It can be a bit difficult to find the best foundation for oily skin. Apart from making sure the formula doesn’t feel heavy or greasy, there’s also a matter of making sure there aren’t too many hydrating ingredients in the formula to have your base slip later on in the day. In addition, powder-based foundations do stay put, but can also run the risk of looking cakey.
Those of us with oily skin know the struggle is all too real, making it challenging to find the right products and fall prey to some easy-to-make mistakes. Oily skin can be genetic or hormonal and often ramps up during difficult times, due to the oil-triggering stress hormone cortisol.
When it comes to purchasing the best foundation for oily skin, it’s a good idea to steer clear of formulas containing comedogenic oils such as coconut oil, avocado, moringa, and wheat germ oil. Comedogenic is another word for pore-clogging, and certain ingredients are known to be more likely to stuff up pores than others. These blockages can cause a build-up of sebum, bacteria, and products in the top layers of the skin that can lead to acne and blemishes.
That aside, it’s also a safe bet that if you have oily skin, you won’t really enjoy the feeling of an oil-based foundation anyway. If, however, you have a dehydrated and/or itchy complexion, you’d want to take a different approach to find the best foundations for dry skin.
If you have larger-looking pores or experience face-flushing like in rosacea that causes shine and melts away makeup, you’ll certainly need a robust formula—but that’s not to say you necessarily need lots of pigment or a thick texture. Many women wear far higher coverage than they need to in order to counteract oil or heat-induced melt. Instead, look for light to medium oil-free formulas with anti-inflammatory ingredients, soft-focus powders, and built-in primer to control shine.
Learn how to apply foundation like a pro too, and you’ll be all set. You’ll also want to invest in the best foundation brushes and tools for flawless application.
We’ve created a list of the best foundations for oily skin that feature effective ingredients and formulas for oily skin types. This list includes powder foundations, long-lasting liquids, foundations with antibacterial ingredients, and matte or shine-proof finishes that don’t look flat.
The best foundations for oily skin: water-based vs silicone-based
In pursuit of the best foundation for oily skin, shoppers often run into water-based and/or silicone-infused options. With this in mind, we’ve unpacked water-based and silicone-based formulations so that you can make a more informed purchase. This knowledge will enable you to find the best foundation for oily skin among aisles of mediocrity.
Are water-based foundations good for oily skin?
The best foundation for oily skin incorporates a variety of ingredients and features, one being water.
Water is the most popular carrier liquid across the whole spectrum of foundations—it’s hydrating, easily accepted by skin, and gives formulations a nice easy-to-spread texture. The hydrating bit is particularly important as dehydration can be a secret cause of oil overproduction.
If you have naturally oily skin, it can be tempting to try and strip that sebum out with astringent or drying products. This then causes your skin to sense that it lacks oil and ramp up natural production to compensate. Making sure your skin is hydrated and happy with water-based products will help keep everything in balance. Water-based foundations also tend to have a nice lightweight feel that’s great on any skin type (and weather!), but particularly so if you are prone to feeling congested.
Silicone-based foundations for oily skin
The best foundation for oily skin, with long-lasting or oil-control, contains some form of silicone, and no wonder: This group of ingredients gives foundation a very specific “slippy” texture that glides on and creates a lasting, weightless layer that can blur over pores, lines, and any other texture irregularities. This makeup gripping and skin-smoothing power is why silicones are widely used in primers, but by picking a silicone-based foundation, you get that primer effect built-in.
Silicones in cosmetics are not without their detractors, as some people feel they clog pores or stop skin “breathing.” However, these claims are largely unproven by science (plus skin doesn’t have lungs, so the “breathable” feel is for the most part, subjective), so we’d say a better reason to avoid silicone-based foundations is if you simply don’t like the way they feel on your skin.
The best foundations for oily skin, as chosen by our experts
Unarguably, Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Fluid Powder (yes, meaning it sets from a liquid to powder feel) is the best foundation for oily skin, thanks to its long-lasting formula and skin-healthy perks.
This is the opposite of traditional heavy matte foundations. It’s a loose, water- and silicone-based fluid that sets down into a soft powder finish that lasts. Plus, it packs in sun protection and a moisture-boosting protein complex.
This would suit combination skin types who need an extra boost for lasting power and oil control but still want a little bit of soft-focus sheen. The shade range is great, and the water-light texture is lovely—the only downside is that it can get a bit runny from the nozzle, but that’s easily fixed with a wipe.
A favorite for true stay-all-day wear that doesn’t look cakey, its ability to mattify shine for 24 hours without dulling your natural radiance has seen Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation gain bestseller status in both the US and Europe.
No beauty editor could recommend wearing makeup for 24 hours in good conscience (cleanse before bed, people!). But however long you do need this to stay put for, rest assured it will, and you’ll certainly need a thorough double cleanse to make sure it’s removed. That said, it’s definitely a go-to for ‘big day beauty,’ like weddings, special occasions, or a jam-packed 9-to-5.
More good news is that this award-winning formula comes in 50 shades, and the deep ones contain a unique ultramarine blue pigment that ensures they never appear ashy on the skin. All in all, it’s one of the best foundations for oily skin that delivers exceptional glow.
See our full Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation review
If you’re lucky enough to have a reasonably even skin tone, Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation will cover redness and blemishes without looking at all mask-like. It also absorbs oil and blurs the appearance of pores for the best part of a day—you might need a little touch-up on particularly long days or if it’s very hot.
The name Match Perfection refers to the 25-strong shade selection and adaptable pigment technology—great offerings for such a bargain price. For this reason, among many, we’ll continue to pay homage to this best foundation for oily skin (and add it to our beauty routine).
Don’t be fooled by the youthful pink packaging or sassy product name; this is seriously good stuff for any age. So, not surprisingly, we cannot get enough of this foundation for oily skin, which benefits from its all-day mattifying properties, and neither can shoppers far and wide.
The very well-balanced formula combines lasting pigment, non-pore-clogging hydrators like hyaluronic acid and coconut water, plus mica, a mineral powder that gives a soft-focus glow. It offers medium to full coverage, which will be good news to some but might look a bit too “done” if you prefer sheer tints.
How often does a makeup brand come along and genuinely revolutionize the industry? In truth, almost never. But that’s exactly what Rihanna did when she launched Fenty Beauty in 2017.
The brand’s first drop made an instant impact with—among other things—this foundation in 40 shades, which was designed to be inclusive for every woman worldwide. This might not seem too exceptional by today’s standards, but you’d best believe that a large part of the reason the big boys have pulled their socks up in the last few years is because of the brilliant business decisions of Ms. Fenty. Kudos.
Shade range aside, this is the best foundation for oily skin based on how it performs. It offers medium to full coverage and is properly mattifying with stay-all-day wear that doesn’t creep into lines.
The texture is on the thicker side, so you’ll want to moisturize well before applying and buff it in with a firm brush—a small price to pay for truly reliable shine-free coverage. The shade selection now stands at 50, and if you do find this formula just a bit too matte, the brand offers a Pro-Filt’r Hydrating Foundation too.
Powder is an oily-skinned woman’s greatest ally, so it makes perfect sense that a powder foundation would help you fight the war against grease too. Add to this the fact that mineral makeup is ideal for acne, thanks to its ability to offer coverage that won’t aggravate, inflame, or clog pores, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Ever the innovator, bareMinerals has supercharged its classic mineral powder foundation formula by adding a shot of 0.5% salicylic acid to create Blemish Rescue. It’s no wonder why shoppers, including our very own team, are obsessed with this foundation for oily skin as it touts to clear acne in as little as 3 weeks (gotta love a cosmeceutical!).
The result? The same buildable coverage and velvety texture we’ve come to expect from the bases, with the added bonus of fewer blemishes over time courtesy of active ingredient salicylic’s pore-clearing prowess. Obviously, a loose powder will never have the ease of application of a liquid, but once you get the knack, you’ll be fine.
The clue is in the name with No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation. It’s got a water and silicone base, applies smoothly, then sets down to a nice grown-up looking matte finish thanks to oil-absorbing powders.
This best foundation for oily skin is compatible with No7’s Match Made service to help you find a perfect foundation match, whereby a clever skin scanner takes the guesswork out of finding the right shade. However, at the time of writing, there were only 14 shades available, and the vast majority of those shades were no darker than a light mocha, so there is much room for improvement here.
This is an absolute classic long-wear foundation and with good reason. Even faced with the oiliest T-zone on the most humid day—and let’s throw a hot flush in the mix, too—this stuff seriously does not budge. This makes it an absolute godsend for those with very shiny skin or acne, particularly as the formula is entirely oil-free.
Naturally, the trade-off for that supreme wear is that this is a full-on, full-coverage foundation. It’s loaded with pigment and would not suit those who want an ultra-natural look. It’s also on the thicker side, although it certainly feels comfortable for how hard-working it is. As one of the best foundations for oily skin, Double Wear has an exceptionally strong shade range of 60, and Estée Lauder offers a handy virtual try-on tool, so everyone should find a match that looks natural.