To Powder or Not to Powder?

Published in: Just For Fun

Holla at me in the comments!

Holla at me in the comments!

To powder, or not to powder — that is the question!

When I first started wearing makeup many moons ago, I thought face powder was a non-negotiable. It all started one day when I went to a Clinique counter with my mom, who really wasn’t then, and still isn’t now, into makeup, but, bless her heart, she did her best to indulge my interest.


The makeup artist at the counter made it sound like powder was an absolute must! — so for many years I believed that you absolutely had to wear powder, and that was the makeup gospel. (Cue the stern but heavenly angels.)

Did you ever feel that way? Or was that just me?

My outlook has changed over the past couple years, in large part because of my combination dry/oily skin. One day, after putting on a full face of makeup when my skin was leaning more toward the dry side, I skipped powder.

I think I just forgot that day, to be honest!

But it ended up working out, and I really liked the way my skin looked without the powder. My foundation stayed in place, and my skin didn’t look as dry or flaky as usual… It was just one of those happy makeup accidents.

Most of the time, I still wear face powder (especially when I’m taking pics or doing videos, because I do like how it looks on camera), but now I’m more strategic about where I place it on my skin, like just on the oily areas — my forehead, nose and chin.

So, what’s your position on face powder, friend? Is it a non-negotiable, a semi-negotiable, or is it something you usually skip?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. TGIF! 🙂


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  1. Jane says:

    My skin has always been dry so I rarely use powder. I sometimes will use bronzer powder just give warmth to my skin. Now that I am in menopause, my skin is extremely dry so I avoid powder altogether.

    • Sandy P says:

      I am with you Jane. Menopause=drier skin=no more powder. However I still use a powder bronzer, blush, highlighter palette by IT that is amazing. But a little goes a long way.

      • Jane says:

        I have been using Bobbi Brown Brightening Finishing Powder in Nude just around my nose where the redness is. I have been wearing a tinted moisturizer rather than a heavier foundation.

    • Eileen says:

      I’m 71 and have dry, delicate, sensitive skin, but I don’t think I will ever give up a whisper light veil of my beloved Météorites 🙂 I love the luminous, light-diffusing effect of those magic pearls and because everything else I use on my face is emollient and geared towards very dry skin, I don’t have any problems with this particular finishing powder.

      I never use the heavier, more opaque setting powders, powder foundations, or pressed powders. I find all of those look heavy on my skin and emphasize rather than detract from the uneven texture that is just a natural part of aging.

  2. Tulipthecat says:

    I go back and forth with powder. I usually powder my T-zone and my under eye concealer. But sometimes I think I look too powdery. So then I have to spray something to not look like that….so umm..I don’t know.

    I do remember going to the MAC counter when I was younger with my friends and they always put powder and I remember seeing my mom use powder.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I’ve recently started being more strategic with my powder too. I can get super oily in my t-zone but more dry on the cheeks. I usually use my Hourglass Ambient palette to set my concealer because that will crease within minutes no matter what the formula. My favourite is blush so I will start with a nude blush before going in with another shade so it blends well, kinda like using a nude colour in the crease for the eyes. But no matter what makeup I’m wearing, I use a spray on my face multiple times during application to keep my skin from looking powdery. Foundation, concealer then spray. Powder, blush then spray. Brows, eye makeup then spray one last time. I know it sounds high maintenance but it works for me. And of course I spray my face a few times during the day too, especially during these drier months.

  4. Chelsea says:

    I have really dry, easily dehydrated skin, so I almost never use powder. It not only doesn’t look great on my dry skin, it makes my skin feel so dry and tight!

  5. It all depends on your skin. In my case powder is a total must. Without powder my face is SO oily that it looks wet, I’m being completely serious here. I NEED powder. Not only mattify my face but also because without it my make-up wouldn’t last ten minutes.

  6. Amy Z. says:

    I had a similar story where I didn’t bring my powder on a trip – and discovered that I was fine without it! Especially in dry seasons like winter, I don’t miss it much.

  7. Sarah says:

    I use powder 99% of the time, because I think it sets everything in. I have tried it both ways, and I prefer a powder because I believe it makes my makeup last longer and look better.
    I have dessert dry skin (I took accutane as a teenager) so I put on 2-3 moisturizers morning and night. No oily skin on this face but I still love the powder feel.

  8. Allysa says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with powder. I feel like it’s a must to set foundation pre-contour, blush, and highlight application, but it just leaves my skin so flat-looking. I have normal skin, and I like a dewy finish, so I guess I’m a bit strategic when I do apply it. Normally, I do just the sides of my face and around my nose; anything else and I look too matte. Maybe I just haven’t found my perfect powder yet.

  9. Nicole says:

    I’m still figuring it out at almost 39! My skin is on the normal to dry side. I do not like the powdery look or the feel of it. here is what I do currently and why: I use something like Guerlain Meteorites or Hourglass Ambient to set my entire face and then if its warm out, or if I’m going to have a long day I will go over my t zone with a matte powder like Urban decay’s. I do that if I’m using powder blush and highlight. if I’m using cream blush,etc- I do not powder the perimeter of my face. In that case, I only use the translucent setting powder in the t zone and smile lines. I just cannot get my powder blushes to apply well over not powdered foundation usually. So, I just do a light powder with vibrancy. Under my eyes- always Hourglass Diffused.

  10. Danielle says:

    I love this question because I just had the same revelation just a few weeks ago. I was powdering everything (and I probably will do the same again in the summer). Then I decided that since winter decided to actually show up I should try just powdering my forehead and nose where I tend to get a bit oily. LIFE CHANGED! Especially since now I’m using my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder to do so. So much glow and pretty.

    One caveat – I will never stop powdering my undereye concealer with Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. EVER.

  11. Jennifae says:

    I used to wear powder back when I lived in the Philippines where it was hot and humid, so powder was an absolute must! For the past few years, I just apply powder on my T-zone. Lately, I’ve been skipping powder because I like how NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint look on my skin.
    Jennifae recently posted … Win MAC RiRi Woo Lipstick!

  12. Lulle says:

    It’s a semi-negotiable for me I guess. My forehead/nose/chin area tends to get very shiny throughout the day, so mattifying powder really helps. I also prefer my foundation to look velvety to semi-matte, so I’ll powder anything that looks dewy. If I’m using a matte foundation however, I’ll often skip powder.
    Lulle recently posted … #FrenchFriday – Winter skin saviors: Institut Esthederm Intensif Hyaluronic Line

  13. Icequeen81 says:

    Dont like the feel of liquid foundation on my skin, maybe if i find the right color/texture/formula cause some make my itch I will thnk about it.
    I have powder but dont use it all the time

  14. McWoo says:

    I find myself having to powder even with tinted moisturizer and bb creams, and let’s not even talk about the eyelids!

    I’ve heard about UD’s setting spray and some are transitioning to that as their “powder.” Thoughts on that anyone?

    I’ve heard good things about it, and let’s face it, anything that helps an oily t-zone and eyelids, works for me. 😉

  15. Bex D says:


    I only use powder on my T-zone & chin otherwise my foundation comes off much quicker than if I don’t wear any. I use a cheek stain rather than powder blusher & it looks nicer without powder on my cheeks or under eyes.

    Bex ☺

  16. Tatiana says:

    In the middle of summer when I think I’m going to be all hot and sweaty I powder. Lately as I get older I find myself skipping powder more and more. It just seems to highlight the aging going on with my skin.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Geez Karen, it is like you have a direct line to my brain. I was looking in my rearview mirror about mid-morning today and I was horrified at how shiny my face looked. And I was thinking, I’ve got to start wearing face powder again.

    I was the same way as you for years. From ages 15 to probably 25, my face wasn’t finished until I’d dusted with powder (and in the beginning it was also Clinique’s) Then I graduated to Bobbi Brown’s face powder, which I loved. But I ran out about the time that my skin started to get a lot drier and never replaced it. It’s been years since I’ve used it.

    But, I’ve to got to stock up again because I just can’t walk around with this shiny of a face. I don’t know what’s going on if it’s hormones or what. I carry blotting papers with me but I don’t want to use them multiple times a day.

  18. Pamela Haddad says:

    Non-negotiable. I’m a little old school plus I love how a good translucent powder can really set my make-up for the day.

  19. Lauren says:

    Love this pic! Eye makeup, skin, lipgloss…ahhh perfection! Powder all the way!! I get oily though. Funny, I’m in a cab from my mini trip to Chicago to get back to London, crying my eyes out and reaching for powder! Mascara would be nice too! 😉

  20. Allison C says:

    My skin is so dry that I’m more likely to powder during the summer. But I agree, it loos so nice especially in photos! Have a good weekend, Karen!
    Allison C recently posted … 10 Minute Everyday Look

  21. yelena says:

    I don’t use it unless I have to…I did find one foundation that does not need powder..its a GIVENCHY airy-mat radiance foundation (my color is Mat Honey) that dries to a slightly satin but more so matte finish. absolute perfection in my books! no powder needed

  22. breyerchic04 says:

    Powder was the thing to have in the 1999 middle school scene! But my skin has never really needed oil control, so I dunno, I don’t use it all that often. I keep a msfn in my bag, and do use it some, especially over waterweight, but not all the time.

  23. Anna says:

    Interesting! I think I’m actually kind of opposite of you. For a long time I couldn’t for the life of me understand why people used powder! I always assumed it was to make your skin look extremely mattified, which at the time seemed to allways make people’s skin look older, less youthful and vibrant. It didn’t occur to me to try it until my forehead started getting very oily.
    Now, sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t. Recently, when I’m done applying liquid foundation I will take my powder brush and gently brush over my face to get rid of any possible finger lines, and it always seems to apply powder to my face even though I only apply powder to the brush once every several days!
    Now I also realize the benefit of having an extra light layer of coverage, because throughout the day the foundation tends to disappear off my face! Especially t-zone.

  24. Rachel R. says:

    I’ve always had oily skin, so powder is a must for me. I apply my face products over my powder: They blend better, stay true to color, last longer, and get another barrier away from my face oils. When the weather is really hot and humid, I use powder under my powder foundation as well as over it.

    The trick is to pick a good powder for you, apply it lightly, and mist with water or setting spray to keep it from looking caky and dry.

  25. Phyrra says:

    I used to be combo leaning oil, and now I’m more on the dry side so I have to be careful with powder because it can really dry me out.
    Phyrra recently posted … 10 Reasons to Try Indie Beauty

  26. Doreen Garza says:

    Hi Karen,
    I do have drier skin..but I just don’t feel finished without a very light dusting of loose powder. Maybe I will give it a try. If I can do


  27. Erin says:

    For me it depends on my skin or the type o f base I’m wearing. If I’m having an oiler day or I OD’d on my moisturizer or it’s a very dewy foundation, I’ll powder. If I’m dry, I might not. If I need my makeup to last and I’m not bone dry, I’ll powder the center of my face lightly. I use Armani for powders and they don’t dry me out or matte my foundations too much but they do leave a nice finish and set makeup well.
    Erin recently posted … Anthropologie Winter Tag Sale

  28. Skygazer says:

    I use powder when I’m using foundation and not when I’m using BB creams etc as those tend to dry a little powdery anyway. It used to be that I’ll powder the whole face, but now that my face has transitioned from oily to combination, it’s usually powder on the T-zones and over concealer areas (including undereyes) now. On really hot days I tend to skip powder and use a setting spray instead. It’s less likely to have buildup and tends to last the whole day!

  29. Susan C. says:

    My relationship with powder has changed greatly over the years. Back in my oilier, Goth days I used to wear a light dusting of powder in lieu of foundation.

    Now that fine lines are cropping up, and my combination skin is tending more towards dry — especially in winter, between the cold winds outside and the dry heat inside — I powder much less often. In the summer, my T-zone gets a dusting if I’m going to be out in the heat and humidity. Otherwise, I occasionally press some on my chin and forehead to add coverage to my BB/TM if I’m going without foundation.

  30. Becky says:

    I used to PACK on the powder-I’ve got a really oily t zone and thought this meant EVERYWHERE NEEDS 4 INCHES OF POWDER STAT. much like you, by happy accident, I forgot one day, and apart from a sticky T-zone-the rest of me looked pretty fly!! I now use Laura Mercier translucent setting powder or MAC blot on the T zone, very lightly, and that’s it! A revelation!

  31. Cel says:

    When I was new to make-up I wouldn’t powder at all, and my it was actually my mom who said I HAD to!

    That idea was reinforced my a lot of beauty gurus, and with my previously oily combo skin of course I listened.

    Nowadays I try to avoid powdering as much as possible, especially with my new found dry skin. It’s also much more forgiving on lines and bumps. I even avoid powdering even with foundations I used to think looked shiny, like MAC F&B and the Loreal Lumi Magique.

    It also helps that the trend I’m seeing now is more natural, borderline greasy skin haha.

  32. Non-negotiable for me, but that is my skin we are talking about, which is combination/oily and needs the coverage.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Inspired by Chanel LA Sunset Spring 2016

  33. MJ says:

    I like powder. I really hate the feel of liquid foundation…to me I can almost feel my pores clogging and it makes me feel oily (and yes I’ve tried many different kinds!). My skin is in good shape, so I just use a little concealer under my eyes and around my nose where it’s a little red, and use Naked powder over that. I also prefer a velvety finish–I really hate shine and/or the “dewy” look which just looks artificial in my opinion, and powder gives me that.

  34. franfair says:

    I almost always wear powder on my combination oily/normal aging skin, but I’m very picky about it, as I like a glowing look (now that I’m finally zit-free in my late 50s). I use Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim or Diffused Light, from hairline to neckline. It really brings everything together.

    For myself, I don’t like powders that mattify a whole lot. I just want the powder to set my makeup and help me blend everything together.

    If it’s a very casual day, and I only need my makeup to last a couple of hours, I might skip powder over my tinted sunscreen/BB cream. But my skin actually looks better with it.

  35. Aj says:

    Hmm… it’s actually semi-negotiable for me I suppose. I skip the powder more often during the winter, but it’s non-negotiable during the summer. I still carry oil-blotting sheets with me during the winter though because my forehead can get quite shiny later on in the day.

  36. Trude says:

    My skin is so perfectly combination that it’s really a must if I put any kind of foundation on. Especially with It Cosmetic’s CC cream, which is usually what I reach for. I looove it, but it will totally separate on me after a couple hours if I don’t set it. I’ve been using Mac’s Mineralize Skinfinish natural for the last year or so, love how non-powdery it manages to look. Plus I always carry a Studio Fix compact for touch ups. 🙂
    Trude recently posted … 5 Things

  37. Sarah says:

    For me, powder has always been a non-negotiable. Dewy or radiant was something I just couldn’t achieve without looking like I was oily. However, as I’ve gotten older and drier, I feel like I could do with less powder. Sure, I still feel as if I can’t achieve a dewy look without it looking oily on my face, but I find myself powdering with a lot less product.

  38. Eesha says:

    Well, powder has so far been a must for me.. I am feeling that my skin is too dry, I will probably it hit strategically on my T-zone but that’s a very rare phenomena!
    Eesha recently posted … Chocolate Brown Monochrome Look | ft Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury

  39. angie says:

    I have oily skin & I also live in humid tropical country, so powder (loose powder), is a must for me.
    I can’t imagine not setting my bb/cc cream or foundation with powder.
    My favourite is Urban Decay Naked Loose Powder (thanks to Karen she answer my question about which powder suits oily skin better, UD or Chanel? and she answered UD) 🙂

  40. Heather L says:

    I fall into the “to powder” camp. I find that the powders I use help correct my skin tone, mattify my skin, and make my pores less noticeable than just wearing foundation alone, depending on the powders I use. I have heard a lot of people say you need it to “set your foundation” but I don’t find it is necessary for that in my case. I always reach for powder though, whether I’m running out for a quick trip to the grocery store or going out on a fancy date night.

  41. Iris says:

    I usually wear it, especially in the summer when I have oilier skin. I do sometimes skip it on weekends when I’m wearing low makeup.

  42. sarah says:

    I really don’t wear it unless I absolutely need to add glow/dimension on my skin (like when wear airflash). I’m dry and honestly, I prefer the look of my skin. I wear sheer moisturizer and like when my natural undertones and freckles come through. Powder, I think, takes away from that. When I do, I reach for my Hourglass (Diffused generally, Ethereal in the dead of winter/when I want an angelic/porcelain complexion).

  43. Feather says:

    I truly believe this too. My problem is I am oily in the summer and dry in the winter so foundation with a little concealer gives me a dewy look. I’m going to try the Nars Velvet Matte. I’ve been hearing good reviews on it. The best make up tip you have giving me is the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Biscuit. Thanks.

  44. Karen says:

    I feel the same way. In my early stages or experimenting with makeup I always used powder and even at one point switched over to only powder foundations. Only after my skin started peeling around the mouth and chin area due to dryness and a sunburn did I ease up on caking up powder on my face. From then I swore off powder for a good 6 months. After getting sick of having foundation melting of my face after longs days at school or work did I give powdering a chance. Through experiment and experience I lightly powder my face and avoid dry areas like around the mouth and around the nose.
    I guess I have come full circle.

  45. Jess Magnuson says:

    I’m not that into powdering my face, it makes me look too matte, dull and feels itchy. I used to use oils when I got shiny through the day but that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. I think for photos it’s as must but not for everyday life.

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