Liquid vs Powder Foundation, Which Is Better?

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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, which is better, liquid or 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 liquid vs powder foundation. 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 powder vs liquid 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. 

What Lasts Longer: Powder or Liquid Foundation?

The liquid foundation may seem to last longer because it is more water-resistant. But remember that there is a powder foundation that is water-resistant and in a long-lasting formula. When figuring out which lasts longer, you should consider your skin type. 

The lasting effect of either the powder or liquid foundation will depend on the specific formula from various brands. They will also depend on the type of skin that you have. 

Is Powder or Liquid Foundation Better for the Skin?

Some of us have oily skin, some have dry, and others have combination skin. And others have sensitive skin that could be irritated with some of the ingredients in either powder or liquid foundation. 

Instead of asking which foundation is better for your skin, it would be best to ask which foundation would be better for your skin. To answer this, you have to know your skin. Sometimes, you just have to try out a few different foundations to figure out which is ideal for your skin. 

Sometimes, you just have to try out a few different foundations to figure out which is ideal for your skin. 

If you are after a more breathable foundation, then it would be best to stick to a powder foundation. They are lightweight and breathable as compared to the liquid foundation counterpart. 

Foundation For Oily Skin

Those with oily skin are likely to prefer a powder foundation.

It can help control oil by absorbing it. However, the consistency of the foundation isn’t the only thing that you should look into. More importantly, you should look into the ingredient list. 

A powder foundation is usually mattifying. That means it can help absorb oil and lessen the shiny or greasy appearance of the skin. 

Most powder foundations will have a matte finish, while many liquid foundations have a dewy finish. If you are to select a foundation for your oily skin, make sure that it has a matte finish, and avoid those that have a satin finish.

If you need to retouch your makeup because of your oily skin, blot out the oiliness with blotting paper. This removes the excess oils so you won’t have to add more powder foundation to your face. 

If you tend to always add powder foundation on your face as you retouch your makeup, the powder foundation can mix with the oil and produce a cakey appearance

Foundation For Dry Skin

Those with dry skin tend to go for a liquid foundation.

That’s because liquid foundations contain hydrating ingredients to help keep the skin moisturized while covering blemishes. 

Many liquid foundations have a dewy or satin finish, which includes ingredients that add a slight shine to the face so it looks dewy and not too dry. 

Foundation For Acne-Prone Skin

Acne-prone skin may produce excess oils so most would want to use powder foundation. These are lightweight and absorb excess oils. 

They won’t clog the pores so they won’t cause you to have another acne break-out. Select foundations that are non-comedogenic to further minimize the risk of break-outs. 

Foundation For Skin With Fine Lines

A foundation is typically used to help hide skin issues, not emphasize them. When it comes to mature skin, fine lines or wrinkles can be a problem because some foundations sink into the lines and accentuate them. 

If you have fine lines, the foundation you should select should be lighter or thinner so that it doesn’t sink in the lines. Liquid foundations are more often used in this case because they are less likely to produce a cakey or heavy appearance when used lightly. 

The application technique is important. A minimal amount of foundation should be used. Tapping the product with the fingers helps hide the lines.

After the application of the liquid foundation, use only a small amount of powder. Too much could emphasize the lines so make sure you keep it to a minimum. 

Final Thoughts

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

So, before you decide on powder vs liquid foundation, think about the status of your skin and the situation you’ll be going into.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).