Powder foundations can provide some advantages over liquid ones. Travel-friendly, they often come with a mirror and can be good for touch-ups throughout the day. They're also good for mattifying oily skin, and those with combination or acne-prone skin may find powder a better finish and less likely to clog pores. And while powder foundation had a reputation of being cakey in the past, today's best pressed powder foundations for full coverage can provide a natural look that doesn’t settle or crease throughout the day.
Additionally, many makeup artists will counsel to avoid mixing powder makeup and liquids like blush and highlighter directly on top of each other. So if you prefer powder blush, you may find that it sits better over powder foundation. But really, at the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference.
The trick to getting full coverage out of a powder foundation is using the right technique. Whether you use a brush, sponge, or even your fingers will have a lot to do with how it sets on your skin. A foundation that might be sheer with a kabuki brush can provide full coverage with a damp Beautyblender. This is also one reason powder foundation can be so versatile: In the mornings, it can be applied wet or with a thicker brush and cover up scarring, redness, and uneven skin tone. In the afternoon, a quick pat with a sponge or swipe with a brush mattifies and provides a quick refresher. Because many pressed powder foundations come with mirrors and applicators, this can be done on the go as well.
No matter what your needs, the best powder foundations can be used on oily or dry skin and come in a range of price points so you can look great for as little as $7.
1. The Best Powder Foundation For Oily & Combination Skin
Founded by a dermatologist and makeup artist, Dermablend's products provide corrective and full-coverage skincare products that don't irritate skin or clog pores which makes it especially good for oily, combination, or acne-prone skin. The finish is mattifying, which also helps keep oil at bay all day. The formula helps cover redness, uneven skin tone, and breakouts. "I suffer from hyperpigmentation and this product covers all of my redness. A good brush is critical with application. Last very long and is a high quality product!!! I wear it every single day and would feel awful with out it! Anyone suffering from redness or blemishes will benefit from this," one reviewer says. It can also be reapplied throughout the day with a brush for easy, on-the-go touch-ups.
2. That Best Powder Foundation For Dry Skin (With SPF!)
Powders can make dry skin feel even drier since it tends to absorb oils, but Pur's popular, natural foundation actually nourishes dry skin. The talc-free powder gives buildable coverage that feels light but can effectively cover skin concerns like mild rosacea and acne but still gives a natural finish. It also has natural SPF 15, making daily sunscreen an easy part of your routine. Shea butter and vitamin E keep powder from being too drying and actually can improve skin. The compact makes touch-ups easy, though reviewers also praise its all-day wear, so you might be reapplying less than you think. Tested to be non-irritating for sensitive eyes and contacts, you can even apply it to set under-eye concealer. With a 4.4-star rating after more than 700 reviews, it's a customer favorite with reviewers saying things like: "It is light, yet gives great coverage. If you want even fuller coverage, apply one layer, wait a few minutes, and then go in an apply another layer. It's very buildable and does not get cakey unless you REEAALLY pack it on. Didn't break me out so it is great for sensitive skin!"
3. The Best Budget Powder Foundation For Lighter Skin
A favorite of beauty editors, this powder foundation from Maybelline provides full, matte coverage that still looks natural. Initial applications are best applied with a damp sponge for full coverage. And while it contains some conditioning oils, it is mattifying and is most suitable for oily and combination skin. However, the long-wear formula doesn't come with a brush or mirror, though you can always do touch-ups with fingers or a travel kabuki brush.
4. The Best Budget Option For Darker Skin Tones
Those with darker skin tones often find that even brands which do a decent job with liquid foundations may struggle to make powder foundations that don’t look chalky. Iman’s powder-cream foundation is designed specifically to match a wider range of darker skin tones and under tones, giving you more options that look great in even bright light and flash. The creamy feel isn’t drying, but the powder leaves a matte finish. It can be applied with fingers for the fullest coverage or with a brush for more sheer coverage. In addition to covering uneven skin tone, it also helps minimize the appearance of pores. "I have been using Iman foundation for about one year. I really like the way it covers and conceals. It lasts all day," one reviewer raves.
5. A Great Smoothing Drugstore Powder Foundation
When applied wet, this powder foundation provides all-day full coverage. Palladio's line of cosmetics are all infused with botanicals and vitamins, which helps smooth skin and keep it from settling into the crevices. Ingredients like aloe and safflower seed oil nourish and make sure skin doesn't just look its best when the foundation is on but also is better overall. The inclusion of rice powder in this formula provides a gently mattifying effect perfect for all but the driest of skin types. The included mirror and sponge makes touch-ups throughout the day a breeze.
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