I guess I usually find that one side of the dip stick usually has more oil collected on it I think due to the way that it's oriented in the dip stick tube. So I usually check both sides of the dip stick looking for the reading on the side that has the least amout of oil on it. I can usually pick out a nice line on the dip stick that shows where the level was. Also sometimes you can use the 3 holes the put in the end of it and look for the hole that last has oil on it.
Otherwise the papertowel trick seems like a nice idea. I don't think I would put anything like powerder on my dip stick and then stick it back down the tube. Sounds like a problem waiting to happen to me.