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What is the best foundation for oily skin?

When you want long-lasting coverage, it’s a good idea to take your skin type into consideration.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 5 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
two shades of foundations on biege background
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 5 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

There are plenty of makeup products on the market that promise to control shine and provide that perfect, flawless finish. But which one is best for your skin type? Trying to find the right makeup for your oily skin can start to feel like mission impossible when you see all the options available to you!

Foundation for oily skin, specifically, needs to perform a balancing act—it should camouflage imperfections but also manage excess sebum without clogging your pores. 

Here, we’ll take a look at the world of foundations designed for oily skin to help you find your perfect match.

What causes oily skin? 

Have you ever wondered why your skin feels so oily? The answer lies in your skin’s natural oil production. Your skin’s oil, called sebum, is created by glands in your skin, and these glands can go into overdrive for many reasons: One of them is hormones.¹ Remember your teenage years or times of stress and how your skin may have seemed oilier? That’s because hormones like androgens ramp up during these times, making your skin produce more oil. But it’s not just about hormones; your genes and environment (like that sticky summer humidity) can also make your skin oilier. Even specific health issues can contribute to your oily skin.²

What to look for in a foundation if you have oily skin?

When you’re on the hunt for a foundation for your oily skin, there are a few features you should look out for. Start by checking out foundations that say “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” on the label—these products are your allies in the battle against oil and breakouts, as they’re designed not to clog your pores.

You’ll also want to go for lightweight, water-based formulas,³ as they’re less likely to make your skin look greasy or weigh it down. Foundations with a powder or matte finish could be your best friends, too—they’re known for their oil-absorbing powers, which give your skin a matte appearance.

Some foundations might even contain niacinamide or other oil-reducing ingredients. These substances can help control the production of sebum, the oil your skin naturally produces.⁴ Remember, though, everyone’s skin is different. So you might need to try a few different foundations before you find your perfect match.

7 foundations we recommend for oily skin 

Dealing with oily skin may feel like a continuous battle, but a foundation designed for oily skin can be a game-changer. 

Here are seven foundations that might help you achieve a shine-free look:

1. Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation 

This foundation aims to offer a matte finish that minimizes the appearance of pores.

2. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Created with the intention to control excess oil and deliver a soft matte look, this foundation might also be beneficial for oily skin.

3. Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation

This beauty product provides a natural-looking matte finish and is oil-free, which could help reduce unwanted shine.

4. L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation

This foundation claims to provide a long-lasting matte look.

5. Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + Matifying Foundation 

This product offers a matte finish and is waterproof.

6. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation

Infused with Amazonian clay, this foundation is designed to offer a soft matte finish and contains antioxidant vitamin E.

7. Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation

Offering a long-lasting matte finish, this foundation might help create a smooth, shine-free complexion.

Remember, while these foundations are designed to address the challenges of oily skin, what works best will depend on the specific nature of your skin. Always patch-test new products and consult a dermatology provider if you have any concerns.

Choosing the foundation best for you 

Selecting the best foundation for you involves a couple of steps that require some careful thought.

First off, you may need to understand your skin better. Ask yourself, is it oily, dry, or a mix of both? Does your skin react sensitively to certain products? Figuring out your skin type can be a game-changer because different foundations cater to different skin types.

Your skin's undertone matters, too. Is it more on the cool side with bluish veins, or does it lean towards a warm tone? Knowing your skin's undertone will help you pick the most flattering shade of foundation.

The next step involves considering what exactly you want from your foundation. Are you looking to cover up blemishes or skin tone, or are you after a natural, no-makeup look? Your answer will determine whether you need a full-coverage foundation or something more lightweight.

Then, it’s all about trial and error. Test different shades on your jawline—not on your hand—as the color of your hand and face can differ. And remember, reviews and recommendations from others can be helpful, but your skin is unique, so what works for others might not work for you.

Finally, think about your lifestyle. If you’re always on the go, you might want a long-lasting foundation. If you’re exposed to the sun a lot, consider a foundation with SPF. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help, such as from a makeup artist or a beauty consultant at a makeup counter.

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Which foundation type is best for oily skin?

Choosing a foundation for oily skin requires careful consideration. Look for oil-free or matte foundations to help control excess oil and reduce shine. Opt for lightweight, water-based formulas to prevent pore-clogging and a greasy look. Remember to test foundations, as everyone’s skin reacts differently. Don't hesitate to seek professional advice from makeup artists or dermatologists. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your skin type and concerns, helping you find the right foundation to keep your skin looking its best.

Is liquid or matte foundation better for oily skin?

For those with oily skin, matte foundations, whether liquid or powder, are usually the most suitable. They typically help control shine and oil, offering a balanced appearance. Powder foundations also work well, absorbing excess oil and reducing shine. The key is selecting oil-free, lightweight formulas that offer long-lasting wear. Ultimately, the best choice depends on personal preference and how a foundation interacts with your unique skin type. Finding the perfect foundation may involve trial and error, but the result is well worth it!

Should I use liquid foundation if I have oily skin?

You can use a liquid foundation even if you have oily skin. However, be selective about the kind of liquid foundation you choose. Go for oil-free and non-comedogenic options; these are typically formulated to not clog pores, which is important for oily skin prone to acne and breakouts. Additionally, opt for liquid foundations that promise a matte or semi-matte finish. These products can help absorb excess oil, control shine, and provide a smooth, even complexion.

Remember, while a foundation can help manage the appearance of oiliness, it's also important to follow a regular skincare regimen suitable for oily skin. This will help control oil production at the source and improve the overall health and appearance of your skin. A good foundation complements your skincare routine, helping you look your best throughout the day.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (August 2017).

  2. Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Control Oily Skin. (n.d.).

  4.  Endly, D.C. and Miller, R.A. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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