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Makeup for combination skin

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In this article

The best foundation for combination skin
Primer for combination skin
Powder for combination skin
Best makeup setting spray for combination skin

If you’ve read our article on the best skincare for combination skin, you’ll know that having part oily, part dry skin is something that needs to be managed properly with the right combination of products. You’ll also know that having combination skin doesn’t have to mean a constant battle with dryness and oil!

With the right products, combination skin can be just as manageable as any other skin type, it just might take you a while to get there. Trial and error may well also play a large part in managing your skin type.

But if you wear makeup, getting your cleansers, toners, serums, scrubs, masks and moisturisers right is only half of the job. Getting your makeup spot on is just as crucial. You don’t want to spend all that time, money and effort getting the base right, and then applying completely the wrong foundation for combination skin over the top. You'll also want the best spot cream on hand just in case! 

So here’s our guide to makeup for combination skin. Or more precisely, foundation, primers and powders for combination skin. Unless you have particularly oily eyelids you won’t need to worry too much about eye makeup for combination skin. (Some of us do have oily eyelids, and find we’re wearing our eye shadow and eye liner under our eyes within a few hours. If this is you, see our advice on eye makeup for oily skin.)

The best foundation for combination skin

Foundation for combination skin is widely available on the high street and online. The trick is finding a foundation, whatever coverage you’re looking for (light, medium or full), that properly covers all areas of your skin, without sliding off the oily parts or caking into the drier parts.

Always look for foundation designed to support combination skin first, then narrow down your choice by the type of coverage you’re looking for. This may also depend on the time of year – lighter combination skin foundations may be better during the summer and heavier ones better in the cooler months.

Long lasting foundation is ideal for combination skinas makeup can have a habit off slipping off the oilier areas of combination skin. So the longer lasting, the better.

Getting the balance between soft, dewy skin and tipping the balance the other way and having oily, shiny skin, is a tricky one. You don’t want your foundation to be so glowing that it causes shine, or too mattifying that it causes dry looking, dull skin.

The best natural looking foundation for combination skin is one that gets this balance right. So if you’re after a natural look, opt for foundations that are oil free and water based.

Water based foundations for combination skin

Water based foundations for combination skin are buildable, so if you only want a light coverage, they’re perfect. Then you can add a layer if you’re going out for the evening. Look for oil free water based foundations that promise a silky glow, without the shine.

Also, look for oil free foundations for combination skin that contain hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid helps to keep the skin hydrated and plump, without making it appear greasy.

BB creams for combination skin

You could also go for a BB cream for combination skin. BB creams are a combination product, combining a tinted moisturiser, foundation and sunscreen in one. Look for mattifying BB creams that absorb excess oil without drying out the skin. Hyaluronic is also a good additional ingredient to look out for here, too.

Full coverage foundation for combination skin

Full coverage foundation for combination skin is another great option for all day wear into the evening. They tend to be more matte and are often better suited to the winter months than the summer months when you may sweat more. A full coverage, heavy foundation and sweat won’t feel like a comfortable mix on your skin. On the brighter side, with some full coverage foundations, their look is so flawless, you may not even need to use powder.

Cream to powder or stick foundations for combination skin

Cream to powder or stick foundations also exist for combination skin. They often promise luminosity and dewiness, so if your skin is on the oilier side of combination, you may be better to steer clear and go for a more mattifying foundation.

Stick foundations can also feel slightly waxy too, which isn’t good on the oiler areas of combination skin.

On the flip side, powder foundations may have a caking effect on dry skin and are also best avoided if your dry skin areas are particularly dry.

Primer for combination skin

Using a primer is a neat trick for managing combination skin with makeup. Look for one designed for oily skin and use it over your forehead, nose and chin. Primer is designed to help give a long lasting finish to makeup and is ideal for only using on certain areas of skin.

The best primer for combination skin is one that gives a matte appearance, rather than a dewy or satin finish. These types of finishes might look lovely to begin with, but will become oilier as the day wears on, especially on your already oily areas.

Using a satin finish foundation might work for you, but it’s best to stick with an oil controlling primer to give your foundation the best chance of staying put.

Powder for combination skin

Using powder is one of the most simple, but smartest tricks in the book for dealing with the oily areas of combination skin. The oilier areas are most likely to be in your T zone – that is, your forehead, nose and chin.

Compact powder for combination skin is the easiest to use if you’re out and about, so always carry one with you. Blotting papers for oily skin can also work wonders here. Simply use your powder compact or blotting papers to dab gently at your T zone to mattify your skin, remove excess oil and control shine.

You can use powder on your drier areas too, you just probably won’t need as much.

Loose powder for combination skin is ideal for using in the morning when you’ve just applied your makeup to help set it. Sweep a large brush of loose powder over your entire face for a uniformly mattified look.

You can buy loose powder that contains hyaluronic acid too. Hyaluronic acid helps the skin to retain its natural moisture levels and leaves it looking hydrated and plump without adding to your shine or oil problem.

Best makeup setting spray for combination skin

If you’d rather not use loose powder to set your makeup, you can try a setting spray to spritz over your face when you’ve applied your base makeup. (Try to avoid spraying it over perfectly applied eye makeup in case it causes it to run.)

Setting sprays are great at getting makeup to stay put, even on oily skin. But one word of warning - if you’ve ever read about the virtues of using hairspray as a makeup setting spray, forget you ever did! Hairspray is much too harsh to be using on even the most ‘normal’ of skin types, and we definitely don’t recommend it.

Instead, look for a setting spray that’s designed for combination skin, to give your makeup the best chance to staying free from shine all day.

We hope you’ve found our advice helpful; we’d love to hear how you get on!


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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