The 13 Best Pressed Powders for a Next Level Airbrushed Finish

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

In the time of glossy, dewy Instagram skin, pressed powder has been lost to the bottomless black void of makeup bags everywhere. But the idea that it’s thick, heavy, cakey, or drying is an outdated one—in fact, pressed powder is one of the best ways to balance the complexion, control excess shine, and ensure your makeup goes the distance. 

So if you’re done with high shine finishes, are prone to excess oil, or maybe just want to extend the life of your liquid foundation (hello, humidity), we’ve rounded up some of the very best pressed powders for all skin types and concerns from those who want a Kardashian-level glam to something more effortless. 

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Our Top Picks
A Byrdie fave, this super-luxe option is designed to blur and illuminate skin with a diffused finish.
Stay matte for up to 12 hours with this oil-free drugstore powder.
This luxe formulation leaves skin with a natural finish, which is good for dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles.
With 50 shades to choose from in this powder, you're bound to find your skin's best match.
Best for Light Skin Tones:
La Mer The Sheer Pressed Powder at Sephora
This luxurious powder looks great on fairer skin tones.
This fan favorite powder works for all skin tones, especially medium tones.
The eight shade options cater to medium to dark skin tones and target shine.
This is a great pick for dry skin since it's boosted with a few hydrating ingredients.
This powder doesn't contain any harsh ingredients, making it a great pic for sensitive skin.
Despite being a powder, this product never lies flat and actually creates a somewhat luminous finish.

Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish

CHARLOTTE TILBURY Airbrush Flawless Finish Micro-Powder
What We Like
  • Medium coverage

  • Fine powder that doesn’t crease

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

Designed to set and refine, this iconic pressed powder from Charlotte Tilbury glides over the skin, reducing shine and blurring the look of pores. It’s matte but not thick or chalky, so it will help you achieve a glamorous makeup look without dulling the skin. There are only four shades, but because it’s a setting powder (as opposed to a powder foundation), they are quite versatile. 

Charlotte’s powder also comes recommended by Brown: “Everything Charlotte does has a brilliant texture. A good pressed powder should be oil-absorbing but super lightweight to blur and smooth skin. This does exactly that!”

Key Ingredients: Rose wax, almond oil | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes. 

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Byrdie / Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish setting powder is fantastic; it will keep your makeup in place, give your skin a natural glow, control shine, and give your skin a velvety finish." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder

Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Powder
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Great shine control

What We Don’t Like
  • Could dry out some skin types

With Pearlite mineral technology to absorb oil and suppress shine, this pressed powder from Maybelline is a cheap, cheerful, and welcome addition to almost any makeup kit. It does have a very matte finish though, so it is best suited for oilier skin types.

Shades: 24 shades | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Glow Setting Powder

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Glow Setting Powder
What We Like
  • Radiant finish

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • Minimal coverage

Prefer a featherlight pressed powder that can be used to set makeup and impart a healthy-looking glow? Look no further than Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Glow Setting Powder. Like its namesake liquid counterpart, it diffuses skin for an airbrushed finish, but the sheer coverage means there’s no dulling or flattening of the skin.

Shades: 10 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation
What We Like
  • Great shades

  • Matte finish

  • Medium coverage

What We Don’t Like
  • Could dry out some skin types

When it comes to shade diversity, it’s hard to beat Fenty Beauty. With 50 different colors across all skin undertones, this light-as-air powder has a soft matte finish for that glamorous, poreless look Rhianna is known for. Use it to either set your foundation or on its own.

Shades: 50 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Light Skin Tones: La Mer The Sheer Pressed Powder

La Mer The Sheer Pressed Powder
What We Like
  • Beautiful finish

  • Hydrating

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited shade range

“La Mer may be luxury, but the texture of this pressed powder is a dream on the skin, especially if you’re dry or dehydrated in some areas,” says Brown. Matte without being flat, it’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a light, weightless makeup look.

Key Ingredients: Miracle broth | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Medium Skin Tones: Laura Mercier Translucent Pressed Setting Powder

Laura Mercier Translucent Pressed Setting Powder
What We Like
  • Can be used on all skin tones

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • No coverage

Laura Mercier is known as an amazing complexion brand and has one of the most-used loose powders by all celebrity makeup artists, so it makes sense to have this gem in your handbag for extra setting powder when on the go,” explains Brown. 

Because it’s colorless, try to set your liquid products to ensure they go the distance.

Shades: 2 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Dark Skin Tones: BLK/OPL Oil Absorbing Pressed Powder

BLK/OPL Oil Absorbing Pressed Powder
What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Shine control

What We Don’t Like
  • Could dry out some skin types

Made especially for POC, this creamy, silky powder glides on easily for a glamorous, polished skin finish. Use it either on its own if you’re super oily or throw it in your bag to touch up on the go.

Shades: 8 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Dry Skin: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder
What We Like
  • Radiant finish

  • Hydrating

What We Don’t Like
  • Sheer coverage

This baked powder is a great pick for dry skin since it's boosted with a few hydrating ingredients, plus it has a soft, slightly radiant finish that doesn’t crease or settle. Try it swept over the high points of the face for instant luminosity.

Key Ingredients: Mineral complex, vitamin E, jojoba | Shades: 14 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder

Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder
What We Like
  • Talc-free

  • Radiant finish

What We Don’t Like
  • Not as much shine control

With its surprisingly radiant finish and super light texture, this is the powder for those who hate powder. Instead of mattifying, it just softens and blurs the skin, reducing shine but keeping radiance intact. It’s also a super clean formulation, and the fact it doesn’t contain any sulfates, parabens, talc, fragrance, or silicones makes it a smart choice for ultra-sensitive complexions.

Key Ingredients: Bamboo stem, Chinese peony | Shades: 10 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for a Luminous Finish: Sephora Collection Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Powder

Sephora Collection Microsmooth Multi-Tasking Baked Face Powder
What We Like
  • Radiant finish

  • Sheer coverage

  • Buildable

What We Don’t Like
  • Reviewers note it can oxidize

With a luminous but long-wearing finish, Sephora’s Microsmooth powder is proof that you really can have it all. The baked formula has a very subtle shimmer that illuminates the skin, but it still does a great job at absorbing excess oil. You can use it as a light foundation to set your liquid products or just to sculpt and contour.

Key Ingredients: Green tea extract | Shades: 15 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Long-Wear Option: NARS Soft Velvet Pressed Powder

NARS Soft Velvet Pressed Powder
What We Like
  • Long-wearing

  • Natural finish

What We Don’t Like
  • Could dry out some skin types

Designed to lock in makeup for all-day wear, this compact from NARS is seriously impressive. Not only does it blur and smooth the pores, but it prevents excess shine and creates a bit of a seal, keeping your makeup intact no matter the conditions. It also uses what’s called Photochromic Technology to ensure your face looks fab in every light—we won’t say no to that. 

Shades: 8 shades | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: NYX Professional Makeup High Definition Finishing Powder

nyx professional makeup hd finishing powder
What We Like
  • Works on all skin tones

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • No coverage

This silky pressed powder comes in three shades (translucent, banana, and mint green) to set and correct your makeup. While the translucent does a stellar job at suppressing shine, the banana will pep up dark circles, whereas mint green will combat redness. And because they don’t have much coverage, you can top them up throughout the day without that chalky, heavy feeling.

Shades: 3 universal shades | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder
What We Like
  • Soft finish

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Minimal coverage (only blurring and shine control)

Brown loves this one because of the way it “blurs and smooths the skin without looking dry or cakey.” The It Cosmetics line is also free from common irritants like fragrance, making it a nice choice for sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Key Ingredients: Silk, collagen, antioxidants | Shades: 3 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Honestly, both Brown and team Byrdie can’t go past Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder for beautiful skin and a radiant finish. The next runner-up is the Kosas Cloud Set Baked Setting & Smoothing Talc-Free Vegan Powder (view at Kosas) for its innovative format and clean formulation. Finally, the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation (view at Fenty Beauty) gets a shoutout for its unmatched shade range and soft, matte finish.

What to Look for in Pressed Powders

Coverage and Pigment

Brown explains that because pressed powders come with differing amounts of coverage, it’s important to figure out what you want before throwing down your hard-earned dollars. If you want to simply touch up and control shine, look for a translucent or sheer option. If it’s coverage you’re after, seek out a pressed powder foundation hybrid instead. 

Finish

If you're extremely oily, keep an eye out for ingredients like bamboo, talc, or cornstarch as the absorbent qualities will help to mop up any excess shine. Similarly, drier skin will fare well with the addition of hydrating ingredients including vitamin E, jojoba, or botanical extracts.

FAQ
  • What do pressed powders do?

    “For me, a pressed powder is purely a touch-up product for on-the-go shine control to give skin that velvety smooth look all day,” explains Brown. 

    “I tend to prefer a translucent powder to immediately lock in makeup after application—it will extend wear and ensure a long-lasting, fresh finish. You can also use a pressed powder foundation that will provide pigment and coverage.”

  • How do you apply pressed powder?

    “Pressed powder should be pressed or dabbed into the skin,” says Brown. When being used as a touch-up product, he says to skip the brush and try a sponge to gently press it onto areas that are prone to shine and open pores, as opposed to the entire face. When used sparingly, it should instantly blur your skin and allow your makeup to last longer.

    If you’re using it all over as a coverage product, try taking a medium-sized brush with densely-packed bristles and buffing it into the skin for a natural but polished finish. 

  • Can you use pressed powder as foundation?

    As Brown previously touched on, you absolutely can use a pressed powder as your foundation—just look for a product that promises ample coverage. 

Why Trust Byrdie?

To arrive at this roundup, we asked a pro makeup artist for his top recommendations for all skin types, tones, and concerns, plus scoured internet reviews and tested some best-sellers. 

Meet the Expert

Michael Brown is one of Australia’s leading celebrity makeup artists and experts and has worked on countless photo shoots, campaigns, red carpet looks, and magazine covers throughout his 20-year career. Michael has also held Australian ambassador roles for global brands including St Tropez, Marc Jacobs, Moroccanoil, Ardell Lashes, and Olay.  

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