If you're after a shine-free and healthy-looking complexion, you'll want to know about these powder foundations

Forget the chalky powders you used to know, these make skin look great

Woman with freckles wearing coloured eye liner
(Image credit: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt)

If you're anything like me, you will have clicked on this with some reservations when it comes to powder foundations. As a journalist and make-up artist, I know from interviewing artists and from experience that the general wisdom when it comes to the best foundation etiquette is to apply something that's fluid, build it where needed, add concealer, then, finally, powder where needed.

Powder foundations ignore all of that, combining coverage with a powdered finish. But they also have a bit of a bad reputation, don't they? Powder = caked. Powder = chalky. Powder = overdone. But what if I told you that I went on a quest to find the best powder foundation and, despite being sceptical on the outset, I was seriously impressed by the below, and actually found they compete with the best foundation for acne prone skin on mine when it's spotty.

But don't just take my word for it; two beauty insiders who famously love beautiful complexions are also fans of powder foundations—and one, in particular:

"One of my favourite powder foundations is the bareMinerals Original Foundation SPF 15," explains top make-up artist and YouTuber Cher Webb. "The unique, lighter-than-air powder texture is packed with just five vegan-friendly minerals, feels lightweight and looks luminous on the skin. I love how versatile it is and that you can create a sheer-to-full coverage that never looks like you’re wearing powder."

Equally Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is also a fan of the bareMinerals powder foundation, telling us back in 2018: "At first I was a bit apprehensive about using powder as a foundation. Like, how is that going to look on my skin, is it gonna look cakey? Am I gonna look dry? Is it really going to give me coverage? But I’m so pleasantly surprised by the coverage, how quick and easy it is to use and how glowy I look; surprisingly it doesn’t make you look powdered."

The best powder foundations

Like Cher and Rosie, I like my skin to look like skin, but better—not choking in product. I was therefore extremely strict with the list of things any of the powder foundations listed below had to be —and had to not be. Here is what was non-negotiable:

  • They couldn't look grey/chalky when on.
  • They had to be buildable, allowing for anything from a sheer to fuller coverage. 
  • The powder had to mimic skin to an extent. 

So, although there are heaps of different formulas out there, these were the only three that I feel really ticked all of the boxes for the best powder foundations.

Best for healthy-looking skin

1. L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24H Fresh Wear 24H Fresh Wear Foundation Powder

Madeleine Spencer in L'Oreal Foundation

(Image credit: Madeleine Spencer)

Best for a velvety finish

2. Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Powder Foundation

Best for customising your finish

3. bareMinerals Original SPF 15 Foundation

Madeleine Spencer in BareMinerals

(Image credit: Madeleine Spencer)
Madeleine Spencer

Madeleine Spencer is a journalist and broadcaster who has contributed to titles including Grazia, Glamour, InStyle, The Independent, The Evening Standard, and Stylist, as well as offering commentary for the BBC, Sky News, and ITV.

She is keen on exploring the significance beauty rituals, products, and memories have on people from different walks of life, and enters into conversation on the topic with guests on her podcast, Beauty Full Lives.