To use cake makeup, or use cream makeup, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler on the face to use one over the other must give us pause. Before I get into the pros and cons of each, let me explain what they are in the first place, and why you need either at all.
From doing a play to dressing up for Halloween, street makeup (such as Cover Girl) will usually only take you so far and stay on your face for so long. Stage makeup catches light better than street makeup, covers better, lasts longer, usually retains better pigment, and is often easier to work with for finer detail. Popular manufacturers of stage makeup are Ben Nye, Mehron, and Wolf, all three good for different reasons. Within those brands are offered either cake makeups or cream.
Cake (the larger foundation in the photo above) is a dry sort of compressed powder that is activated by wetting your sponge or your brush for application. You can use water or, if you need the makeup to be water proof, liquiset. When water-based it is easy to remove and is light on the skin, making it good for those with very sensitive skin (and ideal for things like face painting children).
Cream makeup (the smaller foundation in the photo) is oil based and applied with a dry sponge or brush. Because it doesn't dry like the cake makeup, it requires powder to be sealed, or a spray of liquiset. It lasts longer than the cake applied with water, covers latex appliances better (such as a witch's nose), and is generally better at reflecting light.
Because all of the lovely ladies who work at this store have experience in stage makeup, I asked everyone which they preferred, hoping I could declare a clear winner between cake or cream. It didn't help me.
In Cake's corner we have Dot, who likes it because it's easy to fix or remove when she makes a mistake. Wolfie likes how light it feels when it's on. Ash praises its easy application, clean look, and longevity. Jez prefers cake for full body coverage.
In Cream's corner we have Laura who loves its longevity and its ability to blend. She dislikes cake for how easily it sweats off. Jez prefers cream for details, latex coverage, and to both hide and create tattoos.
I too am in Cream's corner and here's why: To achieve consistency with cake, you must dampen your sponge or brush with the same amount of water every time. I lack that ability, which results in one swipe being too dry and faint, while the next swipe is too wet and streaky and then it dries before I can fix it so I end up having to take it off and try again. I also prefer creams because I frequently use my fingers to manipulate the makeup, which is harder to do with cake. Creams also make it easier to mix your own colors on a palette , they run faster, jump higher, resolve the national budget crisis, and I digress.
Ultimately, both have their place and there's no rule saying you can't use both at the same time for different things. The rule of all art is to experiment, play around with both until you discover which works best in what ways for what you need to do.