Pressed Powder Vs Loose Powder

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

If this sounds like your dilemma, keep reading to find out more about these two types of powders.

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Pressed Powder Vs 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 Nars Light-reflecting loose setting powder. It has silica as the first ingredient which is commonly used in loose powders.

NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder
NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder

Pressed powder comes in a compact or powder case. It has a semi-solid formula and it can come in many different shades. An example of a pressed powder is the Maybelline fit me matte + poreless powder. It has talc as the first ingredient and it comes in a sleek compact with a mirror.

maybelline fit me pressed powder
Maybelline fit me pressed powder

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

Some loose powders are defined as finishing powders. This means they should be used after the makeup to blur wrinkles and provide the skin with a soft finish. Finishing powders are used by celebrities on TV and they’re 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 minimizing 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

The main difference between a pressed and loose powder is the formula. Pressed powders are easier to use and can be more pigmented than loose powders. They provide more coverage and some of them can be used alone as foundations.

Loose Powders are finely milled powder formulas designed specifically to set the makeup and blur the skin. They might contain silica or cornstarch which absorbs excess oil. They can settle easily into fine lines, making the skin look cakey if too much is applied.

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

Because of their formula and packaging, these powders can be a bit messy and inconvenient for travel.

Pressed Powders Pros & Cons

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

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

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

They can be applied with a makeup sponge, powder puff, or fluffy brush. Each tool provides different coverage and it all depends on the look you are going for.

powder puff

To set the foundation lightly, use a medium-sized fluffy brush and dip it into the powder. 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:

powder puff

makeup sponge, or dense brush 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 make sure to use a tiny amount to prevent your face from looking cakey.  

Pressed powders contain more oils and hydrating ingredients which makes 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 and they give the skin a radiant look.

Loose Powders Pros & Cons

Loose powders are more finely milled and they provide 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.

For a sheer look, swipe the powder across the skin with a big fluffy brush.

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.

Loose powders are also used by many celebrity makeup artists to sculpt the face or do the baking technique.

makeup baking under eyes

In general, a loose powder needs to 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 Cons is that loose powders might cause flashback in pictures. The white markings are caused by silica which is the main ingredient of many loose powders.

taking selfie

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are also two mineral sunscreen ingredients that can cause flashback.

To avoid flashback, 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?

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

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

Keep in mind that the loose powder might settle into your fine lines so it’s important to moisturize your skin well 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, then 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 both great options for setting makeup and prolonging its wear time. 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 you want a light powder to set your makeup, then it might be best to opt for a loose powder because it has less oil and it tends to effectively absorb the shine during the day.

However, if you want an easy-to-use powder for quick daily touch-ups, pressed powders can be a great option. They’re easy to carry on and they’re not messy as 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 feeling fresh all day long!

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 but 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.

Whether to choose 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 it’s loose or pressed, make sure it has some oil-absorbing ingredients. For example, this Translucent Loose Setting Powder has corn starch which helps in absorbing 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, go for 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.

too faced pressed powder

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 that you are going to be photographed, avoid loose powders as they might cause flashback. 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 avoid 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 best for you.

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, then we recommend a pressed powder.

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

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

If you like to get a blurred look, loose powders are the way to go.

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.

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