Updated 9 March 2022
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our test of powder, normal consumers with different skin types used the products. In the test, we used the following questions to assess the different products and give them each a score.
Result: What does the powder feel like on the skin? Does it create a nice surface or does it emphasise dry areas? Does the skin look matte and smooth, or is the result too powdery? Is the result natural?
Use: Is it easy to apply the powder or do you have to put in a lot of work to get an attractive result?
Format: What’s the packaging like? Is it user-friendly or fiddly? If it’s a loose powder: how do you get the right amount? Is there a lot of waste?
The score is based on the overall experience of the product in relation to its price.
A transparent powder that suits anyone looking for a flawless finish
You may think it’s difficult to compare transparent powders with each other. On the surface, they all look the same and the only thing that often seems to separate them at first glance is the price tag. Sensai Translucent Loose Powder is definitely a powder that’s more expensive than many others. But even though it costs more, it feels like money well spent.
Sensai is a brand that oozes luxury, and not just because of the price tag. Their products deliver all the way along the line, from packaging to results. And the same is true of Sensai Translucent Loose Powder. This loose powder comes in a simple but stylish compact and has a powder puff. A powder puff isn’t always the best solution, but together with this powder it makes a great combination.
As well as the powder giving an incredibly silky and even result, it also feels fantastically light on your skin. In fact you can’t feel it at all, which is exactly what you want from a powder. Far too often powders make your skin either look or feel cakey, tight and heavy. But with Sensai’s powder, you don’t need to worry – you get perfect results and a feather-light feel.
The only disadvantage is the price, which is definitely higher than many other powders. But if you’re looking for a loose powder that’s almost perfect, Sensai Translucent Loose Powder is a purchase you won’t regret.
Effective powder that’s like an Instagram filter in a jar
Formula: Loose powder Price class: Medium
It isn’t unusual these days to talk about a powder with filter-like results, which of course refers to the filters used on social media. Linda Hallberg Infinity Filter Loose Setting Powder comes with a promise of a filter effect even in its name – and this is actually a product that delivers what it promises. You only need a quick sweep of this powder to achieve a matte, smooth and natural result.
This isn’t a covering powder, but a setting powder. In other words a powder used to seal your make-up and give it an attractive, slightly “blurred” finish. The results are clear, but simultaneously invisible – your skin looks silky smooth and the powder acts just like a filter without looking at all unnatural. It becomes like part of your skin – a perfect part.
The powder is very easy to apply. Despite the fact that three shades may seem a bit minimal, they actually work for many lighter and darker skin tones because the finish is so light. On your skin the powder feels just like you want a powder to feel – not at all. The fact is that it contains moisturising ingredients, which is one of the reasons why it doesn’t feel uncomfortably dry on your face when you’re wearing it. But despite the fact that the powder slips by unnoticed on your skin, it definitely doesn’t when you look in the mirror. There, you’re struck over and over again by the great results that last for hours and hours, all day (or night) long.
Powder that counteracts shine even under sweaty conditions
Formula: Pressed powder Price class: Medium
Sexy Mama from The Balm may have a bit of a jokey name, but that doesn’t mean it’s a product you should ignore. This is a transparent powder that you used to counteract a shiny face. Sexy Mama is pretty much invisible after application and absorbs the oil quickly and conveniently, leaving your skin soft and matte.
If you’re worried that powder's going to produce a cakey result on your face, you can feel secure with The Balm Sexy Mama. The product leaves no obvious traces of powder, but instead feels as if you’ve used blotting paper that’s simply sucked up all the excess oil in your skin. And it doesn’t just mattify, it also sets your make-up. The result is silky smooth and almost unbelievably natural. If you’re wondering about the narrow range of shades, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a tinted powder – it’s transparent. So it works well on a wide range of skin tones.
The Balm Sexy Mama doesn’t include an applicator, but as you get the best results with a few sweeps of a powder brush, that doesn’t matter. The powder works really well all year round. But it’s when the weather is warmest and stickiest that it really comes into its own. It quickly and effectively removes shine from your face. You don’t even need to worry on a sweaty day at the funfair that your face will dazzle people riding on the rollercoaster.
Powder that gives an effect almost as magical as a fairy godmother's wand
Formula: Loose powder Price class: Premium
This prize-winning, colourless powder made from micronised hyaluronic acid and silica microbeads doesn’t only mattify – it also has a blurring effect on pores and wrinkles. A temporary effect, of course. Because we’re talking about make-up, not miracles.
By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder is an incredibly economical powder where a little really goes a very long way. It works fantastically well as a setting powder on top of your make-up, where it helps to both blur and mattify. But even on its own, without any foundation or other make-up, your skin will look smoother and satiny with this powder.
The disadvantage is the price. It doesn’t come easy to invest more than £40 in a powder that you’ve perhaps not tried before. But we have to say that it’s worth the money. The powder is also so economical that it lasts much longer than you’d first think when you see the container.
The jar is a classic shape with a screw top. The easiest way to get some out is to turn it up and down – when the lid is still thoroughly screwed on, of course. After that you turn it right way up again and then carefully unscrew the lid. You’ll lose a little powder – that’s pretty much the rule with all loose powders. But there isn’t too much waste.
In some cases, the powder may make your skin feel a little tight, which reduces the otherwise good overall impression. If you have very dry skin, it emphasises these dry parts a little more than you’d want. But other than these two disadvantages, By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder is verging on the magical.
Fantastically good powder that reduces shine instantly
Formula: Pressed powder Price class: Medium
Your make-up’s on and it looks good in the mirror. You take a selfie to double check and are almost dazzled by the shine on your forehead. What can you do? Well, let MAC Blot Powder come to your rescue.
Blot Powder from MAC couldn’t be easier to use. It’s a big favourite with many make-up artists exactly because it eliminates shine in an instant. The main purpose of this pressed powder is to control shine without adding colour. It also sets your foundation and creates a smooth and even finish while maximising the durability of your make-up.
And if you need a quick freshen up during the day, a speedy application of Blot Powder is all you need to give your make-up new and longer life. With this powder as a finish, your make-up stays in place for a whole working day without any problems. No shine, no flaking, no cakey finish. Just matte, smooth and attractive – exactly like you want the results to be from a powder.
Even if Blot Powder is a product that doesn’t add any colour, the product is still available in several different shades. This means that regardless of skin tone you can get a really natural result. And of course that gives it a higher score in our test.
So take a selfie again and double check – now it’s just you shining and not your forehead.
Matte powder that effectively covers red areas
Formula: Pressed powder Price class: Budget
There’s no need to overdraw your bank account to buy a good powder. Because there are many good quality, budget-friendly powders that give great results. And IsaDora Ultra Cover Compact Powder is one of them.
This pressed powder that will effectively cut down the time you spend on your morning make-up comes in a practical compact with a mirror. Using the included, washable sponge, you apply the powder in an almost ridiculously simple way and the results are immediately visible. IsaDora Ultra Cover Compact Powder effectively reduces redness and surface blood vessels – in many cases so well that they are completely invisible.
This powder is perhaps primarily a product to use instead of a foundation because it provides that much coverage. Of course it works well as a setting powder too if you’re a little bit more careful with the application and use a brush instead of the sponge. The sponge packs the product on differently to what you can achieve with a powder brush, which is another reason for the level of coverage.
Unfortunately the powder isn’t available in many shades. While a sheer setting powder doesn’t require a wide range of shades, you have to be able to match a covering powder with your skin tone to a much greater extent. And that’s a shame. Because the results are otherwise silky smooth, matte and even – but even that can’t cover a poor colour match.
Budget price class powder that’s ideal during cool weather
Formula: Pressed powder Price class: Budget
This is one more powder that promises a filter effect with just one sweep of the powder brush. That sounds too good to be true, and in this case it sadly is.
Our testers found that during the first, cooler months of use the powder worked very well. Once applied, it lasted well throughout the entire working day without looking powdery, and never felt cakey or made the face tight. But the warmer summer weather also brought problems.
Because as the outdoor temperature rises, it seems as if NYX Professional Makeup No Filter Finishing Powder gets cold feet and doesn’t want to play any more. It creeps down around your eyes, nose and mouth. And despite a thorough base, it seems like the whole make-up look is on the slide long before lunchtime. Of course it’s difficult to make any make-up stay put on really hot days. But make-up rarely behaves as badly as this. Particularly not when you’ve used powder exactly to avoid your make-up wandering all over your face.
This is simply a product that works best at cooler temperatures. So if you decide to buy it, you’ll be able to use it happily about 9 out of the 12 months of the year. But then it’s time to let No Filter Finishing Powder take a summer holiday and instead use a product that can deal with rising outdoor temperatures.
There’s a fine line between glow and shine. And while you'd prefer your skin to be lustrous and not look too flat and matte, nor do you want it to look like you’ve had a close encounter with a bottle of olive oil. So what can you do? Well this is where powder comes into your life like a knight in not too shining armour.
Just like most other make-up products, powder can be used in several different ways. A powder can have priming properties, which means it can be used under your make-up to create an even surface. But of course the most common is to use it when you've finished with your base – in other words after your foundation and concealer. This effectively locks the make-up in place and also reduces shine on your face for many hours.
To apply powder it’s a good idea to use a large make-up brush. You can buy special powder brushes – and you should! You’ll always have a use for it, and a good brush lasts for many long years. Using the brush you sweep the powder over your face and make sure that not too much product collects in a single place. It can be a good idea to remember that it’s likely to snow a bit around your face while you apply your powder. And this applies to both solid and loose powder. So it’s a good idea to protect dark clothing with a towel – or at least brush off any powder from your top before you go onto the rest of your day.