Loose vs Pressed Powder: The Differences Between Loose Powder and Pressed Powder

Loose vs Pressed Powder: The Differences Between Loose Powder and Pressed Powder
October 5, 2021 Ellis James
Loose vs pressed powder? Which should you choose? If you’re stuck trying to answer this question, you’re in the right place. Today we’ll break down the difference between loose powder and pressed powder to help you understand which choice is best for your skin and makeup needs! Let’s get started!

bareMinerals Barepro Performance Wear Powder Foundation, Warm Natural, 0.34 Ounce

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What is pressed powder?

Pressed powder is a makeup powder that has been pressed, or compacted, into a makeup compact.

The Glo Skin Beauty Pressed Base is one example of a pressed powder.  Pressed powders have a variety of uses and are best suited for different skin types.  We’ll explore more about pressed powders, how to apply them, and which skin types they’re best for in the next few sections.

What is pressed powder used for?

Pressed powders, such as bareMinerals Bare Pro Pressed Powder and Clinique Stay Matte Sheer Pressed Powder, are generally used when setting a liquid concealer of foundation.  Applying a pressed powder on top of your foundation can help it last long and prevent it from rubbing off.

Another way some individuals use pressed powder is foundation.  You can turn pressed powder into foundation or mix it with a liquid foundation for better coverage

How to Apply Pressed Powder Foundation?

When applying pressed powder, you want to be very careful and work gently.  Place some powder, such as PÜR Pressed Powder,  on your brush and dab it gently into your skin.  Start on the forehead and work your way downward to the rest of the face.

Be careful not to buff, rub, or use sweeping motions.  This will allow the powder to enter your pores, which can give your face a cakier look.  Dabbing gently, on the other hand, will allow for a smoother finish and a more natural look.

Can you use pressed powder by itself?

Yes, you can use pressed powder by itself when you’re looking for a lighter makeup look.  If you plan to use pressed powder without first applying foundation, however, be sure to moisturize your skin.  This will help get rid of dry patches where the powder may stick.

Keep in mind, that pressed powder won’t offer the same coverage that foundation will.  So, if you have dark spots or other imperfections on your face, they’ll still show through when using pressed powder alone.

Is pressed powder necessary?

No, pressed powder isn’t necessary for everyone.  Some people find that they don’t have any problems with their foundation staying all day without applying a powder, while others feel that without a pressed powder their foundation isn’t looking its best.

Another option that some prefer is using setting spray instead of setting powder.  Whether pressed powder is necessary for you will come down to how happy you are with the look of your makeup and how long it stays throughout the day.

What does pressed powder actually do?

Pressed powder helps set liquid foundation and keeps it from moving around or rubbing off.  It can also be used alone as a foundation for individuals with a more even skin tone, since it has some pigmentation.

What are the benefits of compact powder?

There are a few benefits of compact powder over loose powder.  First, it is more pigmented, which makes it possible to use by itself.  This also means when you pair a compact powder with foundation it can help you achieve a more natural look for your skin.

Compact powder is also less messy than loose powder and much easier to travel with.  Loose powder can be more drying, but since pressed powder has some oils in it, it can be a better choice for those with dry skin.

Is pressed powder bad for your skin?

Most skin types do better with pressed powder since it is not as drying as loose powder.  However, since there are oils in pressed powder, it is not always the best choice for individuals with oily or acne prone skin.  For these individuals, a loose powder may work best to keep the oils on the face under control and prevent a cakey makeup look.

RELATED: Why Does My Foundation Look Cakey


Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder, No. 06 Warm Natural, 0.21 Ounce


What is loose powder?

As you can probably tell by its name, loose powder is powder that is not pressed into a compact.  Rather, the powder is loosely packed in a tub or jar.  Dermablend’s Loose Setting Powder is one example of a loose powder.  We’ll share more about what you can use loose powders for and which skin types they’re best for below.

What is loose powder used for?

Like pressed powder, loose powder can also be used to set liquid foundation or concealer.  Applying loose powder, like Anastasia Beverly Hills Loose Setting Powder, over foundation during the “baking method” can help keep your foundation in place and prevent it from rubbing off.

Another use for loose powder is when trying to achieve a more chiseled and defined makeup look.  Loose powders can help highlight and define contour lines.

RELATED: Best Drugstore Contour

Is loose powder bad for skin?

Loose powder is more drying than pressed powder.  Many are made using rice starch or cornstarch to dry makeup, but they also can make the skin even more dry.  For this reason, loose powders are often not the first choice of those with dry skin.  They offer a better solution for those with oily skin since they will help prevent too much oil from building up on the face.

Is loose powder the same as setting powder?

Loose powders are one type of setting powder, but pressed powders can also be used as setting powder.  A setting powder is a powder that is applied to help foundation stay in place, and both loose and pressed powders can help reach this goal.


Pressed Powder vs Loose Powder?

OK, so which face powder should you choose?  The answer to this question can depend on a few factors, such as your skin type, your reason for looking for a powder, and the differences between pressed powder and loose powder.  Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors to help you decide between pressed powder vs. loose powder.

What’s the difference between setting powder and pressed powder?

Loose powder, often referred to as setting powder, has a loose consistency.  Whereas pressed powder is compacted, or pressed, into a makeup compact.  As we shared above, both powder types can be used for setting foundation to help it last longer and prevent it from rubbing off on the skin.

Pressed powder is more pigmented than loose powder, so it can be used alone on some individuals with a relatively even skin tone.  Pressed powder is also made with oils, making it less drying for some skin types, but not ideal for those who have oily prone skin.

Another difference between pressed powder and loose powder lies in how easy each one can be packed along for travel.  Pressed powder is much easier to pack and less likely to make a huge mess in your bag than loose powder.

Translucent Powder vs Pressed Powder?

Translucent powder is a colorless powder that can help set makeup.  It doesn’t provide any additional coverage or color.  Some pressed powders are translucent, while others are pigmented.  You can choose which option is best for you based on your coverage needs and makeup goals.  Loose powders can also be translucent.

Loose Powder vs Compact Powder

Compact powder is another word for pressed powder.  Compact powder is pressed into a compact, whereas loose powder is loose.  Both can be used to set makeup.  However, compact powder is typically a better choice for those with dry skin while loose powder is often better for individuals with oily skin.  Another loose powder vs compact powder difference is that loose powder is better for achieving a more chiseled makeup look, and compact powder can be used on its own without foundation at times.


Pressed Powder vs Loose Powder: For Skin Types

As we’ve shared above, your skin type can play a huge role in deciding which powder type is best for you.

Loose Powder vs Pressed Powder for Oily Skin

For oily skin in most instances, loose powder is best to use.  Loose powders aren’t made with oils like pressed powders are, so they won’t introduce more oils to your skin.  They are more drying than pressed powders, so they can actually help control the oil on your skin.

Loose Powder vs Pressed Powder for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you’ll likely find that pressed powder is best for you.  Loose powders are very drying and may exacerbate your dry skin.

Loose Powder vs Pressed Powder for Sensitive Skin

Individuals with sensitive skin also tend to opt for pressed powder since it is less drying than loose powder.


Is pressed or loose powder better?

The decision between whether pressed or loose powder is better is up to you now!  We’ve shared some of the advantages of each powder type and which skin types do best with pressed vs loose powder.

As a quick review, both pressed and loose powder can help set foundation.  Pressed powder is more tinted, so you have the option to use it alone if you want a more natural makeup look and have pretty even skin.  Loose powder is great if you want to define the contours on your face for a chiseled look.

And, don’t forget about your skin type.  Since pressed powders are made with oils, they are less drying.  This can be a good thing for users with normal or dry skin, but isn’t ideal for those who have oily skin.

So, which is right for you?  Or do you see a use for both pressed powder and loose power in your future?  Regardless of which powder type you choose, making sure you’re properly applying face powder is essential for getting the finished look you desire.



Can you turn pressed powder into loose?

Yes, you can use a spoolie to remove some pressed powder and turn it into loose powder.  When doing so, be careful not to dig too deep and loosen all the powder; only remove a small amount and place it in a separate container for use.


Pressed Powder vs Loose Powder: Which is Right for You?

Pressed and loose powders each have an important job.  Choosing the right powder for your makeup needs will depend on your skin type and makeup goals.  Which powder are you planning to add to your routine?

Read through these related posts on our blog to learn more about face and body powders:

Comments (2)

  1. Lovely 9 months ago

    I use loose powder. Maybe I need give the pressed powders a chance since I have dry skin.

    • Ellis James Designs 8 months ago

      Let us know how it works for you, Lovely!

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