Which foundation for oily skin is best?

Nothing beats the flawless finish of putting on a coat of foundation. But when you have oily skin, the wrong foundation can give your face an unwanted sheen, cause other products to run and not look their best, clog your pores and exacerbate any skin conditions.

That’s why it’s essential when your skin tends to be naturally oily to choose a foundation that doesn’t clog your pores or make your skin look greasy. If you’re looking for great coverage with a matte finish, you can’t beat the Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation

What to know before you buy foundation for oily skin

It’s crucial to find the right foundation not just for oily, but also for combination skin. Combination skin is when part of your face is oily, often the nose and forehead, but other parts tend to dry out. 


When skin is oily, it’s often best to choose a water-based foundation. But water-based foundations sometimes offer lighter coverage than oil-based foundations. When evaluating foundations for oily skin, be sure to find one with enough coverage for you. One trick to use with a water-based foundation is to apply several layers until you achieve the coverage desired.

Matching skin tone

One challenge to choosing a foundation is finding a shade that blends seamlessly with your skin tone and doesn’t clash, look too yellow or light, or fail to blend. That’s why it’s key to choose a foundation that offers many skin tone options, from light to dark and from cool to warm.

Spot test along your jawline and neck to find a good blend, as different areas of the face may reflect foundation differently. These are the two spots where the foundation reflects most accurately.

Matte vs. dewy

Trends in foundation come and go. Sometimes the favored look is more of a powdery finish. Other times, dewy wins the day. Whichever you prefer, when your skin tends toward oily, you’ll want to take that into account when choosing your foundation.

Starting your day with a foundation that looks dewy will mean a shiny face within a few hours, and a matte look may be hard to maintain throughout the day. Plan your look accordingly.

What to look for in a quality foundation for oily skin

When choosing a foundation, it’s important to understand your style and what you’re looking to achieve. If you’re not someone who wears a full face of makeup every day, a full-coverage foundation may feel heavy for you. If you’re looking for a flawless finish for a night out on the town, you may want something with more coverage.

Regardless of how light or heavy you go, a good foundation blends easily, doesn’t leave harsh lines and feels good on your skin.


A good foundation blends easily either with your fingers or your makeup sponge. For oily skin, you want to look for the right mix of creamy blendability and breathability, so it doesn’t look harsh but doesn’t clog your pores.

Ability to reflect light

A foundation’s job is to blend seamlessly with your skin, enhancing your face’s tones and skin’s natural glow. When trying out a new foundation, look at yourself in different kinds of light, from natural lighting by a window to more faint lighting that emulates a dimly lit club or restaurant. Choosing a foundation with light-diffusing pigments helps add to the natural look.


With oily skin, it is particularly important to choose a foundation that feels light on the skin and doesn’t give you that goopy “I’ve got makeup on” feel. Again, water-based foundations are always the safest bet when shopping for a foundation for oily skin.

How much you can expect to spend on a foundation for oily skin

Expect to pay $10-$20 for a drugstore brand of foundation for oily skin. If you opt for a splurge brand, you can pay $50-$100.

Foundation for oily skin FAQ

Is foundation bad for my skin?

A. Used correctly, foundation should be fine even for breakout-prone skin. Many foundations offer protection against sun damage, so they can actually help protect your skin. If you have oily, breakout-prone skin, be diligent about washing it off properly at the end of each day and giving your skin a break on weekends if possible. 

Is skin color all I need to focus on when choosing a foundation for oily skin?

A. There are two main components to picking the right hue of foundation: skin color and tone. You’ve probably seen foundations labeled “warm” and “cool,” but how do you know which is the right type for you?

Besides being thorough about spot-testing foundation and looking at yourself in different types of light, look at the inside of your wrist. If your veins look bluish, you’re likely better off with cooler tones. If they look more on the green side, opt for warmer tones.

What’s the best foundation for oily skin to buy?

Top foundation for oily skin

Best Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation

Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation 

What you need to know: This is a quality foundation by a top brand that controls oil, offers excellent coverage and comes in numerous shades. 

What you’ll love: Its unique formula controls excess sebum production, which makes it ideal for oily skin. In addition to full coverage, it has an appealing matte finish. The large selection of colors makes it possible for most consumers to find the shades that work best for them. 

What you should consider: Streaking and settling into fine lines may occur for some wearers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Amazon 

Top foundation for oily skin for the money

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

What you need to know: This drugstore go-to gives you a great foundation at an affordable price. It has a good range of skin-tone options and gives a light yet full coverage for oily skin.

What you’ll love: This foundation offers light but long-lasting coverage, plus a sun protection factor of 15 to protect your skin against sun damage. The creamy formula is buildable to suit individual needs. 

What you should consider: Users looking to cover blemishes may find this foundation must be blended with concealer to get the job done.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Worth checking out

Best Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Foundation

Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Foundation

What you need to know: This popular oil-free foundation has been a top seller for years thanks to its beautiful matte finish and long-lasting wear. 

What you’ll love: It doesn’t contain oil and helps control it while absorbing the shine it can create. Its medium coverage works well for most wearers and lasts for hours. 

What you should consider: Some shades may produce an orange cast on some skin tones. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Amazon 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.