Most powder particles found in traditional setting powders, particularly talc and silica, are actually hollow, New York City-based cosmetic chemist Rachel Johnson tells Allure. However, in the case of hydro setting powders, “Water is encapsulated inside the powder particle,” she adds. “So when friction is applied, it releases the water, giving the product a powder-to-liquid experience.”

Lauren Jin, the founder of CLE Cosmetics, utilized this technology when formulating the brand’s Lip Melting Powder, a pigmented loose powder that liquefies as you swipe it onto your lips. In 2018, it mystified the masses, including Allure editors. Now, the same formulation concept powers CLE’s new Hydro Blot Loose Powder.

For its powder base, Jin chose illite, as the clay-based mineral naturally absorbs oil and water. “But the illite itself is too drying on the skin,” she tells Allure. To balance it out, she encapsulated illite with water, niacinamide, natto gum, and powdered hyaluronic acid for a setting powder that melts onto skin like a featherlight skin-plumping essence but cuts down on shine and gives skin a soft focus finish just as a loose powder does.

Other hydro-setting powders — like the viral Uoma Beauty Hydroblast Finishing Powder and the Refy Skin Finish — on the market feature the same mechanism. What sets apart Uoma’s, though, is it’s offered in five different skin tone-matching shades, while most water-based setting powders only come in one translucent option.

Cle Cosmetics Hydro Blot Loose Powder

Uoma Beauty Hydroblast Finishing Powder

What are the benefits of hydro setting powders?

Water-based setting powders help you “enjoy water-soluble active ingredients that normally would not be included in this type of formulation,” Johnson says. “They also add a boost of hydration into your makeup routine without disorganizing your routine.”

Because niacinamide and hyaluronic acid are micro-encapsulated in these powders, the active ingredients can effectively penetrate skin to provide benefits like any other skin-care product, Johnson explains. However, they don’t pack enough of a punch to replace a serum spiked with it in your skin-care routine. “This is definitely a product that complements or extends the efficacy of other products, though,” she adds.

In addition to packing setting powder with skin-care benefits, hydro setting powders also feel ultra-refreshing as you sweep them onto your face thanks to their substantial water content, says Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist based in New York City and founder of the Best of Beauty-winning skin-care brand BeautyStat. Imagine using it to touch up your makeup on a hot day.

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