Explainer: What is that white powder on celebrity faces?

Image: Getty.

There are times when it looks like a giant cloud of chalk dust has attacked the faces of our favourite celebrities. You know what I’m talking about – it appears as though they’ve had white powder caked onto their faces in seemingly random places.

So, what is this white stuff? And why do celebrities, who have all the resources in the world, still get snapped with it all over their mugs?

Celebrity makeup artist and BFF to Lara Bingle, Max May, told Sydney Confidential that loose, HD makeup powders were to blame, in Jolie’s case (you can see her situation below). HD powders are designed to “set” makeup, and create a slightly matte, blurred finish of the skin.

Oh, Ange! (Source: Getty.)

“The powder they have used is specifically designed for HD film, not flash photography," May explained. "It’s a super light powder used to specifically set heavy camouflage creams without making them look cakey on motion film only."

The main question, of course, is: how can these celebrities leave their houses (or dressing rooms, hotel rooms, jets, etc) looking like this? And why didn't Brad Pitt just say something to Ange about her face?

Miley has also been photographed with a white, powdery face. (Source: Getty.)

Well, HD powders aren't detectable in natural light, but as soon as it's hit with a flash, it glows a neon, blue-white, according to May.

Popular beauty vlogger, Wayne Goss, conducted an on-camera experiment using two different powders by Make Up For Ever. On one side of his face, he used the HD Powder, $34, and on the other side of his face, he used the Super Matte Loose Powder, $29. After taking a flash photo, lo and behold, the HD Powder lit up like LED Christmas lights. Oh dear!

Beauty vlogger Wayne Goss wearing Make Up For Ever HD Powder, on the left. (Source: YouTube.)

So, what is it about HD Powder that makes it photograph so strangely? Well, that would be a single ingredient: silica. When applied in excess, this ingredient will reflect light like a crazed disco ball, resulting in that unfortunate icing-sugar-face result.

Goss' advice is to steer clear of powders in general. In his video, he explains that powders are used to "set" makeup, and thus make it last longer. (Post continues after gallery.)

He thinks that the cakey, powdery finish isn't worth it for just an extra half hour of wear. His preference? Waterproof makeup, which requires no touch-ups or powder.

Melissa Joan Hart, at the premier of Frozen, with white powder on her face. (Source: Getty.)

If you must use an HD powder, use it as sparingly as possible, and try to restrict it to the daytime. Avoid using it for big, photographed events, such as a wedding. Because this is something that even all of Sabrina's magic couldn't fix.

And we definitely don't want Salem the cat to make sarcastic jokes about that.

Salem the talking cat has plenty to say about HD powders.

Have you used an HD powder? Do you have any tips for avoiding the white powder look?