Basics Baby: Foundation for Oily Skin

I can never emphasize this enough, the importance of using products that meet your skin needs. With thousands of cosmetics options, coupled with the ever-flourishing beauty industry that keeps shoving new products on our faces, it is easy to lose track of our own skin, its characteristics and needs. Many tend to get caught up with popular items that dominate social media, and end up purchasing and using hyped items that are not suitable for their skin types. Thus, the many returns we see in stores and of course those we don’t see online.

When it comes to foundation, the basis is in understanding your skin – its moisture level, sebum production and sensitivity. And as its name suggests, the foundation you put on sets the foundation for which subsequent makeup applies and looks, and thereby greatly determines your makeup outcome. In light of its importance (but still second to skin prep in my opinion), I am dedicating this and the next post to helping you find the right foundation for your skin type. And let’s begin with our oily skin girls!


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Yes, that can be overwhelming. Seeing many different types of foundation either on the store shelves, or on your computer screen as you’re browsing. Don’t be tempted by hype or certain claims made by beauty influencers who may not share the same skin characteristics as yourself. Let’s first get to know our skin better.


How oily is my skin?

It is plain to conclude, after seeing a shiny face that you have oily skin. This simplistic conclusion however may be misleading. While dry, normal, combination and oily are four common ways people categorize their skin types, there are within each (especially for dry and oily), gradations. There is a scale as to how oily you are and it is important for you to ascertain that level of oiliness prior to concluding that you have, plain and simple, oily skin. Determining how oily your skin is can better help you in sourcing for the right foundation that agrees with your skin, and works well with it.

There are a few observations you can make to see how oily your skin actually is. After washing your face, preferably in the day, examine how long it takes for your skin to turn oily. Of course you don’t have to stare at your face the whole time. Set certain timings to keep track of your sebum and oil production. I would recommend an hourly check. If your skin turns extremely greasy or very shiny and sticky under an hour or two after washing it, then you might have a very oily skin. If it takes an average of three to four hours before you get shiny, your skin is moderately oily. If you start seeing the shine and feel your skin getting tacky after about five hours or more, you might have a slightly oily or a combination leaning towards oily skin type. You can conduct the same observation after applying makeup. The same guideline goes. If you get greasy under an hour or two, you might have an extremely oily skin. Anything above that would indicate a moderate to slight oiliness in your skin. To get a more accurate result, you can conduct the observation once a week, for a month – reason being, women’s skin tend to fluctuate depending on our hormones so events like your menstrual cycle, ovulation etc. may have a bearing on your sebum production and skin condition in general.

Which foundation for my skin?

Fast forward a month, and now you have a better understanding of how oily your skin is. This is then the right time to decide on a foundation that suits your skin type. I will be recommending a few foundations for different levels of oiliness. Do note that my picks are not based on hype or the popularity of products. My focus is always on formula and ingredients first as I strongly believe that whatever you apply to your face, especially if you apply it every single day, will definitely have a great effect not just on your skin condition but your skin aging process. If the foundation passes the formula/ingredients test i.e. free of skin irritating or skin damaging ingredients including alcohol, fragrances etc., then I would experiment with its application, finish and longevity. Of course if hyped and popular products pass both tests, I would recommend. I would also like to add that these foundations work best if you have prepped and primed your skin with products that meet your skin needs, as well as set the foundation with the appropriate setting powder.


Foundations for very oily skin

For ya’ll whose skin oozes oil an hour or two into makeup, a liquid to powder formulation works best. Such foundations have a stronger mattifying agent in them which explains their powdery finish. And this mattifying agent is what you need to keep your oil at bay, or at least control them.

Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Mattifying Oil Free

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(56.00 USD / 1.0 oz)

This liquid-cream to powder foundation is formulated with Cashmere Kaolin Clay, a common ingredient in clay masks and one that helps to absorb excess oil without overly drying the skin. For very oily skin types, the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation is a dream as it specializes in reducing the appearance of oil and minimizing shine throughout the day. What’s more impressive is despite its high medium coverage and full matte finish, it is still very lightweight, provides immaculate blendability and does not cake up. Though you have the option to not powder your face after applying this foundation, you might want to be on the safe side of things and at least set your face with translucent powder to prevent the product from sliding once it comes in contact with your natural oil. Also, kudos to Hourglass for the new tube packaging above as the previous pump dispenser style packaging proved to be a problem for most.

Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + Mattifying Foundation

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(41.00 USD / 1.01 oz)

This Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet Foundation goes from a medium to almost full coverage, setting to a strong matte finish. Its oil absorbent formula makes it ideal for those with very oily skin. Though it gives a perfectly powdered finish, it is rather easy to apply and blend as it starts out as a thin fluid, giving it enough slip. Do note that this product contains a tiny amount of fragrance but it is a rather minuscule amount and the chances of skin irritation are pretty low, but it is a more affordable alternative to the Hourglass foundation for very oily skin girls. Of course, let’s hope the formulation will turn fragrance-free soon.


Foundations for moderately oily skin

For moderately oily skin, it is not necessary to go with a liquid/cream to powder formulation as that might be a bit too mattifying and may appear unnatural on your skin. All you need is a good long-wearing, natural matte finish foundation that can still control your oil production.

Becca Ever-Matte Shine Proof Foundation

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(42.00 USD / 1.35 oz)

Back to a product that is completely free from oil, alcohol and fragrance, the Becca Ever-Matte Shine Proof Foundation is created for combination to oily skin. Those with very oily skin would not be too pleased with the fact that this foundation would not be able to hold back the shine all day long. For moderately oily skin, this foundation provides a long-lasting matte finish and you can get through about four to six hours of solid wear before your shine starts to peek through. What’s interesting about this foundation is its smooth, natural, almost soft-focus finish despite giving a medium to full, solid matte finish.

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Long Wear Foundation

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(47.00 USD / 1.0 oz)

If you have foundation on for long hours and worry about coverage and longevity, this oil and fragrance free liquid foundation may be your holy grail. Delivering medium to full coverage, this Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Foundation sets to a beautiful, long-wear velvety-matte finish with a hint of satin, thus making it an excellent option for combination to oily skin. Since this product is infused with perlite and silica, your excess oil will be absorbed for a shine-free wear. What’s best is it layers well without looking heavy. Note that though the foundation contains an SPF of 15, that amount is nowhere near what you need for sufficient sun protection. Do remember to apply a sunscreen containing SPF of at least 30 prior to wearing this foundation if you’re heading out in the day.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

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(39.50 USD / 1.0 oz)

This foundation is an oldie but a goodie. There’s a reason why the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation has been around for a very long time and still stands as a classic go-to. A long lasting foundation, this bad boy does not budge even through heat, sweat and humidity. It has amazing staying power to help you looking as fresh as your initial application, yet is lightweight. The buildable formula helps you achieve a natural-looking matte finish with a high medium to full coverage. If you’re having an issue with foundations that disappear or oxidize by end of day, this might be your remedy. Paired with a good pore-filling or mattifying primer and set lightly with powder, this foundation will stay in place all day long.


Foundations for slightly oily skin

If your oils only come through halfway or towards the last quarter of your foundation wear (assuming a total of 12 hour wear), you most probably have only slightly oily skin. An extremely matte or powdery finish might not be the most flattering option for you as the highly absorbent properties may over-dry your skin. The best foundation option for slightly oily skin is one that is lightweight, offers some hydration, yet gives a soft matte finish.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

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(47.00 USD / 1.0 oz)

The NARS Sheer Glow Foundation clearly fits the bill. Now, don’t be misled by the inclusion of the word ‘glow’ in the name and think that this is a dewy, highly moisturizing foundation for dry skin. On the contrary, this product sets to a soft matte finish, giving you a naturally radiant look rather than a ‘glowy’ one. This foundation is a joy to apply as its silicone base provides a good amount of slip for blending. The ingredient list is another pull factor. Aside from being alcohol and fragrance-free, it contains antioxidants, glycerin, vitamin C and turmeric extract – all beneficial for the skin including slightly oily skin (though since it’s in the form of makeup, the benefits imparted onto skin may not be that significant). On days where you feel oilier than usual and you need a bit more coverage (and assuming you own more than one foundation), you can mix the NARS Sheer Glow with a more full-coverage foundation like the Estee Lauder Double Wear. This mixture will give you a solid medium foundation that retains a natural radiance, yet keeping oil at bay.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

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(46.00 USD / 0.25 oz)

I’ve always found stick foundations to be rather iffy for my skin type (combination, leaning towards oily). They’re either too emollient that they accentuate shine throughout the day or the formulation contains too much of a waxy ingredient that my skin doesn’t quite take to it. The Hourglass Vanish Seamless Stick Foundation however surpassed my expectations. It holds up remarkably throughout the day and provides me with an attractive satin-matte finish with a subtle hint of dewiness. Its rich pigmentation means only a little product is needed to achieve a high coverage. I may actually feature this in my Holy Grail to give you more of a feel of how wonderful this foundation works on slightly oily skin.


So that’s my input for the basics of oily skin and suitable foundations for different levels of oily skin. I hope this has been helpful to my oily skin girls. I will be working on the same type of post for my dry skin girls out there, so be sure to check that out! I’ll be back!


To note: I obviously do not own ALL of these foundations, though I do own a few from the list above. For foundations I do not own, I have either asked for or been given samples from Sephora to try. Hence, I have tested all the products on myself. FYI, I have combination skin.


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