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Foundation? Check. Concealer? Check. Now, all you need is some powder. Considered to be a staple in every makeup kit, pressed powders add the perfect finishing touch without feeling cakey or unnatural. “Pressed powder is essential for locking everything in for long-wear while blurring any imperfections,” says New York City-based makeup artist Jonet Williamson. Adding a sweep of pressed powder can also come in handy when dealing with shine, hiding pores and lines, and preventing any unwanted discoloration from peaking through.
While finding the right powder formula for your skin is crucial, Williamson says that your application also plays an important role in achieving that airbrushed look. “I like to use [powders] lightly where needed, primarily in the T-zone where the face tends to get oily,” she explains, noting that she’ll use different shades for different parts of the face. “They can also be used to give added definition to the face by highlighting and contouring.”
With Williamson's help, we rounded up the best pressed powders for every skin type and concern.
Feel like your glam is missing something? Odds are it’s because you’re not using this Charlotte Tilbury powder. A favorite of celebrity MUAs and Byrdie editors alike, this super-luxe option is designed to take your skin up a notch with its skin-perfecting airbrush effect. The secret is in its soft-focus, light-diffusing formula, which blurs lines and imperfections while also illuminating the skin. This powder also contains a hydrating blend of rose wax and almond oil, making it suitable for dry skin types and those looking for a formula that doesn’t feel caked on.
For less than $15, Morphe’s Filter Effect Finishing Powder delivers the same poreless, radiant finish as its competitors without the steep price tag. Its buildable formula can be customized to your coverage preferences, but you don’t have to worry about it layering in a clumpy or cakey way. Instead, its mattifying, oil-absorbing, and texture-blurring formula freshens up the skin, locks in makeup, and creates a silky-smooth complexion that’s selfie-ready. It’s great for touch-ups throughout the day if you notice your skin needs it.
When applying powder, concentrate the product to the T-zone and other areas that attract shine. For those with oily skin, it’s best to apply it all over the face for guaranteed oil-blocking realness.
This drugstore powder takes shine very seriously—so much so that it delivers up to 12 hours of coverage. Not only does it keep shine in check, but it also leaves the skin looking poreless and mattified. Plus, its long-lasting formula builds to your desired coverage and never makes you feel like you’ve caked on layers of powder. Worried that it won’t play nice with acne-prone skin? It's also oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
If you have dry skin, odds are you’ve been let down by a pressed powder in the past. While a sweep of powder can be great for absorbing shine and keeping makeup in place, it can also cling to dry patches and lines if the formula isn’t hydrating enough. To combat unwanted caking and piling, this Bobbi Brown powder contains vitamin E to ensure that the skin stays moisturized.
If your skin is really dry, Williamson suggests finishing up with a hydrating setting spray or face mist to rehydrate the face and prevent future dry spots.
When it comes to finding the best pressed powder for oily skin, Williamson says translucent formulas are ideal for those who are looking to soak up extra shine while also enhancing your glam. This Clinque powder fits the bill perfectly. Its sheer finish doesn’t disrupt the skin’s natural texture by bunching and clinging—instead, it works with it to deliver a refreshed, refined look that’s free of shine and imperfections. The formula is also oil- and fragrance-free, so those who are prone to breakouts and sensitivity can enjoy it as well. Not looking for a translucent finish? This pressed powder is also available in nine additional shades.
Those with acne-prone skin know that not every ingredient agrees with their pores. According to Williamson, a good way to avoid any unwanted breakouts is by opting for mineral pressed powders. “These tend to be oil-free and non-comedogenic, as well as contain more natural ingredients,” she explains. Williamson recommends this MAC powder for anyone who is breakout-conscious. It’s formulated with low-level pearlized pigments and vitamin E to blur imperfections and give skin a dimensional and radiant look. Its coverage falls on the lighter side, which might not be a good fit for oily skin types, but it also comes in 14 shades and can act as both a bronzer and a setting powder.
This pressed powder ranks highly among Byrdie’s editors because of its skin-perfecting formula. Silica and micronized pigments come together to reduce shine as well as smooth the appearance of fine lines, pores, and wrinkles. But don’t let its intense mattifying abilities worry you—it’s also hydrating and doesn’t cake or cling around dry spots. For this reason, we love it for those with combination skin who want a product that addresses both oiliness and dryness.
Another recommendation from Williamson, this popular powder is formulated without any ingredients that are known to irritate sensitive skin. Designed to even the complexion, absorb excess oil, and fade the appearance of fine lines and pores, the formula has a velvety-smooth feel that moves with your skin in order to prevent creasing and caking. It’s also incredibly lightweight and hydrating, thanks to its hyaluronic acid-fortified formula.
This IMAN Cosmetics powder accounts for every undertone with its shade range, ensuring that everyone finds their perfect match. Described as having a light-as-air texture, this powder leaves skin with a natural-looking finish while also controlling oil and shine. But rest assured, it won’t settle into fine lines or cause creasing thanks to its silky and hydrating formula, which Williamson says is always a good sign when it comes to powders. “The powders you use should be rich and buttery in texture so that they melt into the skin versus sitting on it,” she says.
“When selecting powders for deeper skin tones, getting the correct undertone is super important,” Williamson recommends. “I'd veer away from pressed powders that are too orangey or reddish and instead, look for powders that have golden or neutral undertones to balance out the warmth that is already present in the skin.”
While Make Up For Ever’s Matte Velvet Blurring Powder is technically a foundation, it’s available in 30 diverse shades that cater to a variety of undertones. It also comes recommended by Williamson and Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould for its velvety matte finish and lightweight, comfortable feel. It also doesn't skimp on performance, promising to stay put for up to 12 hours, erase imperfections, and soak up shine with its blurring technology.
This powder helps put the finishing touches on your complexion by imparting a luminous glow, thanks in large part to its skin-healthy blend of vitamins A and C. But a glow isn’t its only wow factor—this multitasking product also smooths the complexion and adds a visible lift, which makes it particularly great for those with mature skin. It’s also an excellent powder for setting foundation, as it helps extend its wear and prevent excess shine from peeking through.
This may be more of a loose powder than a pressed powder, but it’s renowned for its long-wear formula that lasts all day long. Not only does it stay put through humidity, but it also delivers impressive full coverage without leaving any traces of creasing. It's available in four shades and uses the brand’s Shade ID technology to adjust to your skin’s undertones with color-matching pigments. Worried about dealing with flashback since it’s technically a loose powder? Plenty of reviewers have vouched that it's seamless to blend and that the formula is flash-friendly.
Whether you use this product as a finishing powder or by itself as your foundation, it will help turn up the watts on your complexion. Its versatile 2-in-1 formula is lightweight yet buildable, working with the skin to provide a natural-looking finish that's never cakey. It’s also great for soaking up any excess oil and shine and significantly reducing the appearance of pores.
Acne scars are notorious for being difficult to cover with foundation alone, which is why you may need a full-coverage powder for backup. This Dermablend option doesn't just conceal acne scars—it also ensures that they stay camouflaged throughout the day. Its soft-feel formula can be built up to match the level of coverage needed and it's mattifying enough to tackle shine and blur pores, too. If you’re using this powder to cover acne scars, you’re probably just as worried about it causing future breakouts, right? Thankfully, it’s non-comedogenic and oil-free, so it won’t clog pores or exacerbate any existing skin issues.