A Guide to the Best Makeup for Oily Skin: Must Know Tips and Products

Choosing the best makeup for oily skin is a matter of utmost importance if you've got the sort of pores that ooze sebum all day long. But please don't groan when you look into the mirror at your grease-laden skin. That oil provides a lot of benefits that people with dry skin don't have.

The oil from your pores provides essential nutrients, defends your skin against impurities, and keeps your skin waterproof. The oil contains those precious antioxidants that make our skin less susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines. It even boosts the protection afforded by the SPF in sunscreen to help ward off damage from those UV rays.

Maybe that oil doesn't sound so bad now. We may see our skin as “yucky,” but people with dry skin see it as “dewy” and “youthful.”

So let's give our oily skin its proper due and “dress it up” with the proper application of makeup—let's work with it instead of fighting against it. Following are some things you can do to forge a détente with your oily skin.

6 Must Know Oily Skin Makeup Tips

  • Reduce oil before applying makeup

After cleansing your skin in the morning, apply a thin layer of Skin Obsession's Matte Perfection and rinse off in 10 minutes. Why? It's the simplest way to have matte skin all day long.

makeup for oily skin

Matte Perfection, $10

Matte Perfection is a liquid face mask that contains kaolin clay, magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia, believe it or not), and extracts of cucumber and green tea. The ingredients interact to absorb excess oil and leave a nice matte canvas that will keep your makeup fresh all day.

  • Use a primer

No matter how well you apply makeup or how high-quality that makeup is, it's all going to be wasted if the makeup slides off your skin. A primer controls the oiliness that interferes with your foundation, minimizes the appearance of pores and imperfections, and creates a smooth canvas on which to work your makeup artistry. 

  • Blotters are your friend

Even with the most fastidious makeup application, some shine may break through before your day is done. You can carry blotting papers in the smallest purse. Some lift the oil from your skin; others deposit a bit of powder that absorbs the oil.

Both are effective. You will defeat the purpose, however, if you rub the papers across your skin instead of blotting. 

  • Go oil-free

Skin care products that are formulated for oily skin are “oil free,” “non-comedogenic” (won't clog your pores), and “matte.” Avoid products that are “luminous” and “dewy.” Also avoid cushion compacts. Later on, in our descriptions of makeup that is beneficial for oily skin, you'll become acquainted with the ingredients to look for on those labels.

Among the ingredients to avoid are denatured alcohol, mineral oil, petrolatum, lanolin, coconut oil, and cocoa butter

  • Choose serum over traditional moisturizers

Serums reach deep into the layers of your skin to moisturize and improve elasticity. Serums contain Vitamins E, C, and K, glycerin, and natural botanical extracts that absorb the excess oil and leave your skin smooth and matte.

They're also free of many of the pore-clogging, skin-suffocating ingredients found in traditional moisturizers that do not do oily skin any favors. ​

  • Masks are a must-have

Use an oil-absorbing mask once or twice a week. These are all-natural and incredibly effective ways to clear your pores of gunk and reduce your skin's sebum production all while helping to fight breakouts and enlarged pores. 

A clay mask is best for oily skin, and bentonite clay, French green clay, and Fuller's Earth are all highly absorbent and detoxifying.

Bentonite clay swells the same as a sponge does when mixed with water and sops up excess oil, impurities, toxins, and bacteria.

French green clay contains decomposed plant matter that infuses your skin with essential nutrients.

Fuller's Earth, also known as Multanni mitti, is one of the most absorbent clays ever discovered and contains silica and magnesium oxide that are absorbed quickly and improve skin elasticity.

The Great Debate: Liquid vs Powder Foundation for Oily Skin

Oily skin is the most challenging for choosing which type of foundation. Both oil-free liquid and powder foundations contain powders that absorb oil and leave your skin matte and smooth.

Liquid foundations have been around forever and we're used to them. They're easy to apply, natural looking, and have a wider range of shades. If you decide to go liquid, you need a liquid foundation that is water-based, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and leaves a matte finish. Don't be seduced by “ultra matte.” Those products may be too drying for all but the oiliest skin.

Pressed powder foundations for oily skin are light on the skin and provide more coverage than liquid.

Loose powder foundations are similar to pressed powder. They are lightweight and easy to apply. One possibly important difference is that loose powder does not take well to being reapplied for touch-ups.

Particularly avoid any foundations that claim they are long-wearing and smudge-proof. They contain waxy ingredients that will clog your pores.

A Guide to the Best Makeup for Oily Skin from Start to Finish

With the right products and applications, you can go from feeling that your oily skin is “maybe okay for a while” to overhearing, “Do you think she's had some work done?”

Here's a roundup of the best makeup for oily skin - from the very first thing you want to put on your skin to the last!​

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat 

facial moisturizer for oily skin
face moisturizer for oily skin

​La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat, $32

Effaclar Mat is an oil-free moisturizer that contains Sebulyse, a dual-action, oil-targeting ingredient that mattifies and hydrates your skin while visibly tightening pores. In addition, Effclar Mat has lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA) with its micro-exfoliating properties, zinc pidolate that neutralizes the shine immediately upon contact, and vitamins C and E that shield the skin from environmental impurities and bacteria.

Effaclar Mat has a gel-like consistency that is refreshingly cool upon application. It leaves your skin silky smooth and is a super base for your makeup. See more of the best moisturizers for oily skin!


BECCA Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

best pore minimizing primer

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector, $36

Ever-Matte is a water-based primer that controls excess oil and tightens and mattifies the skin. It contains clay-derived absorbent magnesium aluminum silicate that diminishes the appearance of pores and provides a smooth matte finish throughout the day.

Our favorite thing about it is that it's versatile enough that you can use it under liquid or cream foundation or over your makeup if you need a touch-up (although it's effective enough that you rarely need to do that).

You need the correct technique to apply it to its best advantage. It's thick when it comes out of the tube. Put a tiny bit on your ring finger; the warmth of your skin will soften it. Dab it gently onto your skin, then push/roll it into your skin. It's almost like magic—now you see your pores, now you don't! Do not rub it in. Do not use a brush or sponge.


Thank Me Later Eye Shadow Primer

best makeup for oily skin

Thank Me Later Eye Shadow Primer, $15

This eyelid primer is lightweight and water resistant. Its silky texture prepares your lids for a velvety smooth application of eye shadow. It intensifies the color and keeps it in place all day without creasing or fading. Intensify Apply only a tiny amount. A little goes a long way.

For an “extra-added attraction,” it makes a great lip primer also.


Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet Mattifying Foundation

best makeup for oily skin
best foundation oily skin

Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet Matifying Foundation, $48

Mat Velvet is a lightweight liquid foundation that gives your skin a natural matte look with a soft powdery finish. It covers imperfections flawlessly and balances skin tone. It's waterproof and will last throughout the day.

It's creamy, so use less than you normally would a liquid foundation. If you need more coverage, you can build up layers until you have the look you want. You can also use it for touch-ups. It works best if applied with your fingers or a brush.


Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation

best foundation oily skin

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation, $5

Make Up For Ever's Mat Velvet is a great foundation for oily skin - but it's also pricey. If you're looking for a more affordable option for a liquid foundation, Rimmel's Stay Matte is the perfect option. It's a luxurious mousse and light as a feather. It feels like silk going on and provides a flawless coverage that has a natural matte look to it.

The talc-based formula keeps the oil subdued and reduces the appearance of pores, so that your skin has a perfectly matte, soft finish all day.

The consistency is rather thick, so we recommend that you stipple it on with a kabuki brush or a buffing brush. It needs to be worked well into the skin. Your fingers may deposit more product than you need onto your skin.


Lancôme Dual Finish Foundation

best makeup for oily skin

Lancome Dual Finish Foundation, $38

Dual Finish is a talc-based foundation and powder that comes with both a buff and a sponge so that you can have sheer coverage to full coverage. You can also use it for spot coverage and to contour, highlight, and set your makeup. The convenient compact is perfect for touch-ups when you're out and about. It feels weightless and gives your skin an all-day natural matte finish.

Sponge it on damp for full, flawless coverage. Sponge it on dry over your moisturizer. Puff it on dry over your foundation to set it. It's fun to experiment with various brushes to see the different levels of coverage that are possible.


NYX Cosmetics Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation

best foundation oily skin

NYX Stay Matte Powder Foundation, $15

Love the Lancome but out of your price range? No worries, here's a great alternative at less than half the price: NYX Stay Matte is a versatile powder foundation that creates a smooth, flawless, semi-matte finish. The mineral-enriched formula deflects light and reduces the appearance of pores. This foundation is so light on the skin that you can layer it to get sheer to medium coverage without it caking. It blends easily with a kabuki brush or a dense powder brush.

Please note that it is semi-matte. Your skin will be radiant with a satin-like finish. If your skin is super-oily, you may find that the radiance is more glow than you want.


Now you have some tricks in your bag for looking fresh and flawless despite your oily skin. It'll be our secret!

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