Unearthing the ride-or-die foundation of your dreams is like locating a needle in a haystack, finding the perfect pair of vintage Levi's while thrifting, or trying to decide which member of Queer Eye's Fab Five is your favorite. (Aka, it's near impossible.) Not only is there the whole shade-matching fiasco to contend with, but you also have to consider finish (dewy! matte! satin! luminous! demi-matte!), ingredients, price, formula, and the list goes on. Daunting, no? Especially if you find yourself in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and are unable to swatch, sample, and test out potential contenders IRL.
If you have oily skin, the predicament only intensifies. Not only are countless foundations unfeasible due to their dew- or glow-enhancing nature, but the foundations that are geared toward slick skin types often veer overly dehydrating or matte (neither of which is great when you're searching for a product that's supposed to enhance the look of your skin).
Believe it or not, some of our favorite foundations for oily skin can be found at the drugstore and for ridiculously endearing price points of $20 and under. To get you started, my fellow WWW beauty editor, Courtney Higgs, and I are sharing a few of our favorite formulas alongside some additional options that have won lots of acclaim within the beauty industry. Keep scrolling. We're listing 12 of the best drugstore foundations for oily skin just below.
Courtney's Top Pick: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation
When I asked Courtney to share a few of her fave drugstore foundations for oily skin, she mentioned this all-star matte formula from L'Oréal right off the bat. It's lightweight; oil-free; sweat-, heat-, and humidity-resistant; and, perhaps best of all, will retain its flattering demi-matte finish for up to 24 hours.
Erin's Top Pick: L'Oréal True Match Super Blendable Makeup
I've had this OG foundation from L'Oréal in my rotation since college. Back then, I couldn't afford more expensive options, and this was the one formula that not only had the best shade range at my local drugstore but also left my skin with the most natural, non-mask-like finish. I also appreciate the addition of SPF.
Courtney's Runner-Up: Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation
This is another top rec from Courtney if you're looking for a great drugstore foundation for oily skin. Despite its HD, full-coverage finish, it's impeccably lightweight so your application will look practically invisible. And thanks to it's oil-free, mattifying prowess, it will also keep unwanted shine at bay.
Erin's Runner-Up: Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation SPF 20
I pretty much find a way to work this game-changing foundation into every and any story. It's SO good, and I prefer it to almost every other (much-more-expensive) foundation in my collection. It's extremely durable and long-wearing, which has made it my go-to for long nights out (back when that was a thing). It's really easy to build and layer depending on how much coverage you want, it keeps me from getting too slick, and it's even boosted with skincare power players like hyaluronic acid; vitamins A, C, and E; and the brand's exclusive Brightening Complex.
The Cult Favorite: Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin SPF 15
Despite being a beauty editor who has access to pretty much every foundation under the sun and despite knowing plenty of other beauty editors who have the same kind of access, I have found this cult-classic drugstore foundation formula from Revlon is always a resounding favorite. This version is specifically formulated for those with combination or oily skin. It's breathable and buildable, and you can choose from a whopping 43 shades.
The Makeup-Artist Pick: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation
Quizzing makeup artists about their favorite products (especially ones that can be found more affordably at the drugstore) is a weekly occurrence and practically written into my job description. Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation comes in two different finishes (matte versus dewy), and it always comes up as a unanimous favorite among makeup artists.
"This foundation is medium coverage, but it still allows for buildable coverage without pilling up or setting into fine lines, and it's actually my personal go-to backup foundation for myself," celebrity makeup artist Denise Madrigal has told me. "I will also use this on my clients when they're looking for coverage but something that doesn't feel heavy on the skin. To create an airbrushed finish, use a beauty sponge."
Best Water-Based Option: Covergirl Clean Matte Liquid Foundation
So, most oil-controlling foundations are oil-free, but this newly reformulated version is definitely one of the best thanks to its gentle water-based recipe, which controls shine and banishes those pesky mid-afternoon greasies for good. That said, Covergirl, we're waiting on at least 20 more shades, please!
Best Acne-Clearing Formula: Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Acne and Blemish Fighting Liquid Foundation
Just because a foundation is matte or oil-free doesn't mean it's automatically going to help keep acne at bay. Not only is this top drugstore foundation from Neutrogena oil-free, but it's also strategically equipped with everything an acne-prone complexion could ask for. The magic lies in the brand's unique MicroClear technology, which cuts through oil to efficiently deliver acne medicine straight to the source of your breakouts. It also boasts one of the best known acne-fighting ingredients, salicylic acid.
Best for Full Coverage: Nyx Professional Makeup Stay Matte But Not Flat Liquid Foundation
Nyx Professional Makeup is known for just that—professional, expensive-looking results that can be attained at a fraction of the price. This foundation is a great option for oily skin thanks to the oil-free, water-based formulation, and it's even enriched with minerals to keep the matte finish from verging too flat (as the name so cleverly hints at).
Best Cream Option: E.l.f. Cosmetics HD Mattifying Cream Foundation
E.l.f. Cosmetics has a couple of different versions of its HD Mattifying Foundation formula. But if you love a great cream foundation and have issues finding an option suitable for oily skin types, this drugstore pick is a great bet. Technically, it's touted by the brand as a cream-to-powder formula that not only helps regulate oil but will also minimize the look of fine lines, apply effortlessly (a sponge is included), and last all day.
Best Powder Formula: Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Satte Matte Powder Foundation
Makeup Revolution is one of the most beloved (and affordable) cosmetics brands across the pond in the UK, and this top-rated powder foundation is one of the brand's all-star picks. Though the formula is buildable, it's best for anyone looking for light to medium color payoff.
Best for Irritated or Sensitive Skin: Almay Clear Complexion Make Myself Clear Makeup
Not only is this another great option for people who veer oily and acne-prone, but it's also a great option for anyone who's looking for a dose of calming relief. It's expertly formulated with four-in-one blemish-targeting technology to cover, clear, calm, and control and features acne-busting salicylic acid, in particular, to banish any bumps and prevent new ones from making an appearance.
This article was published at an earlier date and has been updated.