9 Powder Foundations That Won’t Leave Your Skin a Dry, Chalky Mess
Gasp! Could the days of glowy, dewy skin in fact be over? Don’t go throwing out all of your highlighters and oil foundations just yet, but a smooth matte finish is making a huge comeback. And to be honest, our oily T-zone is so here for it. Contrary to popular belief, powder foundation doesn’t have to mean a dry, chalky finish. Case in point: These nine powder foundations—from light to full coverage—have all the shine-combating, light-diffusing ingredients for the best of both worlds.
1. Best Overall: BareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15
This loose mineral powder has been around for what seems like forever, and for good reason. People can’t get enough—it goes on like a cream and melts into your skin so you barely notice that it’s there. No cakiness, no heavy feel and zero white cast, plus all the mattifying, pore-erasing and blemish-concealing buildable coverage you desire with just five ingredients. PureWow editor Roberta Fiorito hasn’t used anything else in six years. She says, “I have a very oily T-zone, so anything liquid always ends up looking so shiny by midday. With BareMinerals, I feel good about what I’m putting on my skin and also never feel greasy or shiny until about 12 hours (and by that point, I’m hopefully taking off my makeup anyway). The coverage is great but also lets my skin’s olive tone shine through without ever looking cakey or like I’m wearing a mask.”
2. Best for Light Coverage: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
Don’t want to cover your adorable freckles? Try this cult-classic powder foundation. It goes on like velvet and blurs imperfections, all without making your skin appear too airbrushed thanks to its lightweight, buildable formula.
3. Best for Full Coverage: Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation
This foundation is famous on Instagram, so we put it to the test. And boy, did it deliver. Not only does it absorb excess oil and combat shine throughout the day, it also hydrates with a blend of moisturizing ingredients like aloe and hibiscus. Meaning no dry, chalky complexion—just a flawless, even base no matter how many layers you put on.
4. Best SPF: Colorescience Brush On Foundation SPF 20
Let’s be real: We don’t always remember to slather on sunscreen before we put on makeup. That’s why we love this SPF 20 powder foundation that can be easily reapplied throughout the day without smearing your perfect highlight all over your face. Although the coverage is fairly light, it still has enough oomph to keep any redness in check from yesterday’s sun exposure.
5. Best for Sensitive Skin: Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation SPF 15
If your skin gets easily irritated, piling on foundation probably isn’t in your best interest. But anything with a mineral base is great, due to its innately limited ingredient list (this one has just four), which lowers your risk for any potential allergic reaction. This formula is our fave because it lasts all day long and never looks flat, thanks to the glowy addition of light-reflecting mica.
6. Best Luxe: Chanel Le Teint Ultra Tenue Ultrawear Flawless Compact Foundation
Not one but two PureWow editors credit this stuff as their ultimate favorite foundation. Fashion editor Dena Silver says, “I wear this over liquid foundation because I’m crazy. But also because I like that it takes away excess shine without ever feeling cakey.” And VP of operations Lauren Gniazdowski agrees: “Same. Totally cosign.” Plus, the handy sponge and mirror make touch-ups on the go a total breeze.
7. Best Drugstore: Maybelline SuperStay Full Coverage Powder Foundation
“But how can a $12 drugstore foundation get such rave reviews?” you ask. Well, believe it, because this stuff is pure gold according to well over 900 reviews on Maybelline’s website. It’s full coverage without being cakey, it blurs imperfections without feeling like you’re wearing a mask and it comes with a sponge and mirror for post-dinner touch-ups—all for the price of one measly salad.
8. Best for Dry Skin: Too Faced Born This Way Undetectable Medium-to-Full Coverage Powder Foundation
Forget everything you’ve been told: Powder foundation isn’t dry skin’s worst enemy. Well, not this super hydrating formula anyway. Made with ingredients like coconut water and hyaluronic acid, it delivers a veil of undetectable coverage that won’t accentuate dry patches or cause more of them. One reviewer explains, “I stay away from powder products because I tend to have dry skin and live in a very dry climate…[this product] didn’t emphasize any dryness and gave me the flawless look I was going for.”
9. Best for Oily Skin: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Matte Powder Foundation
Powder foundation is innately shine reducing, but this specific formula traps excess oil and prevents it from creating that dreaded slick-looking T-zone. Plus, it’s the most versatile formula we’ve found: The sponge side of the included applicator provides full coverage, while the velvety side provides medium. Or go rogue and wet the applicator for sheer coverage. Win, win, win.