Powder, Liquid, or Stick Foundation: What’s the Difference?By Brooke Sager
Foundation is a mainstay in almost any makeup routine, and for good reason. With just one product, you have the power to even out your skin tone, conceal blemishes, and turn your complexion into a stunning, glowing canvas.
But with so many different options out there, it can be overwhelming to nail down what foundation is right for you, your skin, and your makeup needs. Makeup is never one size fits all and finding your perfect shade is only part of the puzzle—first, you’ll need to make this decision: do I want to use liquid foundation, powder foundation, or stick foundation?
All three foundation types are very popular in the makeup world and lend their own virtues to your routine. The final answer really comes down to your unique skin type, desired coverage, and ideal finish.
To help you navigate the foundation aisles and discover your perfect formula, we’ve broken down the benefits of each foundation format so you can put your best face forward.
What is liquid foundation?
Liquid foundation is a blanket term that describes foundation that comes in a liquid format (it’s often water-based, oil-based, or silicone-based). Makeup-skincare hybrid products, like BB and CC creams, skin tints, and tinted moisturizers (aka, a hydrating moisturizer and foundation in one) can also fall under this category, offering light-to-medium coverage and skin-loving benefits for a glowy complexion.
Benefits of liquid foundation include:
- Works for all skin types (especially ideal for those with dry skin who want moisturizing benefits)
- Easy to blend and build to a more full coverage look
- Comes in a range of finishes (satin, sheer, dewy, matte)
- Helps conceal imperfections and even out skin tone
- Can be applied with a makeup sponge (for a more diffused look), foundation brush (for more coverage), or clean hands
- Has the longest staying power
- A great option for makeup beginners
- Ideal for those with oily skin types by helping to control shine and absorb oil
- Comes in various finishes (matte, semi-matte, illuminating)
- Lighter, airier coverage gives you a more natural look
- Lightweight wear is ideal for warmer months
- Compact formats make for easier touch-ups
- Allows for a more targeted application
- Creamy formula offers effortless blendabilty with a beauty sponge, foundation brush, or clean fingers
- Builds up to full coverage without looking or feeling cakey
- Versatile format can be used in place of concealer to hide blemishes and dark under eye circles
- A slightly darker shade can be used as a bronzer to contour your cheeks
- Portable tubes are great for on-the-go touch-ups (no spillage or mess!)
- Great for most skin types
Try a Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 which offers your makeup, skincare, and sun protection in one step for a bright, smooth complexion. The plant-powered liquid formula works to moisturize your skin, blur imperfections, and delivers buildable coverage for a dewy finish.
What is powder foundation?
Made up of pigments and minerals, powder foundations are available in pressed powder or loose powder formats, delivering more lightweight wear and a “no makeup” makeup finish. Foundation powder requires a brush for application (like our oval-shaped cruelty-free Buffing Brush ) to give you more of a light- to-medium coverage finish.
Benefits of powder foundation include:
Try Bio Powder Foundation, a weightless pressed powder foundation with ultra-fine pigments that smoothes the skin. The plant-powered vegan formula is infused with olive-derived squalane, organic corn starch, and mica to help control excess oil for a smooth, semi-matte finish.
What is stick foundation?
Stick foundations, which are essentially cream foundations in a convenient twist-up format, have more recently taken off in popularity. They’re loved for their multifunctional abilities, easy targeted application, and fresh, full-coverage finish.
Benefits of stick foundation include:
Try Bio Stick Foundation, a multi-use foundation stick that melts into skin for a fresh, healthy glow that lasts all day. The creamy vegan formula is infused with castor seed oil, safflower seed oil, and vitamin E to deliver hydrating skincare benefits and a naturally radiant glow.