Makeup for Oily Skin: Buying Guide & FAQ

Makeup for Oily Skin: Buying Guide & FAQ

When you’re not sure what products make oily skin worse, which ones won’t be able to beat the inevitable shine or wanting to control the budget, buying products for oily skin can be a nightmare. However, finding the right makeup for oily skin can not only make you look amazing in the moment. It can also ensure that your skin is more manageable in future, too. Not sure if you have oily skin? Check out our series of posts about skincare, how to check your skin type and the best way to manage skin problems. For those who have already read-up on our (highly informative) articles, check out our ‘must-have’ products for oily skin, below.

What To Look For In Lightweight Makeup Products For Oily Skin

Finding the right product is about more than choosing an option that looks good. Indeed, it’s important to find makeup products that work with your skin, complimenting you physically, so that you can feel better, emotionally.

Density of the Product

OK, this one sounds a little daft – but it’s important. A denser product will be more likely to sit on the skin and block up your pores. Blocking up your pores means that you’re more likely to have a build-up of oil develop underneath the makeup. This leads to spots, and your body trying to produce more oil, in order to shift the blockage. Instead, opt for lighter options, such as gels and serums. These will sit more comfortably on top of the skin, without blocking your pores (also referred to as being non-comedogenic).

Photo by Becerra Govea Photo from Pexels

Sometimes, a lighter product won’t be marketed as being non-comedogenic, or a heavier product might be. Yet, both of these can still be a perfectly good product for your skin. If you notice this and aren’t sure whether or not to buy the product, it’s worth checking out the ingredients. There’s a full run-down of ingredients to look out for (and which to avoid), below.


Naturally, your budget is going to be one of the biggest factors in whether your purchase is worth it. After all, it’s about value for money, not the highest quality and therefore the highest price. As such, the items we’ve included on our list are all good, budget buys that offer amazing value for money.

Don’t let their low price tag fool you – these are some of the best-rated and most recommended products for people with oily skin. While we can’t deny that sometimes a little extra spending power can be worth it, why pay extra for something that works brilliantly at the right price?


How something feels on your skin is important. If you feel that you’re being caked in makeup from the start, you’re not going to feel comfortable going about your day. And, if you aren’t comfortable, then it isn’t worth it. Makeup is about finding a product that lets your confidence shine through and highlighting your best bits.

Makeup products for oily skin
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

This is especially true if you’re feeling hyper-aware of your skin type (regardless of what type of skin you actually have). So, go for products that feel completely natural on your face (and body, if you like to contour other areas). Something light, breathable and feels almost like a second skin is ideal.


There are two different types of ‘finish’ that you should look out for when buying makeup. Firstly, there’s the ‘matt’ type – which means your skin shows no sign of a shine. This is generally preferred by those with oily skin as, more often than not, throughout the day, our skin will add its own shine*.

The second type is the ‘dewy’ finish (also referred to as natural by some brands), which leaves a little shine. The latter option is preferred by those with dry skin, as it gives them more of that ‘glow’ we hear so much about. However, for those of us with oily skin, it can sometimes just make us look like we’re about to throw a disco down, through the mirror-ball that is our face.

*If you really hate the idea of any shine on your face, or have very oily skin, these blotting papers are ideal for absorbing any excess out. Just pat down your face (don’t rub!) as you go about your day. They’re completely natural and can even be used by those of us with sensitive skin!


The best kind of makeup is the kind that doesn’t rely on the suffering of animals. Luckily, many brands are coming to understand that and are looking for dermatologically-tested alternatives, instead. All of the brands we’ve listed in our buying guide are cruelty-free products for oily skin.

Ingredients to Look Out For In Makeup for Oily Skin

When it comes to buying anything that sits on your skin, there are two types of ingredients to look out for: those that are bad for your needs and those that keep your skin happy. Be wary of any product that says ‘no chemicals’ – because every product is a chemical. The whole world is made out of chemicals. Instead, look for specifics, so you know the brand is genuinely considering their product as more than a marketing campaign.

Oils are the first thing you should consider.

Items with coconut, camellia or hazelnut are highly comedogenic (more likely to clog up pores). Instead, opt for items that have linoleic oils. These types are actually essential fatty acids and have a conditioning aspect to them, without being comedogenic.

Stay away from alcohol-based products, as these have a tendency to strip your skin of all oils entirely.

While that can be incredibly tempting – especially if your oily skin is prone to acne breakouts (but, please note: not all acne-prone skin is oily skin and vice versa.) – it can actually make your skin worse. This is because your skin will then try to counteract this by producing more oil.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

So, if you’re using alcohol-based toners before putting your makeup on, your skin is going to work overtime. Which, essentially, makes all your hard work for nought. Excellent alternatives to these include plant-based cleansers and toners, such as those with aloe vera or rose toners.

Similarly, silicone-based options should be avoided.

Silicone-based primers and setting sprays create a layer on top of the skin that can send signals to your brain which cause it to panic and overdo the sebum-creation a tad. When we place silicone on our skin, it forms a barrier. This is great for those of us who want to cover fine lines or cover up large pores. However, it will make your skin work overtime, in order to shift what it deems to be a blockage. In other words, it’s our frenemy, the comedogenic option.

‘Artificial dyes’

Again, the use of ‘artificial’ here is a pain. Although it’s not technically incorrect, it can give off a similar vibe to ‘chemicals’. Essentially, what you need to actually look out for are those products that use petroleum and coal tar. These will most likely be found in blushes and lipsticks – and, for those like me, who are allergic to these, it can be a pain to pin down.

Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels

They’re also supposed to be terrible for people with acne-prone skin, as they are (sing it with me) comedogenic. There have also been some growing concerns regarding coal tar and the dangers of it being carcinogenic (causing cancer). So, until there’s been some definitive proof on that, it might be worth avoiding these altogether.

Why Buy Specially Made Makeup For Oily Skin

Buying a product that has been specifically formulated for oily skin means that all of the above has been taken into account. So, they’ll be light on the skin, feel completely natural and won’t cause any undue breakouts. While we can’t guarantee that they’ll follow every single rule necessary – as products do change their ingredients over time – at the time of writing, the products we’ve listed have done. In other words, they are non-comedogenic and all about preserving the natural beauty of your face, without compromising on heavy ingredients.

5 Essential Makeup Products for Oily Skin


BareMinerals has been a fan favourite ever since they launched in 1995. Although they only really became a big thing in the UK over the last 15-ish years after their Original powder foundation came out. And for good reason, too! It’s super-easy to think that a powder foundation would look cakey and sit awkwardly on the skin. Especially for those of us who have combination-oily skin. The worry is always there that the makeup will sit more comfortably in some areas than others – but not so with this foundation!

Foundation for oily skin

Coming in 28 different shades (I’ve linked to a good medium option – although I use ‘Fairly Light’ because I am 90% ghost), there’s a good range here for every skin tone. This is easily one of the best makeup products for oily skin. Since it not only remains non-comedogenic but is also buildable. Added to this, there’s the all-important bonus of including an SPF factor that will protect your skin from sun damage. Finally, it gives that all-important matt finish without causing any breakouts.

All of this is perfect for keeping up a general ‘just-woke-up-this-beautiful-hun’ look – but the benefits don’t stop there. It’s completely free of any harmful or detrimental chemicals, including coal tar, parabens and microbeads (green makeup ftw). So, not only are you going to look stunning, dahlink, but you’re making choices that are easy on the soul, too.

Of course, not everyone likes powder foundation, regardless of how amazing it is. So, there’s also the Bare Minerals Performance Wear, too.

Smashbox Photo Finish Oil and Shine Control Primer 12ml

For those of you who like a really firm primer that grips onto your makeup all day, this is the choice for you. There’s also a couple of other options out there, for people who prefer things a little lighter. That being said, this is the product for oily skin that receives consistently high reviews from users and offers the most for those with oily skin.

Its big marketing shebang is that it’s sweat and humidity resistant – so much so, that you could even go to the gym without sweating off your makeup. That’s quite the claim – but one that it seems to be living up to. More importantly, it works for holding on makeup when you have naturally oily skin.

Primer for oily skin

Being oil-free and non-greasy, this option will sit against your skin (you know my favourite term here already, I won’t bore you with it, again) while allowing your skin to breathe. It uses salicylic acid, which is ideal for those who are prone to breakouts, as it reduces sebum (oil) production. Meanwhile, witch hazel and zinc help to soothe the skin and reduce redness – ideal for those with a touch of rosacea.

Maybelline New York Concealer, Instant Anti-Ageing Eraser

Concealer is arguably going to be one of the hardest options to choose from. Mostly because, by its very nature, it’s going to thicker due to the need to cover up perceived imperfections. However, this concealer from Maybelline is formulated with goji berries and haloxyl, which boost circulation and helps brighten the skin. Thus, part of its ability to conceal comes from the ingredients themselves, as opposed to the density of the product.

It comes in 18 shades and the applicator tip allows for easy blending. Just turn the collar to ensure you’re getting the right amount and apply in the same way you would with a blender sponge. Or a complexion blender, to use their technical term. Use sparingly for the best results – a little goes a long way with this option!

Maybelline New York Fit Me! Blush

The best thing about these blushers – except for the fact that they work well on oily skin – is that they’re buildable in a way that suits a wide range of skin tones. Regardless of which colour you eventually choose (we’ve linked to the Amazon option that provides the full range), they all provide a natural colour. As an added benefit, this particular option comes in packs of three – giving you more bang for your buck, so to speak.

There’s an added element of highlight built into these blushers. So, if you’re not confident in your contouring, this option provides a bit of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Allowing users to add a hint of shine – exactly where you want it – while still remaining subtle and breathable for oily skin.

As a side note, for those who prefer liquid foundation, you should know that liquid blush will sit better in combination with this. If that’s your preferred feel and application, then it’s worth taking a look at this liquid blush alternative to match.

NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray, Long Lasting Formula

The danger, when it comes to oily skin, is that your makeup will soon sweat off. And, while a good quality primer will do most of the heavy lifting, you can’t go wrong with a setting spray to help you out. Again, we’re after avoiding creating a layer that suffocates your skin, here. So, we’re chosen NYX’s setting spray, as it provides a matt finish while maintaining that natural need to breathe.

This setting spray is forever getting a ton of positive reviews from everyday users through to professional makeup artists – and it’s easy to see why. It’s incredibly kind to your skin while being long-lasting. Perfect for long days at work, a good night out after a long lockdown or just to make you feel comfortable and confident in your makeup, throughout the day. As an added bonus, this particular option comes as a pack of two, increasing the already excellent value for money.


Is makeup bad for oily skin?

There’s a common misconception that those with oily skin shouldn’t wear makeup. Whether you’re prone to break-outs or just worry that wearing makeup is bad for you, it’s important to understand the basics. Wearing makeup is not always going to be bad for oily skin – and if you want to wear it, then you can let people know that the idea that these limitations are simplistic.

The reality is that anyone who wants to wear makeup, can wear makeup. However, it’s important to find the right makeup for your needs. As always, reading up on the basics can save a ton of heartbreak in the long-run. All of the products given here are absolutely fine for people with oily skin to use. Indeed, wearing the right makeup will not only make you feel more confident, but it can also help with breakouts when compared to wearing comedogenic makeup.

In the case of Bare Minerals, it can actually help reduce redness in the long run, as well as reducing the appearance of pores and sebum production. So, no, makeup is not bad for oily skin. Wearing the wrong makeup is what’s bad for oily skin.

Are powder foundations better for oily skin?

Powder foundations have the added benefit of absorbing any additional oil your skin might produce during the day. They also leave you with a matt finish (non-shiny face) after application. Which can make you feel better about how you look. However, as long as the basic needs (covered earlier in this article) are being met, there’s no limit as to what kind of foundation you can wear. We even give you a liquid alternative to meet your own preferences!

Is face primer necessary for oily skin?

Face primer is always going to be a good idea, just to provide an extra level of protection for your skin and ensuring your makeup lasts for longer. When it comes to oily skin, a face primer can work wonders for mattifying the look of your makeup. As well as ensuring your pores don’t get clogged up with the makeup itself. Finally, it also provides a smoother, more even complexion. Which is great for those with combination skin. It is, of course, never essential to have any kind of makeup. So, if you prefer how you look without it, go for it.

Does primer stop oily skin?

No. A good quality primer does not stop your skin from doing what it knows. And if what it knows is to keep your skin oily, your skin will remain so. Nor should it change! Picking the right makeup isn’t about changing your skin – but working with it, for the best results (which is to make you feel as beautiful as you already are). Instead, picking a primer that works with oily skin is going to be what leaves you the most comfortable and confident.



Editor-in-chief, lover of UX/UI and copywriter by trade. Wendy can usually be found ranting to herself over on Twitter, educating herself about health and wellness, parenting or gaming. Luckily, she doesn't do all of these things at the same time - though you'd be surprised how often they cross over.

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