When seeking out new product recommendations, friends can be a stellar source. But if you survey your pals on their favorite formulas, you’re likely to find that some say liquid makeup is the end-all, be-all, while others will swear by powder products. (Naturally, a few will also have favorites that fall into both categories.) These differing opinions can leave you wondering which type of makeup—liquid or powder—is better. Truth be told, there’s no one answer to this question. Both liquid and powder makeup have their merits (and we love both equally), but they do have some notable differences. Getting the most out of your makeup routine requires understanding these distinctions.
To help, we’ll explain the benefits of liquid makeup and makeup powders and share how these formulas differ. You’ll also learn a bit about how to choose the right type of makeup for your skin type and routine. Get ready to dive into the ultimate NYX Professional Makeup Guide on powder vs. liquid foundation, blush, and more.
Is Liquid Makeup Better Than Powder Makeup?
Let’s get this out of the way: The idea of one product being better than another is pretty subjective. The type of makeup that’s best for you ultimately boils down to what you want out of your makeup in terms of coverage and finish. This is especially true when it comes to foundation, which serves as the base for your entire makeup look. Here, we’ll break down the key differences between foundation makeup types so you can get a better idea of which formula is right for your skin.
Liquid Foundation Makeup
Liquid foundation is incredibly versatile—it can come in a variety of coverage options and finishes, from sheer and dewy to full-coverage and matte. It also tends to be easy to blend and works well with most skin types, including dry skin.
At NYX Professional Makeup, we have a few different liquid foundations to choose from. If you’re looking for a full-coverage formula, try Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation. Available in 45 (!) shades, this lightweight, waterproof foundation helps control shine and provides a full-coverage finish that stays true for up to 24 hours. It’s packed with pigment but blends like a dream—and the non-comedogenic formula is suitable for oily, normal, combination, and sensitive skin types.
For those who prefer buildable coverage, we recommend Total Control Pro Drop Foundation. The fluid formula comes in 30 diverse shades to flatter a wide range of skin tones. It’s lightweight and blends beautifully, leaving the skin with a hydrated, healthy-looking finish. (Bonus: You can customize your shade with our Total Control Pro Drop Hue Shifters, which allow you to lighten, darken, or adjust the warmth of your chosen foundation color as needed—like when you’re rocking an end-of-summer glow).
Powder Foundation Makeup
Powder foundation is easy to apply and typically offers more buildable coverage, which makes it attractive to beginners and those who prefer a subtler finish. Additionally, powders are often formulated with oil-absorbing ingredients and, as such, tend to be a popular pick for those with oily skin.
Keep in mind, not all powder face makeup is powder foundation. Also falling into the face powder category are setting powders, finishing powders, and mattifying powders, like Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Mattifying Powder. One of our best face powders, this silky formula comes in 11 diverse skin shades as well as one translucent option for mattifying without adding color. You can use it alone for lightweight yet long-wearing sheer coverage, or layer it over your liquid foundation to help set your base.
Pro Tip: When choosing types of makeup, it doesn’t always have to be an either/or situation. You can use powders and liquids together. In fact, the two are often used together to create a seamless base that lasts all day. If you choose to go this route, we recommend applying the liquid products first and powders second for longer wear and a smoother finish.
Is Powder or Cream Blush Better?
Like foundation, liquid and powder blush both boast unique benefits, and each can have a spot in your routine. Learn more about these different types of blush below.
Powder blush is a classic for a reason: You can find it in a wide range of shades, finishes, and textures, making it an extremely versatile option for adding some color to your cheeks. You can also control its intensity. Apply it using a fluffy brush for a soft, diffused finish that looks subtle and natural, or build it up for a dramatic look—it’s easy to customize to your liking. As for how long-wearing powders are, that depends on the formula you reach for. To extend wear, we recommend prepping your skin properly with primer and setting your look with setting spray once you’re finished working your makeup magic.
If you’re interested in adding a powder blush to your makeup bag, we have a couple of options to choose from. Our best-selling Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush Matte provides a silky, blendable wash of color, and it’s available in a range of shades, including classic pinks and nudes and vibrant hues like gold and deep burgundy. For those who prefer a more radiant look, we recommend Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush Glow, which contains small flecks of shimmer for gorgeous illumination.
Liquid or Cream Blush
For those who favor natural makeup looks, liquid and cream blushes are often seen as the holy grail. These creamy formulas tend to melt into your skin rather than sit on top of it, making them ideal for anyone seeking a subtle, skin-like finish. Another bonus: While powders look best when blended onto the skin with a makeup brush or sponge, you don’t actually need any tools to apply liquid blushes—your fingers will get the job done. (That said, a makeup sponge or brush for blending doesn’t hurt!) We’re particularly fond of these formulas for those with drier skin types and those who like their makeup to look dewy and fresh.
If you’re new to cream and liquid blush makeup, we recommend starting with a cream blush stick, like our Wonder Stick Blush. The dual-ended blush duo is creamy, highly pigmented, and melts into skin like a wonder. Another option that packs a pigmented punch is Sweet Cheeks Soft Cheek Tint, which has a creamy, whipped formula that smooths onto the skin easily. The unique doe-foot applicator makes this blush easy to apply, and it comes in six diverse shades to flatter an array of skin tones. As for liquid blush, our Bare With Me Luminous Cheek Serum is part bronzer, part blush. The lightweight formula comes in three versatile shades that leave you with luminous, glowy skin.
4 Things To Consider When Choosing Between Makeup Types
If you’re still struggling to choose between powder and liquid makeup, here are four things to keep in mind when shopping:
1. Your Skin Type: Generally speaking, drier skin types do better with hydrating liquid formulas, while those with oily skin may see more benefit from the oil-absorbing effect powder makeup products can have. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though, since liquid products can be mattifying and powder products can be hydrating, too. Which leads us to….
2. Preferred Finish: If you want a fresh or dewy finish to your makeup, look for foundation designed to provide a more radiant, glowy look. On the other hand, if you want to keep shine under control, look for products labeled “mattifying”—these help keep shine at bay and tend to be ideal for those with oilier skin types.
3. Desired Coverage: This depends on the specific product, not just whether it’s a powder or liquid. There are both full-coverage liquid and powder formulas, as well as sheer liquid and powder formulas. Figure out what level of coverage you want first—from there, you can narrow down your options until you find the makeup that suits your needs best.
4. Application Method: Lastly, keep in mind that powder and liquid products may require different tools. Liquid products can sometimes be applied with your fingers, but this isn’t as effective a method for powder products. Both liquids and powders can be applied with brushes and makeup sponges, but you’ll want to pay attention to whether your tools are designated for one type of makeup or both.
Next: Prime Time: Meet Your Match: How To Match Your Foundation And Find Your Formula