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Best Powders

Whether you prefer loose or pressed powder or a powder with sunscreen, in order to make the Best Products list, a face powder must:

  • Have a beautifully silky texture that surpasses the norm
  • Provide a smooth, polished finish that accentuates skin
  • Not look or feel heavy, cakey, or dull
  • Contain minimal to no fragrance
  • For powders with sunscreen, be rated SPF 15 or greater and provide broad spectrum sun protection

It is getting more and more difficult to find a bad loose or pressed powder. For the most part, all of them have an appreciable degree of silkiness and do their jobs of setting makeup, absorbing excess oil, and helping made-up skin look finished. Because of this, we were extra picky about which powders made the cut for inclusion on the Best Products list.

Those who find the list below too limiting should know that any powder rated  "Good" is also worth considering (but, for various reasons, isn’t in the same league as the powders on this list). Depending on your preferences and expectations, the powder field is mostly wide open (and the shade options for women of color continue to improve; ashy powders are few and far between these days).

Expense does not distinguish powders; there are equally beautiful options at the drugstore as there are at the department store. For example, L’Oreal and Lancome (owned by L’Oreal) each have equally impressive loose powders for normal to dry skin. Lancome’s has more elegant packaging, but that doesn’t affect how it applies or looks on your face.

A separate category of pressed powders are those that contain sunscreen with an SPF 15 and the mineral-based UVA-protecting ingredients of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are excellent options as a way to touch up makeup and add sunscreen protection over your foundation to be sure you have all-day coverage. Because of their thicker texture, these can also double as powder foundation, though they are best used over a regular sunscreen or over a foundation with sunscreen to ensure sun protection.

Note: The recommendations for skin type in each powder review are more interchangeable than you might expect. Choosing a powder truly has more to do with your preference (what kind of finish you like), how much of the product you use, and what kind of foundation you wear. However, powders reviewed as best for dry skin typically have a satiny (as opposed to matte) finish, which is a more attractive choice for women with dry skin who use powder. Conversely, powders recommended for normal to oily skin have a drier, noticeably matte finish (though none of the matte-finish powders rated best will make skin look flat or dull).

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