Although powder foundations are one of the absolute best antidotes for shine-prone complexions (especially come summer!), they get kind of a bad rap. It's no secret that powders can be notoriously unflattering, and the wrong shade or formula can quickly veer ashy, cakey, or mask-like, which, funny enough, is the complete opposite of what they're supposed to achieve—sheer, matte, lightweight coverage.
Part of the problem here is the lack of inclusivity. If, for instance, a brand only offers five colors to choose from, it's not surprising that results won't be satisfactory. Additionally, I personally still feel scarred from my MTV-obsessed middle school years when every other infomercial seemed to be selling a different brand of powder foundation. (Just me?)
That being said, brands have come a long way, and while improvements can always be made on the inclusivity and shade range front, most powder formulas these days provide us with many more options to choose from. Both drugstore and higher-end beauty brands now make powder foundation formulas with 20 to 40 hues, and their technology, finish, and application methods have also improved.
Fast forward to summer 2020 and powder foundations have officially become one of the best and most strategic ways to curb shine and enhance your complexion with an airbrushed-like finish. Below, we're sharing 20 of the best powder formulas money can buy for every single budget. Keep scrolling!
The "Save" Set: $10 to $17
Regardless of its very palatable price, this powder foundation from L'Oréal is one of the best options on the makeup market. Not only does it have an impressive shade range (something many powder foundations severely lack), but it's also oil-free, non-comedogenic, and boosted with skin-flattering pearl pigments to naturally enhance your complexion.
Milani's best-selling powder foundation is great for anyone who wants the sheer dusting of coverage powder foundations are known for with the easy-to-blend application of a cream or liquid. It glides effortlessly onto the skin and is formulated with key ingredients like lily and bamboo extracts, which control oil production along with other antioxidant-rich fares like green tea and vitamins A and E.
BLK/OPL's top-rated powder foundation not only features an ultra-clean ingredient profile, but it also boasts Shade ID technology which, according to the brand, features balanced multicolored chromatic pigments that adjust to your unique skin tone all while keeping skin grease-free and airbrushed-looking. Oh, and did we mention the added dose of SPF?!
If you're someone who likes to apply their makeup without having to worry about midday touch-ups, this long-wearing powder foundation from Maybelline is a great match. The full-coverage formula yields a durable matte finish that will look fresh on your face for up to 16 hours.
The demi-matte finish of this multitasking powder foundation makes it a good fit for anyone looking to curb oil and grease without having to sacrifice hydration. In other words, dry skin peeps, this one is for you! The sweat-resistant formula makes it especially perfect for summer wear.
One of the trickiest aspects of finding the perfect powder foundation is toeing the line between "mattifying" and "hydrating." We never want our complexion to look chalky or cakey, which is why we love J.Cat Beauty's brilliant formula. The packaging itself has a unique water-locking system to help preserve the moisture within the powder, itself, and the actual foundation formula is hydrating albeit non-clogging. So even congestion-prone pores will be left happy.
As someone with acne-prone skin, I never thought I could wear powder foundations until I tried this highly sought-after option from Neutrogena. It's oil-free and non-comedogenic (aka—it won't clog pores), yet the coverage is satisfyingly buildable. Plus, the brand's signature MicroClean Technology tackles oil and breakouts to actually help expedite the healing process.
There's nothing not to love about this best-selling formula from Nyx. The inclusive shade range boasts more than 20 different hues to achieve an expert-level match. Plus, the smooth-as-velvet matte finish never looks cakey and will actually stay put. It's touted as full coverage, but the formula is malleable and easy to build for your optimal coverage preferences.
Iman is a beauty icon, and honestly, so is her namesake makeup line. Designed with medium to deep skin tones top of mind (it doesn't contain frost- or ash-inducing mica), this nutrient-packed mineral formula offers a flattering, sheer finish that can offer any kind of coverage depending on how you apply it. For lighter coverage, dab it on with a dry sponge, and for fuller coverage, use your fingers to blend and work it into your complexion.
Burt's Bees lacks the inclusive shade range we look for in the best powder foundations, but,if you have fair or light skin, the brand's mattifying, naturally derived formula is a highly rated option that helps blur away imperfections while simultaneously keeping sneaky oil at bay.
The "Splurge" Set: $31 to $64
It does not get any more iconic than this holy-grail, forever-beloved powder foundation from MAC Cosmetics. Of course, since it's MAC, the shade range is super-inclusive, and it's so fool-proof as far as application goes. In one fast and easy step, you'll get a smooth, perfect even matte finish that can be built from medium to full coverage.
Bareminerals instantly comes to mind the second we think of powder foundation. It's famous for a reason, and on Sephora alone, this cult-loved loose powder foundation formula has nearly 20 thousand reviews with a nearly perfect five-star rating. (4.6 if you must know specifics.) It's fortified with SPF 15 and will actually help improve the health and look of your skin over time, to boot.
Talc-free, this favorite pick houses Tarte's hero ingredient, Amazonian Clay, and yields a medium-coverage application that's easy to customized and build, and will stay on your face for a full 12 hours. Oh, and it's so lightweight that you'll forget you're wearing makeup.
We've been longtime lovers of Too Faced's Born This Way Collection, and if you're in the market for a great powder foundation, this is definitely at the top of our lists. It comes with a 2-in-1 sponge to cater to different coverage levels, and the ingredient list is filled with lush additions like hydrating hyaluronic acid, coconut water, and alpine rose.
Innovative in its formulation, this powder foundation from Make Up For Ever gives you 30 different shade options and boasts a "flexi-fit puzzle complex" which delivers a featherlight feel in addition to flexible, buildable coverage. The complexion is left looking expertly airbrushed and practically poreless.
Whether or not you want sheer or full coverage, this popular powder foundation from Lancôme totally has your back. Choose from more than 20 inclusive shades, and you need not worry about cakey-ness or dehydration. It's safe for all skin types and lasts all day without ever settling into fine lines.
Folks, this top-rated powder foundation has over 40 shades to choose from to pretty much ensure you get your most flattering color-match. Not only that, but the skin-enhancing finish also stays true to color, lasts all day (or night), and delivers an oil-curbing matte result that looks great IRL or photos.
This dreamy powder foundation is so luxe and hydrating, you'd never guess the finish didn't come from a bottle. It boasts specialized technology that "synchronizes" with your skin and even self-refreshes to so you have a perpetually fresh "I just woke up like this" result for up to 24 hours.
Oil-free and lightweight in texture, this is one of Sephora's best-selling powder foundation and it's no wonder considering all of its touted benefits. It reduces the appearance shine-inducing grease, evens out skin tone, tops up the skin's hydration levels, and minimizes the look of fine lines and pores. Plus the color stays true and won't shift throughout the day.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation stans, this one is for you. If you're looking for something a little lighter (but just ask skin-enhancing) for summer, this dual-use powder foundation will come in handy. Use it alone as a natural-looking powder foundation or as a setting powder for your favorite liquid or cream foundation.