Best foundation for oily skin: Get beautiful shine-free coverage

From powders to loose liquids and highly-pigmented creams, this is our pick of the best foundation for oily skin

Spills of liquid and powder foundation
(Image credit: Getty images)

If you have oily or combination skin, it can be difficult to find the best foundation for your skin type. Too much oil or liquid in the formula and it's slipped by lunchtime, while powder foundations run the risk of looking cakey.

There are many factors that cause oily skin, which is why it’s a challenge to find the right products and 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. 

Whatever the cause, it’s possible to get everything under control with a good skincare routine, including the right moisturiser, and of course by using a foundation designed for your needs. 

When it comes to foundations for oily skin, avoiding oil-based formulas is a good place to start. It’s a particularly good idea to steer clear of comedogenic oils such as coconut, avocado, moringa and wheatgerm 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 spots. 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. 

Read on to discover the ingredients and formulas that make up the best foundations for oily skin. This list includes powder foundations, matte long-lasting liquids, foundations with antibacterial ingredients and shine-proof finishes that don’t look flat. 

What’s more, there’s something here to suit all budgets, ensuring everyone can find their perfect match, whatever your price range, skin type or tone.

How to choose the best foundation for oily skin for you

If your skin is naturally oily with larger-looking pores or you experience hot flushes that cause shine and melt away make-up, you need a formula that’s robust. 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 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. 

Why are water-based foundations good for oily skin?

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 but particularly so if you are prone to feeling congested. 

Why are silicone-based foundations good for oily skin?

Many long-lasting or oil-control foundations contain some form of silicone, and no wonder. This group of ingredients give 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 make-up 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, so I’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 foundation for oily skin you can buy right now

Whatever your skin tone or budget, find the best foundation for oily skin now with our edit.

 

The best foundation for oily skin for most people

Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Fluid Powder Foundation

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Fluid Powder Foundation

Specifications
Price: £28
Shades: 28
Coverage : Medium buildable
Reasons to buy
+Lasts extremely well+Soft matte finish 
Reasons to avoid
-Messy dispenser

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. 

The best premium foundation for oily skin 

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24h Foundation

Specifications
Price: £34
Shades: 45
Coverage : Full
Reasons to buy
+Very long lasting+Excellent shade range
Reasons to avoid
-Needs thorough removal

Many a beauty ed’s favourite 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 Europe and the US. 

No beauty editor could recommend wearing make-up 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 shift it. 

More good news is that this award-winning formula comes in over 40 shades,  and the deep ones contain a unique ultramarine blue pigment that ensures they never appear ashy on skin.  

Read our full Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation review here

The best budget foundation for oily skin

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation

Specifications
Price: £8.99
Shades: 25
Coverage: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Very good value+Natural look
Reasons to avoid
-May need topping up 

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 top-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, which Rimmel says will match 99% of UK skin tones – a great thing for such a bargain price. 

The best blurring foundation for oily skin

Too faced born this way matte

(Image credit: Too Faced)

Too Faced Born This Way Matte

Specifications
Price: £29
Shades: 35
Coverage : Full
Reasons to buy
+Blurring finish+Light feel  +Great shade range
Reasons to avoid
-Full coverage 

Don’t be fooled by the youthful pink packaging or sassy product name, this is seriously good stuff, for any age. 

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 cover, which will be good news to some, but might look a bit too “done” if you prefer sheer tints. 

The best long lasting foundation for oily skin

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Foundation

(Image credit: fenty)

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Specifications
Price: £27
Shades: 50
Coverage: Full
Reasons to buy
+Excellent shade range+Flawless finish
Reasons to avoid
-Very matte 

How often does a make-up brand come along and genuinely revolutionise 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 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 also just a very good foundation. 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 moisturise 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. 

The best mineral foundation for oily skin

bareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation, £29

(Image credit: BareMinerals)

bareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation

Specifications
Price: £29
Shades: 10
Coverage : Buildable
Reasons to buy
+Gentle on acne+Buildable cover
Reasons to avoid
-Trickier to apply

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 make-up 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 salicylic acid to create Blemish Rescue. 

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 best mattifying foundation for oily skin

No 7 beautifully matte foundation

(Image credit: No 7 )

No 7 Beautifully Matte Foundation

Specifications
Price: £15
Shades: 14
Coverage: Medium-full
Reasons to buy
+True matte finish+Good value
Reasons to avoid
-Limited shades 

The clue is in the name with Boots No 7 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 foundation is compatible with No 7's Match Made service a clever skin scanner that takes the guesswork out of finding the right foundation shade. However at the time of writing there were only 14 shades available on boots.com, and the vast majority of those shades were no darker than beige, so there is much room for improvement here. 

The best classic foundation for oily skin

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

Specifications
Price: £34.50
Shades: 60
Coverage: Very high
Reasons to buy
+Ultra long wear+Excellent shade range
Reasons to avoid
-Thicker texture

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. Double Wear also 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.