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The Evolution of Pressed Powder

July 9, 2018

Taking a powder

In the mid-century, powdering one’s nose* was often less about eliminating shine than an easy excuse to take a break from a social situation. Sometimes it was a euphemism for heading to the bathroom, other times it meant a quick catch-up with girlfriends or even an opportunity to sneak a cigarette. There was the added quirk of compacts being so bejeweled and beautiful that actually powdering one’s nose could take place at a black tie affair, showing off one’s pricey beauty accessory.

Beauty products in a post-Instagram world

In the age of strobing and contouring, powdering one’s nose is practically quaint. Eliminating face shine might happen after layers of spritzes, sprays or airbrushed cosmetics are already blended into invisibly obvious perfection, which leads us to a classic cosmetic conundrum- is makeup necessary and if so, which products are here to stay? Clearly, face powder has passed the test of time, but how has it evolved?

The nose knows (review ahead)

I’ve been intrigued with IT cosmetics since long before they became a household name with founder Jamie Kern Lima popping up everyplace from morning TV to home shopping shows. While the brand was almost consistently ground-breaking, newer launches seemed more about being newer rather than groundbreaking. Not so the case with Bye Bye Pores Illumination pressed powder which to me at least is a marvel of pressed powder technology.

As someone blessed with a shiny nose at almost all times, finding a powder that is matte without being chalky and has coverage without sinking into pores seems to be a Sisyphean task. As a rule, pressed powder is the white canvas sneaker of the beauty industry; every brand makes one, but they’re all overwhelmingly similar and utilitarian.  Not so with the case of Bye Bye Pores, which is one of the softest, sheerest powders I’ve used that still manages to cover what needs covering without caking it all on. I won’t go so far as to say that as claimed my skin looked flawless, but it came pretty close, even during schvitzy summer weather.

We’ve come a long way since cosmetics focused more on the container than the contents. While the compact part of this powder isn’t much to write home about (though the muted holographic effect is awfully pretty) the powder itself is worth another look.


* Let’s skip the historical deep dive to geishas and kabuki and just stick with more recent history.

Photo credit: Joe Haupt Flickr

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