Last week, I bought the new Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder (£17) as a replacement for my almost-finished pot of e.l.f High Definition Powder.
The product promises the following:
"Designed for stars of film and flat screens, our high-tech translucent powder keeps you camera ready. The micro-fine (and strangely refreshing!) powder fools the eyes with "optical blurring"... imperfections are seemingly airbrushed away for soft-focus, silky skin. Foundation lasts longer, and bare skin looks better, thanks to oil-absorbing properties that leave skin shine-free."
I was all ready to buy another pot of e.l.f. HD Powder, but this Urban Decay version of a "high definition" powder caught my eye because of its colour. While it's still intended to be a translucent, "suits all" shade, the powder itself is a light, nude, beigey pink colour instead of pure white like the HD powders by e.l.f. and Make Up Forever. I wondered whether this would mean that the product has some coverage. I really like e.l.f. High Definition Powder, but I would love a version which provided some coverage as well as the oil-absorbing and soft-focusing benefits. You can read my old e.l.f. HD Powder review here.
It took me ages to work out how to actually get the product from the pot to my face. This thing needs to come with instructions!! In the end, I worked out that you're meant to twist the top to allow powder into the built-in sponge and then apply it straight from the sponge while it's still attached to the pot. I really didn't like that. At some points, I'm there shaking it for five minutes trying to coax out even a crumb of powder, and then sometimes (even when the pot is stationary) a huge cloud of it puffs up out of nowhere, and usually ends up up my nose. I swear it's possessed.
Having given up on the intended application method and the cumbersome sponge which makes it impossible to apply powder in nooks and crannies, I twisted off the top using brute force and dipped straight into the powder instead. This is what the pot looks like open. You can see how small and few the dispensing holes in the lid are.
The Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder is silica-based, so it's really silky and lightweight - even more so than the e.l.f. powder which actually now feels "grainy" in comparison. Aside from the dodgy built-in applicator, this Urban Decay finishing powder is foolproof. You can put as much as you want on, and it will never look chalky or detectable on the skin. I can even mindlessly pat it around my eyes and not end up with white, powdery eyebrows and lashes (which I get if I use e.l.f. too heavily). The powder seems to only tack onto skin and not hairs.
The finish of the powder is what I've come to expect from "high definition" powders... it takes the edge off the shine of my moisturiser and leaves my skin feeling silky and peachy matte. Used on bare skin, my skin still looks bare afterwards - but a little more airbrushed with no garish contrasts of shine and no shine. I was disappointed there was no coverage, but finishing powders rarely do have any coverage anyway because by definition, they're meant to be the final step of make-up after foundation etc. The powder doesn't feel drying at all... it just disappears on the skin.
The shine-control property of Urban Decay Razor Sharp is not as mattifying as e.l.f. The finish reminds me of my Laura Mercier Mineral Finishing Powder which leaves the skin with a subtle light-diffusing "sheen". Neither of the Urban Decay nor Laura Mercier powders are shimmery, but they do both contain a small amount of undetectable mica which would give that sheen. So if you've been put off high definition powders in the past because you've found them too mattifying or drying, you could potentially still like Urban Decay Razor Sharp.
To demonstrate the "airbrushing" effect of Urban Decay Razor Sharp, I am generously posting a bare-faced "before" photo where all I am wearing is moisturiser and a bit of concealer under my eyes (otherwise they would be bright purple and cause you to recoil):
And here is the "after" photo after applying Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder:
From afar, there's not that much difference, but if you look closely (you can click on the photos to enlarge if you want), the shine patches that previously made me look greasy and sweaty have been diffused. In hindsight, I realise I should have taken these photos with a flash to really show off the contrast between the before and after. But hopefully you can still see what I mean. Flash photography is where you'll really see the difference though. You can also see that there is no coverage - my freckles (of which I am mortified by how many I am sporting these days) are still clearly visible.
As with other silica-based setting powders, the shine-control and "setting" of other make-up is fairly long-lasting. Of course it won't look quite as fresh at the end of the day, but whereas before you might have had obvious "patches" of shine, with this powder the sheen would be more even and look just like an overall, diffused glow.
One of the tips on the Urban Decay website is:
"Razor Sharp can even be used UNDER makeup to transform foundation into a liquid powder. Don’t just trust us…try it!"
The suggestion of using it before foundation is interesting, but I don't really see the point if you can just use it after the foundation...? I haven't tried it.
So... Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder vs. e.l.f High Definition powder? At the moment, I personally prefer the e.l.f. powder because it's more mattifying, doesn't contain any mica and the matte effect lasts much longer. But during the summer (or on holidays) when I'm a little less pasty-looking and tend to wear less make-up, the Urban Decay powder would be perfect... I'll be able to slap it on in seconds without having to worry about looking too unnaturally matte or having to touch up powdery eyebrows and lashes afterwards.
If you want an airbrushed finish and some shine-control but don't want a flat, matte finish, or if you usually avoid powder because you have dry skin, I think you might like Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder (phew... that's the last time I have to type out that looong product name today).
The ingredients are:
Silica, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Isoceteth-10, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbic Acid, Ascorbic Palmitate. May contain: Mica, C177491/77492/77499 (Iron Oxides), C177163 (Bismuth Oxychloride).