If you’re anything like us, you have a product for every time and place. Off to the beach? Grab your BB cream. Hitting the gym? Just a little dab of concealer will do. For special occasions, reach for the heavy-duty stuff with higher coverage. But if heavy creams or liquid foundations are not your vibe, you might be a good candidate for a quality powder foundation.
The Best Powder Foundations
- Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation
- Most Shades to Choose From: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
- Red-Carpet Finish: MAKE UP FOR EVER Matte Velvet Skin Compact
- Full Coverage: KVD Vegan Beauty Lock-It Powder Foundation
- Fan Favorite: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Powder Foundation
- Best for Drier Skin Types: Laura Geller New York Baked Balance-N-Brighten Foundation
- Best Luxury: Chanel Le Teint Ultra Tenue Ultrawear Flawless Compact Foundation
- Buildable Coverage: Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder
- The Pore Minimizer: Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation
- For Glam on a Budget: Sephora Collection Matte Perfection Powder Foundation
Are powder foundations good?
To help you decide if powder foundation fits your beauty needs, we put together a quick list of its general pros and cons.
Powder Foundation Pros:
- Skin types: Powder foundations are great for oily, combination, and normal skin types.
- Buildable coverage: Powder foundation is perfect for everyday wear, and you can use a wet sponge or dense brush to increase coverage. Most options on this list offer sheer-to-medium or medium-to-full coverage.
- Setting powder alternative: When you’re being photographed or have a special event on your calendar, grab a powder brush and dust it across your face to set your makeup, all while depositing a natural amount of coverage.
Powder Foundation Cons:
Although many powder foundations have been formulated to work on a variety of skin types, dry and mature skin have overall slim pickings.
- If you have dry skin, powder foundation can cling to your dry patches.
- Mature skin might not love powder foundations because they can enhance your fine lines and wrinkles, according to makeup artist Laura Geller.
If you still want to use a powder foundation and have dry or mature skin, be sure to exfoliate, apply an intensely hydrating face cream, and use a moisturizing face primer. Also, be sure to use a powder foundation that contains moisturizing ingredients, suggests Geller.
How to Use Powder Foundation
The level of coverage you desire is a key factor in deciding which beauty tool to use.
- Sheer-to-medium coverage: As a general rule, opt for a full, fluffy brush that offers a lighter veil of coverage.
- Medium-to-full coverage: On the other hand, a denser brush — meaning the bristles are packed closely together — provides more coverage. You can also wet your makeup sponge to achieve this level of coverage.
Powder Foundation Tips Based on Your Skin Type
- Oily skin: Use a water-based face primer, ideally in a mist form, to help leave your skin matte and balanced. We suggest the popular Too Faced HangoverRX 3-in-1 spray, which works as a face primer, setting spray, and refresher in one.
- Combination skin: It’s all about ensuring your skin is well-balanced and prepped, so your oily and dry patches are less pronounced. Bell suggests using a mattifying primer containing moisturizing ingredients, so your skin is “the perfect texture and superbly easy to blend the foundation into.” We recommend the creamy Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer.
- Normal skin: You can use either a face moisturizer or primer that contains ceramides, which gives your skin “a cashmere touch with its finish, and will elevate the finish of the powder foundation,” notes Bell. When it comes to ceramide-enriched face moisturizers, our minds instantly go to the extremely popular CeraVe lotion.
- Dry skin: From your face moisturizer and primer to your setting spray, it’s all about incorporating hydrating products. For a “beautifully prepped canvas,” opt for a face primer infused with humectants and emollients, advises Bell. We recommend using a rich face cream like the Versed Skin Soak and Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum, which is infused with 28 botanicals and hydrating ingredients. “Instead of a traditional makeup fixing mist, saturate the skin with a mist that has nourishing properties and leaves skin with a beautiful glow, like Pixi Glow Mist,” says Bell.
How We Chose
We know investing your pretty pennies in a makeup product that fails is never fun, so we hand-selected only the best of the top-setting powders on the market. We've tested out each and every one of these products throughout the years, and these are the best bang for your buck because they provide amazing coverage that will suit a variety of needs. Plus, most of these formulas have a no-budge hold without being harsh on your precious pores.
But don't just take our word for it: Many of these powder foundations have been highly praised by reviewers over at Amazon, Sephora, Ulta, and more. Find the best powder foundation for you with our top 18 picks.
As a quality powder foundation that won't break the bank, Neutrogena's Mineral Sheers enhances your skin tone. Its breathable formula makes Neutrogena one of our faves for someone who prefers a natural look.
Since it boasts a mineral-based formula, Neutrogena's powder foundation is especially great for anyone with sensitive skin. It's also available in pressed powder form if you want to freshen up your makeup on the go.
Number of shades: 7 | Coverage: Sheer
There's a reason why MAC's Studio Fix powder foundation has been a cult classic for years: It puts in the work of a long-lasting liquid foundation while having the lightweight feel of a compact.
The plush powder provides an instantly flawless face, and it applies quickly and evenly in just one swipe. It also promises to cut down on oil and shine for up to 12 hours, making it a fabulous option for anyone with oily skin, or someone who wants long-lasting coverage.
Shades: 53 | Coverage: Medium-to-Full
MAKE UP FOR EVER's HD Foundation is arguably the brand's most well-known complexion product, but we think their powder foundation is worth considering, too.
After you dust on this powder foundation, you'll notice that your skin is mattified, and your imperfections look blurred. You can also expect coverage to last for up to 12 hours. This foundation is incredibly lightweight, and was even used on J.Lo during the Met Gala.
Shades: 30 | Coverage: Full
KVD Beauty's Lock-It Powder Foundation quickly earned a spot on our favorites list, thanks to its flawless finish. It blurs out imperfections instantly, and leaves skin feeling smooth and looking polished to perfection.
This vegan-friendly powder foundation is also the sole refillable option on our list.
Shades: 13 | Coverage: Full
Fenty Beauty has proven itself yet again as the reigning beauty brand of complexion products with this powder foundation. This is the powder foundation on everyone’s face: It has a 89% “recommended” rating and over 86 thousand “loves” on Sephora’s site alone.
Beauty fanatics all over the globe are loving this foundation for its long-lasting hold and impressive shade range.
Shades: 50 | Coverage: Medium
OK, so technically, most powder foundations don't work well with dry skin types, but that doesn't mean all of them should be avoided if you have dry skin. This pick from Geller's famed makeup line is actually a baked cream formula.
What does that mean? Its unique formulation actually allows this “powder” foundation to apply like a conventional powder formula, but it’s infused with hydrating skincare ingredients like TikTok-famous tiger grass (aka centella asiatica) and white tea extract. So, your skin won't feel (or look) dry and irritated.
Shades: 9 | Coverage: Light
If you want the kind of flawless coverage that has people stopping you on the street, then this Chanel powder foundation is 100% worth the splurge.
The velvety matte formula feels super lightweight on your skin, and it gives you a totally airbrushed look, thanks to its light-diffusing particles.
Shades: 18 | Coverage: Medium
While the Laura Mercier powder foundation is on the pricey end, it's worth it because it's like two products in one: The Smooth Finish Foundation can be applied wet or dry, depending on the level of coverage you prefer. Regardless, you'll be impressed with this powder's finish, no matter how you apply it.
Shades: 7 | Coverage: Sheer-to-Full
If you have enlarged pores and blackheads that you're trying to cover, whip out this compact. Not only does it look ultra luxe in its Insta-worthy packaging, but the powder foundation formula also contains aloe leaf and hibiscus flower extracts to moisturize skin while evening out your skin tone.
And no need to carry this around in your purse all day long: The formula is meant to be worn for hours on end, without smudging or budging!
Shades: 11 | Coverage: Medium
Need a budget-friendly answer for your skin? Sephora Collection has your $20 fix: This mattifying powder foundation compact is ultra lightweight, and gives your complexion a truly natural finish.
This acne-covering product also features Sephora's proprietary FlexMatte technology to ensure your powder foundation doesn't cake, crack, or congest your pores.
Shades: 35 | Coverage: Medium
If you're worrying about touch-ups throughout the day, then this powder foundation has you covered. It works just as hard as a liquid foundation, without the weight or suffocating feeling of one.
It's lightweight and delicate on the skin, but provides a blemish-free finish for a full 12 hours.
Shades: 13 | Coverage: Medium-to-Full
Double Duty pressed powder foundation is one of the best formulas from Tarte's beloved Shape Tape line. This light-to-medium vegan powder works to blur away every blemish and imperfection lingering on your complexion: redness, excess oil, acne, hyperpigmentation ... you name it!
Shades: 15 | Coverage: Light-to-Medium
When we think of powder foundations, we tend to think of dry, mattifying formulas. Well, Shiseido's here to change that perception with their own creamy powder foundation, which glides on skin and refreshes your pores with a burst of moisture for hours on end. Plus, this long-lasting formula resists heat, humidity, oil, and even motion!
Shades: 16 | Coverage: Medium
This mineral formula from bareMinerals is one of the best powder foundations on the market. It's been around for what feels like forever, proving that it truly stands the test of time.
The line was designed to suit a variety of skin tones, and it's derived from a basic formula of no more than five key ingredients. It looks like a powder, but it buffs on like a cream, therefore providing a perfectly airbrushed finish for a flawless, illuminated complexion.
Shades: 30 | Coverage: Sheer-to-Full
L’Oréal’s drugstore powder foundation is a sure bet for looking flawless on a budget. The problem with some foundations is they oxidize, but this velvety powder stays true to its color.
The brand also simplified searching for your perfect color match. First, start by selecting your shade range. Then, identify your undertone: cool, neutral, or warm.
Shades: 25 | Coverage: Light-to-Medium
Not a fan of loose powder? Try this powder foundation that offers the same benefits of mineral makeup, but in a pressed-powder compact that's more convenient for on-the-go touch-ups.
PÜR's pressed powder is designed to be your foundation, concealer, setting powder, and SPF 15 all in one. It's made with two of our favorite ingredients — shea butter and vitamin E — to help moisturize your skin.
Shades: 26 | Coverage: Medium
This cult-classic, powder foundation from Lancôme has been saving oily skin types for decades. It's a matte-finish, mineral formula that's easy to apply wet or dry, and won't leave a greasy film or oily finish like most liquid formulas.
If you're using this as a setting powder, we recommend reaching for a small tapered brush to dust the powder only where necessary — including your T-zone and under your eyes. Otherwise, you can use the included sponge.
Shades: 34 | Coverage: Full
If you're looking for the mattest of the matte finishes, then this powder foundation is your best bet. It also has one of the best shade variations you could find in a powder formula.
Notably, this formula is infused with kaolin clay, which helps regulate and absorb oil for a grease-free finish ... even during a heat wave.
Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium-to-Full