The best powder foundations you can buy

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best powder foundationM.A.C/Business Insider

  • If you love an airbrushed, shine-free complexion that's super quick and simple to achieve, then you need a great powder foundation.
  • MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation is our top pick because it's a versatile one-step powder and foundation that combines flawless, shine-free coverage with easy application.

Powder foundations are seeing something of a revival. Thanks to the latest innovations, cakey, heavy formulas have been replaced with sophisticated powders that feel weightless and give you good coverage without drying out your complexion.

They are good for everyday wear and are ideal for quick touch-ups when you're on the go. As well as providing coverage, they act as a concealer and will also set your makeup. Unlike liquid and cream foundations, powder foundations are not absorbed into the skin, but instead sit on the surface, which can make them last longer, so you don't need to worry about reapplying.

If you have oily skin, powder foundations are a godsend, as they absorb moisture and combat shine. They are also a popular summer beauty accessory, for those hot and humid days when shine is more likely to be a problem.

For fuller coverage and easy touch-ups while you are out-and-about, opt for a pressed powder foundation. Loose powder foundations tend to be lighter weight and more blendable thanks to finer pigments, but they can also be messy.

Powder foundations generally come with fewer shade options than liquid foundations. I often find that if I match my usual shade, I can end up looking more ghost-like than gorgeous, so I tend to go a shade or two darker. When it comes to applying powder foundation, less is definitely more. Too much can look heavy and chalky, so start with a little and build it up. For the best results, prep your skin with a good moisturizer and primer first. I prefer using a fluffy brush but you can use a damp makeup sponge, especially if you prefer fuller coverage.

If you have particularly dry skin or rosacea, then powder foundations might not be for you as they can settle into dry areas.

Choosing the right powder foundation can be a minefield so, to save you a lot of time and trouble, we have researched and tested the top ones on the market from drugstore steals to designer splurges to bring you the best of the best.

Here are the best powder foundations you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best powder foundation overall

The best powder foundation overall
Why you'll love it: MAC's Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation is a cult classic that delivers flawless, long-lasting coverage in an instant.

This pro-favorite is a versatile one-step powder and foundation that combines great coverage with easy application. MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation provides buildable coverage with a matte finish that is designed to last up to 12 hours without fading.

The non-drying, breathable formula contains powder and pigments that deliver a matte, velvety texture that allows skin to breathe and won't settle into fine lines. Ingredients include silica to control oil and shine and talc to provide a smoother, less reflective finish and reduce the appearance of pores.

MAC Studio's powder comes in a whopping 53 shades with four different undertones, so you can be sure you'll find the perfect shade.

The compact comes with a makeup sponge and mirror and is super easy to apply. I loved the natural, flawless look it gave me, but had to go a shade darker than my usual foundation shade.

It's not just me who loves this powder foundation, it gets top marks on countless sites including Best Products and Rank & Style, and is Byrdie's top pressed powder foundation pick. It also gets glowing reviews on Ulta with happy shoppers commenting on the flawless, long-lasting coverage.

Pros: Huge array of shades for all coloring/skin undertones, suited to all skin types especially oily skin, non-drying formula, non-fading, non-caking, non-settling/creasing, photo-friendly, lasts up to 12 hours

Cons: On the pricey side, contains talc, which could irritate some skin types.

Buy MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation at Ulta for $30

The best powder foundation on a budget

The best powder foundation on a budget
Why you'll love it: With L'Oreal Paris True Match Loose Powder Mineral Foundation you get a soft, matte finish at a very affordable price.

Why spend a fortune on a powder foundation when you can find one that is just as effective as more expensive brands at a fraction of the price? L'Oreal Paris True Match Loose Powder Mineral Foundation gives you smooth complexion with sheer to medium coverage and a natural matte finish that lasts for hours. The biggest bonus is that it comes with a built-in brush making it ideal for touch-ups on the go.

This lightweight powder foundation is formulated with 96% minerals and ingredients such as aloe extract and vitamin E that nourish skin so it feels softer and firmer. It also controls shine and claims to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles without drying out your skin. Because it contains no oils, talc, or fragrances, it didn't clog my pores and my skin looked fresh and healthy. It also has SPF19 for added sun protection.

L'Oreal's Powder comes in 12 shades and is designed to precisely match your skin's tone and texture, providing a natural finish without looking chalky or cakey.

This powder foundation was easy to apply thanks to the built-in brush that meant no-mess, no-fuss application. My skin looked smooth and the coverage was beautifully natural.

Not only is this powder foundation highly rated by beauty editors on sites such as Makeup and Elle, it gets 4.2 out of 5 from Amazon reviewers with one happy shopper commenting, "Evens out skin tone, covers blemishes, gets rid of shine, and inspires confidence in those of us with issues in the mirror each morning."

However, there were some complaints about poor packaging and the brush.

Pros: Free from talc, silicone, and fragrance, suitable for sensitive skin, non-comodogenic

Cons: Might be too sheer for some

Buy L'Oreal Paris True Match Loose Powder Mineral Foundation on Amazon for $10.47

The best powder foundation for mature skin

The best powder foundation for mature skin
Why you'll love it: IT Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation gives you a flawless, glowing, and more youthful-looking complexion in seconds.

This full-coverage, highly pigmented powder foundation is designed to give you smooth, radiant skin in an instant. IT Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation instantly conceals imperfections, hydrates, and brightens.

The formula is packed with ingredients such as peptides, antioxidants, and hydrolyzed collagen to plump up the skin, while hyaluronic acid, rose, aloe, and niacin help leave it feeling fresh and hydrated.

The powder also absorbs oil for shine-free coverage without setting into lines and wrinkles and contains SPF 20 for added coverage. I am a huge fan of clean beauty brand IT Cosmetics and I love its Celebration Illumination Foundation.

It comes in a chic pearlescent compact with a mirror and brush. It is easy to apply and gave my skin a fabulous airbrushed finish. My complexion looked more radiant and fine lines and pores were less visible. Unfortunately, this powder foundation is only available in seven shades. The one I used was Medium, which is the most popular.

It's not just me who loves the Celebration Illumination Foundation. It is highly rated by Marie Claire and Truth in Aging, and gets the thumbs up from more than 1,810 Ulta reviewers with happy shoppers loving the flawless, healthy complexion it gives them.

Pros: Cruelty-free, talc-free, formulated without parabens, phtlalates, and sls, synthetic fragrance-free, mineral oil-free, great for all skin types including sensitive and acne-prone skin

Cons: Limited choice, those with dry skin might find it too drying

Buy IT Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation at Ulta for $35

The best powder foundation for acne-prone skin

The best powder foundation for acne-prone skin
Why you'll love it: Designed specifically for people with acne, Bare Minerals' Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation provides a natural matte finish that lasts all day with soothing ingredients that may help clear your skin.

If you have skin that is prone to acne or is ultra sensitive, then oil-free powder foundation is a good choice for you as it shouldn’t clog your pores. Talc- or silica-free formulas are less likely to irritate your skin, too.

Bare Minerals' Powder Foundation has been clinically proven to diminish the look of acne and address the causes of future breakouts. It contains 0.5% salicylic acid to tackle blemishes fast, while oat protein soothes and nourishes the skin. A special mineral complex helps keep the skin hydrated, and zinc, sulfur, and kaolin clay work together to mattify skin and purify pores.

The powder is oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores or irritate your skin, plus it also contains phytosphingosine, which optimizes skin’s defenses against bacteria

It is available in 20 shades from Fair to Deepest Deep, with plenty of variations for warm, neutral and cool undertones, so it should be easy to find the right one for your skin coloring.

In testing, I found this powder foundation easy to swirl, tap, and buff onto my skin. There was no mess thanks to the no-spill packaging, and I loved how it felt and looked on my face.

As well as being highly rated by Today and Refinery 29, it gets 4.3 out of 5 on Sephora with more than 1,000 reviews. Delighted shoppers reported clearer, more radiant skin.

Pros: Contains salicylic acid, contains SPF 15, good for all skin types including sensitive, oily and acne-prone skin, formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, non-drying, non-comedogenic, cruelty-free

Cons: Some might find it messy

Buy Bare Minerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation on Sephora for $29

The best all-natural powder foundation

The best all-natural powder foundation
Why you'll love it: For a smooth, even complexion with a radiant and healthy-looking finish, Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder is hard to beat.

Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder from natural beauty brand, Jane Iredale, is designed to conceal redness and reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores with a soft-focus effect.

This light mineral foundation comes in a loose powder and provides luminous sheer to medium coverage. It acts as a foundation, powder, and concealer with the added benefit of SPF 20 sun protection. It is also water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

The oil-free formula is packed with natural, non-toxic ingredients such as sea extracts to boost your skin's natural radiance and antioxidants such as pomegranate extract to neutralize free radicals. The mineral formula is even gentle enough for people with sensitive skin, including eczema.

Jane Iredale's powder comes in 14 colors with a variety of option for neutral, warm, and cool skin undertones. In testing, I found Satin was a good match for my fair skin. It felt very comfortable and I loved the radiant, smooth, and beautifully natural finish.

This pro-approved powder foundation is highly recommended by sites such as Total Beauty and Living Gorgeous. It also gets 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon with more than 350 reviews. One happy shopper commented, "it is so gentle, yet the coverage is excellent."

Pros: Contains SPF 20, vegan, free from synthetic chemicals, cruelty-free, oil-free, good for all skin types including dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, reef-safe sunscreen

Cons: Expensive

Buy Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder at Nordstrom for $46
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