In my recent Beauty Stars of 2018, you might remember that I handed out just one award for loose powder and just one for pressed. Although my views on pressed powder remain the same (there is only one!), I have been testing another loose powder for some weeks now – Charlotte’s Genius Magic Powder. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test it sufficiently before the end of last year to know whether or not it would be worthy of an award. With the Airbrush Flawless Finish being as absolutely, certifiably fantastic as it is, it’s fair to say that I was expecting great things from its loose equivalent.
Let’s start at the top then, and work our way down. Charlotte’s Genius Magic Powder comes in three shades: Fair, Medium and Dark. The lovely lady on the Charlotte Tilbury counter at John Lewis assessed me as needing “Medium”. Although I use the Fair colour in the Airbrush Flawless Finish, she said that quite a lot of people are needing one shade darker in the Magic Powder to avoid a chalky appearance. And she was quite right: the colour is perfect.
The packaging is lovely, Charlotte’s usual Rose Gold & Night Crimson colour way, which is elegant and classy, and beautiful enough to grace any dressing table. Inside the jar, there’s no puff, but there’s a tightly fitted sifter which opens on one side only, with a cover that turns round to cover the holes when you’re not using it. In this regard it’s far better for travel than some other loose powders I’ve come across. It makes it harder to get out than some, but does mean it is much less likely to get wasted.
Which is probably just as well, when we arrive at the thorny issue of price! You may remember me comparing the prices of my chosen Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre (£1.33 per gram) against the somewhat heftier price of Airbrush Flawless Finish (at £4.25 per gram) and defending the price of Airbrush Flawless Finish because it really is just that good.
Genius Magic Powder has a fill of 13g (which feels a little meagre against the 30g fill of the Chanel) and at £33.00 comes in at £2.54 per gram. So it falls in between the two. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be defending the price of this one with anything like the same enthusiasm.
On to application and performance. Before I go on, I should make it clear that I have tested this really, really thoroughly, and I desperately wanted to love it. Hand on my heart. Honestly, knowing how good the pressed powder is, I went into it with every intention of swapping from my Chanel if it was as good, never mind that it would have been more expensive!
Probably the first thing I should address is the smell. The first release of this powder had no artificial fragrance added to it, with the net result that it simply smelt of what was in it. Among the reviews I read before I bought it, opinions were very mixed. Some people were indifferent, but a good number of people really didn’t like it.
My pot is from this early “no artificial fragrance” release, and quite honestly I don’t mind it. To me it smells like old paper. Like that smell you get when you open a really old book. Papery, slightly musty. Perhaps because of my love of books and libraries, I really don’t mind it. In any event, you don’t need to use so much of the product that it doesn’t dissipate quickly after application. So for me it’s not a Thing.
My understanding is that later releases of the powder have had a subtle rose fragrance added, but I haven’t had the opportunity to smell it yet, so I can’t comment on it either way.
In terms of application, I’ve been using the same brushes and technique as I use with my existing powder. For brushes, both by Real Techniques, the Setting Brush and the Brush Crush 300 Powder Brush. Everyone has different wants and needs from their powder brush, and these are the two I love most.
The biggest problem I’ve had with this powder has been the finish. My usual technique with loose powder is to “bake” underneath my eyes in order to set my concealer really thoroughly and help avoid smudges from my mascara later on in the day, and then use the lightest possible touch of powder everywhere else, just enough to remove any lingering tacky sensation from my foundation or concealer. So far it has not gone well.
The main problem I’ve had is that no matter how much or how little I use underneath my eyes, or what method I use to apply it, I end up with a “caked” appearance. It’s hard to explain, other than to say it looks like a fixed sheet over the top of my skin – in a magnifying mirror there are a load of tiny cracks, like a dried up riverbed. It doesn’t happen if I use a teeny tiny amount of the powder, but then there isn’t enough to set the concealer fully, and I end up with smudged mascara later in the day.
As well as looking caked, it feels it. I can feel where I have put the powder on my face, not only under my eyes, almost like a mask. I absolutely hate this sensation, and have consigned many foundations and powders to the dustbin of history for it before now. I don’t know whether it’s that it is too finely milled, or not finely milled enough, or whether the ingredients in it simply do not work with my current choice of concealer and foundation.
For the time being, I’m going to file this one in storage. The next time I find a new foundation that I love, I shall fetch it out and give it another hearing. It may be that it works like a dream if you have the right foundation and concealer! At some point in the future I’m going to give the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation another go (because it was so horribly unsuccessful for something that I’d heard such brilliant things about that on some level I do still wonder whether I got a bad bottle), and I want to try the “Magic Away” concealer as well. I think once I have both of these available to try together, I shall test the Magic Powder again.
But for now, sadly, it’s a no from me.
Available here – RRP: £33.00
DISCLAIMER: This review is not sponsored by Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Limited, and I have no affiliation with the company. I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for this review, and I (or my very generous husband) pay for every product I review. All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.