Powder makeup can be a powerhouse, with the ability to reduce shine, keep makeup in place, and minimize creasing — or it can be a total flop, appearing thick, patchy, and cakey on the skin. Luckily, the best powders to not look cakey are firmly in the category of powerhouse and have lightweight, airy textures that make them look amazingly smooth on the skin. Powders come in many varieties, but when cakiness is the concern, you’ll want to opt for a loose powder, which tends to be more finely milled with smaller particles for that airbrushed finish.
When you’re looking for powders that won’t cake, you’ll likely find that both setting and finishing powders pop up in the search results. While these similar-sounding powders are both good options, each has its own distinct purpose. Setting powders help to lock your makeup in place, so you get more hours of wear time. Finishing powders aren’t designed primarily to extend the life of your makeup, but instead to smooth the skin and blur pores. Powder foundations are also available, but these are more likely to build up and become cakey when piled on than other foundation types, so it’s best to avoid them if that’s a concern.
If you don’t like the messiness that can come with using a loose powder, pressed powders are semi-solid, so they’re easier to use. However, they tend to go on heavier and have more oils than loose powder, though, which makes them more likely to cake — so you'll need to decide if that is a tradeoff you’re willing to make. Beyond that, you’ll have your choice between translucent powders, which are colorless to work with any skin color, or tinted powders that provide a bit of extra coverage but must be matched to your skin tone.
Amazon reviewers have expressed their adoration for these five powders, indicating that they’re long-wearing and — most importantly — won’t appear cakey on the skin. But even the best powders will look cakey with the wrong application techniques, so be sure to blend the product well and always use a light hand.
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