Powder makeup can be a powerhouse, with the ability to reduce shine, keep makeup in place, and minimize creasing — or it can be a total flop, appearing thick, patchy, and cakey on the skin. Luckily, the best powders to not look cakey are firmly in the category of powerhouse and have lightweight, airy textures that make them look amazingly smooth on the skin. Powders come in many varieties, but when cakiness is the concern, you’ll want to opt for a loose powder, which tends to be more finely milled with smaller particles for that airbrushed finish.
When you’re looking for powders that won’t cake, you’ll likely find that both setting and finishing powders pop up in the search results. While these similar-sounding powders are both good options, each has its own distinct purpose. Setting powders help to lock your makeup in place, so you get more hours of wear time. Finishing powders aren’t designed primarily to extend the life of your makeup, but instead to smooth the skin and blur pores. Powder foundations are also available, but these are more likely to build up and become cakey when piled on than other foundation types, so it’s best to avoid them if that’s a concern.
If you don’t like the messiness that can come with using a loose powder, pressed powders are semi-solid, so they’re easier to use. However, they tend to go on heavier and have more oils than loose powder, though, which makes them more likely to cake — so you’ll need to decide if that is a tradeoff you’re willing to make. Beyond that, you’ll have your choice between translucent powders, which are colorless to work with any skin color, or tinted powders that provide a bit of extra coverage but must be matched to your skin tone.
Amazon reviewers have expressed their adoration for these five powders, indicating that they’re long-wearing and — most importantly — won’t appear cakey on the skin. But even the best powders will look cakey with the wrong application techniques, so be sure to blend the product well and always use a light hand.
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1. A Tinted Loose Finishing Powder
This finishing powder from Maybelline features a mineral-based, noncomedogenic formula that helps to control shine and smooth texture. And since the loose powder is tinted, it provides subtle coverage where applied. Amazon reviewers are totally here for it, confirming that the powder does all of these things, while remaining totally cake-free. They give this pick a knockout 4.6-star rating overall on the site, after 9,700 and growing reviews.
Choose from eight different shade options, ranging from fair to dark.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "IM NEVER GOING BACK! […] I own every finishing powder in SEPHORA. So I was a bit reluctant to buy this but I’m glad I did. When I say it makes your skin look flawless. I mean it. It leaves a beautiful finish and doesn’t get cakey which I love."
- Available shades: Fair, Fair Light, Light, Light Medium, Medium, Medium Deep, Deep, and Dark
2. A Fan-Favorite Translucent Setting Powder
There are tons of reasons why this powder from Coty is a favorite on Amazon. For one, the setting powder is super long-lasting, keeping makeup firmly in place while being totally cake-free. And since it’s translucent, it’ll work with all skin tones. The product is super lightweight so you’ll forget it’s even there, and it’s great for baking, too — simply apply a layer of powder, let it set for five to 10 minutes, and brush it away. As if all of this wasn’t already totally great, the price tag of this pick will blow you away. For just $6, you get 2.3 ounces of loose powder. And let me tell you, that is a lot of product, so it’s going to last you a long time.
This pick comes in a round canister with a powder puff applicator. It’s also available in a two- or three-pack, and in a kit with a primer. If you aren’t a fan of translucent powder, this pick comes in tinted shades, too, though there aren’t many shades to choose from.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This powder is amazing and I cannot speak highly enough about it. I have very oily skin so setting powder is a must for me and this is an extremely amazing powder for baking or overall setting. […] I have used this powder over very heavy foundations like dermablend and have even worn it on top of powder foundation for a little extra coverage and it never looks cakey or dry. […] I would easily compare this to the dermablend loose setting powder on everything except the price which makes this a steal!!"
- Available shades: Translucent, Translucent Extra Coverage, Honey Beige, Naturally Neutral, and Suntan
3. A Translucent Finishing Powder
Made from 100% pure silica, this finishing powder from NYX does double duty, both absorbing oil on the skin and giving it a blurred, matte finish. The powder is ultra-sheer and translucent, so it’s compatible with all skin tones. And Amazon reviewers? They give this pick a whopping 4.3-star rating overall on the site, among 4,800 and growing reviews.
NYX is a cruelty-free brand, so none of their products are tested on animals, including this powder.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This powder is great for baking your makeup. It doesn’t cake up and makes your face feel smooth. Brushes off easily and isn’t too thick. Goes on clear not white so don’t worry about the color. Definitely comparable to other high end brands of finishing powder."
- Available shade: Translucent
4. A Tinted Setting Powder
Amazon reviewers confirm that this setting powder from Phoera not only keeps makeup looking fresh for long periods of time, but it also does so without caking since it’s so finely milled. The powder is lightweight (aka it’s comfortable to wear) and since it’s tinted, you’ll get the added bonus of a bit of extra coverage.
This pick comes with a powder puff for easy application.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Man, Phoera is not messing around! This may be the best face powder I’ve ever used. It is milled super-fine and goes on so smoothly. I have combination skin, and it kept my t-zone shine-free, while never drying out the rest of my face. It didn’t take much product to work, and it never caked or irritated my skin. It also set my foundation beautifully. […] I will be buying this again."
- Available shades: Translucent, Cool Beige, Banana, and Medium Deep
5. A Pressed Finishing Powder In A Wide Range Of Shades
If you aren’t a fan of loose powders or just need a pick to use on the go, this pressed powder from Maybelline is your best bet. The powder is semi-solid, so you’ll experience far less fallout while using it, and it blends amazingly well into the skin, providing a matte finish. Use the product on top of foundation or on its own. Regardless of how you wear it though, since this pick is tinted, you’ll need to choose a shade that vibes with your skin tone. And luckily, this pick has a massive range of options, so you’ll totally be able to find one that works. Plus, this pick is noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t block your pores.
Amazon reviewers are wild about this pick, particularly for its staying power; they give the product a standout 4.6-star rating overall on the site, after more than 14,000 reviews.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "For me this is the best powder for the best price out there. It doesn’t get flakey after I put it on, it covers nicely without looking like I caked my face with powder. Helps eliminate shine and oily spots. I highly recommend this powder."
- Available shades: Translucent, Fair Ivory, Porcelain, Natural Ivory, Classic Ivory, Creamy Beige, Warm Nude, Buff Beige, Natural Beige, True Beige, Natural Buff, Pure Beige, Classic Beige, Sun Beige, Golden, Natural Tan, Golden Carmel, Toffee, Warm Sun, Coconut, Mocha, Truffle, Nutmeg, and Java
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