A Makeup Artist Breaks Down Everything You Need to Know About Banana Powders

Nykia Spradley
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A Makeup Artist Breaks Down Everything You Need to Know About Banana Powders
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Photo: Allison Kahler

Banana powder is one of those fairly random makeup products that you’ve likely seen, maybe tried, or perhaps have no clue what it is and how to use it. Fall down a YouTube rabbit hole, and you’ll find plenty of pros pounding it into their faces. What it actually does, how to use it, and whether or not your skin tone matters at all are all valid questions that makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor happily answered for us.

“Banana powder is another name for the pale yellow face powder used to set face makeup and concealer by absorbing excess oil,” Sotomayor explains.

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It was introduced back in the day when makeup was made with a mineral oil base and was considered a necessary step to help keep shine to a minimum. “Nowadays, most face powders don’t need to be quite as absorbent because oil-free, silicone-based, and matte formulas exist,” says Sotomayor.

But for the purposes of understanding how banana powders work, know that it’s essentially a hybrid of a pressed and translucent powder that you apply after your base to both make it last and take away excess shine. You apply your base, then banana, let sit, and then finish your makeup. If these steps sound oddly familiar, it’s because the process is basically what we now call baking.

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You cook bih ? Me: I bake bish 🤧👑

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The color of it serves another purpose—and banana is just one shade. The idea is that the yellow tint helps brighten and cover dark circles or discoloration under eyes—but it’s not really one shade fits all. Banana setters are most useful on medium to deep complexions with olive, golden, or yellow undertones. “I don’t use it on ivory skin tones because it would turn your neutral or white undertone yellow,” says Sotomayor.

He also doesn’t use it on rosy complexions. Although a number of yellow-tinted and banana-colored products are said to help neutralize redness, Sotomayor argues that the idea goes against basic color theory. “Yellow plus red just makes orange,” he adds. So it won’t actually neutralize anything.

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If you’re on either the lighter or darker end of the skin-tone wheel, look for a setter that will complement your undertones and help neutralize the type of discoloration that you want to conceal. For fair skin, stick with a truly translucent powder such as RCMA No-Color Powder.

“Women with dark skin tones are usually better off using an orange-tinted powder, and women with the deepest ebony skin tones are usually best with terra-cotta, brown, or sheer red power,” Sotomayor concludes. You can also use a powder that’s one shade lighter than your foundation.

Click through to find the right setter for your skin tone.

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STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powder | Ben Nye Luxury Powders
Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder

Both veteran and newbie makeup artists agree that this kit staple is the O.G. of setting powders. Plus, it comes in a range of shades to match a spectrum of skin tones.

$13.50–$22.50 at Camera Ready Cosmetics

Photo: Ben Nye
STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powder | AOA Studio Perfect Setting Powder in Banana
AOA Studio Perfect Setting Powder in Banana

Although Sotomayor suggests just investing in quality shadows that won't flake, you can dust a banana powder under your eyes before applying makeup to your lids to help catch any unavoidable fallout.

$1 at Miss A

Photo: Miss A
STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Revolution Beauty Terracotta Baking Powder
Revolution Beauty Terra Cotta Baking Powder

If you have deep brown skin, use a terra-cotta or sheer red powder to highlight across the cheekbones, under the eyes, and down through the T-zone.

$8 at Revolution Makeup

Photo: Revolution Makeup
STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

Skin care meets makeup with this cream that was made with special pigments to mimic the way traditional banana powders brighten dark under-eye circles. It also has vitamin C and collagen boosters to smooth fine lines.

$38 at Ole Henriksen

Photo: Ole Henriksen
STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Milani Make It Last Setting Powder in Radiant
Milani Make It Last Setting Powder in Radiant

If you're looking to bake with a boost, the rose gold tint and shimmery flecks in this powder will give you a lit-from-within glow.

$11 at Milani Cosmetics

Photo: Milani
Rodial Banana Lowlighter
Rodial Banana Lowlighter

If the powder versions are too messy for you, brush this hyaluronic-acid- and caffeine-infused banana cream under or over makeup to conceal, plump, and highlight.

$42 at Space NK

STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | essence Brighten Up! Banana Powder
Essence Brighten Up! Banana Powder

Set your base and brighten up dark areas without worrying about flashback when it's time to snap a selfie.

$5 at Ulta

Photo: essence
STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | MAC Prep + Prime CC Colour Correcting SPF 30 in Recharge
MAC Prep + Prime CC Colour Correcting SPF 30 in Recharge

The now-discontinued powder version of this color corrector was one of Sotomayor's faves, but this apricot-hued cream setter will still do the trick to hide dark spots on deeper skin tones. Plus, SPF is always a win.

$31 at MAC

Photo: MAC

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  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powder | Ben Nye Luxury Powders
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powder | AOA Studio Perfect Setting Powder in Banana
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Revolution Beauty Terracotta Baking Powder
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | Milani Make It Last Setting Powder in Radiant
  • Rodial Banana Lowlighter
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | essence Brighten Up! Banana Powder
  • STYLECASTER | Everything to Know About Banana Powders | MAC Prep + Prime CC Colour Correcting SPF 30 in Recharge

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