Loose Powder or Pressed?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup Tips/How To, Video

When should you use loose powder, and when should you use pressed (click here to see the video)?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 41 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jenna says:

    I always assumed loose was sheer and pressed was heavier! Silly me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenna,

      You can still make loose look more sheer — the tools you use to apply also make a diff.

      But in general for really heavy coverage I think loose is better cause you can really pack it on.

      How’s your weekend been? Are you ready for your test?

  2. Brandi says:

    I have to agree with Jenna — really, I thought it was the other way around . . . .? How did I get this wrong all these years?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Brandi,

      I used to think that the only diff was that loose powder was the powder you kept at home and that pressed was the portable one. But yah, there’s a diff. I’ve read it in a few books (Bobbi Brown’s is one of the more recent ones)…

  3. CC says:

    Same here, Jenna! I like loose powder better anyway because I think it looks more natural (not completely matte)…plus it’s easier for me to find a shade in loose powder, too.

  4. Shontay says:

    Thanks, Karen. I thought the difference was “mess or no mess” lmao. I use Makeup Forever HD powder which is loose. I don’t use it everyday though because I have dry skin and the MUFE HD foundation makes me look dewy (partly because of how I apply it) and that’s what I like. The powder doesn’t make me look chalky, it’s awesome, but I don’t always want to look matte.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shontay,

      I don’t always want to look matte, either. In the summer I tend to do more dewey looks.

      How do you apply your MUFE HD foundation to make it look dewey? Do you wet your brush before application?

      • Liz says:

        I use MUFE’s HD Foundation in 125…best foundation ever!!! Anyways, I used to use a foundation brush by Lancome, which worked well, but I decided to try a cheaper version of the Beauty Blender by Soho London (from Walgreens for $5.99 vs the BB that costs about $30). I wet the blender and squeeze out the excess water, then use that to apply my foundation, and it gives the best look ever. It’s a much more airbrushed, flawless, and even look. Everyday, either immediately afterward or later at night before bed, I quickly wash my blender with a gentle face cleanser, which takes only a minute or two. By far my favorite method of application!!

  5. Christina says:

    And yay for the glasses! πŸ™‚

    Christina´s last blog post..Katy Perry WearsÒ€¦ Sushi?

  6. Hyzenthlay says:

    Thanks! That’s helpful (I’m giving it a “thumbs up”) . . . does the same information apply for “translucent” powders? I just picked up a loose translucent Clinique powder at the CCO on Friday because the loose and pressed translucent Carmindy for Sally Hansen I have makes me look a little ghostly now that I’ve got the tiniest bit of summer color! I LOVE the Clinique powder, it’s very finely milled, but the “instructions packet” in the box are all in Japanese. At least it’s powder, and I know how to use it πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hyzenthlay,

      Part of the equation has to do with what tools you use to apply the powder — if you are applying translucent loose powder with a puff you’ll get more powder on your skin and thus a heavier powdered look. Since it’s translucent, though, heavier doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more coverage. If you want total coverage a colored loose powder would be a better bet.

      I keep both colored translucent loose powders in my stash. I’ll use translucent for more casual looks and colored for heavier looks (ie, photography and video).

  7. Vonvon says:

    I prefer pressed powder for my daughter’s sake. Because no matter how careful I am, I know there’s bound to be powder particles floating around in the air after using loose powder, and I don’t like the idea of my baby inhaling it.

    Guess that’s just me! πŸ™‚

    Vonvon´s last blog post..The Body Shop Annual Sale 2009 – Update

  8. dimpy says:

    hi karen,
    I am trying to look out for good powder brushes ( lil cheap ones)……any suggestions ,plx also the makeup tools link doesnt work in the blog or is it just me………..

  9. CC says:

    I haven’t used loose powder in a while – I somehow managed to lose mine (Cover Girl translucent medium light) somewhere probably while traveling, but I’m looking for a new one. I’m thinking about Bobbi Brown because her shades don’t make me look too white or pink. πŸ™‚ Any suggestions? Thanks!

  10. smiley says:

    Like everyone said, I WOULD expect loose to be sheer because it’s “loose” but I do find that pressed is more sheer because the brush only picks the stuff on the top. Could you do a post about recommendations? πŸ˜€

    smiley´s last blog post..Woodwink is Love

  11. Vonvon says:

    She’s 2 and a half, and yes, you are absolutely right! A beauty junkie in training, and she just wrecked my newly-purchased Stila lip glaze stick in Berry this morning by drawing it on her lips but she couldn’t replace the cap and crushed the glaze and smeared into the cap!!! Haha!!!

    Vonvon´s last blog post..An Afternoon With PLATINUM…..La Prairie, Skincare For The Privileged Few

  12. shontay says:

    Hi, Karen. I spray my face with Sephora flash radiance spray. I loooove that stuff. I’m too afraid to use mac fix+ because so many of their face products break me out. Flash radiance is like taking a dip in a pool in the middle of august. Just awesome and I really think it helps with foundation application.

  13. Nicole15 says:

    I love when you do videos. I learn a lot & your delivery is always easy to remember. Please do more!!! Plus your skin looks fab. So jealous of the tan. I find it hard to believe you have acne prone skin at times. You always look flawless πŸ™‚

  14. Row says:

    Hi Karen

    Both both! Loose in the morning and pressed to take out with me πŸ™‚

  15. Jenna says:

    My weekend has been good, haven’t done too much, which is always nice. I will do well on my test as long as I manage not to freak out… which would be an impressive feat.

  16. Chris says:

    Hey Karen welcome back. I just want to say that you are looking very Bronze Goddess after your trip – beautiful as always!
    I still love my MUFE HD loose (and have seriously loved NARS, LM and Aucoin powders in the past so guess I’m a loose woman lol).

    Throughout the day, blot papers keep the oil toned down and I will add more loose powder for evening if we are going out.

  17. Jian says:

    Hi Karen!

    I must say, you look great in your glasses!
    I never thought about the real difference between loose and compact powder but I guess it makes sense. I’m really tempted to just use compact powder instead of loose because I hate the messiness of loose powder – it gets EVERYWHERE, especially when the tub has been knocked about.

    Jian´s last blog post..Chanel UV Essentiel Protective UV Care Anti-Pollution SPF 50/Pa++

  18. Dao says:

    I used to apply loose powder with a fluffy brush and boy, it was sheer! Now I use a velour pouf and it’s a lot better. Also, pressed powder is easier to travel or toss in a bag. I would not risk my bag with a jar of loose powder, unless it’s inside a tighly zipped zip-lock bag.

    Dao´s last blog post..Beauty Literotica: Reading under the Influence of Cold Medicine

  19. evelyn says:

    lol, i really always thought loose powder was sheer, and pressed more opaque, even though ive never really used a loose powder, well well well i guess i’m gonna have to go try some out now. thank u!!

  20. L says:

    Okay, first of all, your glasses are adorable! You look fantastic in them.

    Also, like everyone else, I thought the difference was that pressed was less of a pain in the ass, haha.

    Would you like to weigh in on the translucent vs. colored powder battle? I use translucent, but that’s simply because I’m too lazy to switch powders with the season! I suppose I could be convinced to if there were a good reason to do so…

    • Karen says:

      Hi L,

      I think translucent is fine for every day wear if you like it, but if you plan on taking pics then go for a colored powder. Sometimes translucent powders can create a white cast when the flash goes off.

  21. Stephie says:

    Ah! I agree with the others. I thought it was totally the opposite way. Thanks Karen for setting me straight. Love you tan btw! You look very glowy.

  22. Lina says:

    I don’t have comments about pressed vs loose, but very cute video!!!! I love it! It’s just perfect.

    Lina´s last blog post..All About Armani: Sheer & Shine Lipstick Collection 2009

  23. Okami says:

    Very informative! I love your skin in this video, and your glasses are hot! They make me think hip, stylish reporter. πŸ™‚

  24. Fay. H. says:

    Is there a difference with foundation or is it just a preference? Like what’s the difference with creme, liquid, and powder?

  25. dawn says:

    thank you..i love ur skin color πŸ™‚ very beautiful and natural

    i need ur help in this : ok what about if u have acne-prone skin .. what will u go for ?? i mean for daily use ..i don’t want to end up with more problems with my skin πŸ™ i want something to cover my flaws and spots and at the same time to have natural look especially when i’m out (day light)

  26. Morgan says:

    Should you use any kind of powder if you have dry skin? I have combination skin during summer, but now that it’s winter it’s (Obviously) drier. I don’t know what to use or if I should be using anything at all.

  27. rubie says:

    Hi Karen!… I tend to break out all the time. I’ve tried using dozens of skin products and it seems that compact powders seem to aggravate it even more. So I tried settling with loose powder. The thing is, I’m not really sure which products are safe and hypoallergenic enough for my skin.I hope you could recommend something that would suite my skin type.All the best!

  28. Amie says:

    Hi Karen,

    How is translucent powder different?

    I use liquid foundation and use the compact to set it. I end up with ‘cake face’. Help!

  29. eau says:

    If I turn my loose powder to a pressed powder (using alcohol stuff), will the original coverage properties of the loose powder change?

  30. Lo B. says:

    Hi Karen,

    I realized in past posts by you our skintone is the same (in the warmer months/and I’m half Filipina). I have been using Make Up Forever Pro Powder but wanted to try Bobbi Brown’s Sheer Finish Pressed Powder (I have combination/oily skin). I was curious if you have ever used it and if do, what shade?


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