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 why the opted for something less “scary” like BB or CC creams. Although these are great options, they simply will not as good a coverage as a foundation.

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)

FoundationKey Features
NARS Sheer Matte Foundation- 19 Shades
- Oil Free, Fragrance Free
- Matte Finish
- Buildable Coverage
- Non-comedogenic
Revlon Colorstay Makeup- Matte Finish
- SPF 6
- Full Coverage
- Oil Free , Fragrance Free
- Long Lasting (16 Hours)
Clinique - Even Better Makeup- 30 Shades
- Oil Free
- Full Coverage
- SPF 15
Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation- 13 Shades
- Matte Finish
- Lightweight
- Sheer Coverage

Why Do 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 produces 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.

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.


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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.


Our Top Recommendations

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation
NARS Foundation
NARS Sheer Matte Foundation is one of my favorite 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
Bobbi Brown Foundation
If you are looking for a quality powder foundation for oily skin, this one from Bobbi Brown simply would not disappoint. This oil-free powder provides a 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.