The Absolute Best Powder Foundation, According to Our Editor

written by BETH GILLETTE

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Source: Fenty
Source: Fenty

Most beauty YouTubers use liquid foundation, so I only wore liquid foundation. I followed everything my favorite beauty gurus said as the makeup bible, but then I found a new muse: Rihanna. I’ll buy practically anything Fenty Beauty puts out, so when they launched a powder foundation, I bought a powder foundation. This put me on the hunt for the best powder foundation… and I found a few contenders, along with a newfound appreciation.


About My Skin

My skin type is ever-changing, but I typically will say I have classic combination skin. Some days, I feel really dry and need the most moisturizer to get my foundation to even look OK. But other days, my T-zone is so oily that I don’t even need moisturizer. This makes finding foundations both easy and hard: easy in that I can pretty much use any finish under the sun, hard in that the way my skin looks with a product is somewhat unpredictable based on the state it decides to be in that day. For the most part, I prefer a natural finish that won’t slide off but doesn’t emphasize any dryness on my skin. And until I tried these, I exclusively wore liquid foundation and rarely found anything that met my needs.


Benefits of Powder Foundation

The shade is a lot more forgiving. My skin tone feels like it’s ever-changing; in the summer, I spend a lot of time in the sun, and in the winter, I’m lightening by the day. Powder foundation is a lot lighter coverage, so it doesn’t have to match exactly.

The coverage is customizable. Unlike a liquid foundation, powder builds up a lot more easily. It’s also easier to apply thin layers to get the desired look you want. I can get a sheer wash with no coverage or a flawless, full-coverage look depending on the application method I use, all using one single powder.

It doesn’t melt off my face. Whether it’s summer or you sweat a lot (me), wearing a foundation when you know it’s just going to slide off your face in a matter of hours is enough to make you never want to put makeup on. Powder foundation is practically sweatproof and doesn’t do that at all, and I find I have at least double the wear-time than my favorite liquid foundations. 

It clogs my pores less. The light texture of a powder foundation doesn’t clog my pores the same way my liquid foundations do. When I’m consistently using powder foundation, my skin actually looks better without it because I’m not covering it with a thick foundation every day. 


The Fenty Beauty Powder Foundation

Fenty Beauty
Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Powder Foundation
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Fenty convinced me to try powder foundation for the first time since middle school, and this formula completely changed my mind about the product. I always thought powder foundation was cakey, dry, and heavy; I’d never seen a formula made for skin types other than the oiliest of folks. But after watching dozens of reviews and then trying it myself, I realized powder foundations of days past were just made poorly, and Fenty had cracked the code on a product that was everything I could want in a foundation.

I’ve moved on from wanting a foundation that hit two very differing polarities: from the early 2010s matte, dry foundation to the “I’m-so-glowy-I-look-like-I-just-ran-three-miles” radiance of the last few years. I want my skin to just look like my skin now, which means I want products that are lightweight, still have coverage, and have a natural, skin-like finish. These claims are harder to find than you’d think, but I’ve found it with the Fenty powder.


Plain Jane Beauty Get Loose Powder Foundation

Plain Jane Beauty
Get Loose Powder Foundation
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Then, I tried Plain Jane Beauty’s Get Loose Powder Foundation, and I’d found my match made in heaven. This is a loose powder foundation with a demi-matte finish, meaning it is smooth and velvety without looking flat or dry. When I use this with a good moisturizer and SPF underneath, it has a natural finish and looks just like my skin. This is going to be my favorite complexion product this summer because it makes me feel more confident in my skin without looking like I’m wearing anything at all.


How I Use Them

I use my powder foundation a few different ways. When I want a medium-to-full coverage, I’ll spot conceal under my eyes and blemishes with a liquid or cream concealer and follow it with a layer of powder foundation. If I want my skin to look flawless but with a really natural finish (perfect for photos), I’ll use a light coverage BB cream (I love this one from Maybelline lately, however, the shade range is absolutely abysmal, so I’m currently on the hunt for a dupe) and then go over with a light layer of the powder foundation to lock it in place. And of course, on lighter coverage days, I’ll use just the powder on its own.


Application Tips

To apply a pressed powder foundation, I always use the applicator that comes with the product because it gives me the most amount of coverage with the best finish. I’ll make sure to moisturize and prime my skin, and then I just use the applicator to swipe the powder across my face. I notice I get the best coverage when I swipe it on versus patting it in, and this is how Rihanna recommends applying it too.

For a loose powder foundation, I use both a brush and a sponge. I’ll use a dense brush when I want a medium coverage look, and if I want something sheer or to just set the liquids underneath, I’ll use a classic fluffy powder brush. If I want to add extra coverage to certain areas, such as covering blemishes, I’ll dip my sponge into the product and lightly pat it over that spot. I leave this for specific small areas of the face because it can definitely make any product look a little cakey if you apply too much.