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Despite the fact that they sometimes get a bad rap, there are many things to love about a powder foundation. One, they’re much easier and faster to apply than their liquid counterpart—simply dust on and go. Two, they’re super buildable, offering every level of coverage from sheer to complete. And per that bad rap, today’s formulas are nothing unlike the drying, chalky powders of yesteryear. Even better? There’s a laundry list of great choices to be found at the drugstore, so you can score complexion perfection without breaking the bank.
Keep reading to learn more about the best drugstore powder foundations.
Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris True Match Naturale Mineral Foundation
This is a spot-on dupe for one of the most popular (and much pricier) mineral powder foundations out there—you can probably figure out which one, but let’s just say it rhymes with Shmare Shminerals. The featherweight, loose powder is preservative-, talc-, and fragrance-free, and offers both great coverage and tamps down sheen. It also the added benefit of delivering an SPF 15, thanks to the addition of titanium dioxide. And it even comes with a built-in brush.
Best Mattifying: Burt's Bees Mattifying Powder Foundation
Powders are a natural fit for those whose skin skews towards oily, this one in particular. The shine-control formula effectively mattifies while delivering buildable coverage, and is also non-comedogenic so you don’t have to stress about the potential for clogged pores. Also nice: The 100% natural ingredient list.
Best Radiant Finish: wet n wild Photo Focus Pressed Powder
Believe it: Not all powder foundations have a matte finish, and this formula is proof positive. The satin finish works to tamp down unwanted sheen, but still has an ever-so-slight touch of radiance that leaves skin looking like skin. Light-diffusing pigments only make things look even better, both in photos (there’s no flashback!) and in real life.
Best Sheer Coverage: e.l.f. Cosmetics Beautifully Bare Sheer Tint Finishing Powder
For those who want just the teeniest bit of ultra-sheer, barely-there color, this powder can’t be beaten. Silky and mattifying, the vegan, cruelty-free formula delivers just the slightest bit of coverage, and works great as a setting powder, too. We just wish it came in more than five shades. Here’s hoping.
Best Full Coverage: NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Powder Foundation
On the other end of the spectrum, those who crave full-on coverage will appreciate this option. The pressed powder packs a pigment punch, but never feels heavy or starts to cake—the ultimate powder nightmare. Not to mention that it also comes in 24 shades, the most of all the products on this list.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena SkinClearing Mineral Powder
Complexion products that combine coverage with treatment ingredients are the way to go for those battling breakouts. Case in point: This pick helps conceal pimples and make your skin look more even, but also boasts salicylic acid to help zap zits in the process. It absorbs oil too, always a good thing for acne-prone skin types.
Best for Sensitive Skin: COVERGIRL Clean Sensitive Skin Pressed Powder
Powder foundations are often recommended over liquids or creams for anyone with sensitive skin; they tend to contain fewer ingredients, decreasing the likelihood that any will trigger irritation. This particular one is especially good, free of fragrance (one of the most common irritants) and it's also non-comedogenic so you don’t have to worry about clogged pores.
Best for Dark Skin: Black Opal True Color Ultra Matte Foundation Powder
This brand—which launched in 1994—holds the distinction of being the first mass-market makeup line specifically for women of color. This is particularly important when it comes to the shade offerings of their complexion products, like this powder. It comes in nine hues, with an excellent variety for darker skin tones (though there are lighter shades, too). The light to medium coverage has a matte finish, and also subtly blurs away imperfections. Yes, please.
Best Budget: Essence Makeup My Skin Perfector Loose Finishing Powder
To be fair, given that all of these products are drugstore buys, they’re all super affordable, but this one takes the cake, ringing in at just six dollars. Per the name, it is in fact a great option to use as setting powder, but it works just as well used on its own. Easily buildable, it has a velvety finish that magically blurs away any and every imperfection.
Best Longwear: Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Powder Foundation
This guy is guaranteed to stay put for 16 hours, essentially rendering mid-day touch-ups obsolete. It acts like a liquid foundation—a creamy texture, full coverage—but make no mistake it’s a full-on powder, drying down to a beautiful matte finish. It comes in 12 shades, but we’d love to see it in even more.
Best for Versatility: Iman Cosmetics Second to None Foundation
We live for a product that can be used in multiple ways, like this guy. Dust on with a dry brush for sheer coverage, or, dab it on with a damp sponge to up said coverage and also leave skin with a gorgeous-looking radiance. Bonus points for the addition of nourishing and protective vitamin E.
Best for Powder Haters: Milani Cosmetics Smooth Finish Cream To Powder Foundation
Try this formula and you just may become a convert. It glides on (and feels) just like a cream foundation; to that point, it’s best applied with a sponge or foundation brush. But then it transforms into a featherweight powder, helping to control oil and imparting a beautiful soft matte finish. There’s also a nice array of 22 shades to choose from, always a plus.