Loose Powder Foundations


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I have a love/hate relationship with loose powder foundations.

They. are. a. mess. But the finish, at least with these two that I have, is so nice. It’s breathable, perfect for a hot (read: sweltering) summer day, and won’t wear off.

For medium, buildable, natural looking coverage, try bareMinerals Original foundation. I wear shade fairly-light. Shake a bit of the powder into the cap, swirl your brush around, then buff it into your skin. As the product warms up on your skin a bit it will smooth out and transform into a nice coverage! You can go as sheer or full as you want, but I’d say in general it will provide medium coverage.

If you are shine-prone, try bareMinerals Matte foundation. Same type of coverage, provides a matte finish, etc, but controls shine a bit more!

Finally, if you want FULL coverage with a loose powder, try Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush foundation. I have shade fairly-light-neutral, and while it is a touch dark for me, it’s as close to my skin as I can get with the color range offered! This product blew me away when I first used it a few years ago. The coverage was surprisingly full, which I didn’t expect out of a loose powder. It’s breathable, and it is what I would wear if I wanted full coverage on a long hot day when liquid foundation sounded like a bad idea.

The looser the powder, the tighter and more compact you want the brush to be. Tarte suggests this one for their foundation, and bareMinerals suggests this one. Mainly what you want to look for in a brush is short bristles!

If I’m wearing one of these loose foundations, and have some redness or problem areas I want to hide, I’ll buff concealer onto those areas with a foundation brush (not the same one to be used for the loose powder foundation) and then finish with the loose powder. I find that to be the best way to get a little extra coverage where you need it, without looking like you have heavy makeup in one area, and lighter makeup in another.

Do you wear either of these? If not, do you have another loose powder that you love? ALSO any tricks for keeping the mess at bay would be happily received below!

More tips for applying foundation here and my favorite liquid foundations here!

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Comments (59)

  1. Jenny says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been wondering about powder foundation since the weather is so steamy lately. I don’t like the melting feeling I can get with liquid foundation sometimes when it’s hot outside. Which brush do you use to apply the bare minerals foundation?

    • Posted June 22, 2016

      The Tarte brushes are great for both foundations. I love mine.

      For keeping the mess at bay I store a roll of paper towels under my sink and put them under the Tarte container on my counter while I apply my foundation. It also helps to use the small Airbuki first to place the powder on my face then use the medium Airbrush to distribute it without flinging it everywhere & finally use the extra large Powder Player (so fluffy!!!) to buff on setting powder. I also use the paper towel to clean my small brushes as I apply eyeshadow.

  2. Jenelle says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve been using the Bare Minerals for about 2 months now after a switch from Urban Decay. There is a definitely learning curve to applying it but I found a couple You Tube videos that really helped. I like the subtle coverage and the natural look. But I have learned that if I don’t wash my brush once a week bad things happen! I don’t get the coverage I need and it looks sloppy. I use a little baby shampoo and just swirl it in the water in the sink until the water runs clear. Then I reshape and leave it to dry.

    As for the mess… I just make sure I’m over the sink so I can wash it away with the water! Or leave it for another day. Whatever!

    • Julie says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      Thanks for the tip on cleaning your brush. I’ve been thinking mine needs a cleaning because the powder doesn’t seem to be going on as well anymore. I’m going to give your method a try today!

  3. Posted June 22, 2016

    I love my bareMinerals Original Foundation! Been using it for years! The best tip I can give for lessening the mess is to tap only a little bit of the foundation into the lid at a time. This way when you swirl, the brush is essentially picking up the foundation instead of sending it flying. Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Brittany says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’m using Neutrogena Mineral Sheers right now. I like it much better than Bare Minerals. I feel like I get better coverage with less makeup. And the price point is a bit better too!

  5. Amanda Buglio says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I used Bare Essentials too for years but found the coverage to be a little bit too much for me. I love the Rodan + Fields Mineral Peptides! The coverage is perfect plus it has SPF 20. It’s great for contouring too! https://abuglio.myrandf.com/Shop/Product/ENP004

  6. Shannon Bono says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve been using Au Naturale powder foundation on hot days. They are a “clean” makeup company who manufactures all their products in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The coverage is good and I am liking it a lot so far!

  7. Jan says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have an old hand towel that I lay down to cover sink/counter with before I put on my Bare Minerals.

  8. Brenda says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I keep coming back to Jane Iredale. I don’t see many reviews on blogs, but the products work for me.

    • Amy says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      I love Jane Iredale. I’ve used the Pure Pressed Base and Amazing Matte for years. I tried Bare Minerals once and it made my skin itch. I’ve tried the Tarte too, but I don’t think anything compares to Jane Iredale.

  9. Alyssa says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I used to use Bare Minerals and loved it. I just switched because it became too much of a purchase in college. But now I’m wondering if I should go back to it! I have heard though that they’ve changed their formula and some people are getting breakouts. Is anyone having issues with this?

    • Sarah says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      I have been using Bare Minerals for about 7 years now and I haven’t noticed a difference in their formula causing breakouts. I have incredibly sensitive skin and the Complexion Rescue and Original Foundation are the best!

  10. Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve heard great things about the Tarte one, but just can’t bring myself to try it! I’m too invested in liquid foundations, haha x

  11. Carrie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    We have similar taste in foundation, my first love will always been arbonne liquid foundation. I currently use the tarte amazonian clay liquid foundation and really like it. I’m so curious what you would think of it! I’ll have to try the loose powder next.

    • Chelsey says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      Same here! LOVE Arbonne liquid foundation. Actually planning to purchase the tarte Amazonian clay liquid this weekend (Arbonne bottle is getting low). A friend started using it with the matching concealer and finishing powder and it looks amazing. Have you tried the concealer? I’m excited to try it.

  12. Abi says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    For a nice Matte finish or mid-day touch up I am loving the Mary Kay translucent powder! The Tarte foundation sounds great!

  13. Abby says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have been using the Tarte powder for a couple of months now, and have really enjoyed the coverage! I apply concealed first, and then let it set before I apply the powder; it lasts most of the day, and isn’t too “powdery” for me to apply cream blush over it. I bought the Tarte foundation after seeing it in one of the fresh in fifteen videos. Thanks for the recommendation, Kate!

  14. Missy says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have used the Original Bare Minerals on and off for 20 yrs. Lately, I am loving Jouer Luminizing moisture tint. (They have a matte version). I use the Bare Minerals on my nose after. It is a great medium coverage with SPF 20. The Bare Minerals seems to cling to my fine lines now days.

  15. Adelle Davis says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’m a big fan of both Tarte and Bare Minerals.

  16. Renee says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve used Merle Norman loose powder for years. I’ve tried switching to other brands but their formula has just the right touch of pink in it. Other brands I’ve tried have more yellow in their foundation. My coloring is similar to your coloring. So, maybe there ones you mentioned might work on me.

  17. Jennie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I love the Smashbox Halo powder. I travel for work, and the Halo powder has a grinder on top that lets you release just a bit of powder at a time. (Before I could not travel with powders because they weren’t everywhere!). The coverage is more light to medium, but has a great “glow”.

  18. Tristen says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I really like the Bare Minerals compact … since it is a solid powder, you do not get the mess, but get a ton of build-able coverage!

  19. Rhi says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve only ever tried a Bare Minerals powder foundation and I found it really caked up on my oily skin – more than I’ve ever found with any other foundation : ( x

  20. Genni says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I had been an avid Bare Minerals user for YEARS but like you, didn’t love the mess, even with the new twist tops that lock shut. On a whim I tried the Laura Geller Balance and Brighten baked foundation. Game changer! The finish is amazing and even though it’s a powder foundation it truly feels “creamy.” It wears well in the heat but doesn’t make you look cakey in the winter with drier skin.

    • Sara says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      The gal at Ultra convinced me to try Laura Cellar the other day and I’m so glad she did! I agree with you about it feeling more creamy. It’s definitely worth a try!

      • Sara says
        Posted June 22, 2016

        Ah…silly auto correct. I meant Ulta. 🙂

  21. Mel says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have been dying to try Tarte’s Amazonian Clay foundation. I have also been using Bare Minerals for years but like you said…what a mess!! I am currently using Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation compact and I am obsessed. It’s so amazing!!

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

  22. Heather says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I wore Bare Minerals for years, but after having my first child, my skin changed and it just didn’t work as well. I felt like no matter how well I buffed, within a few hours, it looked cakey and “makeupy” on my face, especially around my nose. I now just go without or do one tiny drop of liquid foundation. I can’t find anything else that looks natural. (BB and CC creams never work for me–never light enough in color and always break me out)

  23. Katie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I love using Southern Magnolia Minerals loose powder foundation, and the i.d. Bare Escentuals Heavenly Face brush to apply. It comes in a very easy to use container, and to cut down on the mess, I dab some onto my brush, and then dab my brush in the cover to get rid of excess powder. Then as I need to pick up more on the brush, I can just pick it up from the cover. It really keeps a tab on the mess, and is also easier to pick up just the right amount.

  24. Debbie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’m curious about your redness comment. I have used neutralizers or greenish tinted primers to deal with this…tends to do a good job counter-acting redness, but definitely washes me out. Just wondering if you have some thoughts/tips on this. I don’t want redness, but I don’t want to look lifeless or too heavily made up, either. Maybe a future topic/tutorial?

    (As I type this, the Amy Schumer video “You Don’t Need Makeup” parody is going through my head…”start with clown, and then work backwards.” Lol, love that one.)

    • Kristine says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      I have redness too, but haven’t tried the green tints yet to counteract it. I’d suggest trying your hand at contouring if you don’t already. After watching many tutorials on this blog about contouring, I’ve finally got it down.. It should help with feeling “washed out.” 🙂

  25. Melissa G says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have used both in the past and agree they are messy but good. However how do you use concealer with it? I tried and it was horrible. I need concealer for some red discoloration under my eyes. Thank you!

  26. Jessica says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I love pressed powder much better! IT cosmetics has a great pressed powder.

    • Catherine says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      I agree! IT cosmetics makes a great pressed powder foundation that is way less messy and allows for a build able coverage. I used to swear by Bare Minerals, but after all the mess of the loose powder (their pressed powder didn’t work for my color OR my skin), I reluctantly tried It cosmetics celebration foundation and it has been the best thing for my skin! I love it! Highly, highly recommend. I think the coverage is better and doesn’t look as heavy as you build up the coverage either.

    • Elizabeth says
      Posted June 22, 2016

      I’ve been a loyal purminerals 4-in-1 pressed powder foundation fan for years and keep going back to it. Next time I’m out, I’ll give the IT cosmetics one a try. I didn’t like Bare Minerals pressed powder foundation either

  27. Claire says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I just switched back to Bare Minerals original foundation after your earlier post on summer make-up! I forgot how great this can be in summer melting weather! As for the mess, it seems like I can’t do it without it going everywhere either! I’ve been using the Sonia Kashuk Brush No 24 to apply and it seems to be working.

  28. Whitney says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have been using the Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush foundation in the summers for a while now. I have the exact same problem with the shade though, as I use fairly-light neutral and it’s too dark. I wish they would come out with a wider range of shades. I would wear it all year long if I could find a lighter shade to wear in the winter. It’s definitely a game-changer for anyone looking for a full coverage powder!

  29. Myra says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have the Tarte powder and love it. I think your sister actually posted about it and I tried it after I saw how much she liked it. It really is a great full coverage powder. I need to get the brush too!

  30. Lauren says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I tried the Bare minerals matte, as a shiny person, and found it settled into my pores and made me polka dotted, with primer, without primer, with moisturizer, with an oil – It did not work for me, which makes me disappointed as it looks great on so many others.
    I would be interested in checking out the tarte, though I am quite fair.

  31. Rosie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’m such a huge fan of all of the Bareminerals Original & Matte loose powder foundations. They’re so natural-looking. When I started wearing it, so many of my girlfriends complimented me on my skin –now every one of those people are obsessed with the products too! They’ll forever be a staple in my makeup bag.

    I find that the Tarte Amazonian Clay tends to cake on me. Do you use a primer beforehand? Would love to know how you use it!

    xx, R @ the girl in polka dots

  32. Susan says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve never used a loose powder foundation before so this was interesting.
    I always have my Charlotte Tilbury powder in my bag…I feel very glamorous using it (it’s a beautiful rose gold round compact) but I wish it had a little puff with it. Very retro.


  33. Elise says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    Meow Cosmetics is great. They only do loose powders and gels and I love them. It’s a small business that you can only find online. Many, many shade and coverage options. They will even send you samples of their products for $1 each. Their blush and eye eye products are super pigmented so they last forever. Some products even come in different sizes and they sell brushes and jars for you to mix your powders to create that just right shade. I found my perfect shade through Meow Cosmetics and my skin looks great because of them.

  34. Cami says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I tried Bareminerals about 6 years ago and it caused breakouts so I stopped. Plus, I didn’t like how it felt on my skin.

  35. Kristine says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    Kate, you should try Arbonne’s mineral powder foundation. I know you love the liquid ( I do too!), and the powder is just as amazing..but I don’t feel like I’m wearing any foundation when I use the powder. And the brush they sell to go with it is amazing.

  36. Heather E. says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    My favourite powder foundation is MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation. It’s a pressed powder foundation, which I find less messy than a loose powder foundation. It comes with a sponge for application, but I often use a fluffy brush to apply it (the sponge also works well). The finish is matte with light to medium buildable coverage and it wears well, lasts throughout the day. I’d highly recommend it!

  37. Bonnie says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I have tried Bare Minerals, Everyday Minerals, and Tarte and have found I prefer a pressed formula. The Bare Minerals Ready works well. I have also tried Pur but they have changed their formula and it doesn’t work as well for me. Right now I’m using e.l.f. finishing powder and am loving the “less is more” look.

  38. Olga says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I’ve tried mineral powder about a year ago and since that it’s been my favourite product:) i’ve never tried those brands, they seem really nice! Unfortunately, there is no way to deal with the dustiness around:( this is the bigest shortcoming of the product but still love-love-love it:)

  39. Chelsey says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I tried the Tarte loose powder foundation because of your recommendation and love it! I lived in Florida at the time, so finding a full coverage foundation that wouldn’t melt off or make me look like I applied baby oil to my face was a game changer!

  40. Andrea says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I haven’t tried very many loose powder foundations. I usually use pressed ones because I find that loose powder spills and gets everywhere! I know that these foundations can work wonders though, might have to give a try!


  41. Beth says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I like Mary Kay’s mineral powder foundation. I use Sonia Kausha big powder brush to apply. I tap the excess off my brush and that tends to lessen the mess. I tried Tarte based on recommendations and found the color match not to be great, it looked cakey, and seemed to make my fine line more noticeable.

  42. Jo says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    To keep my Alima Pure foundation contained, I use a shallow, round plastic deli container and lid. There’s plenty of room for swirling my brush without ever spilling, and if I ever tap a bit too much powder in, the lid keeps it contained for the next day.

  43. Jodi says
    Posted June 22, 2016

    I use the Tarte loose powder foundation and love it. However, I only wear it in summer. Being a clay powder formula it is drying and my winter skin doesn’t appreciate it! Secondly the color match is better in summer when I have a slight tan.

  44. Margaret Stenroos says
    Posted June 23, 2016

    It’s not powder foundation, but I wondered if you had tried the Match Co Foundation. You download the app and it uses your phone’s camera to create a custom blend foundation. I was very impressed with how dead on the color match was.


  45. Posted June 24, 2016

    I live in a tropical area (always warm/summer), so, this bareminerals foundation has been helping my skin and the coverage it is pretty good.

  46. Samantha says
    Posted June 24, 2016

    I’d love a tutorial on applying concealer under powder foundation!

  47. Jennie says
    Posted June 24, 2016

    Mother Earth Beauty Bar! I seriously cannot say enough good about this natural, organic line of products. I’ve had 7 pregnancies with 4 healthy babies in 8 years (our oldest turns 8 this summer). Between that and breastfeeding, my skin has been through the ringer! But Mother Earth Beauty Bar products have cleared up my skin better than anything I’ve tried. The combination of the tinted moisturizer and mineral foundation really works for me! Here’s a link (don’t know if I’m allowed to share a link, but just in case you’re interested in checking it out): https://admin.shoptab.net/product_searches/new?st_user_id=25339#/product_detail/218799567