The best powder foundations: The W&H Edit

VichyVichy Dermablend Covermatte Compact Foundation, £20

Looking for a new foundation? These powder foundations are kind to skin but still cover

Powder foundations may not be an obvious choice when picking a foundation. This is especially true if you've got problem skin that demands strong coverage. But the latest powder foundations and technology can create a flawless base for every skin type, tone and texture.

The benefits of powder foundation

If you don't usually wear foundation, many make-up artists recommend starting with powder. It's often easier to apply and won't leave any telltale streaks or visible lines. Powder foundations are particularly great for oily or combination skin types. The powder absorbs extra oil, and can easily be topped up on shiny bits throughout the day.

"Foundation powder gives you a more matte finish and is really easy to use with a sponge," explains celebrity make-up artist Lisa Armstrong, who has launched an exclusive collection with Avon. "But I wouldn’t use this type of foundation if you have dry or older skin as it may not settle very well and you can end up with really obvious dry patches."

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The key to achieving a lovely, healthy-looking finish with powder foundation – and not that old-fashioned, caked-on look – is using modern formulas and knowing the right shade and amount of product for you. A professional can help you find your perfect match, while dipping your brush or sponge into the powder foundation then immediately tapping it to get rid of excess particles will ensure you won't look overly dusted.

If you do have dry skin, don't be put off. You can still use powder foundations "if you need to set your make-up or mattify your T-zone," says Lisa. "I created my Fix Up Look Sharp Setting Powder for this reason – it will set your make-up without leaving your skin looking dry and powdery."

Try these gorgeous powder foundations

Vichy Dermablend Covermatte Compact Foundation Review, £20 (main picture)

Vichy's Dermablend range creates bases built to last, making Vichy a particular favourite of make up artists on shoots. This new powder foundation certainly stands the test of time - I got from 7am to 2pm before I felt the need to top up my oil-prone chin - and completely knocked any redness out of my skin tone for that time too. The finish is full, but not fake-looking, and melts nicely into skin without sitting on top like some powders can. The sturdy compact with inbuilt mirror and sponge will withstand any amount of handbag transit as well - important.

Buy Now: Vichy Dermablend Covermatte Compact Foundation, £20, at Vichy.co.uk

Sisley Phyto Teint Eclat Compact, £83

(Image credit: Sisley)

Sisley Phyto Teint Eclat Compact, £83

Everything about this foundation - from the sleek claret compact, the incredibly finely-milled powder to the matte but somehow also glowy finish - says luxury, The price does too, of course, but if you've got a little more to spend and want a truly fabulous powder base then this should be it. Use the soft peachy sponge to apply and blend the silky powder, the coverage is light at first but you can build it up bit by bit where needed, say around the nose and under eyes, and leave a sheer look where you want skin to show through, it won't clog up or look flat no matter how much you layer on, such is the lovely light-diffusing effect. If you fancy a weightier look you could wet the sponge down to lay the powder down in a more robust way that'll offset a stronger smoky eye or lip look for evening. Buy Now: Sisley Phyto Teint Eclat Compact, £83, at Sisley-Paris.com

Chanel Le Teint Ultra Tenue Compact, £44

(Image credit: Chanel)

Chanel Le Teint Ultra Tenue Compact, £44

Designed to be super long-wearing and launched alongside a liquid version, Chanel's latest foundation formula is impressive in many ways, but it won't be for everyone. If you love a classically 'done' look then you'll love it, the coverage is high, purposely so, and covers pigmentation, rosacea and other tone issues extremely well. The formula is soft and finely-milled, and despite an initial bit of buffing work required, blends in very well, sets to a matte finish then will not budge all day long. As I said it won't be for everyone - if you don't like or need full coverage, or have very dry skin that needs saturated in emollients to look healthy give it a miss. Also, the compact comes in fewer shades than the liquid, meaning less choice for darker skin, frustratingly. Otherwise, this is another excellent launch from Chanel in a chic compact you'll be proud to whip out on the train. Buy Now: Chanel Le Teint Ultra Tenue Compact, £44, at Chanel.com

Vincent Longo Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation, £35

(Image credit: Vincent Longo)

Vincent Longo Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation, £35

You might remember this - a cult classic in the 90s, this innovative foundation has now returned to the UK market (phew) and it's even better than we remembered! The special ingredient is the high percentage of 'microwater' complex - basically souped-up H20 with seaweed extracts that hydrate and plump. The texture is almost gel-like and bouncy at first, then blends down to a semi-matte powder finish with real staying power. If you have dry skin and need a juicy formula, but still want the portability and finesse of a powder, this is a perfect choice. Buy Now: Vincent Longo Water Canvas Creme-to-Powder Foundation, £35, at LookFantastic.com

Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation, £36.50

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation, £36.50

Trust base maestro Bobbi to come up with a beautiful, natural powder foundation that we immediately want to swap our regular liquid for. The main USP of Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation is the fact that it isn't pressed in to the compact - instead a liquid-powder mix is baked for 12 hours until set. The result? A formula that covers and evens skin tone without feeling heavy or drying out. We couldn't feel anything on our skin at all, which is basically the holy grail. Top marks for offering a wide range of skin tones too, from alabaster to espresso. Buy Now: Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation, £36.50, at BobbiBrown.co.uk

Clinique Anti Blemish Powder Make Up, £12.95

(Image credit: Clinique)

Clinique Anti Blemish Powder Make Up, £12.95

Compact foundation can be a very good thing indeed if you suffer from breakout-prone or oily skin, as the powdery formula easily absorbs excess sebum. 

This silky, finely-milled new compact from Clinique is a great choice if you're looking for medium coverage with a side order of skin-clearing ingredients too. It looks quite light at first so don't be afraid to load up little-by-little with the sponge - and also don't forget to wash it between uses to avoid bacteria-friendly build-up. Buy Now: Clinique Anti Blemish Powder Make Up, £12.95, at CosmeticsNow.co.uk

Bare Minerals Original SPF Foundation, £29

(Image credit: Bare Minerals)

Bare Minerals Original SPF Foundation, £29

A real cult buy, when Bare Minerals hit the UK from America, mineral foundation suddenly became a make-up bag essential. Bare Minerals Original SPF Foundation is still as good as we remember. Their Get Started Complexion Kit is great if you're new to mineral foundation, containing buffing brushes, two shades of foundation (plus two other brilliant products) and full instructions from the pros. Buy Now: Bare Minerals Original SPF Foundation, £29, at Amazon.co.uk

Shiseido Sheer And Perfect Compact Foundation, £26.10

(Image credit: Shiseido)

Shiseido Sheer And Perfect Compact Foundation, £26.10

Sheer and perfect is a very apt description for this little beauty, which would suit you if you've got reasonably good skin and are looking for light coverage and a touch of radiance enhancement into the bargain. 

There's plenty of technology in here - SMK Glow Up Powder and 'Colour Noise' Cancelling - but what you need to know is that it goes on smoothly, blends easily and makes your skin look a little bit blurred, a little bit Photoshopped and a lot more luminous. You might need a touch-up at lunch, but that's what compacts are for, right? Buy Now: Shiseido Sheer And Perfect Compact Foundation, £26.10, at AllBeauty.com

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, £33.09

(Image credit: MAC)

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, £33.09

This powder foundation is a w&h favourite. Unlike many creamier formulas, MAC's Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation was designed with oily skin in mind, so the pigment is high and the coverage is strong - but without any of the pore-clogging heaviness you might be used to from compacts of yore.  Buy Now: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, £33.09, at Amazon.co.uk

INIKA Mineral Foundation Powder, £19

(Image credit: Inika)

INIKA Mineral Foundation Powder, £19

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to a mineral foundation powder, INIKA provides full but natural coverage that can be built upon to cover uneven skin tone, acne, pigmentation and rosacea. This powder also offers SPF 25 protection and it's suitable for sensitive skin. There are 12 options to choose from so you're sure to find a shade for your skin tone. Shade names – which include 'Confidence', 'Nurture' and 'Fortitude' – indicate the ethos and inclusivity of the brand (it's also organic and cruelty-free). Buy Now: INIKA Mineral Foundation Powder, £19, at Lookfantastic.com