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Fonctionnement d'une poudre matifiante visage.

Matifying Powders: How Do They Work?

The foundation of successful makeup is the complexion. Foundations, tinted serums, concealers, powders... there are so many formulas available on the beauty market to perfect your skin and hide its imperfections. But what is the purpose of a mattifying powder? What types of ingredients does it contain?

What is a mattifying powder?

A mattifying powder is a cosmetic product designed to prevent the skin from shining throughout the day due to excess sebum. It also helps to set the foundation or tinted serum as well as the blush applied on the cheeks. It provides a velvety appearance to the skin, while unifying it.

In the cosmetic market, mattifying powders are available in translucent or tinted varieties. The translucent ones are suitable for everyone, while the pigmented mattifying powders provide slight coverage and should be chosen based on one's skin color.

To determine if the shade of a mattifying powder matches one's skin tone, it's quite simple! All you need to do is test it by applying a small amount to your jawline.

The two types of face powder in cosmetics.

Matifying powders exist in loose formulas or pressed forms.

  • The loose powder is, by definition, light and volatile. It provides a very natural finish to the skin. Its "dry" texture helps counteract the sometimes shiny effect of foundation or tinted serum applied just before. Loose powder is applied with a suitable brush. Compared to pressed powders, loose powders are often more difficult to measure and apply. It is quite common to stain one's clothes during the application of this type of product.

  • The pressed powder or compact is typically reserved for makeup touch-ups throughout the day because it is convenient to carry and easy to use. It is a makeup product that is usually tinted and provides a certain level of coverage. It's the equivalent of foundation but in a "solid" powder form. It helps to conceal enlarged pores, blur imperfections, redness, and dark circles for a smooth and unified finish. However, it can be criticized for accentuating fine lines more than loose powder due to its richer and "heavier" texture. Unlike loose powder, pressed powder is usually always tinted.

Take note : mattifying powders are most often loose powders. Indeed, ideal for combination to oily skin types, they generally contain substances that absorb excess sebum.

What ingredients typically make up mattifying powders?

Matifying powders contain one or more types of the following ingredients, which can be more or less harmful to health or the environment.

  • Mineral powders

    Matifying powders contain absorbent agents capable of absorbing impurities and oils. These include mineral powders such as thegreen clay(I.N.C.I.: Montmorillonite) or white clay (I.N.C.I.: Kaolin / Montmorillonite) whose lamellar, or layered, structures allow for the absorption of lipids.However, caution should be exercised with certain mineral powders, such as talc. Indeed, in 2012, ANSES concluded that it was not possible to rule out the presence of asbestos fibers in some talc deposits. Moreover, studies have shown harmful effects on the respiratory system following the inhalation of talc.

  • Silicon-based derivatives

    Silicones are sometimes present in compact mattifying powders to make the application smoother and the touch softer. Even though not all silicones have harmful effects on health and some are completely safe to use, the cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and the cyclopentasiloxane (D5) are both suspected to be endocrine disruptors . The same goes for cyclomethicone, often found in mattifying powders, which is a mix of silicones D4, D5, and D6. As a reminder, at Typology, we exclude silicones from all our formulas as a precautionary principle.

  • Preservatives

    To prevent the growth and colonization of bacteria, antimicrobial agents are often added to the formulas of mattifying powders.For instance, one might find phenoxyethanol. This compound can cause skin allergies, neurological disorders, as well as effects on reproduction. Moreover, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products attributes side effects such as moderate to severe eye irritation to this preservative. Given these factors, it is preferable not to opt for a powder that contains phenoxyethanol. Additionally, some powders contain parabens, which are recognized as endocrine disruptors (= substances that disturb hormonal balance). Therefore, avoid choosing a mattifying powder that lists, for example, Butylparaben or Propylparaben in its INCI list.

  • UV Filters

    Some mattifying powders contain these types of compounds and thus indicate an SPF on their packaging. However, be aware, certain UV filters found in powders on the market are suspected endocrine disruptors, such as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate.

  • Active ingredients

    Skincare makeup has become indispensable in recent years. As such, many formulators are adding active molecules to makeup products. In mattifying powders, we sometimes find sebum-regulating actives such as the zinc , or even hydrating molecules like hyaluronic acid.


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