17 Powder Foundations to Try in 2023 and How to Apply ThemJanuary 13, 2023
While most people are decidedly team liquid or team powder foundation, “it’s not just a matter of preference that should dictate which team you’re on,” says Gabriel Almodovar, a pro makeup artist. Determining whether you’re a powder person or a liquid foundation fan also comes down to your skin type.
What Are Powder Foundations?
Powder comes either pressed or loose. The difference? Loose tends to be more lightweight. The pigments are finer, so they’re more blendable. If it’s full coverage you want, consider a pressed powder compact or powder foundation. “Loose powders can get very messy,” says Almodovar. If you take your makeup on the go, then a pressed compact is a smart choice. If, however, you like the lighter look of a loose powder, go for one that comes in no-spill packaging with a built-in brush.
Your skin type can help inform you on whether a powder foundation is an option for you. Powder foundation can cling to dry skin and create patchy or flaky spots, so it isn’t as suitable for drier skin types. Meanwhile, on those with an oily complexion, the dewy factor of a liquid formula can look greasy all too quickly. “Ideally, you'd use a powder foundation if you have oily skin,” says Almodovar. When used correctly, you’ll have a satin matte finish that will last all day, he adds.
To learn more about how to choose the right powder foundation and how to use them, keep reading.
How to Apply Powder Foundation
There are a few different ways to apply powder foundation, depending on your coverage needs. First, it’s important to note that “liquid and creams don’t blend well over powder,” says Almodovar. Try to rub a cream blush over a powdered cheek and you’ll likely end up with a pilled appearance. If you’re using a powder base all over your face, opt for powder blush, contour, highlighter and eyeshadow, he says.
For sheer coverage: Ditch the sponge applicator that your compact might have come with and apply it with a fluffy brush (try the NYX Professional Makeup Tapered Powder Brush) instead. It will disperse the pigments in the sheerest way, says Almodovar. If you want a little more coverage, apply your powder with a brush that has densely packed bristles, such as the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Buffing Foundation Brush #6.
For medium coverage: Use the applicator that comes with the compact (often a sponge) to tap the powder all over your face, or wherever you need it most. “Then follow up with a fluffy brush to blend what needs to be blended and brush off the excess from the skin,” he says.
For full coverage: You can either lay on a thicker layer of powder using the sponge applicator, or you can start with a liquid foundation and top it with your powder foundation. Doubling up gives you more coverage, and the powder helps set the liquid, so it doesn’t make your skin look oily, says Almodovar.
The 17 Best Powder Foundations
Here, we’re sharing our favorite powder foundations, from pressed powders, to full-coverage options and even some loose powder picks for a lightweight finish.
Best Pressed Powder Foundations
This lightweight foundation covers like a liquid and mattifies like a powder with no cakey look. It doesn’t hurt that it’s transfer-proof, waterproof, heat-proof and sweat-proof.
This full-coverage powder lasts up to 24 hours and gives you the softest matte finish that almost appears creamy. You can apply this with a brush all over the face or a wet sponge for a more dewy effect. No matter how you apply it, though, it won’t budge an inch.
We love the Dual Finish Powder Makeup because you can easily use it wet or dry. It offers sheer coverage, so it feels extremely light on the skin, yet proves to be super buildable with a few applications.
Whether you want to keep it natural or go full glam, the medium buildable coverage of this foundation works for whatever makeup look you’re feeling on a given day. Plus, the longwear formula is resistant to sweat and water.
Although technically a setting powder, this baked formula is so good that it can be used on its own, in our opinion. It has smoothing ingredients and works to sweep away excess oil and shine — making your skin look resilient, soft and bouncy, like, well, a cloud!
This pressed powder foundation option is a must-try for a medium, matte finish. It’s lightweight and absorbs excess oil with ease, but won’t make your skin appear dry or cracked.
If you want to try a powder foundation but still want a dewy finish, opt for this diamond-infused pick that will leave your skin looking radiant. This one comes with a touch-up sponge and a mirror, making it a perfect foundation option for when you’re on-the-go, too!
Best Full-Coverage Foundation Powders
This powder is ideal for combating oily skin without looking cakey or ashy. It’s definitely on the sheer side, so it’s best to pair it with a liquid foundation base if you are looking for more coverage.
This pigmented option gives you an airbrushed effect that blurs pores and fine lines without creasing, which is one of our biggest foundation pet peeves. Not only does it create the appearance of younger-looking skin, but it’s actually infused with anti-aging ingredients, too.
If you have oily-prone skin, you’ll love this balm-to-powder foundation formula that works to mattify the complexion. It has long-lasting coverage, too, and won’t smudge or budge throughout the day.
For an extremely pigmented finish, try this powder foundation that will leave your skin looking matte and smooth. We love that it helps cover up imperfections and rough skin texture with blurring technology.
Kiss shine goodbye with this camouflaging powder foundation option that helps absorb excess oil. It’s non-comedogenic and comes in a huge shade range that's suitable for all skin tones and undertones.
This mineral powder option not only covers imperfections and blurs fine lines but also contains SPF 15. It can be used as a foundation, concealer, powder and SPF all in one, and is a secret weapon when it comes to makeup touch-ups throughout the day.
Best Loose Powder Foundations
This loose powder option will give you a lightweight matte veil over your makeup. It comes in six shades, including a banana-powder hue that can help color correct dark spots and imperfections.
There’s a reason this foundation powder is a cult-favorite amongst many: It gives your complexion a velvet finish for hours. Versatile in nature, it can be used under the eyes or around the nose — or wherever your foundation creases the most — to keep everything in place.
If you’re just looking for a little shine absorption and minimal coverage, this sheer powder is a must try. It helps blur the appearance of pores and can be used over foundation or on its own for a sheer finish.