Not Fair

The 12 best powder foundations for all skin tones

Ayesha Muttucumaru 17 April 2018
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

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The best powder foundations for all skin tones

Whether to help control an oily T-zone  or even out skin tone, today’s bevy of powder foundations boast the type of sophisticated formulas that seriously rival their more fluid counterparts. Providing a seamless finish to suit day or night, summer or winter, clumps and dryness are now thankfully a thing of the past with a multitude of brands offering ranges that cater to a variety of skin tones and types.

Delivering a refreshingly mess and faff-free way to cover up on-the-go, there’s something for every budget and every occasion - here are the best powder formulas we’ve come across that offer the widest shade ranges.

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MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, £24.50

Shade range: A whopping 53, from the cool ‘C2’ to the warming ‘NW58’.

Review: 53 shades. That’s right. FIFTY-THREE. It’s no wonder this powder foundation has achieved cult status among both makeup fans and artists alike. From personal experience, my face (and Facebook pictures) would have looked very different without Studio Fix in my university makeup bag; and fast-forward a decade later, I still have a lot to thank it for. Providing seamless matte perfection and medium coverage in one fell swoop, it’s no wonder it’s stood the test of time.

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Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation, £27

Shade range: 14, from ‘Fair Cool’ to ‘Deep Neutral’.

Review: Having set the gold standard for eyeshadow palettes, Urban Decay’s Naked range of powder foundations had a lot to live up to. However, I’m happy to report that it’s definitely deserving of the ‘Naked’ name, thanks to its velvety formula and barely-there feel. Providing a natural-looking demi-matte finish to suit a range of different skin types, it's the perfect pick for those looking to dabble in powder foundations on a more daily basis.

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Tom Ford Flawless Powder Foundation, £66

Shade range: 7, from ‘Buff’ to ‘Chestnut’.

Review: Tom Ford foundations are among my absolute favourites across the board and whether matte or luminous, the brand seems to have discovered the secret to enhancing and lifting complexions in all the right places. Lightweight and buildable, this particular pick doesn’t disappoint with its light-reflecting powders adding a veil of natural-looking sheer to full coverage - depending on which side of the application sponge you use. It may be the priciest on my list, but it’s also one of the best.

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Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation, £36

Shade range: 20, from ‘Alabaster’ to ‘Espresso’.

Review: When it comes to makeup that enhances, rather than masks, Bobbi Brown has often set the bar for many brands to try and reach. A perfect example of this is the brand’s award-winning true-to-skin powder foundation - a range of weightless wonders perfectly suited for when you want maximum impact, with minimal input. Its lightweight formula blends and sets like a dream and doesn’t sit into cracks or fine lines either to create the smoothest of day to night canvases.

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Clinique Beyond Perfecting Powder Foundation + Concealer, £29

Shade range: 10, from ‘Vanilla’ to ‘Golden’.

Review: In terms of versatility, this powder foundation from Clinique is mightily impressive. Providing a fuller level of coverage that doesn’t clog pores, its applicator helps unlock its full potential. Use the sponge-side for moderate coverage, the velvety-side for a fuller extension and the pointed tip to spot-conceal. Best for smoothing over mild cases of pigmentation and redness in combination to oily skin types in particular, think of it as a midday pick-me-up when the sun threatens to have its wicked way with your makeup.

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Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Powder Makeup SPF10, £35

Shade range: 28, from ‘Cool Bone’ to ‘Rich Mahogany’.

Review: Following in the footsteps of the brand’s infamous Double Wear liquid foundation range can’t be easy however, this powder follow-up stands out in its own right. Providing customisable coverage courtesy of its dual-sided sponge, it makes transitioning from powder foundation to finishing powder easy. Hard-wearing without being too hardcore on skin, it works just as effectively on its own as it does when paired with your liquid foundation of choice.

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NYX Stay Matte but not Flat Powder Foundation, £10.50

Shade range: 17, from ‘Cream Natu’ to ‘Deep Dark’.

Review: One of my favourite high street brands that never fails to delight me with its high end results, this is one powder foundation whose name couldn’t be better suited. Lightweight and oil-free, but with enough mattifying moxie to leave skin noticeably more even, it suits and flatters a host of different skin tones and skin types.

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Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder, £35

Shade range: 20, from ‘Creme 01’ to ‘Clove 20’.

Review: Long-lasting, silky smooth and non-drying, think of this pressed powder as a complexion top coat for smoothly camouflaging over both unevenness and shine-prone areas. Ideal used wet or dry (depending on the level of intensity you’re looking for), it gives an even finish to skin that doesn’t look unnatural in any way, to prove once again why Laura Mercier really is one of the best brands around for making skin look its very best.

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Smashbox Photo Filter Creamy Powder Foundation, £29.50

Shade range: 10, from the ivory 01 to the deep 10.

Review: Sleek, smooth and formulated with transparent light-refracting beads, this compact pick is of particular note thanks to its ability to create the most soft-focused of finishes. What does that mean exactly? Think a filter that subtly blurs blemishes, without looking like you’ve been slapped in the face with Photoshop. With a double-sided sponge that effectively dispenses medium, buildable coverage for the perfect on-the-go mattifying solution, the finish is less chalky and ashy, more natural and radiant.

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Illamasqua Powder Foundation, £30

Shade range: 11, from ivory 115 to deep 325.

Review: A brand that provides plenty of pigment for your pennies, this particular range of powder foundations makes for the perfect match for oily skin types. Slightly heavier in texture than the others in my edit, (without being cakey in finish I hasten to add), its full coverage formula smoothes over uneven skin tone and blemishes with ease to leave skin and T-zones supremely shine-free.

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Bareminerals Original SPF 15 Foundation, £27

Shade range: 32, from ‘Fair’ to ‘Deepest Deep’.

Review: Simply swirl, tap and buff - that’s how easy it is to build your perfect level of coverage with this particular powder foundation in tow. With an impressive shade range that caters for individual undertones too, its non-drying mineral foundation formula helps smooth over fine lines, wrinkles and mild pigmentation without clumping or caking. For optimal results, the brand’s Beautiful Finish Brush  serves as the perfect partner for more controlled and even coverage. A definite must-try for any skin tone.

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Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Everyday Perfection Bouncy Makeup, £22.40

Shade range: 14, from ‘01 Porcelain’ to ‘14 Hazelnut.’

Review: With a silky formula that takes the best bits of a powder and a cream and puts them into a gel textured compact, this lightweight base provides natural looking medium buildable coverage to a range of different skin types. Containing caffeine, ginseng, peppermint and hyaluronic acid, it also carries some handy skin benefits too to give this particular powder foundation a modern twist.

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