visible shimmer. $35, anywhere NARS products are sold.
Laura Mercier Invisible Pressed Setting Powder (Universal). If the NARS powder is 100% a finishing powder, this one from Laura Mercier is a hybrid between setting powder (that you can use on smaller areas) and a light reflecting finishing powder, excellent when you're in a hurry or not in the mood to use two different powders (i.e. almost always). I had my doubts, but this incredibly gossamer-like delicate powder really does both. It's not as airbrushing as NARS, but you still get a gorgeous finish. The problem is that the powder is so soft and delicate that any minor bump to the compact results in major breakage. When I received this one in the mail the entire envelope and bubble wrap inside were coated in white powder. When I opened it, the powder got everywhere- on my bed, my hands, and on Kosh, who insisted on investigating the mess. I ended up pressing the powder with 99% alcohol. It worked, and the powder is as good as new, I just wouldn't risk toting it around, despite the pressed compact format. $32, lauramercier.com and at the counters (Press Sample).
Rouge Bunny Rouge Impalpable Finishing Powder Diaphanous . I've had this one for about a month now, though it's not out yet (release date is not confirmed, but should be soon). It lives permanently on my dresser and I use it several times a week. The new Rouge Bunny Rouge powder is a beautiful, light as air finishing powder that disappears into the skin upon contact. It's effortless, and have I mentioned light? Yet, it keeps my makeup in place just as a heavier powder would, and the finish is completely natural and not matte. $43 (Press Sample) rougebunnyrouge.com