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Mystery Solved: Why All the White Powder on Celebrity Faces

A mirror isn't enough for a celebrity makeup-check before facing the cameras
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Miley Cyrus: white-powder face in 2013

Miley Cyrus: white-powder face in 2013

It's a common question these days: what's with all the white powder on celebrity faces? It seems today's best pre-red-carpet advice should be take a digi-flash photo of your face so you can see what the light bounce-back reveals. Your makeup could look gorgeous in person, in natural light, but when a flash hits it, you could be faced with the same state of powder affairs as a host of unfortunate stars such as Miley Cyrus, Ashley Judd and Nicole Kidman. Wanna see it in action?

why all the white powder on celebrity faces?

Ashley Judd and Nicole Kidman: white powder faces

Ashley Judd and Nicole Kidman: white powder faces

It's a makeup-mishap epidemic, that white powder on celebrity faces. How is it happening? Why isn't it fixed before the flashes go off? (Update 13 May 2014: the latest mega-star dust-up? Angelina Jolie – and it's the WORST CASE so far, even on her legs!)

The culprit is loose silica powder, which a number of makeup brands now offer as part of their lineup. Silica powder has excellent oil-absorbing properties. Its weightless, ultra-fine texture doesn't build up and get cakey, so it's ideal for controlling shine. It looks flawless in natural light and on HD, and it can look flawless in flash photography too. 

It's only when silica powder is applied too generously and not properly blended that it bounces enough light from a flash to show up in photos. The problem is that you can't tell it's too much and not properly blended until a flash hits it.

Makeup artist and YouTube how-to blogger Wayne Goss demonstrates the invisible-until-too-late makeup faux pas. (Thanks, Tracy, for the link!), As you'll see, Goss doesn't use much powder at all, and he blends quite thoroughly. And yet....

I've since tried Make Up For Ever High Definition Powder – the tiniest amount, just enough to temper my shiny t-zone – and am happy to report that a self-photo avec flash revealed none of it on my skin. The secret to this stuff is clearly Use. It. Sparingly, NOT as setting powder. That white powder on celebrity faces faux pas won't happen to me. *crosses fingers*

Update: Miley Cyrus became a silica powder victim in May 2013 -- it's still happening!