Liquid Vs Powder Foundation, What’s The Difference?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

The foundation of great makeup all starts with… well foundation! Your foundation should be matched to your skin tone and help to create an even finish that the rest of your makeup will blend well with on top of.

The only question that remains then is, What’s better: liquid vs. powder foundation? 

Both liquid and powder foundations have their own benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, though, it really depends on your style of makeup artistry, what you’re trying to accomplish, where you’ll be going, and the weather. 

In today’s article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at some of the key differences between liquid and powder foundations. We’ll examine the pros and cons of each and give you some helpful tips to help you decide which one is best for you, depending on the situation. Let’s take a look!

Key Differences Between Liquid and Powder Foundations

Fit Matte Foundation

The most obvious difference between liquid and powder foundations is, of course, that one is a thick liquid while the other is a fine powder. Both can serve to create a good base foundation for the rest of your makeup or can be used for a little bit of simple cover-up work. 

For many people, applying foundation is just a normal part of the morning routine to cover annoying pimples, scarring, or those bags under your eyes from a long night. How well the foundation performs up to your standards, though, depends on your particular needs. 

So, that being said, let’s take a brief look at some of the key differences between liquid vs powder foundation


Powder foundation has arguably been around the longest and has been used for hundreds of years. It has a light, powdery consistency that makes it easy to apply and almost as easy to remove.

Once applied, it has a very light feeling that won’t make your face feel too heavy. 

Liquid foundation, on the other hand, tends to be a lot thicker. While it is just as easy to apply as a powder foundation, some individuals find that liquid foundations tend to make their faces feel a bit heavy. 

The main advantage of the liquid foundation’s thicker consistency is that it lasts longer. It won’t rub off as quickly and isn’t as susceptible to moisture or sweating. The thicker consistency also helps to better cover imperfections and blemishes. 

That being said, liquid foundation typically requires a lot of extra work to take off at the end of the day. You’ll almost always need to use a good face wash or makeup remover if you want to remove it entirely. 

Powder foundation doesn’t last for quite as long. This means that you may need to re-apply it periodically throughout the day.

For some people, this is a perfect excuse to go to the bathroom or take a quick break from work. For other people, though, this could be seen as a waste of valuable time. 

One of the key advantages of powder foundation, though, is the overall comfort. As a lightweight powder, it almost feels as if you aren’t wearing makeup at all!

It’s easy to remove at the end of the night, and won’t leave your skin feeling sticky or pasty. 


One of the key differences between powder and liquid foundations is how water-resistant they are. This is an important consideration if you’re going to be sweating, going to the beach, or just fancy dancing in the rain. 

As powder foundation has a lighter consistency, it is far less water-resistant. The second that you start pouring sweat from your brow, get splashed in the face with water, or shed a tear, your makeup is going to start running. 

Since the power foundation is so lightweight, you often won’t even feel it running off, to begin with. This means that you may find yourself constantly checking your face in the mirror or asking your friend how your makeup works. But hey- at least it’s easy to fix! 

Liquid makeup foundation, on the other hand, provides far better water resistance. In fact, some liquid foundations are even completely waterproof, allowing you to fully submerse yourself without fear of your makeup smearing. 

A lot of professional athletes go with a liquid foundation as it fits better into their active lifestyle. They can go to the gym, sweat through it, and never have to worry about whether their makeup is on-point or not. 

Even if the liquid foundation in question is not waterproof, the regular ones still provide minimal water resistance. This is mostly due to the fact that liquid foundations have a silicone base, which helps water and sweat roll off of the skin easier. 

That being said, the water-resistance of liquid foundations does mean that they’re harder to remove. You’ll often find yourself scrubbing your face harder or having to use more soap. Liquid foundations can also clog your pores more than a light powder foundation, which can lead to breakouts. 

The Finish

Last but not least, another key difference between liquid vs powder foundation is the final finish. Some occasions and skin tones call for a more matte finish, while others call for a shinier, more glossy finish. 

If you’re looking to achieve a matte finish, then powder foundation is your friend. As it’s completely powder-based, it won’t reflect light.

That helps your face have the laid-back, calm, and controlled appearance associated with muted, matte tones. 

However, if you’re trying to go for that glossy, glamorous, and active finish, then a liquid foundation is better. Due to the silicon and water content, the foundation reflects light particles and ensures that moisture accumulates on the surface, rather than being absorbed into powder.

This, in turn, leads to a glossier finish. 

Liquid Foundation: Pros and Cons

Hide Liquid Foundation

So, now that you have a better idea about the key differences between liquid and powder foundations, it’s time to review some of the pros and cons of each.

This should give you a better idea of which type is best for you. Let’s start with liquid foundation! 


  • Liquid foundation is more water-resistant. 
  • Liquid foundation helps you achieve a glossier finish. 
  • Liquid foundation doesn’t run or come off as easily. 
  • You don’t have to worry about liquid foundation “caking up” when exposed to moisture. 


  • Liquid foundation is harder to remove and often requires special makeup remover or face wash. 
  • Liquid foundation is thicker and may cause breakouts, depending on how sensitive your skin is. 
  • A liquid foundation may stain your clothing. 

Powder Foundation: Pros and Cons

Flower Beauty Powder Foundation

Okay, so we’ve looked at the pros and cons of liquid foundation. Now, let’s take a second to overview the benefits and drawbacks of powder foundation. 


  • Powder foundation feels lighter on the skin. 
  • Powder foundations can be easily removed and washed off. 
  • Powder foundations help you achieve a matte finish. 
  • Powder foundation may result in fewer breakouts and clogged pores. 


  • Powder foundation may become caked up when exposed to humidity or moisture. 
  • Powder foundation often requires re-application throughout the day. 

Making A Selection: Liquid Vs. Powder Foundation

So, by now, you should have a fairly good idea of which type of foundation is best for your needs. While some people only stick with one or the other, it’s never a bad idea to have one of each. That way, you’re always prepared, no matter what situation you’re going into. 

On a final note, here are a few of the key considerations you should keep in mind when choosing between liquid vs powder foundation

What Type of Foundation For The Occasion? 

Before applying makeup, think about what type of occasion you’re attending. If you plan to do something more active (such as going to the gym or dancing), you may want a liquid foundation. Conversely, if you’re just going out to dinner or chilling out, a powder foundation will do fine. 

By choosing your foundation based on the occasion, you’ll reduce your chances of time-wasting re-applications. 

Which Foundation Is Best For Hot Weather? 

With summer in full swing, you may find yourself facing some hot and humid days. This means you’ll often be hot, sweaty, or uncomfortable.

While both foundations stand up well in the heat, you’ll find that liquid foundations work better in humid environments, where you’ll be sweating more. 

We’ve put together this list of foundations for hot and humid weather if you’re going to be someplace hot!

Do You Need Waterproof Foundation? 

If you’re planning on spending a day at the pool or the beach, a waterproof foundation will ensure that you look your best all day long. A waterproof liquid foundation is always a better choice. 

How Much Coverage Do You Want? 

Due to liquid foundation’s thicker consistency, it provides better coverage for large bumps, raised scars, or pores. That being said, it can also make these problems worse as it restricts airflow and can clog the pores

Powder foundation isn’t as thick, so it won’t do as good of a job when it comes to covering your pimples, scars, or pores.

However, it will allow your skin to breathe better! Also, if you have relatively smooth skin, powder foundation should be fine. 


As you can see, both foundations have their own pros and cons. Ultimately, we would say that liquid foundation is more versatile and generally tends to be longer-lasting. However, one of the key advantages of powder foundation is that they have a lightweight feel and won’t clog your pores as bad. 

So, before you decide, review some of the pros and cons, and most importantly- think about the situation that you’ll be going into before you apply makeup!

See also:

Written by Kayla Young

Is Tatcha Cruelty-Free?

Silk’n Infinity Review and Information