The Best Foundations for Oily Skin, from Drugstore to Luxury
Shopping for foundation when you have oily skin can be a tricky affair. While you may be inclined to just default to the most matte formula you can find, there are other key factors to keep in mind—like the texture of your skin, the level of coverage you’re looking for and your preferred finish.
Too matte and your makeup can look dry and cakey and settle into fine lines and pores. Not matte enough and you’ll end up with a greasy oil slick on your face by noon. After much trial and error over the years, we’ve narrowed down the best foundation for oily skin.
And for good measure, we had two makeup artists—Sarah Lucero, global executive director, creative artistry for Stila Cosmetics, and Kelli Bartlett, celebrity makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad—weigh in with some pro tips, as well as some of their favorite products for combatting shine.
1. Best Drugstore: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation
At eight bucks a bottle and in 38 shades, this is a really good place to start if you’re unsure of which foundation you want to buy. (It’s also a good option if you’re in-between shades and need a transitional color to tide you over until, say, your summer tan returns.) With its blurring micro-powders that soften the appearance of any bumps, redness or uneven texture, one editor describes this liquid formula as "the most forgiving—in both application and finish." The only caveat is that the coverage is light-to-medium at best so if you need more cover, we'd recommend using this with a bit of concealer. Pro tip: Blot your skin before you apply any foundation. This way you start with a smooth, clean base (and get even longer wear time as a result).
2. Best for Light Coverage: Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer
A cult classic for a reason, this oil-free formula feels like a lightweight cream going on. (Take it from us: This blends like a dream and is practically foolproof—even for makeup novices.) Though the coverage is fairly sheer to start, it can easily be built up to camouflage any redness or spots without sliding off your face or settling into uneven patches throughout the day. Pro tip: Dust a translucent setting powder over the forehead, nose and chin so you keep a natural glow in select areas where you want it—like your cheekbones.
3. Best for Medium Coverage: Thrive Causemetics Buildable Blur CC Cream
A steadfast MVP in our makeup routines, this cc cream (that’s color correcting cream, btw) lays down a surprising amount of coverage without feeling too heavy on your skin. With blurring pigments and flaxseed extract in the formula, it diffuses fine lines and enlarged pores, while absorbing excess oil from your face. We’ve worn it through muggy summer days and our complexions have remained impressively undisturbed. Pro tip: “Prep your skin with a gel or water-based moisturizer, which will help to hydrate the skin without leaving it greasy and follow it up with a mattifying or oil-free primer, which will help to smooth skin and keep makeup from setting into your pores,” says Bartlett. (We love Tatcha’s Water Cream and Lancôme’s La Base Pro.)
4. Best for Full Coverage: Stila Stay All Day Foundation + Concealer
“I like to use a foundation that is oil-free, but still has a creamy texture. This duo (which includes a foundation and a matching concealer on top) checks both boxes. I work with many clients who have oily skin and swear by this stuff because it delivers full coverage without ever looking like you have too much makeup on. Plus, it glides on so smoothly and stays put all day long without migrating,” says Lucero. Pro tip: Use a makeup sponge to tap on liquid or cream formulas—not your fingers. “This will ensure that you don’t end up with excess foundation sitting on the surface of your skin, which will increase the likelihood of it sliding off or transferring.”
5. Best Powder: BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation
For greasy gals who are also prone to breakouts, this powder is truly a godsend. With a blend of skin-balancing ingredients like zinc, sulfur and kaolin clay, it soaks up any excess oils from the surface, while salicylic acid goes deeper to help clear pores. "I buff it on using a fluffy makeup brush for soft, natural-looking coverage that actually stays put on my face," said one editor. Pro tip: “For midday touchups, I recommend patting the Beautyblender Blotterazzi over your skin, which works like a blotting powder or paper but way better because it doesn’t disrupt your base,” advises Lucero.
6. Best Luxury: Hourglass Cosmetics Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation
Admittedly, the price tag is a tad steep for a foundation, but this long-wearing formula is worth the spend if you’re looking to stave off shine. (We save this guy for special occasions, which helps it last longer.) The liquid-to-powder formula glides onto skin with nary a streak and sinks in quickly so you get a smooth, even canvas. Kaolinite clay keeps oil at bay all day long.
Seriously, we’ve worn this through all sorts of climates and conditions (including 12-hour shoot days, where we have hot lights beating down on our face). Pro Tip: “A hydrating setting spray is your best friend because it will help to lock in your makeup without over-drying your skin, which could cause your face to produce more oil,” says Bartlett.