Our top makeup picks for keeping oily skin looking fabulous all day (and night)
Oily skin BFFs
Here’s the deal. It’s not easy getting your makeup to look good and stay good an entire day when you’ve got oily-combination skin, not in our weather – it’s hard enough trying to keep the shine at bay without having to deal with a hot and terribly humid environment which only makes it worse.
The secret? It all starts with skincare. Figuring out what works for you is half the battle won when you’re struggling with oily skin. The other half is getting your primers, foundations and powders right so your face stays locked in place throughout a whole day of work or play. Here are a couple of our favourites that will hopefully keep your makeup perfectly in place from dusk to dawn.
This is a weightless gel primer that mattifies skin, treats blemishes and minimises the appearance of pores. For those who have extremely oily skin, apply this beneath your matte foundation for an ultra-matte base.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $70
This cult favourite setting powder has been loved for years, and it continues to impress next to newer powders that have been introduced along the way. It’s perfect for setting your makeup or “baking” to lock in your foundation or concealer to prevent creasing. If you have dry skin we don’t recommend packing it on, but it’s amazing if you have combination or oily skin. The brand has also introduced a darker medium-deep shade to cater to more skin tones; this is exclusively available at all Laura Mercier department store counters.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed/Loose powder, $48/42
The translucent powder comes in two forms: Pressed ($48) and loose ($42). They have slightly different claims, with the loose powder boasting so-called HD properties, but for the most part the ingredients are similar, with stuff like real silk, collagen, peptides and antioxidants included in both formulations. For the sake of convenience, I’ve been using the pressed powder for a few weeks now, only because a pressed powder is easy to carry around without making a mess, and I must say I’m duly impressed.
Make Up For Ever Step 1 Mattifying Primer, $70 for 30ml
You can’t go wrong with the Step 1 line-up of primers, whether it’s the smoothing primer for uneven skin, the hydrating one for dry skin, the colour correcting range, or the mattifying primer for oily skin. If you have combination skin, keep the application to your T-zone or wherever you get particularly oily, because the consistency of this is a tad thicker. That said, it blends well and keeps your makeup on longer, plus a little goes a long way so a tube of the stuff will last you months.
Urban Decay De-Slick Primer, $55 & Setting Spray, $48
If you’ve got really oily skin, you’ll love the De-Slick makeup setting spray and primer. The latter is pretty lightweight but seriously mattifies your face wherever you apply it. I’d recommend only using this where you really get oily (like your nose and chin, for instance) using a dabbing or pressing motion instead of rubbing it into your skin (which can cause the formula to ball up), and letting the setting spray take care of the rest of your face.
This primer also has smoothing properties, evens out your skin tone, and makes your pores less visible! It’s got a sheer nude colour to it that blends into your skin perfectly.
As a teenager, I had incredibly oily eyelids and would struggle to keep my eyeliner or eyeshadows in place. Shadow Insurance was the first eyeshadow primer I fell in love with and remains one of my favourites. The formula is lightweight, has minimal coverage that manages to neutralise some discolouration, makes your eyeshadows appear more vibrant, and staves off creasing or smudging for pretty much the entire day. Also, a little goes a long way.
I love Tarte for its use of more natural ingredients, and find that the formulas are a lot kinder to my skin. These blushes in particular are well-loved for their staying power and colour payoff. They’re not overly pigmented but entirely buildable, and they stay visible all day on your skin even if you’ve got more oily or combination skin. There are almost 20 shades in the range with a great mix of matte and shimmer shades, though we especially love the selection of neutral blushes.
L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24H Foundation, approximately $23
This may not be available in Singapore stores, but you can acquire it fairly easily off sites like Carousell or Shopee from sellers who have it in stock. I ordered this for myself after seeing countless rave reviews on YouTube, and absolutely love its lightweight, long-wearing and mattifying finish. It’s definitely geared towards more oily skin types, and has medium-to-high coverage. The reason it’s not available in Singapore? The brand introduced a Mat Magique foundation instead which is meant to be a more lightweight version for hot and humid weather, so I’m planning to check that out, too.
An oldie but a goodie, this foundation has long been considered a “holy grail” pick by many beauty gurus as far as matte and full coverage foundations for oily skin go. I do wish there was a more extensive shade range available, and that the bottles came with pumps to make application much easier and more hygienic, but the latter is a minor quibble; you can certainly hack your way into fitting a pump on your foundation bottle. In any case, I remember trying this out as a teenager and decided to re-purchase it recently. It holds up really well in muggy weather, and while the coverage starts off closer to a medium, it’s definitely buildable.
One of the pricier primers in Sephora, this is amazing for keeping oily skin in control throughout the day without feeling like you have anything on your skin. It feels silky to the touch, minimises the appearance of redness and pores, and also contains a physical SPF15 sunscreen. If you’ve yet to try this primer, definitely start with the travel sized bottle ($31) before splurging on the standard or jumbo ones!
If you have oily skin but don’t want to use a powder foundation, this is the perfect compromise. As the name suggest, this is a liquid-to-powder foundation that not only absorbs oil throughout the day and night, but also lasts ages on your skin. I have found that this works best when you exfoliate or prep with a primer beforehand. I love layering this over the Hourglass primer, so that rather pricey combo might be worth the splurge if you want budge-proof facepaint.
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF15, $64
I’d seen this foundation used in a lot of full-coverage acne foundation routines on Youtube, which had me beyond impressed and determined to pick it up for myself. It takes a little more effort to blend due to the thicker consistency, but it works great when applied with a damp makeup sponge. It still feels pretty lightweight on the skin, and I love how sturdy the packaging is – I can take it with me on holiday or throw it in my handbag without worry.
La Roche Posay Serozinc, $12.90 for 50ml and $24.90 for 150ml
There’s evidence that topical zinc can reduce sebum production and also soothe acne inflammations. Serozinc is a fine spray that contains zinc in a base of its iconic Thermal Spring Water, a powerful antioxidant thermal water that promises to soothe and protect sensitive skin.
It instantly takes the shine off your skin, whether it’s caused by hormones, stress or working out, without causing dehydration or dryness. It immediately soothes redness from acne too, and has an antibacterial effect to improve the condition of your skin over time. It also helps in tightening pores so they’re less likely to accumulate bacteria, which could lead to pimples and acne.
While not quite makeup (or skincare for that matter), this blotting cushion is a touch-up tool you’ll want if you wear makeup and have oily skin. It lets you blot away any oiliness without messing or moving around your lotions and potions. Instead, it deposits a lightweight watery serum that immediately mattifies by absorbing oil on your skin. It’s translucent and undetectable so your makeup looks virtually untouched, and the mattifying effect lasts a solid few hours depending on how oily your skin is.