For those with oily skin, it can be a slippery slope, shall we say, to find the right foundation. On one hand, finding a formula that can reduce shine and cover sebum-induced blemishes without provoking new ones, or making skin look slick, is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack. But on the other, we’re living in a truly glorious boom of makeup that’s meant to have skin-care worthy qualities. So hey, anything is possible.
While it’s true that those with oily skin have to be extra particular about the products they slather all over their faces daily, there are all sorts of new options to keep skin from flaring up every time you bust out the foundation. Your formula should be matte enough to reduce shine, but not so heavy as to cause caking, clogging, or other hazards. It also needs to be able to stand up to the oil slicks, which threaten to melt your actual face off—especially as the sweatiest season approaches. If you’re among those who struggle to find the right product to serve as your makeup base, try choosing from these 12 foundations below.
Best foundations for oily skin
If you’re looking for an oily skin partner, this is a fan favorite. “With its featherweight feel and skin-care-focused infusion, ILIA’s True Skin Serum Foundation blurs imperfections by plumping the skin and minimizing the look of pores,” says Elena Severin, Director of Brands for The Detox Market. “The formulation contains an ingredient called Pistacia Lentiscus (aka: Mastic) Gum, which is believed to combat shine by minimizing the appearance of large pores.”
Foundation sticks are a godsend for people like me—who more or less only do their makeup in the car—as they’re far less messy than liquid or powder formulations. This version offers build-able coverage with a natural finish that won’t slide off or transfer due to sweat, humidity, or even rain. It contains double the pigments of most foundations, and sticks can be blended for contouring and highlighting.
This product lives up to its name, as it offers a soft matte, lightweight finish that looks natural even as it’s full enough to hide all the things you want it to hide. It’s actually formulated with micro algae and bio hyaluronic acid to help absorb excess sebum, so it’s an ideal partner for oily skin. It’s long-lasting, too, and won’t transfer even when you’re sweaty or otherwise moist.
If you’re aiming for more of a glow, this light, all-natural foundation plays well with the skin’s natural oils to prevent melting. “Essential Foundation contains jojoba oil, which is the closest to natural sebum so it doesn’t clog the pores or exacerbate acne,” says Severin. “The finish is a beautiful satin matte.”
Mineral foundations are a great option for oily gals, and Severin specifically recommends this Alima powder formulation. “It contains nothing but pure minerals—no oil added—to provide buildable all-day coverage,” she says. The product also comes in 45 shades, so no matter your skin tone, you’re (likely) covered.
This foundation is specifically designed for oily skin types. It contains technology which disperses oil-absorbing powders onto the skin and yet goes on without feeling flaky (or cakey, for that matter). Coverage is full, matte, and long-lasting (for up to 24 hours). It comes in 40 shades.
This is a powerhouse foundation. It offers full, oil-free coverage that lasts, and lasts, and lasts—through heat, humidity, sweat, and yes, even oil. With over 60 shades to choose from, it’s a safe bet for just about anyone looking for a flawless finish that won’t clog pores or melt in high heat.
Mineral-based foundations are a great option for oily skin, and if you’re shopping in that category, you might as well shop with that category’s heavy hitter. This powder is buildable, invisibly perfecting and color correcting, non-flaky, and it stays put, too. The company’s Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation is well worth a try for acne-prone gals, too.
This water-based foundation is designed to go the distance, so it’s pretty resistant to all types of saboteurs, including oily skin. In fact, the company claims it’ll last up to 24 hours, which makes it the perfect choice for the post-pandemic, roaring ’20s lifestyle we’re all about to lead. It offers full, yet blendable, coverage that mimics photoshop without looking cakey in broad daylight.
Severin is also a fan of this Vapour foundation, which just so happens to be this writer’s favorite as well. “This is a buildable foundation that provides medium-to-full coverage,” she says. “Myrrh is used to soothe already stressed skin while frankincense works to prevent skin reactions before they erupt.”
If your oil production swings even more to the heavy side, Severin suggests you prep your skin with Vapour Matte Smoothing Primer first.
Maybe you don’t need an introduction to Fenty, Rihanna’s groundbreaking cosmetics line, but if you haven’t yet tried the line’s best-selling foundation, hello. It’s subtly matte—no pancake face to be found here—and offers build-able, medium-to-full coverage in 50 shades. Critically, RiRi’s offering is oil-free and sweat/humidity-resistant, too.
This luxe foundation offers medium-to-full coverage and yet somehow leaves skin looking real. It’s more than just makeup, too—it’s skin care, with a formula that includes active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, and caffeine. Most importantly—for the present purpose, at least—it’s humidity and sweat resistant, which means it’ll not only resist oil smudges but prevent slicks from growing when temps are sweltering, too.
If you’re an adult who still gets acne, believe me, you’re not alone. Here’s what to know, according to a derm:
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