e.l.f. Discovery

What's the Difference Between Liquid, Powder, and Cream Foundation?

By Brooke Sager

Foundation makeup often comes in three popular formulas: liquid, powder, and cream. We use it for a multitude of reasons, whether it’s to even your complexion or providing a smooth base for the rest of your makeup. How do you choose the right foundation for you? Do you need a light sheer or medium coverage? Let’s explore the different types of foundation and give you the lowdown on what’s to love about each.

Liquid Foundation

One of the most common forms of foundation is liquid foundation. It can be water-based or oil- based and can range from sheer to full coverage. One of the things we love about liquid foundation is that it is very buildable. This means that we can apply liquid foundation in thin layer, let it set a minute, and then apply another light layer anywhere else that we need a little extra coverage- such as around the nose, tip of the chin, etc. It is also one of the easiest foundation formulas to work with as you can use your fingers, a foundation brush, or a blending sponge to apply.

Powder Foundation

There are two types of powder foundations - loose and pressed. You can use them by themselves, or you can use them on top of other foundations to help set your base as well as add more coverage.

Loose powder foundations are super soft and finely milled to allow you to dust it across your complexion. If the loose powder is mineral- based, you can also buff the powder into your skin to provide more coverage than just dusting it.

How to Apply Loose and Pressed Powder Foundations

To apply a loose powder foundation, you will want to use a fluffy powder brush if you are dusting it on. Simply dip the brush into the powder, tap off the excess, and dust it across your complexion.

If you are using a mineral loose powder and want to buff it in for more coverage, use your favorite buffing brush or kabuki brush. Dip the brush into the powder, tap off the excess, and then buff in downward strokes on your skin focusing attention on those areas where you want a fuller coverage.

Pressed powder foundation is usually easier to use and not as messy as loose powder, as well as tends to be more pigmented than loose powder. To apply pressed powder, you can use a round makeup sponge and swipe the powder onto your skin, or you can use your favorite fluffy powder brush or buffing brush depending on the look you are going for.

CC Cream

CC cream can be categorized as foundation that has added skincare benefits, such as sunscreen, moisturizer, and other skin-loving ingredients. CC cream foundation usually has a matte finish and is more lightweight than BB cream foundations, but also tends to offer more coverage than BB creams.

Skin-loving ingredients to look for in CC creams include antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, SPF, Niacinamide, and Peptides.

There’s a lot of choices out there for all skin types and skin tones when it comes to foundation, and a little trial and error is needed to find the right format for you, but when you find the one you love, it’s amazing how great it can make you look and feel.