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The 10 Best Pressed Powders to Buy in 2021

The 10 Best Pressed Powders to Buy in 2021

Pressed powder is the workhorse of the makeup world, with a wide range of uses. It’s essential in every purse and makeup drawer. No matter where you might be or what kind of look you like, it’s the convenient little item that’ll help keep your face looking perfect. There are hundreds of fantastic pressed powders out there, so we reviewed the best of the best for every skin type!

The Perks of Pressed Powder

Not sure what pressed powder is all about? This section is for you! We explain all the basic details you need to know about it.

What Is Pressed Powder For?

Pressed powder is most commonly used to lock foundation into place and mattify the skin, which guarantees that makeup will look fabulous for long periods of time. Some pressed powders can even replace foundation altogether!

Must-Have Pressed Powder Features

Some of the features you should look for in a pressed powder are universal while others depend on your preferences and individual needs. We go through them in this section, so you can keep them in mind when reading our reviews.

The Right Coverage Level

From the sheerest dusting to the most pigmented foundation-replacement, pressed powders offer a wide range of coverages. The coverage level that’s right for you might not be what’s best for someone else. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, read our detailed explanation of coverage levels. Then, in each review, we’ll let you know the exact level of coverage you can expect out of each pressed powder.

Inclusive Shade Range

A large shade range is important to inclusivity. People of color often struggle to find makeup because so many brands don’t offer enough shades. With pressed powder, the more coverage it provides, the larger its shade range should be; with light coverage, one product can often suit multiple skin tones. We’ll let you know how many shades are available for each powder we review and also discuss how inclusive the shade range is in practice.

The Right Finish

When selecting a pressed powder, you should pay attention to its finish (i.e. how reflective it is). Most powders are quite matte but others are downright radiant! Skin type and personal taste both impact which finishes will be best for you, which is why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to finish types. In each review, we’ll let you know what finish each powder has.

Photographable

Some powders have a “flashback” effect when they’re photographed with a flash, so the face ends up looking ghostly in photos. That’s why we made sure that the powders on our list look good in photos (and in real life!).

Lightweight

Most people don’t enjoy feeling their makeup weigh down their skin. That’s why we prioritized selecting finely-milled powders that don’t sit on top of the skin. Their particles are small so they’re largely unfelt once applied, and they also look very natural. We don’t discuss this aspect in much detail in our reviews since most of the powders we selected measure up to this requirement.

Good Value

A basic, mattifying powder shouldn’t be too expensive, but sometimes we’re willing to pay more for added features. Most of the powders we review cost around $10-$15, but when the price deviates from that, we discuss the value of each powder in more detail. To determine value, we take into account factors like product quantity and unique added features.

Now, let’s discuss the most pressing matter–all of the best pressed powders for every skin type, style, and budget!

Top 10 Best Pressed Powders 2021

1. Best Overall Pressed Powder: L'Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Powder

L'Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Powder

Why we like it: This ultra-smooth and skin perfecting powder will work for almost everyone. It has a natural-looking demi-matte finish that’s nice on all skin types and an adaptable medium coverage level that enhances a variety of makeup looks.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Medium
  • Shade Range: 30 Shades
  • Finish: Demi-Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No
  • Quantity: 0.33 Oz

We can always rely on L’Oreal to make decent products, but even by their standards, this pressed powder is impressive. It gives us everything we want out of a pressed powder at a reasonable price. It wins our top spot easily because it’s so versatile. We can recommend it to nearly every person out there, no matter their style or skin type.

The finish is demi-matte, so it lightly mattifies the skin without making it look dry or cakey. If you have oily skin, it’ll look velvety-smooth and natural. If you prefer more intense oil-control then you can get the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder, instead.

Those with dry skin can use it sparingly over a creamy base layer of foundation and it will set it down and reduce some of the shine. Because of its medium coverage level, you can play around with it quite a bit. It’ll look sheer if you apply it with a fluffy brush, but if you use a sponge or flat brush it’ll have more coverage.

The shade range is not only fantastically large, but it’s also very well organized! L’Oreal has this great system of classifying their shades by undertones (W for warm, N for neutral, and C for cool), so finding a shade match is really easy. You can use this table to help guide you.

The powder is pressed with a bit of dimethicone, which adds a pore-blurring effect that looks really nice in photos, and there are no flashback-causing minerals.

Lastly, we appreciate the super-durable and protective packaging. This powder even has a bottom compartment with a mirror and a sponge, which is nice, although we generally prefer the mirrors to be part of the top compact, which makes touching up on-the-go easier.

Pros

  • Works for all skin types
  • Medium coverage guarantees versatility
  • Large, well-organized shade range
  • Great for photos
  • Durable packaging

Cons

  • Bottom-compartment mirror is less convenient

2. Best Premium Pressed Powder: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Why we like it: This luxury powder looks and feels expensive. It has a natural, skin-blurring finish that’s fantastic for dry skin or for setting under-eye concealer.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Buildable Light
  • Shade Range: 4 Shades
  • Finish: Natural
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Quantity: 0.28 Oz

If you want to treat yourself, this is the most luxurious pressed powder to buy. It’s expensive, but you’ll feel like royalty when it’s time to use it. It probably won’t require touch-ups throughout the day, but you’ll still want an excuse to pull it out and show off the gorgeous rose gold packaging.

As far as performance, the most stunning thing about this powder is its filter-like effect. It helps camouflage texture issues and even works nicely under the much more wrinkle and dryness-prone under-eye area. This powder is incredibly finely-milled, so it’s very smooth and easy to pick up with a brush. Once applied to the skin, it’s weightless and natural-looking.

This effect makes it similar to the L’Oreal True Match Powder, but with a more natural finish that’s better for dry and normal skin. It doesn’t make the skin look matte, but it still absorbs oils, so it’s even a nice choice for those with combination or oily skin who prefer a glowy look.

This powder comes in 4 neutral shades, but because it has a lighter coverage level, a single shade works well across multiple skin tones. Often, small shade ranges only cover the lighter skin tones, but these 4 shades manage to be relatively inclusive, with the two deeper shades working well for dark and very dark skin.

Since this powder is so expensive, you may choose to use only under the eye area or for special events. This allows it to last for a longer time. If you’re usually a luxury shopper and have dry skin, it’s the best pressed powder to buy, but if you’re on a budget, the slightly more luminescent COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder is another option.

Pros

  • Natural finish excellent for dry skin
  • Blurring effect makes skin look smooth
  • Looks great under the eyes
  • Luxurious packaging

Cons

  • Extremely expensive

3. Best Mattifying Pressed Powder: Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Face Powder

Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Face Powder

Why we like it: This mattifying powder is our favorite for oil-control. It keeps the skin looking smooth, even, and totally shine-free. It has a medium-coverage level, so it can work alone or as a setting powder.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Medium
  • Shade Range: 24 Shades
  • Finish: Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No
  • Quantity: 0.28 Oz

This great powder is part of Maybelline’s Fit Me line, which also includes a massively popular liquid foundation. Like the L’Oreal True Match Powder, it’s a fantastic do-it-all, but it works even better for those with very oily skin.

It mattifies the skin instantly, but then it keeps absorbing oils throughout the day to keep the skin shine-free. Those with combination skin can use it specifically on the areas where they get shiny. In addition to mattifying, it also has a gorgeous blurring effect that helps to minimize the appearance of large pores. The mineral-based formula perfects the texture of the skin and makes it look smooth and matte, which is especially nice in photos.

Another nice feature is the versatility of the coverage level. It’s perfect when applied lightly as a setting powder, but you can also use it as a foundation-replacement on light makeup days. If you apply it with a flat-topped brush or a sponge it will give decent stand-alone coverage.

The shade range is good, but shopping for your shade online might be difficult. Maybelline doesn’t offer great swatches and the shade names don’t hint at important details like undertones. Still, it’s a solidly affordable drugstore option, and while it comes with a bit less product than the L’Oreal powder, it’s usually also a few dollars cheaper.

The compact is square, so it’s easy to store, although yet again, the mirror is in the bottom compartment which we don’t really enjoy.

Pros

  • Versatile coverage level
  • Mattifying and pore-blurring effect
  • Looks great in photos
  • Comprehensive shade range
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Mirror hard to access on the go
  • Selecting your shade online might be difficult

4. Best Pressed Powder Foundation: bareMinerals Barepro Performance Wear Powder Foundation

bareMinerals Barepro Performance Wear Powder Foundation

Why we like it: This mattifying powder foundation is a breezy alternative to cream foundations. It has buildable coverage that perfects the skin and keeps oils at bay. The packaging is ultra-portable, but the longevity is so good that you won’t need touch-ups.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Buildable Medium
  • Shade Range: 35 Shades
  • Finish: Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Quantity: 0.34 Oz

If you like your pressed powder to do all of the heavy lifting, this is a great product to pick up! Made by bareMinerals, the formula is similar to the brand’s iconic loose powder foundation, but in a convenient pressed format.

This means that it’s meant to be used instead of foundation, to even out the skin tone and camouflage imperfections. It has a buildable formula that can go from medium to full coverage. bareMinerals did a great job of offering a wide shade range, which is important considering the high coverage level. These swatches will help you find your shade match, although sadly, not all colors are always in stock.

Powder foundations, in general, are better for those with oily or combination skin. That’s even more true for this powder, which has a matte finish. It does a wonderful job of absorbing oils throughout the day and keeping the skin from looking greasy. If you have dry skin it might emphasize dry patches, so you’ll want to try the PÜR Pressed Mineral Makeup instead.

It comes in a compact that includes a sponge and mirror for touch-ups on-the-go. This portability almost goes to waste, since it has excellent longevity and many shoppers find that they don’t need to touch it up at all throughout the day.

Despite the effects and high coverage, this powder is famously lightweight on the skin. If you don’t like the feel of heavy foundations but still want your skin to look perfected, it’s a fantastic alternative.

Finally, let’s talk a little about value. We’d categorize the price of this powder as being on the more affordable side of high-end, although Amazon often has it on sale.

Pros

  • Lightweight foundation replacement
  • Excellent longevity
  • Provides oil-control
  • Great shade range

Cons

  • A little expensive
  • Some shades not always in stock

5. Best Budget Pressed Powder: Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder

Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder

Why we like it: With this pressed powder you get a lot of product for a very low price. If you have oily or combination skin, it’s fantastic for mattifying the skin and for setting foundation.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Light to Medium
  • Shade Range: 8 Shades
  • Finish: Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No
  • Quantity: 0.49 Oz

Rimmel’s Stay Matte powder is an oldie but a goodie. It may not look like much, but it performs impeccably. Best part of all? It costs very little for a ton of product. And not only is it the least expensive option on our list, but a single compact contains 0.49 oz of product, which is about 0.2 oz more than most other pressed powders.

As you can guess from the name, this powder is designed for oil-control, much like the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder. The coverage level is lighter, so it’s an even better setting powder for light looks.

While you can build up its coverage to medium, it might look a little cakey and may have slight flashback in photos. Misting it with some sort of hydrating or setting spray is usually enough to take away the cakiness.

It’s available in 8 shades, which we think is acceptable for light coverage. The range goes from the ultra-light Transparent all the way up to Pecan, with shades like Natural, Deep Beige, and Toffee in between.

Unfortunately, this powder is only suitable for oily skin, and even then you may want to avoid using it under the eyes where the skin is usually drier. If you’re a budget shopper with dry skin we recommend the COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder, instead.

The one flaw is that the packaging feels cheap, with a screw-top lid that’s less convenient than a typical compact. Considering how little this powder costs and how nice it looks on oily skin, we’re perfectly happy to overlook this flaw.

Pros

  • Long-lasting, very matte finish
  • Great for setting foundation
  • Extremely affordable

Cons

  • Cheap packaging
  • Can look cakey or dry if overapplied

6. Best Pressed Powder for Setting: Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder

Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder

Why we like it: This is our favorite pressed powder for setting foundation. It has just the right finish to suit every skin type, with both translucent and light coverage levels to suit many skin tones.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Translucent/Buildable Light
  • Shade Range: 14 Shades
  • Finish: Demi-Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No
  • Quantity: 0.3 Oz

From Revlon, this is a simple yet lovely pressed powder for setting foundation across various skin types. It has that perfect demi-matte finish that mattifies lightly without making the skin look parched, and the coverage is ideal for locking foundation in place without adding too much color.

Our favorite thing about this pressed powder is the color selection. Sure, 14 shades is not impressive, but the color selection itself is unique. This powder is primarily intended for setting creams and liquids, so while it does come in typical skin tone shades like Light or Mocha, it also comes in no-coverage translucent shades.

These shades include Translucent, which works across all lighter skin tones without altering the shade of the foundation, and the strongly-yellow Banana, which has a tint that’s perfect for those with strong warm undertones and deeper skin tones. It can even correct the undertone of an overly-neutral foundation!

When purchasing your shade, be a little careful. Revlon provides an excellent shade chart in the photo gallery for this powder, but sometimes the listing and shades don’t quite align. Cross-reference the name of the product in your cart with the main chart to confirm that it’s the shade you want.

Like other drugstore powders, it also comes with a mirror in a bottom compartment. There’s also an included applicator sponge which amps up the coverage of the powder to medium, which is nice for touch-ups.

The powder is very finely-milled, so it goes on the skin smoothly and is quite undetectable. It also feels very light and pleasant. If you want something even more matte but with the same light coverage, the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder is a great choice.

Pros

  • Suitable setting powder for all skin types
  • Lightweight and smooth on the skin
  • Shade range suitable for strong undertones

Cons

  • Product listing is a little confusing
  • Mirror in bottom compartment

7. Best Pressed Powder for Dry Skin: PÜR 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup

PÜR 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup

Why we like it: This powder foundation was pressed with moisturizing ingredients, so it has a satin finish that’s gorgeous on dry skin. It offers full coverage, so it can easily replace any liquid foundation in your arsenal.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Full
  • Shade Range: 22 Shades
  • Finish: Natural
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Quantity: 0.28 Oz

This vegan, mineral-based pressed powder is highly unusual: it’s a powder foundation made specifically to suit dry skin. There aren’t many of those, so we absolutely had to share it with you, despite its high price tag.

The coverage is phenomenal and it can absolutely replace your foundation, although you may still want to use a concealer for severe discoloration or blemishes. It comes in 22 shades, which is enough for most shoppers. We also love that when you click on a shade on Amazon, you can scroll through the pictures to see women wearing each shade, which will help you find your match.

The reason the formula works so well for dry skin is its satin finish, which comes from a blend of finely-milled reflective pigments and moisturizers like shea butter. These creamy ingredients have a natural-looking sheen and they help to moisturize the skin.

This formula is also one of the few talc-free options on our list. Talc is great for mattifying the skin, but in recent years it’s become a little controversial as an inhalation risk (more so for workers or children than to the average makeup wearer).

If you have oily skin, it might be a little too shiny for you, so the bareMinerals Powder Foundation will be a better choice.

When first applied, it can look a little powdery, but it quickly adapts with the heat of the face to have a glowy, skin-like finish. You can even dust it on as a setting powder, in which case it won’t look powdery at all but will increase your cream foundation’s coverage.

Pros

  • Excellent coverage
  • Fantastic for dry skin
  • Talc-free
  • Nice shade range

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can look powdery when first applied

8. Best Dewy Pressed Powder: COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder

COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder

Why we like it: This stunning pressed powder gives the skin natural-looking luminosity. It’s an affordable choice that’s especially suitable for setting dry or mature skin, and looks phenomenal under the eyes.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Light
  • Shade Range: 3 Shades
  • Finish: Luminescent
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Quantity: 0.39 Oz

CoverGirl has a huge line of powders, and they’re each incredible. Our favorite of the bunch, however, is the Age-Defying Pressed Powder. It offers something that most pressed powders don’t: a stunning, luminescent finish that looks great on dry or maturing skin.

All of the powders we’ve reviewed so far are very finely-milled, but this one takes it up a notch. It glides smoothly even over very dry skin and never emphasizes texture. The reflective quality of it doesn’t look like a shine or a shimmer because those reflective pigments are ground down so finely. It just looks healthy, dewy, and totally skin-like!

This performance reminds us of the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Setting Powder, but it’s not nearly as expensive so you won’t feel wasteful if you use it all over your face as a setting powder. Radiant Finish is also a touch dewier and more reflective. Even if you have oily or combination skin, you might still like it for setting concealer under the eyes. It can even work as a highlighter if you buy a shade that’s slightly lighter than your skin tone.

All-in-all, there’s a ton to love about this powder, but it sadly comes in an inexcusably small shade range. Normally, one single flaw won’t be enough to push such a great powder so low on our list, but this is the exception. Even the darkest shade in the range is going to be too light for a huge range of people. If CoverGirl were to introduce it in a few more shades, it could easily become one of the top pressed powders on the market.

Pros

  • Looks smooth and dewy over dry skin
  • Exceptionally smooth and finely-milled
  • Perfect for setting the undereyes
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Offensively small shade range

9. Best Pressed Powder With SPF: Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Pressed Powder

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Pressed Powder

Why we like it: This pressed powder solves the existential problem of how to reapply sunscreen over a full face of makeup. It’s also a decent setting powder, with a natural finish that’s suitable even for dry skin.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Light
  • Shade Range: 3 Shades
  • Finish: Natural
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes, but It’s Complicated
  • Quantity: 0.26 Oz

It’s critically important to reapply sunscreen after 2 hours of continuous sun exposure. Sadly, there aren’t many convenient ways of doing it when you’re already wearing a full face of makeup! A pressed powder with SPF presents an excellent solution to the problem. It’s great for touch-ups, although on its own, it’s hard to use enough for sufficient protection.

It comes in three neutral shades: Translucent is the lightest (and isn’t technically translucent), Creamy Natural is great for light to medium skin tones, and Beige will work for those with tan or slightly dark skin. We do wish there were a few more shades for those with darker skin.

This powder has a natural finish, which allows it to work for all skin types. It’s decent as a setting powder, but you can also keep it in your purse and reapply over other setting powders. It’s free of fragrances and other potential irritants, so it’s great for those with sensitive skin, and even clean beauty fans will like it since the formula is talc-free.

One major drawback to this powder is that it has a very intense white cast and it can look chalky on the skin. This is because the sunscreen minerals in it reflect light. Unfortunately, we don’t know of a mineral pressed powder with such a high SPF without any white cast.

We wouldn’t recommend using it as a pressed powder for evening events when you’re more likely to be photographed with a flash. Fortunately, those are also the times when you won’t need a powder with sun protection!

Finally, a quick word about the packaging: to our eye, it’s not particularly stylish, and even looks a little cheap. It comes with a brush in the bottom compartment, which can be nice when it’s time to reapply.

Pros

  • Allows you to reapply SPF over makeup
  • Natural finish suitable for all skin types
  • Talc-free and suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Flashback in photos
  • Poor shade range

10. Best HD Pressed Powder: e.l.f. Perfect Finish HD Powder

e.l.f. Perfect Finish HD Powder

Why we like it: This HD pressed powder has a translucent shade that, when applied lightly, is truly one-size-fits-all. It can still flashback or look chalky if over-applied, but if you’re careful, it gives a stunning, blurred finish to the skin.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Coverage Level: Translucent
  • Shade Range: 1 Shade
  • Finish: Demi-Matte
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes
  • Quantity: 0.28 Oz

As a rule, we’re not fans of HD pressed powders. They are a category of translucent (i.e. non-pigmented) powders designed specifically for HD cameras. They are meant to have zero color, and their main benefit is the ability to diffuse skin texture, though they also mattify and set foundation. In practice, HD powders often look chalky on the skin and they’re very prone to flashback.

Out of all of the HD pressed powders out there, this one from e.l.f. is our favorite. It measures up to the “skin-blurring” claim, giving the skin a smooth, airbrushed appearance. It looks gorgeous in pictures, and as long as you use it sparingly (as e.l.f. recommends) it won’t flashback even in flash photography.

The powder looks white in the compact, but it’s actually translucent. When applied lightly, it won’t alter your skin tone or foundation at all, even if you have medium-dark skin. It’s a great choice for those who struggle to match their undertone with pressed powders!

Unfortunately, it can appear chalky on very dark skin, especially if you use more than the minimum. If you like the idea of it but have darker skin, the Revlon ColorStay Pressed Powder in Banana would be a better choice even if it’s not an HD powder.

It has a demi-matte finish that can work well for all skin types, though on those with dry skin, adding too many layers will likely look cakey. The powder has great longevity, which we certainly appreciate.

As a final bonus, we really enjoy the sleek black compact it comes in. e.l.f. truly excels at packaging their budget-friendly products as though they were high-end.

Pros

  • Gorgeous skin-blurring effect
  • Sleek packaging at an affordable price
  • Minimal flashback by HD powder standards

Cons

  • Will look cakey if overapplied
  • Can look chalky on dark skin

How to Choose the Right Pressed Powder

woman applying pressed powder

It’s important to learn about the factors that influence how a pressed powder will actually look on your skin. This way, you can select the one… or two… or three that’ll find a home in your makeup bag!

Pressed Powder Coverage Levels

Coverage level refers to the amount of pigmentation in a product, or how much it covers the skin. The higher the coverage level, the more the product hides whatever is below it.

Translucent

Translucent powders are meant to have almost no coverage. They look white or cream-colored and are mainly used as setting powders. The e.l.f. Perfect Finish HD Powder is a great example of a true translucent powder.

Some translucent pressed powders are tinted so they blend better into the skin. An example of that would be the Revlon ColorStay Pressed Powder in Banana which has a yellow tint for warm undertones. It can still alter the finish of the skin, but it won’t hide anything.

Sometimes brands complicate things by naming one of their lighter shades “translucent” despite the powder still having light or even medium coverage. This can be confusing, so always look for a coverage level description instead of just relying on the shade name.

Light Coverage

Light coverage pressed powders have a touch more pigmentation than translucent powders. They work very well as setting powders, and they can also add a tint to a foundation if the color is a little off.

They do increase the coverage of any foundation applied below them, but it’s very subtle. If they’re applied over bare skin, the skin will look slightly more even but discoloration or blemishes won’t be hidden at all.

We’ve profiled a few fantastic light coverage pressed powders, like the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder.

Medium Coverage

As you can probably guess, medium coverage powders offer a little more coverage than light ones. This makes them very versatile, which is why medium coverage powders like the L’Oreal True Match Powder and the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder show up near the top of our list.

When they’re used to set a foundation, they increase its coverage by a level. When used alone they perfect the appearance of the skin, hide diffused discoloration, and reduce the visibility of blemishes. They can easily replace a light coverage foundation.

High Coverage

Finally, there are high coverage pressed powders, like the PÜR Pressed Mineral Powder. They are usually marketed as powder foundations or as mineral makeup.

Their coverage is comparable to a medium-to-full coverage foundation, and they’re best used instead of one or as a touch-up product throughout the day.

Influencers on Instagram and YouTube often use a high-coverage powder to set their foundation, because it gives an incredibly high level of coverage. It can look cakey in real life, but on camera, it’s totally flawless.

Buildable Coverage

In general, most pressed powders are actually “buildable,” although some more than others. Buildable means that as you add more layers, the coverage from the powder increases.

Some light coverage pressed powders, like the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Setting Powder can be built up to medium with more layers. Some medium coverage powders like the bareMinerals Powder Foundation can be built up to full coverage with added layers.

Types of Pressed Powder Finishes

The term “finish” refers to how “flat” or “reflective” a pressed powder is. There are four main finish types, but how they register on your skin also depends on your skin type, so check out our section on skin types as well.

Matte

Matte finish is the most common, and it refers to powders that don’t reflect any light and look dry as a result. Matte powders do a good job of absorbing oils and keeping the skin from looking greasy, tough they make dry skin look even drier.

The best matte pressed powders we’ve reviewed are the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder and the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder.

Demi-Matte

Powders with a demi-matte finish are very popular these days. They are only slightly matte, giving the skin a finish often described as “velvety.” They still eliminate excess sheen and oiliness, but without leaving the skin looking dry.

When those with very oily skin use a demi-matte powder (or when it’s applied over a dewy foundation), the result looks totally natural. If used by those with normal skin, the skin looks a little more matte, but without the intense “flatness” of a matte powder. Those with dry skin can still use demi-matte powders, but it’s important to apply conservatively.

Our favorite demi-matte powders are the L’Oreal True Match Powder and the Revlon ColorStay Pressed Powder.

Natural Finish

Powders with a natural finish are quite special since they work well for all skin types. They’re neither shiny nor matte–they simply look like healthy, normal skin. They still absorb excess oil from the skin, but the minerals in them are more reflective.

Those with oily skin can use them for a dewy finish while those with normal and dry skin can use them for a natural finish. This type of powder won’t alter the finish of any foundation applied below it, but it’ll still set it. That means that over a matte foundation, the skin will still look matte, while over a dewy foundation the skin will look dewy.

These powders also tend to work better at setting the skin under the eyes, which is usually drier than the rest of the face.

Our favorite pressed powders with a natural finish are the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Setting Powder and the PÜR Pressed Mineral Powder.

Luminescent Finish

Even more unusual are powders with a luminescent, radiant, or dewy finish. We’re not talking about shimmery highlighters, but about pressed powders that give the skin the same finish as your favorite dewy foundation.

Luminescent powders are fantastic for those with dry skin since they set the foundation without making the skin look dry. Like natural-finish powders, they’re also stunning under the eyes.

Unfortunately, pressed powders with a luminescent finish are very rare since many shoppers with dry skin often skip powder altogether. This is why the only luminescent pressed powder we were able to recommend is the COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder.

Choosing Pressed Powder by Skin Type

Your personal skin chemistry has a huge influence on how makeup will look on your skin. Just because a specific powder makes your friend’s skin look soft and smooth it doesn’t mean that it’ll do the same for you. By knowing your skin type you can choose the best pressed powder for your needs.

Oily Skin

Oily skin produces a lot of sebum throughout the day. If you have oily skin, chances are your skin gets shiny very easily, especially along the forehead, nose, and chin, and that you have larger pores.

In that case, you will likely want a pressed powder that will help keep those oils at bay and leave your skin matte, like the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder. A demi-matte powder like the L’Oreal True Match Powder will also help while allowing your skin to retain a small amount of sheen.

Finally, if you’re a fan of a more “dewy” look where the skin still looks a little moist, a powder with a natural-finish like the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Setting Powder will interact with your skin’s natural oils in such a way that you’ll look dewy but not greasy.

Dry Skin

Dry skin produces very little sebum throughout the day. It’s prone to dehydration so it can feel tight, look a little dull, or get flakey. Powders often emphasize dryness and texture issues, so if you have dry skin you may struggle to find a powder that will work for you.

The best powders for dry skin are the natural-finish Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Finish Setting Powder and the more dewy COVERGIRL Advanced Radiance Pressed Powder. They are both intensely finely-milled so they appear smooth even over dry areas.

Pro Tip: It’s important to prep the skin with moisturizers and primers formulated specifically for dry skin before applying any makeup.

Combination and Normal Skin

Combination skin sits on the spectrum between dry and oily, with certain parts of the skin producing more oil than others. Normal skin is often used interchangeably with combination skin, although it usually has a balanced level of sebum production all over the face.

If you want to have just one pressed powder that you can use all over the face, it’s best to choose one with a natural finish. It’ll still absorb any excess oils from the oily parts of your face, but it won’t make your skin look dry anywhere else.

If you want more significant oil-control or simply prefer a very matte finish, you can use a demi-matte powder like the L’Oreal True Match Powder, instead.

Pro Tip: You can use matte powder only over the parts of your face that get shiny, like the T-zone.

Get Pressed

It may not take out the trash or balance your budget, but there’s a lot that pressed powder can do! It can set your foundation to guarantee a flawless look all day long, or it can live in your purse and help you blot away shine in the middle of the day. When you understand all of the nuances of finish and coverage and how they relate to your own skin type and style, you can easily find the right pressed powder for you!