Foundation types explained: Powder

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Powder foundationChoosing the right foundation for your skin type can be a mammoth task. With so many options on the market to choose from, it can be difficult to know which product will work best for you. We’ve got all the info on one of the lesser-known formulations, powder.

What is a powder foundation?
Powder foundation was first introduced to the market in 1937 and since then it has evolved immensely. Gone are the days of “cakey / chalky” powder foundations. Today’s top market competitors offer a formula that provides light to medium coverage for a more natural finish. Powder foundation comes in two varieties: pressed powder and loose powder.

Who should be using it?
Most powder foundations contain minimal oil or emollients (moisturiser) and are therefore not suitable for dry skin / mature skin, as they may exaggerate dryness and settle in fine lines / wrinkles. If your skin is especially dry, invest in a good quality liquid foundation that will provide additional moisture. Powder foundations have a matte finish so they are ideal for combination / oily skin as they will assist in masking shine. If you require foundation to conceal discoloration or blemishes, then a denser cream or liquid foundation would be better suited.

The benefits
As powder foundations aren’t as concentrated as cream and liquid formulas, they are ideal for creating a natural, no make-up look. The lightweight formula provides light to medium coverage and reduces shine. Powder foundation doesn’t clog pores and allows your skin to breathe which is ideal for skin that is easily aggravated by make-up.

How you should apply it?
Powder foundation can either be applied with a dry sponge (most powder foundations come with a sponge) or a powder brush. When using a sponge to apply powder, be sure to blend it in to avoid a “cakey” appearance. For a more natural look, use a large powder brush and only apply the powder in the areas that require coverage. Start in the middle of your face and moving outwards, lightly dust powder where you require it. If you have oily skin, be sure to apply powder to your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) to mask excess shine.

Our favourites
Knowing your skin type is the first step to finding the foundation formula that is best suited to you. To assist in your quest for the perfect powder foundation, here’s a list of our current favorites:

The Body Shop All-In-One Face Base, R170


Maybelline Fit Me Pressed Powder, R149.99

Clarins Skin Illusion Mineral Loose Powder Foundation, R375

Tip: When choosing a powder brush, opt for one with natural bristles rather than synthetic bristles. We recommend MAC 129 Powder Blush, R355, which comes in two varieties: A short handled and a long handled version.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Apply foundation flawlessly
Foundation types explained: Liquid
Foundation types explained: Cream
Beauty balms on show

Written by

Emily studied make-up and loves all things beauty related. When she is not reading up on the latest make-up trends, she can be found baking cupcakes, scouring Pinterest for beautiful images and dreaming of her next European adventure.
Emily on Google+

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  1. Sue1N

    Both Avon and Yardley has great powder foundations at a reasonable price. Makes one skin looks flawless. Good to reduce shine in summer too.

    5 years ago •

  1. RoseAngel

    A great informative article that has showed me that powder foundation is also not for me as it will not offer me enough coverage.

    6 years ago •

  1. Khensani

    I love to put powder of liquid formulas as they’re really great for shine and oiliness. And I find most BB creams need some powder over them too for longer wear.

    6 years ago •

  1. Caroline-a

    I love the body shop. Their products are great

    6 years ago •

  1. StephanieM

    Thank you for writing such an informative article. Dispelling the myth of powder settling in pores and clogging them, is most appreciated.

    6 years ago •

  1. McPherson

    I would like to try the body shop’s all-in-one face base

    6 years ago •

  1. Lynne123

    I hardly ever wear foundation! I finally bought my first though last year.. So now I have a revlon Powder that I use and a cream with a primer, for those occassions ;) They work perfectly for me, the ladies in the department stores are really helpful!

    6 years ago •

  1. Zellikinz

    I’m also looking for a foundation that is right for my skin type. That doesn’t make my skin oily. At this moment I have 4 different foundations in my make up bag, that I can’t use.

    6 years ago •

  1. van den berg

    I love a natural look, but I have a lot of very tiny hairs on my face, so powder unfortunately only emphasises that. I have to stick with liquids, but I have yet to find something that isn’t full coverage. I’m experimenting with BB creams at the moment… Any advice?

    6 years ago •

  1. Manyela

    So true, very factual when I applied pressed powder because I have combination skin it really exagerated the drynes or my patchy areas.

    6 years ago •

  1. mshayisa

    This a good read and really informative… I’ll be sure to try powder foundation! I’ve got oily skin and had 2 apply as little liquid foundation as possible. My friend introduced me 2 oil free foundation it also works but this I have 2 try

    6 years ago •

  1. Serisha Singh

    I love the MAC 129 Powder Brush – definitely a must-have

    6 years ago •

  1. Motata

    I have recently purchased the MAC Studio Fix Powder. I haven’t used it yet. I hope it works great for me since I have combination skin.

    6 years ago •

  1. karley

    Never braved using powder foundation before, but I think I might give this a go now!

    6 years ago •

  1. beautyaddict

    love my mac studio fix foundation, but now i have discovered garnier bb cream, it gives you the perfect coverage for every day use.

    6 years ago •

  1. Anne

    I haven’t used powder foundation before but it sounds simple enough to use and I like a natural look

    6 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Does this include mineral poweder foundations, or is that a seperate category? The only powders ive used are mineral foundations. I prefer a glowing look though, and powders mattes my face too much

    6 years ago •

  1. Funindawo

    Alright then, i think i prefer using a large powder brush and only apply the powder in the areas that require coverage. Good article, mm love this

    6 years ago •

  1. Ruweida

    Very interesting and helpful article; I always struggle to find the perfect foundation for my skin…

    6 years ago •

  1. Vinessa

    I have combination skin and i have started using powder foundation and i must say that i quite like it. i do not have the oiliness on my t-zone as i did with liquid foundation

    6 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    The Body Shop All-In-One Face Base is something a still have to try :) I like my powders, for skin like mine seems to work best.

    6 years ago •

  1. Miss_Madiba

    Informative article, but I prefer liquid foundation.. powder makes me look dry, liquid foundation gives a radiant glow to my skin.

    6 years ago •

  1. Livvy

    nice article i like all the hyper links that you can go to find out more info.

    6 years ago •

  1. TJK

    I use Bobbi Brown’s powder. My skin stays illuminated, but not oily.

    6 years ago •

  1. Ayesh

    Powder foundation can be a wonderful way to seal your make-up. I always use it over my cream foundation. Gives me a wonderful, matte-finish.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pulane

    I have always prefered powder as my skin is oily. I hope I will get the right shade for my skin, I like the maybelline fit me pressed powder.

    6 years ago •

  1. SG

    Of all the powders I have tried, Maybelline’s Loose Mineral Powder was the best so far… I always need to use it to set my make up.

    6 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    very helpful, i tend to use a liquid foundation because i feel like i get better coverage

    6 years ago •

  1. BeautySouthAfrica

    Hi Jessie

    No, that’s definitely not necessary. Powder foundation is usually worn on its own, but if you wear liquid foundation and want a powder finish, apply some pressed powder to your skin after your foundation.

    6 years ago •

  1. margsc

    I find it too drying for my skin, it seems to sit on top of my skin making my wrinkles more noticeable! I’ve got a Revlon one. Maybe I need to invest in a more expensive one!

    6 years ago •

  1. Jessie

    I struggle finding the right colour for me as I have a dark complexion, is it necessary to apply powder foundation over liquid foundation?

    6 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I don’t mind a light dusting of powder on my face on the days that I don’t wear makeup, or I’ll lightly add it over foundation when I need more coverage, but I find that it tends to bring out the dryness around my nose and mouth.

    6 years ago •

  1. Queen_mo

    I love Maybelline Fit me, i found the shade that suits me perfectly.

    6 years ago •

  1. Trinity

    I think its time to start trying out more expensive foundations, the cheaper ones don’t do much good..

    6 years ago •

  1. Shell

    I use my powder foundation to set my liquid foundation, this makes it last all day.

    6 years ago •

  1. Cupcake

    I wonder if any powder foundation says it’s non-comedogenic, products don’t usually state it and it’s irritating. Just because a product wont make skin oily doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain ingredients that will either cause an allergy or clog pores.

    6 years ago •

  1. sader

    definitely going to try maybelline fit me, have been on the hunt for a decent pressed powder that isnt MAC

    6 years ago •

  1. Carlene

    I’ve not been too keen on powder foundations to date, but this article (thank you) has made me think twice – perhaps it’s time to give it another try.

    6 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    I also have dry skin and should try it.

    6 years ago •

  1. fourieliandi

    i don’t think i will ever use a powder foundation.I personally dont like it all and i feel like it doesn’t last that long.I like to use foundation with powder on top.

    6 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Thanks for the article, will try powder foundations as my skin is very oily. I always put powder after applying my foundation but I have to keep applying the powder the whole day as a results i run out of powder very quickly.

    6 years ago •

  1. Larissa B

    The clarins skin illusion is absolutely stunning, my favourite. it gives a light feel and a radiant natural look, the packaging is so beautiful, love the brush too.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    I love powder foundation. Have been using Almay but it has not been discontiuned so will have to find another brand

    6 years ago •

  1. Ladyconfused

    I think I would try before I buy. I have always used a powder after putting my foundation to help with shine, but I can control and only put it by the shiney parts.

    6 years ago •

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