Pressed Powder: What It Is & How to Choose the Best Pressed Powder

No matter the makeup look you’re going for, it’s probably safe to say you don’t want your makeup to budge or worse, to completely disappear, right? (We’ll assume your answer is “yes.”) Now that we have that settled, we’re going to introduce you to the miracle product that’s going to make sure that your makeup stays locked in place all day: pressed powder. Before you shoot it down because you have dry skin or prefer a dewy finish, allow us to introduce you to some stellar Maybelline New York products and pro application techniques that will win you over as a powder-wearer for life.

What is Pressed Powder & What Is it Used For?

Pressed powder is solid pigment or translucent powder that can be used to set makeup, helps to control shine, evens out discoloration, and more. Unlike loose powder, pressed powder typically comes in compact form and tends to be more pigmented, although there are all kinds of pressed powders to choose from. So if you prefer light, medium, or full coverage, there are plenty of options for you. The same goes for skin type– despite what you may have heard, all skin types can benefit from using a pressed powder.

If you’re accustomed to using mostly liquid products, don’t let that keep you from incorporating a pressed powder into your routine. Pressed powder is perfect for using on top of your liquid formulations in order to set and keep them in place.

Best Pressed Powder for Oily Skin

Most pressed powders are going to work well for someone with oily skin as powder is naturally absorbent, meaning it will sop up any excess oil. The Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder, in particular, goes the extra mile and is formulated specifically for oily skin types. It packs blurring micro-powders to give the skin a poreless, matte finish that lasts all day, even on the greasiest skin.
  • Fit Me® Matte + Poreless Powder Foundation Makeup
    Natural Beige
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Best Pressed Powder for Dry Skin

Using a pressed powder on dry skin may sound counterintuitive– and if you have dry skin, it’s likely you’ve been trained to avoid powder at all costs. However, not all pressed powders are the same. Case in point: this hybrid formula actually performs like a liquid, but feels like a lightweight powder, giving you the best of both worlds. Bonus: it’s sweat-, transfer-, and water-resistant and promises 24-hour wear, so you don’t have to worry about touch-ups throughout the day.
  • Super Stay® Up To 24Hr Hybrid Powder-Foundation
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Best Pressed Powder for Mature Skin

Mature skin tends to be on the drier side, so the smooth powder formula of Super Stay Hybrid Foundation is going to be ideal for gliding over skin without pulling or tugging. And it leaves behind an even-toned complexion. Because it performs like a liquid, it will be more forgiving, won’t settle into fine lines or cake on more mature skin types.
  • Super Stay® Up To 24Hr Hybrid Powder-Foundation
    Buy now

Pressed Powder FAQs

Some pressed powders will come with a sponge applicator in the compact, but it can also be applied with a brush or your own beauty sponge. (Pro tip: for a more concentrated finish, a denser sponge is a good choice, but for lighter coverage, go for a brush.) Generally, the t-zone area (your forehead, nose, and chin) is the most oil-prone, requiring the most coverage, and making it a good place to start with your application. Then, as you work your way out, there will be less and less pigment on your brush which aligns because you don’t need as much coverage on drier areas such as the cheeks. Of course, you can pick up more powder as you go, if needed. Pressed powder tends to be recommended as the last step of your routine to help the liquid formulations beneath it stay in place, unless you’re using a powder foundation in which case, it should be your first step.

If you prefer a dewier look, it’s going to be important to concentrate powder only in the areas where you don’t want any shine. The t-zone is still a great place to powder in this instance, but you’ll likely want to avoid the tops of the cheekbones so that that area can still reflect light in a natural way. If you don’t get super oily, but are using powder more to keep things in place, the under eyes are a good area to powder after using concealer to keep them from creasing.
Not all setting powders are pressed powders, but most pressed powders can be used as a setting powder. Because some pressed powders are technically foundation and more full coverage, they’re not technically called a setting powder, but you can use them sparingly to set your makeup. In that case, you’ll want to swirl a loosely packed powder brush into the powder, then tap off any excess before applying it to your face. True setting powder is typically more lightweight and less pigmented, so its effect on the skin goes mostly undetected, which is why you can be a little more heavy-handed. Yes, pressed powder can be used to set makeup. There are pressed setting powders that are intended for locking in your makeup with a weightless feel. But, if you’re using a pressed powder that technically isn’t for setting, you may just have to use it differently. For instance, if it’s full coverage, you’ll want to use it more sparingly and strategically in the areas that need it. Yes, you can wear pressed powder alone, especially if it is a foundation formula such as Super Stay Hybrid Powder Foundation. Using a pressed powder foundation is the same as liquid in the sense that it is meant to lay your base, even out any discoloration, and smooth the texture. Using a translucent powder or less pigmented pressed powder alone is also an option if you’re simply looking for an oil-absorbing option that will blur your pores, but it won’t necessarily do much else. In short, pressed powder can clog pores. But, pressed powder isn’t as serious of an offender as other makeup products that are loaded with oils, butters, and waxes. If you’re worried about clogged pores, look for a formula like Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder, which is labeled as non-comedogenic, which is a fancy way of saying, “This won’t clog your pores.”

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