Applying Powder Foundation Like A Pro Just Got A Lot Easier

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Anyone with oily skin can probably relate when the discourse about liquid foundations and how heavy they are on the skin comes up. Sure there are more lightweight formulas now, but acne-prone makeup lovers can't seem to catch a break as liquid foundations can clog pores and worsen acne, per BeautyRX. Then we have powder foundation, a type of foundation with a much lighter feel, which Renée Rouleau confirms is best for oily, acne-prone, and sensitive skin, and does not clog pores as it contains no emollients or oils. 


Powder foundation comes in two forms: pressed powder and loose powder foundation (via Roxie Cosmetics). Pressed powder comes in a compact and usually offers more pigment, while loose powder comes in jars, is more lightweight on the skin, and has a more sheer finish. Powder foundation appears to be the cosmetic saving grace for a range of skin types. But for many, the idea of applying powder foundation is daunting as it can seem complex to apply and layer, especially for makeup beginners. But like cream and liquid formulas, it is pretty easy to get into. You just need to get the hang of it, starting with prepping and hydrating the skin.

Prep your skin and gather your tools

As pro makeup artist Sir John explains to L'Oréal Paris, you should always start off with clean, moisturized skin. Powder, whether in foundation or setting product form, needs something to grab onto to prevent the makeup from sliding off your face. Go for a lightweight moisturizer or hydrating serum and apply a thin layer to your face. Following your moisturizer with a smoothing primer like the Paula's Choice Smoothing Primer Serum SPF 30 also gives a smooth canvas to work with as it avoids the cracking of makeup into fine lines and reduces the skin's uneven texture. Next up are the tools you need to apply the powder. 


According to Juvia's Place, a kabuki brush, a powder puff, or a dry makeup sponge with a tapered tip will do the trick. Unlike liquid foundations, fingers are not the best for applying and blending in powders, as they leave a patchy finish. 100% Pure also explains how the oils on your fingers can affect the finish of the powder foundation on your skin. Fingers are generally not a good idea for powder application.

How to apply powder foundation with a brush

The finish with powder foundations can range from sheer to full coverage, depending on how you apply and layer them. For a more full coverage look, apply your concealer on all the areas you want to color-correct and highlight before applying your powder foundation, per Dermablend. This keeps the look minimal and avoids using too much in an attempt to give more coverage to different parts of your face. 


Next up, recommends three different brush types for applying powders: a rounded kabuki brush, a rounded foundation brush, and a fluffy powder brush. To build more coverage, go with a kabuki brush like the Tarte Cosmetics Airbuki Bamboo Powder Foundation Brush and swirl in the pressed compact or loose powder jar. Tap lightly to shake off the excess and apply it on your face by buffing in small circular motions (via MasterClass). For a sheer, natural look, dip into your powder, tap off the excess from the fluffy powder brush or foundation brush, and gently swirl or sweep across the face.

How to apply powder foundation with a sponge or puff

If you're not the biggest fan of brushes, makeup sponges are great application options too. Most pressed powders, and even loose powders come with their own powder puffs which apply the foundation pretty well too. To achieve a flawless layer of powder foundation, Adore Beauty says to dampen your sponge with a hydrating mist or by holding it under running faucet water. This is to avoid your makeup from looking cakey, patchy, or dry. Dip the sponge into your compact or jar, tap off the excess, and apply by dabbing or patting the powder on moisturized and primed skin. 


Dragging or swirling the sponge around your face will only cause streaks and leave your makeup looking patchy. While the puffs that come with the powders are also good ways to apply them, it's best to leave it to the brushes and sponges (via SupraBeauty). Puffs are mostly great for touch-ups and blotting oils from the T-zone during long periods of wearing makeup.

Extra ways to use your powder foundation

Powder foundations are especially great because of their versatility. They can be used on both oily and acne-prone skin, and on sensitive skin. You can also build coverage with them, whether sheer or full. More than that, you can use your powder foundation to control shine and set your makeup. On those long work days when you're on your feet and your makeup is all shiny and oily, powder foundation is great for touch-ups. Just one or two light passes with your powder puff on shiny areas and your makeup is good as new (via Designer Brands). 


Another helpful tip from Renée Rouleau is to go for mineral-based powder foundations like the e.l.f Cosmetics Camo Pressed Powder Foundation, which comes in 30 shades. Mineral-based powders give a smoother finish than talc-based powders. Powder foundation also works well as a setting powder on a liquid or cream foundation base as it keeps your makeup in place and prevents sliding off, per Juvia's Place. Just be wary of overdoing it by applying too much.