How To Choose Compact Powder

Tips and tricks on picking the right shade as per your skin type and concern

Reviewed by Marin McCarthy, Professional Makeup Artist Marin McCarthy Marin McCarthyProfessional Makeup Artist facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (Mass Communication) Nisha Baghadia MA (Mass Communication) Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Comparative Literature) Vaishali Sinha MA (Comparative Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years

Compact powder is the ideal way to set the makeup. They are versatile and handy, but it can be tricky to know how to choose compact powder with the perfect shade that matches your skin tone. Compact powders are the best cosmetics to use when you do not want to use foundation. They are ideal for touch-ups or when you are too lazy to do makeup. Compact powder is also a great way to make your skin glow when your face looks dull or greasy. These powders are available for barely to full coverage, and you can choose them according to your skin type. Keep reading to know more.

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • Technique: Compact powder is used to set the foundation, manage shine, and give the skin a smooth, matte, or radiant appearance. It is applied using a brush, sponge, or puff.
  • Brushes: A large, fluffy brush is perfect for a natural, sheer finish. For more coverage, a smaller, denser brush is ideal for building up layers and precision application. Sponges and puffs are great for a heavier, more matte finish.
  • Formulas: Compact powders usually come in either a pressed or a loose powder form.
  • Skin Type: Dry skin types should use pressed powder as it has more oils and would otherwise look cakey on oily skin types.
  • Application: Use a fluffy brush to lightly sweep compact powder over your face. For a natural, matte finish, start with a tiny amount and build it up as necessary.

Compact Powder – How To Select & How To Use?

Let us now discuss a few interesting points on how to choose compact powder shades.

Select The Perfect Shade of Compact Powder

  • Regardless of the brand, always choose a shade that matches your skin color.
  • If you end up picking up a compact that is a few shades lighter than your skin tone, your skin may turn grey or ashy in some time.
  • Know your skin type and the coverage level you are looking for before buying a compact powder.
  • If your skin tone is on the lighter side, you can opt for a compact with a pink undertone and one or two shades lighter than your skin tone. If your skin tone is on the deeper side, go for a compact with a yellow or orange undertone and a color that matches your skin tone.
  • Always try the product on the face and not on the back of your hand.
  • Ask your makeup artist for suggestions.
  • Marin McCathy, a professional makeup artist and founder of Marin Eve Makeup, says, “Powder foundations are great for coverage.” However, as every compact has a different coverage level, you need to pick one that delivers what you want. If you want a more natural makeup look, then opt for one with sheer coverage, or you can even try translucent powder. A medium or full coverage powder evens out the imperfections and unevenness.
protip_icon Fun Fact
It is believed that one of the first compact powders was created by French perfumers during the reign of King Louis XIV in the 17th century.

Now, let us tell you how to find the right compact for different skin types.

For Oily Skin

  • An oil-control matte finish powder is ideal for oily skin as it controls the excess oil secretion.
  • Avoid powders that provide shine and radiance as they might make your skin look oilier.
  • Investing in a sweat proof and waterproof compact powder also helps.
  • Before starting your makeup, apply a primer. It mattifies your skin and controls oil as well.
  • Use a makeup brush or a sponge to evenly apply the compact all over your face. Apply an extra coat on the T-zone. Alternatively, press a powder puff into the skin for the most long lasting finish.
  • A great tip is to rub an ice cube on the face before applying the compact. This controls the excess oil secretion and minimizes the appearance of pores. Try out Studio Fix Powder by MAC.

For Dry Skin

  • Don’t go for a matte finish compact as it makes your skin drier. Instead, use a cream-based compact or translucent powder to make your skin look healthier and less flaky.
  • Start your makeup by massaging the moisturizer into the skin for hydration. Give it some time to get absorbed. Then apply the compact powder. This helps your skin look hydrated and smooth, without drying it out.
  • To prevent your skin from looking patchy and uneven, do not build up layers of foundation. Keep it simple with just two to three coats of foundation.
  • Avoid applying powder on the areas which are usually dry, such as the cheeks, and around the nose area.
  • Use tinted powder if you have very pale skin or if you want to avoid foundation.
  • Highlighters or mineral-based powders are good choices for dry skin as they add radiance and make the skin glow.

For Sensitive Skin

  • Look for mineral-based powders as they do not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients that are usually found in the conventional powders. Mineral powder is best suited for sensitive skin.
  • Another option is to look for non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic powders for sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, or vegan compact powders are also great options for this skin type.
  • Whether your skin type is oily or dry, consider its sensitivity while choosing a compact powder. Choose the one which is skin-friendly and has SPF.

Now that we know how to select the ideal compact powder for different skin types, let us get into how to choose a compact powder for dark skin. Scroll down to know more.

How To Choose Compact Powder For Dark Skin

  • Shade Match

You may opt for a highly pigmented, yellow-based compact powder that effortlessly complements your dark skin tone. This is truly important, as choosing a powder that is a few shades up or down can actually make your skin look dull and gray.

  • Type Of Finish

Go for a matte finish if you want to effectively control oil and avoid a shine and opt for a dewy finish if your aim is to get a naturally radiating appearance.

Quick Tips

Sanitize your makeup brush before applying compact powder
Image: Shutterstock
  • Sanitization is very important, so remember to clean your tools before applying the powder.
  • Always carry a blotting paper in your makeup kit to quickly mattify your skin and improve the skin texture.
  • Avoid using sponges to apply the powder as sponges have a tendency to absorb most of the product. They are ideal for touch-ups.
  • Invest in good quality brushes as they provide a better finish and give a professional touch to your look.
  • The correct technique to apply a compact powder is to first deposit the product, and then blend with either a brush or a sponge, instead of just dabbing and leaving it. Makeup artist Marin suggests, “A great way to cover blemishes is to apply the powder very concentrated onto the area with a q tip and then blend lightly with a brush.”
protip_icon Quick Tip
Invest in a fine-milled and lightweight compact powder as it gives your makeup a light and radiant look.

Infographic: Tips To Pick The Right Compact Powder For You

No matter how top-quality your compact is, if it does not cater to your skin type, it is not going to help you. There are all kinds of makeup products out there but before investing in them, understand your skin type first.

In the infographic below, we have put together all the tips you would need for a quick reference before choosing a compact powder for yourself. Check it out.

tips to pick the right compact powder for you (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The market is brimming with endless options for compact powders for different skin types and tones. And it gets easy to pick the best compact powder for your skin type and tone when you know the tricks. We hope the tricks and tips discussed In the article will help you pick the right one. So take this article on how to choose compact powder as your guide and get closer to perfecting your touch-ups and long-lasting setting of your makeup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between pressed powder and compact powder?

There is no difference between pressed and compact powder. It is a semi-solid powder that comes in a compact and provides a matte finish. Both of these can be applied with a powder brush.

Is setting spray better than compact powder?

Depends on your needs. Setting spray sets your makeup in place and provides a dewy finish, while compact powder absorbs excess oil and sweat and evens out your complexion. It also has a different application method.

Can I use baby powder as a compact powder?

Yes. Baby powder can be used as an alternative to compact powder to get that matte finish. However, as the powder does not come in different shades, you may be unable to match your skin tone.

Can I use eyeshadow as a compact powder?

No. Eyeshadow will not be able to set your makeup or eliminate excess moisture on your face.

Key Takeaways

  • Always choose the shades that match your skin tone and offer suitable coverage and undertone. Try them on the back of your hand while buying to have a better understanding.
  • If you have oily skin, oil control, matte finish, and sweat and waterproof are mandatory features to look for in a compact powder. Apply it on the T-Zone with a brush or a sponge.
  • For dry skin, a cream-based compact or translucent powder is a must. Apply moisture and one layer of foundation for a seamless finish. Avoid skin areas that dry a lot.
  • For sensitive skin, mineral-based non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic is the best option.

Learn how to choose the perfect face powder shade through this informative video. From blush to other makeup tips, discover expert advice to enhance your complexion and achieve a flawless finish.

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Marin McCarthy

Marin McCarthyProfessional Makeup Artist


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