Powder Vs. Liquid Foundation Makeup: What’s Best For Your Skin Type?

powder vs liquid foundation

Updated 6/14/19. Many women wear either liquid, cream or powder foundation makeup to even out their skin tone and give it a smoother look. Some wear it every day and others wear it just for special occasions. Since this is considered a beauty staple, it’s important to use the right kind of foundation that is most compatible with your skin type so you can get the best skin benefits.

When to Choose Liquid or Powder Foundation

POWDER FOUNDATION

Who it’s best for: Normal, oily, combination, sensitive and acne-prone skin, and those who simply don’t like anything feeling heavy. (Such as skin types #1, #2, #3, and #4.)

Skin benefits: Powder foundations shouldn’t have a pore-clogging effect or leave a greasy residue since they don’t use emollients or oils. Powders have a dry feel and have excellent oil-absorbing properties to lessen shine during the day.

The downside of powder foundations is that they don’t give as much coverage as liquid foundations. If you have discoloration from breakouts or the sun, you should use a lightweight concealer to create an even-toned look in those areas then apply powder over it.

What to look for: I suggest mineral-based powders since they give a smooth, luminous look to the skin and usually have protective SPF properties. They also don’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles as much as traditional talc-based powders.

What to avoid: Talc-based powders, as these may accentuate lines and wrinkles and give a chalky, dull look to the skin.

Tip: Be sure to wash your powder brushes regularly. Once a week is ideal if you’re using it daily. Read: How To Wash Your Makeup Brushes

LIQUID FOUNDATION

Who’s it’s best for: Normal and dry skins (such as skin types #5#6#7#8 and #9), and those who like a dewy look. If your skin is on the oily side and you prefer the dewier finish liquid foundation gives, check out this oil migration test I did. This is a great first step for figuring out if a liquid foundation will cause clogged pores that can lead to breakouts.

Skin benefits: Liquid foundations can fill in lines, wrinkles, and pores, making them less noticeable so the skin appears smoother. They also can provide excellent coverage for post-breakout marks, brown spots and melasma. Especially in drying environments like during the winter months or when flying on an airplane, they offer a layer of protection to help retain moisture in the skin.

What to look for: There have been amazing advancements in liquid foundations, so there are many good ones available. Look for one that is lightweight and contains the ingredients dimethicone or silicone. These do an excellent job making the skin look exceptionally smooth. A liquid makeup should also contain sunscreen to give added anti-aging protection. (However, makeup with sunscreen should NEVER take the place of a sunscreen moisturizer.)

What to avoid: Ingredients such as mineral oil, petrolatum and isopropyl palmitate may clog pores. This is due to size of their molecular structures and the heavy, oily texture they can have. This is especially true when these ingredients are used in large quantities and listed as the first few ingredients of the formula. For oily, clogged-prone skin types, liquid foundations could cause a condition known as acne cosmetica.

Tip: More so than powders, liquids must be an exact color match to avoid an obvious color difference with a demarcation line on the jaw.

What do I wear for makeup on my own skin?

I’m asked this a lot. I’m a skin type #2. On my working days, I wear Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation and then I dust the surface every few hours throughout the day with ColoreScience SPF 50 Mineral Powder to ensure proper sun protection. When I’m not working, I’ll just use the mineral powder. What’s important to me is that my skin appears glowy. Here are my 10 easy tips that guarantee glowing skin.

Is wearing foundation makeup daily bad for your skin?

Absolutely not. The fact is, wearing makeup (appropriate for your skin type) offers a barrier of protection against harmful UV rays. UV rays from the sun are the #1 cause of skin aging. It’s not genetics, smoking, and believe it or not, even age. The sun is the skin’s WORST enemy.

Most types of makeup contain sunscreen. Even if they don’t indicate an SPF number, most have UV-protecting ingredients like titanium dioxide. Based on this makeup benefit, I never leave my skin bare and never suggest my clients to do so either. So do your skin a favor and start wearing makeup NOW, to protect your skin from wrinkles in your future.

Note: Foundation makeup IS NOT a substitute for wearing a sunscreen as your daily moisturizer. I recommend this sunscreen moisturizer for daily use under makeup. It won’t peel or ball up, and it feels very light on the skin. Of course, properly washing off makeup at night is essential. Read these 9 cleanser do’s and don’ts for the most perfect cleansing experience.

Read Next: These are the best foundations for oily, acne-prone skin

Comments:

Post a comment
  1. Avatar

    What are the differences in a serum vs a moisturizer?

    Posted By: Carol glasgow  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Carol, Great question. Read this post to learn more about serums and moisturizers.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Thank you! I now understand the differences.

        Posted By: Carol glasgow  | 

  2. Avatar

    Hi! Firstly your website is just amazing.
    I have skin type 6, but quiz said that with this type of skin people are usually 30-40 years old, but actually i am much younger. Another thing have been bothering me a long time- i have some sort of “mark” on my forehead after i had allergy split up on my face (allergy on my face is gone but mark is still on my face). I what to blemish it and make my skin more glow. What should i use- BB cream, liquid or powder foundation??? I just heard that liquid and powder foundations are harmful for skin. I want to use any of these foundation every day!

    Posted By: Jasmine  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hello Jasmine, That’s fine if you’re younger than what the age says. Those are just some guidelines. Foundations are fine to use, they are not harmful so covering it will help. However, in the skin type #6 routine (and all of the skin type routines, for that matter) there is an exfoliating serum to use at night (either the AHA Smoothing Serums or the BHA Clarifying Serum depending on skin type) and all of those are very helpful for fading discoloration like the one you have on your forehead, as well as getting the skin to look clear and glow-y!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Actually after taking your quiz, it seems that I have skin type #2 – therefore my question is should I be using a powder foundation and if so does it matter whether it is oil free or not?

    Posted By: Lisa  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      I’m not really sure what the difference about oil-free powder vs non oil-free powders are. Powders tend to be oil absorbing and usually don’t contribute any oil. It just might be a marketing term that a company uses to gear a powder towards oily skin. Generally all powders should be safe to use.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  4. Avatar

    I have #4 skin and would like to know if powder foundations that do not claim to be oil free are okay for my skin type.

    Posted By: Lisa  | 

    Reply
  5. Avatar

    Hi! I just found your blog and LOVE it! I was wondering…I currently use Dior BB cream or MAC foundation-and I am prone to break outs. My skin is a #3 and Im sure powder would not be as hard on my skin however I need extra coverage from my acne scars….any recommendations for a powder that has great coverage or a gently but full coverage foundation? Thank you in advance!

    Posted By: Tiffany  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      I really don’t have a recommendation as every skin type responds differently. It’s truly trial and (hopefully not) error.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    How do actresses get shining effect on their cheeks and forehead?

    Posted By: Preksha Nair  | 

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    I’m wondering what foundation is best for covering large pores.. Any tips, tricks, and products would be appreciated!

    Posted By: Michelle  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      I think a primer is something to consider to use before a foundation to make pores look smaller. There is one from Benefit called The Porefessional that I have heard is good.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    Are your products cruelty free, are they tested on animals?

    Posted By: Priscilla  | 

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Hi Priscilla,
      Our products are definitely cruelty-free–they are not tested on animals. You can see our company listed here at Leaping Bunny as a company that has pledged to be cruelty-free! > http://www.leapingbunny.org/skin.php

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    I wish they sold their mineral powder online, i don’t live near any rennee rouleau spas and have no way of trying it. I struggle to find makeup that doesn’t make me breakout.

    Posted By: Sam  | 

    Reply

Post a Comment:

Find your
skin type

Great skin starts with knowing your skin type. Take our quiz to get personalized tips and product recommendations.

Take the Quiz