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Best makeup for oily skin

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In this article

How to get flawless makeup with oily skin
How to control oily skin with makeup
Best foundation for oily skin
Best primer for oily skin
Best concealer for oily skin
Party makeup tips for oily skin
Best powder for oily skin
Best setting spray for oily skin
Eye makeup for oily skin
Potential disadvantages of wearing makeup with oily skin


Having naturally oily skin means caring for it properly and using the right kind of skincare for controlling sebum production. Choosing makeup for oily skin also needs careful consideration.

Here’s how to best wear makeup when you have oily skin, what to look out for on makeup product packaging and how makeup can sometimes have drawbacks for oily skin.

How to get flawless makeup with oily skin

Just because you have oily skin, doesn’t mean that you can’t wear makeup. It just means that you need to find the right makeup for your skin type.

Before applying any makeup, make sure you’ve cleansed, toned using an astringent toner and crucially, moisturised. Don’t be tempted to skip the moisturiser! Doing so will make your skin feel dehydrated. And what does skin do when it feels dehydrated? You’ve guessed it, it will produce more sebum leading to oilier skin!

Try mixing a water based serum in with your moisturiser too, as this will help to shrink enlarged pores, thereby reducing sebum production.

A top tip for dealing with oily skin, is to avoid touching your skin. We know, this can be easier said than done. We all sit with our chin on our hand, or fiddle with or skin as we work, or even sit with our head in our hands at times!

But try to avoid all of these things as much as possible. We have natural oil on our fingers, and many of us wear hand creams or maybe even have remnants of an oily lunch on our fingers. This can all be transferred to our skin by touching our face, exacerbating oil and shine.

The same can be said for your hair. If you have oily skin and hair, its best to keep your hair tied back, out of your face, as it will transfer oil to your freshly applied makeup.

How to control oily skin with makeup

The most important thing to look out for when choosing makeup is wording such as “mattifying”, “oil controlling”, “non-comedogenic”, “oil free” and “for oily skin”.

These all mean that they’re water based, rather than oil based and won’t therefore overload already oil prone skin, with more oil.

Best foundation for oily skin

Foundation for oily skin is widely available, you just need to know what to look for. A good foundation for oily skin is a good foundation for the rest of your makeup. Along with your oily skin skincare, foundation for oily skin will help to control oil and shine, and keep your face feeling fresher and less shiny for longer.

Types of foundation for oily skin

Chemists, beauty counters, supermarkets, online stores and even clothes shops are full of different brands and types of makeup including foundation for oily skin.

The lighter the better when it comes to oily skin. But this doesn’t have to mean it doesn’t last long on your skin. Longwear foundations can still be lightweight and oil free.

Stick foundations tend to be quite heavy and can feel ‘cakey’ so avoid these. Instead, choose liquid foundations for oily skin that are designed to help control shine.

Lightweight, matte foundations for oily skin are great for the summer or when you’re on holiday in a hot country and you’re looking for something less heavy on your skin.

The best full coverage foundations for oily skin tend to be liquid formulations but if you’re looking for a lighter coverage, you could try a BB cream or a CC cream made for oily skin. These are a newer generation of base makeups and you may find they suit your skin better.

Mineral powder foundations for oily skin can also be great for mattifying oily skin and are a great alternative to water based foundations for oily skin.

Use a foundation applicator for applying makeup to oily skin. Foundation brushes tend to be less disposable and easier to clean than sponges. This will avoid you having to use your fingers to apply makeup, and potentially oil and dirt, to your face.

Foundation for different oily skin types

As we discussed in our oily skin overview article there are different types of oily skin and each type needs slightly different care.

Foundation for oily, acne prone skin tends to be oil free and mattifying as well as providing extra coverage. Some contain ingredients such as salicylic acid to help control breakouts. Others contain natural medicated ingredients such as tea tree oil and witch hazel.

The best foundation for oily skin with large pores is a mineral powder foundation which won’t highlight large pores as it will sit on top of the skin rather than sinking in.

Foundation for mature oily skin is tempting if you’ve reached your later years, but make sure you’re not using a heavy, extreme coverage foundation. These feel heavy, even if they’re oil free, and will eventually feel greasy. Go for long wear, but lightweight.

The best foundation for dry, oily combination skin is tricky and you may benefit from using two different products. Like with moisturiser, choose an oil free foundation on your oily areas and one designed for dry skin on your dry areas. Use products from the same brand so that you can colour match correctly and use a clean foundation brush (not your fingers, which may be oily) to blend.

There are also makeup brands that make foundations for oily skin with rosacea. These tend to be lightweight and breathable, as well as giving good coverage.

Best primer for oily skin

A primer for oily skin can help to control oil and prevent your freshly applied makeup from sliding off your face when your skin gets oily.

Make sure you choose one that’s oil free and isn’t going to feel heavy on your skin. Look for the word “mattifying” and you’ll be looking in the right direction!

Primer can also be worn without foundation for a light and natural coverage.

Best concealer for oily skin

Just as with foundation, the best concealer for oily skin is one that is free from oil and doesn’t block the pores.

Concealer can be used under the eyes, around the lips and nose and to cover up spots or blemishes. It’s therefore used all over the face, including the oiliest part, the T zone (forehead, nose and chin). So don’t be tempted to think that just because it’s used on small areas, that you don’t need to be concerned with finding one that’s designed for oily skin.

Concealer is best used under foundation, but it can also be used for touching up parts of the face, such as under the eyes, after a long day at work. Which is especially useful if you’re going straight out from the office…

Party makeup tips for oily skin

When you’re getting dressed up for a night on the town, you’ll probably want to wear a heavier makeup look. But layering on thick foundations will only make your oily skin feel more uncomfortable.

So stick with your usual mattifying, oil free foundation and don’t be tempted to apply it any thicker than normal.

If you want a heavier look, go for darker eyes or a more intense lipstick to bring out your features.

Always carry blotting papers or a shine control translucent face powder. Blotting papers are especially good at removing excess oil and shine. Give your skin a quick blot (dab them onto your skin, rather than wiping at your skin with them) to absorb excess oil, or a light brushing of powder across your forehead and nose, or wherever you tend to get most oily.

Best powder for oily skin

Powder is great for setting makeup and as with all makeup and skincare, the best setting powder for oily skin is one that is lightweight and water based.

There are various different types of face powder available in stores:

  • Translucent powder for oily skin
  • Pressed powder
  • Mineral powder
  • Loose powder

Pressed powders can feel quite heavy on the skin so if you find this, then try sticking with a loose, translucent face powder. Give it a sweep over your entire face when you’ve applied your base, before applying any eye makeup.

Loose powder is also handy for touching up your makeup during the day when your shine starts to break through. Use a large brush to sweep a small amount over your oily parts. Remember to clean your brush regularly, as they can harbour bacteria, which is particularly unkind to oily, acne prone skin.

If you’re looking for something lighter than a foundation, then a facial powder can do a good job at giving a light coverage without feeling at all heavy on the skin.

The best blush for oily skin is again a powder based one. Cream blushers tend to be heavy and can feel ‘cakey’ on the skin, and they’re usually oil based.

A matte bronzer for oily skin is also ideal for giving a natural sun kissed look or for highlighting cheekbones without weighing the skin down.

Best setting spray for oily skin

Setting spray is also great for freshening up during the day or into the evening, as well as setting your makeup when you’ve first applied it.

As with all of the other products you’re using on your skin, look for an oil free setting spray. It may well become your best oil controlling best friend!

Eye makeup for oily skin

Whilst you might not think of your eye makeup needing to be specifically made for oily skin, it will still help to look for products that are non-comedogenic and water based, rather than oil based.

Here’s a list of the eye makeup products to have in your armoury / makeup bag, to help finish off your look:

  • No smudge eyeliner for oily skin
  • Non smudge mascara (waterproof mascara is ideal)
  • Powder eyeshadow for oily skin
  • Eyebrow powder for oily skin

Apply all these products as you would normally, and hopefully with your oil free base, you’ll stay smudge free throughout the day and evening. Priming your eyelids with an oil free concealer will help your eye makeup to stay put!

Potential disadvantages of wearing makeup with oily skin

If your skin gets oily when you wear makeup it could be telling you that au naturel is best. But if the thought of going bare faced fills you with dread, we hope that the tips we’ve given you here inspire you to look for different brands or products that might help you control your oily skin and make things more manageable.

The biggest rule when it comes to makeup for oily skin, or any skin for that matter, is to remember to take it off at night, no matter how late it is! Leaving makeup on when you sleep will clog your pores, meaning outbreaks and even more oil production.

If you’d like to try skincare designed specifically for problem skin, that will give you the best base for your makeup, try the Sönd range of cleansers, toners and moisturisers.

We designed our range of alkalising skincare with skin just like yours in mind, because we too know what it’s like to have problem skin. Let us know what you think!

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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