Home Foundation 2023 Best Foundations For Oily Skin Guide + Usage Tips
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2023 Best Foundations For Oily Skin Guide + Usage Tips

by Sandy Taylor

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the use of foundation on oily skin. Many people believe that foundations will make their skin more oily which is not always true.

In this post, I will go over why you shouldn’t be afraid to use foundation on your oily skin. I will point out a couple of things that you should be looking out for when selecting a foundation. Furthermore, I will suggest some of the best foundations for oily skin that you should try.


Best Foundations For Oily Skin (Our Top Picks)

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation

The NARS Sheer Matte Foundation is one of the best matte foundations for oily skin . On paper, this product simply has all the features you would expect from a foundation made for oily skin. It is an oil free, water based foundation and it is good at absorbing oil. The matte finish does a good job at reducing any shine on your face. There are 19 shades to choose from and the coverage is buildable. Although it comes in a smaller bottle (1 ounce – 30ml), a little goes a long way. It is also very lightweight. You will think that you are wearing nothing at all.

One thing that might make this product a bit better is to add a pump to the bottle. It does get a bit hard to get the foundation out near the bottom of the bottle. Furthermore, as the product is thick, you may want to apply it in thin layers first, and build your coverage as you go. One of my clients told me that the foundation gets cakey easily.

Overall, the NARS Sheer Matte Foundation is still a great option for oily skin. It has a great set of features, works wonderfully and a low price too!

Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation

The Bobi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation is one of the best powder foundations for oily skin. This oil-free powder foundation provides good sheer coverage that appears smooth and feels comfortable. It is lightweight and the matte finish helps to reduce shine.

I would recommend this foundation to be used for people with very oily skin. It works ok for combination skin but the product does have a tendency to cling to dry spots. Furthermore, the packaging just isn’t solid. The case breaks easily and it’s easy to get the product all over your makeup bag. With that said, if you can see through these flaws, this Bobbi Brown foundation is highly recommended as it simply does a really good job at controlling oil.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur Cream

The La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur Cream is one of the best foundation creams for oily skin. It has an oil-free lightweight texture with a super oil absorbing formula that helps to soak up oil on your skin throughout the day. It provides a medium to full coverage and a matte finish to help keep shine away.

This foundation cream can be used daily as it comes with Titanium Dioxide mineral sun protection (SPF 20) to block out UV rays. It’s hypoallergenic and has been tested on sensitive skin. It is also formulated with perlite, an ingredient that is known for its ability to absorb moisture and sweat without hindering the skin’s natural breathing ability.

The whipped mousse consistency makes this foundation cream super easy to apply. It contains La Roche-Posay Effaclar’s “BLUR” technology which is a use of BB pigments to fade pores and fine lines, creating a “blurred” effect.

This foundation cream is fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic.

Looking for more like this? Check out my guide on the best hypoallergenic foundations for sensitive skin.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

The Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup is one of the best long-lasting foundations for oily skin. It contains an oil-free formula and matte finish that helps to control shine for up to 24 hours. Estee lauder considers this as a “super-long wear” foundation because once you apply it, there is basically no touchups needed.

It’s a lightweight formula with a medium to full buildable coverage. It uses true color pigments ensuring that fading or color discoloration does not happen throughout the day. It won’t look grey on deeper skin tones.

This formula is transfer-resistant. It is also sweat, humidity and waterproof. It’s non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic and fragrance-free. There are 55 shades available and most people would agree that this is one of the best oil-free foundations for oily skin.

BTW, I’ve written a guide on other really good oil-free foundation if you are interested.

Clinique Even Better Makeup

The Clinique Even Better Makeup is one of the best water-based foundations for oily skin. This creamy water-based formula helps to hydrate your skin. It’s a medium to full buildable coverage foundation with a natural finish and it can last up to 24 hours.

This foundation is formulated with sun protection SPF 15. It contains Clinique’s Stay-True pigments that won’t change color or fade. It’s sweat and humidity-resistant.

Notable skin care ingredients found in this foundation include:

  • Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter – Emollient ingredient that helps to retain skin moisture and softens skin
  • Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract – Anti-oxidant functions that help fight against free radicals.
  • Betula Alba (Birch) Bark Extract – Helps cleanse the skin, tighten pores and dry out oil.
  • Saccharomyces Lysate Extract – Helps normalize skin’s microbiome

The ingredients above help to improve your skin conditions over time.

This foundation is parabens-free and phthalates-free. There are 56 shades to choose from and it’s been tested by dermatologists.

Water based foundations are amongst the best type of foundations for oily skin.  I’ve written a detailed guide on water based foundations if you want to know more.

Best Drugstore Foundations for Oily Skin

Revlon ColorStay Full Cover Foundation

The Revlon Colorstay Full cover Foundation is one of the best full coverage foundations for oily skin. This foundation easily conceals hard to cover blemishes, skin marks and large pores. It’s matte finishing helps to control shine throughout the day.

It’s formulated to last 24 hours even through heat and humidity. It features a unique velvety texture and provides your skin with all-day hydration.

When applied, this foundation feels natural because it moves with your skin. It doesn’t flake and is lightweight enough that it doesn’t feel cakey.

There are 16 shades to choose from

Milani Conceal + Perfect Shine-Proof Powder

The Milani Conceal + Perfect Shine-Proof Powder is one of the best lightweight foundations for oily skin. This foundation is mattifying and is created with fine powders that do a great job at absorbing oil and controlling shine throughout the day. It’s very comfortable to wear because it feels weightless.

This is a medium to full coverage foundation with great natural ingredients like:

  • Lily Extract – Helps tone, firm and tighten skin.
  • Bamboo Powder – Helps to absorb oil and control shine.

This foundation is available in 10 shades. It is vegan and cruelty-free.

Foundations For Oily Skin: What You Need To Know

How To Make Your Foundation Last Longer on Oily Skin

Find the Right Moisturizer – Using a moisturizer is probably the most important step to ensuring that your foundation will last as long as possible. A lot of my clients overlook the importance of using a moisturizer. There is this scary (yet untrue) rumor that using a moisturizer is not required for oily skin or that moisturizers will make your skin more oily. However, the opposite is true. If you skip your moisturizer after you cleaned your face, your skin will overcompensate by producing more oil to make up for the loss of moisture. If you haven’t picked the right foundation (more on this below), the extra oil will mix with your foundation, causing it to wear off.

Pro Tip: Try to find a heavy night cream before you go to bed and choose a lighter one to go under your makeup during the day. Try to find one that is oil-free.

Find The Right Primer – Selecting the right primer is the second most important step to controlling your oil. Primers provide a great base for your foundation, makes your foundation last longer and evens out the surface of your skin. Choose one that is oil-free as these will help to absorb some of the oil from your face. Choose a hydrating matte primer which is excellent for reducing the oily look while locking in your skin’s moisture.

Find the Right Foundation – If you have chosen the right moisturizer and primer, then choosing a foundation here is pretty easy. Just remember that for oily skin, your foundation must be long-lasting, matte and oil-free. This combination of features work wonderfully for oily skin. Being oil-free, your foundation will help to absorb some of the oil on your face. The matte texture will ensure that your face won’t have that shiny look and foundations that are long-lasting are typically more oil resistant and won’t “melt off” your face due to excess oils. I find that this combination works really well for my clients with oily skin. If you are really oily, you may want to consider a powder foundation which is excellent for soaking up oil. Just remember that powder foundations won’t have as good coverage as liquid foundations. So it’s your call there.

You can also try waterproof foundations. This type of foundation sticks better on your skin which makes them last longer.

Use Blotting Papers – Blotting papers are a quick and easy way to control the oil on your skin without removing making. Although it’s a temporary solution, it’s a really handy trick if you are in a hurry. Remember to depress down on the oil, never rub.

How To Avoid Cakey Foundation For Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, the are some application tricks that you can do to avoid your foundation from getting cakey. Doing it right will ensure that your foundation will last, your facial oil is controlled and your skin looks flawless.

Here’s How To Avoid Cakey Foundation for Oily Skin:

  1. Clean Your Face -Ensure that you wash and properly exfoliate your face so that you have a clean surface to work on. I’ve written a guide on creating your own exfoliating body scrubs which can also be used on the face. Check it out if you want to learn how to make them.
  2. Apply a Facial Moisturizer – After you have exfoliated your face, apply a facial moisturizer all over your face. This will help to lock in your facial moisture and protect your skin. Allow the moisturizer 25 to 30 minutes to absorb into your skin. Do not rush to apply your primer or foundation at this point. Applying your foundation or primer while the moisturizer is still wet will cause the makeup to look uneven.
  3. Apply a Matte Water Based Primer – After your moisturizer has dried, apply a matte water based primer. Water based primers are good for oily skin because they are lightweight. This means they won’t add weight to your oily complexion. The water content in these primers also helps to provide your skin with the hydration it needs and helps to control sebum production. I have written a detailed guide on water based primers, including a matte one that works good on oily skin. Check out that post if you have time.
  4. Apply a Matte Foundation – Wait for your primer to dry then apply a matte foundation using a beauty blender or a damp sponge.  I’ve recommended several foundations in this post that you can try. You want to apply in light layers and pad the foundation on to your skin.

Doing steps 1-4 above will help you avoid cakey foundation if you have oily skin. Remember that “less means more” when it comes to foundation. The more layers you add, the higher chance your makeup will end-up looking cakey.

How to Set Foundation For Oily Skin

After you’ve applied your foundation, setting it properly will ensure that it will last a longer time.  The best way to set foundation for oily skin is to use a loose powder or press powder. The powder also helps to absorb oil and reduce shine.  A loose powder can absorb more oil then an pressed powder and it’s preferred for those who have really oily complexions.

You can apply either powders with a brush or puff. Here are some tips for applying:

  1. Brush – If you’re using a brush, try to brush downwards on your face so that all your small facial hairs line up in one direction. This keeps them down and makes them less noticeable.
  2. Puff – If you’re using a puff, do not apply in a circular, rubbing motion. Gently dab the powder with the puff on your foundation. A light layer of powder is usually all you need to set your foundation.

Should You Use a Foundation If You Have Oily Skin?

Yes! But you have to be careful with what you choose. Not all formulas will work. I recommend choosing matte-finish liquid foundations or powder foundations (pressed or loose powder) for oily skin.

Matte Foundations – Matte Foundations are excellent for oily skin. This is because they are great at absorbing excess oil on your face. The matte texture that the foundation leaves behind does not reflect light which means you won’t have that shiny oily look. They are typically lightweight, buildable and easy to blend. They will work in situations where your skin produces excess oil (like when you are stressed or if you are in a humid environment). Choose a matte liquid full-coverage foundation if you are worried about acne scars and blemishes.

Pressed / Loose Powder Foundations – Using a powder foundation is my favorite choice for oily skin. Like matte foundations, powder foundations are excellent at absorbing oil. There are a couple of reasons why I like powder foundation for oily skin:

  • They are lightweight
  • Very good at absorbing oil
  • Allows you to choose your own moisturizer, sunscreen or primer underneath (more flexibility)
  • Most are non-comedogenic
  • Most work great on sensitive skin

I generally recommend my clients with oily skin to try a powder foundation due to the benefits listed above. However, they won’t provide as good coverage as a liquid foundation.

Why You Have Oily Skin

Cosmetic Usage –  Your own collection of makeup might be giving you oily skin. You may have picked a product that is too drying. Instead of helping you maintain the moisture balance of your skin, the product is actually soaking up all the oil and moisture. As a result, your skin tries to compensate for the lost oil by producing more oil.

Diet – You mother wasn’t kidding when she told you to watch what you eat. Aside from the fact that you might get sick if you eat the wrong things, your diet actually has a huge effect on your skin. The consumption of high glycemic foods makes your skin create more oil.

Menstrual Cycle – Have you noticed that during your monthly period, your skin produces more oil? During your period, your body goes through hormone level shifts. Hormone levels shift from estrogen and progesterone (female-oriented) to more testosterone (male-oriented). When this happens your oil glands produce more oil than usual.

Stress – Your stress hormone is called cortisol and when you get stressed, the level of this hormone rises. This makes your skin produce more oil.

Environment Humid weather, causes your skin to increase in sebum production, which makes your skin more oily.

Genetics – If oily skin runs in your family, then chances are that you and your family may have bigger sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for your oily skin.

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