Pressed Powder Vs Loose Powder

Pressed powders and loose powders are useful for various makeup techniques. Every makeup artist has a preference for what type of powder they use, but do you know the difference between pressed powder and loose powder?

If this sounds like your dilemma, keep reading to learn more about these two powders.

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Pressed Powder vs. Loose Powder

The main differences between pressed and loose powders are the formula and the packaging. Pressed or compact powders have a semi-solid texture and are usually found in a small compact. Loose powders have a fine consistency and are sold in jars.

Pressed powders are easier to use and can be more pigmented than loose powders. They provide more coverage; some can be used alone as foundations. They are also travel-friendly and perfect for beginners.

Loose Powders are finely milled formulas designed to set the makeup and blur the skin. Because of their formula and packaging, these powders can be messy and inconvenient for travel. They have a silkier formula but can settle easily into fine lines, making the skin look cakey if you apply too much.

A little bit goes a long way with loose powders, so just one little pat will do the job. Brushing off any excess after applying a loose powder is also important to avoid getting a heavy makeup look.

What Is Loose Powder

laura mercier loose powder

Loose powder is a fine, dry makeup product. It comes in a jar or tube packaging. An example of a finely milled loose powder is the laura mercier setting powder. It has talc as the first ingredient commonly used in loose powders.

What Is Pressed Powder

l'oreal pressed powder

Pressed powder comes in a compact or powder case. It has a semi-solid formula and can come in many shades. An example of a pressed powder is the L’Oreal true match one.

pressed vs loose powder comparison table

Setting Powder vs. Loose Powder

A setting powder doesn’t have to be in a pressed formula.

You can use a pressed or loose powder as setting powder.

This means they’re both meant to set the makeup, prolong its longevity and control the shine throughout the day.

What Is Loose Powder Used For?

Loose powder is a makeup staple in any makeup artist’s kit. You can use it to set your foundation and concealer, reduce shine, and create a smooth, even base for blush and bronzer.

Some loose powders are defined as finishing powders which means you can apply them after the makeup to blur wrinkles and give the skin a soft finish. Celebrities use finishing powders on TV, which are not an essential step for everyday looks.

For example, the makeup for ever ultra HD loose powder is a finishing loose powder. It has silica and a silicone-based formula that delivers a matte, light-diffusing effect. It also helps minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder

What Is Pressed Powder Used For?

Pressed powders are great for women who want to maintain a healthy complexion without spending much time applying makeup in the morning.

Their compacts are easy to use, and they’re ideal for touch-ups.

They help set a liquid foundation and keep it from moving throughout the day.

You can apply them with a makeup sponge, powder puff, or fluffy brush. Each tool provides different coverage depending on the look you are going for.

powder puff

To set the foundation lightly, use a medium-sized fluffy brush . Dab the brush onto the oily areas of your face to set the makeup and swipe across the rest of your skin.

Real Techniques Powder Brush

To get more coverage, use a:

and dab the powder gently onto the skin.

Some pressed powders provide good coverage and can be used alone as powder foundations.

Applying too much powder can give the skin a heavy look. Always use a tiny amount to prevent your face from looking cakey.  

Pressed powders contain more oils and hydrating ingredients, making them more suitable for people with dry or mature skin.

The best face powders for mature skin can also have a lightweight formula that blends easily into the skin. They don’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles, giving the skin a radiant look.

Loose Powders Pros & Cons

Loose powders are more finely milled, providing the skin with a smooth and silky finish. Their formula is more on the dry side, which makes them more suitable for people with oily skin.

They are mainly used to set the makeup on the skin and make it last longer. They are an excellent option for those who want lighter coverage.

Swipe the powder across the skin with a big fluffy brush for a sheer look.

Foundation Brush

For more coverage, dab a powder puff lightly into the product and apply it on the skin.

powder puff

Loose powders can also be used for many different purposes. For example, many makeup artists use these powders to set heavy makeup looks or full-coverage foundations.

Many celebrity makeup artists also use loose powders to sculpt the face or do the baking technique.

A loose powder must be swept away after application, as a little bit goes a long way. Leaving the skin with too much powder can give a cakey look.

One of the main disadvantages of a loose powder is that it can easily settle into fine lines and wrinkles. That’s why it’s always better to start by using a tiny amount.

Another Con is that loose powders might cause flashbacks in pictures. The white markings are caused by silica, the main ingredient of many loose powders.

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are mineral sunscreen ingredients that can cause flashbacks.

To avoid flashbacks, use less powder and blend your makeup very well.

The key is to apply a tiny amount with a fluffy brush. Dab the product lightly on the skin and brush off any excess.

Can You Use Loose Powder Without Foundation?

Loose powder is an excellent way to get light coverage when you don’t need foundation. No need to wear a ton of makeup when you want a natural look.

You can use loose powder without foundation. It can also help control oil production by absorbing excess sebum.

Keep in mind that the loose powder might settle into your fine lines, so it’s important to moisturize your skin and apply a smoothing primer if you have mature skin. This can create a smooth canvas for the makeup application.

A smoothing primer can create a barrier between your skin and the powder. This way, less product gets settled into the creases of your face.

A little bit goes a long way with loose powders. If you have dry or mature skin, it’s best to start slowly – only adding more powder as needed.

You can also wear a pressed powder by itself without foundation. It provides light coverage and a natural finish.

What’s Better, Pressed Or Loose Powder?

Pressed and loose powders are great options for setting makeup and prolonging its wear. Both offer their unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to application and finishes.

So how do you choose between them?

The answer depends on your skin type and the look you’re going for.

pressed powder vs loose powder

For example, if you have oily skin and want a light powder to set your makeup, it might be best to opt for a loose powder because it has less oil and tends to absorb the shine during the day effectively.

However, pressed powders can be a great option if you want an easy-to-use powder for quick daily touch-ups. They’re easy to carry on, and are not messy like loose powders.

If you have dry or mature skin, a pressed powder such as this pressed powder with hydrating ingredients might suit you the best. It has a light formula that gives a smoother, more youthful appearance. This setting powder will help set your foundation while keeping your complexion fresh all day long!

Setting Powder vs. Finishing Powder

There is a difference between a setting powder and a finishing powder. A setting powder helps your makeup stay in place and last longer, while a finishing powder gives the skin a blurred effect.

It should be applied after foundation or concealer but before blush and bronzer.

Finishing powder is usually translucent and helps blur out pores and give the skin a smooth finish. It doesn’t prolong the longevity of your makeup but can give you a more airbrushed look.

A finishing powder should be applied after all makeup is done.

Should You Use Loose Or Pressed Powder For Under Eyes?

The under-eye area is one of the trickiest places to apply makeup. You want your concealer to cover dark circles, not look cakey or dry.

A good setting powder should set your concealer and prevent it from creasing while keeping the eye area looking smooth.

Pressed or loose powders both work for the under-eye area, but one thing is important – they should have an ultra-fine formula.

For the under eyes, avoid low-quality loose powders that are not finely milled. They might settle into fine lines giving you a cakey look.

High-quality loose powders feel so lightweight under the eyes. They melt into the skin while blurring the look of fine lines.

laura mercier loose powder

It’s also recommended to use less powder under the eyes. A lot of powder might cause cakiness and can make you older.

Choosing between a loose or pressed powder for the under eyes depends on your skin type.

If you have oily skin, pick a powder that helps to keep you shine-free. Whether loose or pressed, make sure it has some oil-absorbing ingredients. For example, this Translucent Loose Setting Powder has corn starch, which helps absorb excess oil.

This oil-free pressed powder also works for oily skin. It naturally sets the makeup and smoothes the skin’s texture.

If you have dry skin, use a hydrating powder that doesn’t accentuate fine lines.

This lightweight pressed powder works perfectly for setting the under-eye without creasing and caking. It doesn’t dry the skin, and it’s also long-lasting.

If you like to do the baking technique for the under-eye area, use a loose powder. After applying the powder, let it bake for 5 minutes, and then remove the remaining product with a fluffy brush.

highlight and contour

This technique promises to reduce any creasing in your makeup and gives the under-eye area a flawless look. It’s not practical for every day, but it works great for special occasions.

Finally, if you know you will be photographed, avoid loose powders, as they might cause flashbacks. Apply a tiny amount of pressed powder and blend it seamlessly into the skin.

Be sure to choose the right powder shade for your skin tone to prevent your concealer from looking orange or ashy.


When it comes to the differences between pressed powder and loose powder, many factors can help you decide which one is better.

Pressed powders offer more coverage than loose powders. They are easy to carry on, and they come in many different shades.

Loose powders are more lightweight but can be messy and not ideal for travel.

They both work great to set the makeup and prolong its wear time.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use powder that will work well every day, we recommend a pressed powder.

If you have oily skin, choose an oil-free pressed powder.

On the other hand, dry skin might need a pressed powder with hydrating ingredients.

Loose powders are the way to go if you like to get a blurred look.

For oily skin, loose powders with cornstarch work great to control the oil during the day.

For dry skin, choose a lightweight loose powder that’s not drying like this powder with a radiant finish.

We hope this guide was helpful; tell us in the comments below which powder is your favorite. Do you prefer loose or pressed powders?

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Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

1 thought on “Pressed Powder Vs Loose Powder”

  1. Dear Claire,
    Thank you for the article!
    What do you think about avoiding using a natural powder brush? The idea is that natural fibers always have scales on them which can collect foundation that you have underneath when you’re applying the powder, so consequently the layer of foundation will be damaged.


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