Compact, mineral or loose powder?

Compact, Mineral and Loose Powder

My mum returned me the mineral powder foundation I got her a couple of months ago, saying that it’s not suitable for her.  My best friend, who tried some of the samples I gave her also had few good things to say about them.  It looks like, despite the raves, mineral makeup is not for everyone.   While I’ve been using mineral makeup for about a year now, and I do like it, but I do have some gripes as well.  Since I’ve been experimenting with compact and loose powder again these couple of weeks, I thought I’ll put together a quick comparison of these three from an amateur’s standpoint.

How much coverage can the powder foundation provide?
When it comes to foundation, women are most concerned about the coverage.  Of the three, compact powder foundation offers the best coverage when used alone.  The other two needs more help from liquid foundation, makeup base, concealer or a veil.  However, this also means compact powder foundation is much heavier, causing caking or streaking that many have been complaining about.   Mineral makeup offers a more natural sheer to medium coverage, something which I like.  As for loose powder, the effect is somewhat in between that of a mineral and a compact powder once you lay it on top of that liquid foundation.

Which powder foundation is suitable for your skin type?
Some people say that mineral powder foundation is only suitable for normal to slightly dry skin because it’ll accentuate wrinkles on dry skin and can clump up in the pores of oily skin.  Personally, I have combination skin, and I don’t find the first claim true in my case.  Anyway, most mineral ingredients reflect light and this is supposed to reduce the appearances of lines and wrinkles.  In fact, I have to say that compact powder foundation accentuate my wrinkles even more!  

But I have to agree that mineral makeup may not be suitable for those with very oily skin because it tends to become shinier after awhile and this means, the pores are more obvious!  But again, it could be the product formulation but based on my general experience, compact powder can keep my oil glands under control better.   For mineral makeup, I need to use an additional veil to do the job.  Drier skin may benefit more from using a loose powder or pressed powder over liquid foundation but note that liquid foundation tends to melt faster under hot weather!

Which formulation is more superior?
I haven’t come across many loose powder that offer SPF protection on its own.  But most compact powder foundation these days offer pretty high SPF protection while ingredients in mineral foundation containing titanium dioxide already offers natural sun protection. 

In terms of ingredients, mineral makeup is always said to be better because it typically contains very few ingredients and most of the ingredients are natural and non-irritating to most people.  Well, it all depends on the product formulation.   Mineral makeup is good for my skin but mineral makeup has caused my face to itch too.  As a matter of fact, I never had a breakout from using compact powder foundation before.  As for loose powder, I can’t say that much because I’ve tried very few brands.  But because you have to use a liquid foundation first, that by itself is another product you need to consider.

Which powder foundation is easiest to apply?
Compact powder foundation!  It’s the easiest and most convenient especially since every foundation comes with a puff.  Loose powder is the most time consuming considering you need a layer of liquid foundation and wait for it to dry.  As for mineral powder, you’ll need to learn to master the technique plus you need a special brush to achieve better effects. 

Which powder foundation is better on our pockets?
This is a bit tricky.  Initially, I thought mineral powder foundation.  But after factoring in the extra stuff like concealer, mineral veil, brush plus wastage from all that tapping, it isn’t exactly that affordable.   Plus, for some of us, we need to incur additional international shipping costs just to get the items.  In addition, because we usually have to rely on the shades we see on the websites, that also means we need to factor in this trial and error cost.  It might look like compact powder foundation is better in terms of costs, but again, it depends on which brand you’re talking about.

What do I prefer?
I was in between mineral powder and compact powder until this week.  Because of my breakout, I switched to compact powder foundation again and was happy with the results.  That is, until I was rushing my makeup last two mornings and was reminded to my horror, that compact powder foundation doesn’t perform well when pressed for time.  It must have been the sunscreen which caused my makeup to look more patchy when ever!  I don’t have that much of a problem with mineral powder foundation even when I’m in a rush though.  It can come off as slightly streaky, but never patchy!

Okay, let me end off by qualifying that I’m no expert when it comes to makeup.  In fact, I’m an amateur!  It’s true.  I don’t really care for using too much of these stuff on my face, just enough to get away looking a bit *ahem* younger.  So, my comparisons have been based on that premise, from an amateur’s standpoint.  A professional can of course tell you more, like using different techniques, employing drying or wet makeup, different brands, blah blah.   But let’s face it.  How many of us are professionals?  We just want our makeup to help us look better.   So at the end of the day, it’s still best you experiment to try out what works best for you based on your preference and lifestyle.


  1. parisb says:

    Bravo! Yet another person to beat me to a similar post topic hehe… I personally prefer compact foundation dusted with loose powder. I guess I’m just one of those people for whom mineral foundation doesn’t quite do it .

    paris: Compact foundation dusted with loose powder? That’s interesting.

  2. Joy says:

    I’ve been doing trial and error on mineral powders as well! There are actually mineral powders that come pressed now. You can try Pur minerals and also Jane Iredale pure pressed powder. I like both of them a lot!

    Joy: Oh great! I’ve been thinking about EM’s pressed powder. May give one of these a try soon.

  3. miyo says:

    is there any mineral powder available over the counter in Spore .. except for the skin story ??
    another qns.. ermm does mineral makeup has loose powder??lol
    Thanks in advance..
    been wantin to try mineral makeup

    miyo: There are few, like Laurier Mercier. Check up my link here which tells you the places in Singapore that sells MM. Mineral powder foundation looks like loose powder, but has much better coverage. Now, a couple of brands like EM and the two Joy mentioned above also offer in pressed form.

  4. flym says:

    Very well written article. I agree with much of what’s said. However, my personal experience is while compact powder foundation is easy to apply, they do not wear well. From my amateurish experience, liquid foundation + loose powder give the best look and wear, followed by mineral makeup and compact foundation would be last. The latter just looks patchy and cakey (or maybe I just haven’t found a good one to suit my skin type).

    flym: I think the brand of compact do make a difference but it also depends on your skin type. I agree the liquid foundation and loose powder but it’s not for me though.

  5. Monica says:

    Dear Mr/Mrs,

    Can you explain the different between the compact powder and liquid foundation? Can I apply both or just one of them? Im just a bid confuse about the. If the powder, what kind of the powder should I use to make the skin smoothier? Im from vietnam. So, what color of the foudation and powder should I buy?



  6. sesame says:

    Liquid foundation is to even out your skin tone and fill in the pores. The compact powder is usually thicker than loose powder and you can use it to set your liquid foundation makeup. However, you can also use it on its own and depending on the brand you use, some are good to conceal the blemishes as well.

    If you perspire a lot, compact powder is generally a good idea.

  7. Praks says:

    2 days back I bought Loreal mineral true match foundation powder N6 honey Biege shade, I have really very oily skin, when I applied yesterday I thought I an getting a dull look when compared to the look which I was getting using revlon gold matte compact , Comapct used to give me a bright glow look, The mineral foundation powder is good but I am not able to get that look, And even though I have applied the Loreal hydra fresh oil free moisturizer still After the application of Foundation powder I feel the shiny feeling on my face, I am not sure wat do I do with this? ?

  8. Praks says:

    Since the foundation powder is expensive and I a don’t know wat way can I use it now?

  9. uzma says:

    i waana know about compact powder.when and where we use it?n for which perpes we use it?

  10. Sesame says:

    Usually, it’s when you want a better coverage then mineral powder and don’t want something heavy like a liquid foundation. I’ll say it’s between a liquid foundation and mineral powder.

  11. Viv Buckle says:

    I would never use Liquid foundation and then put loose or compact powder on my face! As it would be too wet anyway and the loose or mineral powder would not apply well at all . If you are going to use Loose mineral or Compact powder it is best to use all loose ie concealers etc or All Compact. The liquid does not go well with Loose/Compact
    Why would you do that anyway. I have been using Loose Mineral Powder from Earthnicity and Bare Minerals for a long time. As they do not use Nano Particles.
    I have found that their ingredients is the healthiest. But coming back to the subject. I have recently tried a Compact mineral powder and find it really good when i am in a hurry. But i did find that the darker powder is not good if you are in a hurry as it needs to be applied evenly. But the lightest covering Powder was easy as it was more natural looking. I would recommend Bare Minerals and layering of powder gradually on your face as that is how it is supposed to be put on. Also i would recommend using Akin Pure Facial Creamy Cleanser and Toner. It is really good for taking off make up and Toning. So easy. Hope that helps.

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