Here's the thing about choosing a foundation for oily skin. It has to look good—ideally like your skin but better—and it has to stay there. That second part is more complicated than it sounds. After all, oil and makeup rarely mix. Anyone with a slick T-zone knows how the wrong foundation can slip, smudge, or completely slide off your face over the course of a day. Add in heat, humidity, and a lack of setting powder or blotting papers, and it's hopeless.
The key word there was "wrong" foundation. The right ones won't do any of those things. They'll perfect the look of your skin and stay put without dissolving into a makeup mess. Some will even control oil and shine so you don't have to constantly blot your skin throughout the day. Ahead, see the 12 best foundations for oily skin, according to a celebrity makeup artist.
What to Look for in a Foundation for Oily Skin
Celebrity makeup artist J Guerra says there are four things to look for. First, choose an oil-free formula. "These are typically designed for oily skin types specifically," he says. "They provide coverage and perform like other formulas without adding extra oil to the skin." Second, choose a formula with a matte finish. "This will help control shine and give the skin a more refined surface without adding any unwanted glow or shine," he adds. Third, choose a foundation that's labeled noncomedogenic, which means the product is not likely to clog pores. Guerra says, "That's especially crucial for oily skin, which can be more prone to breakouts." Finally, look for claims like "long-wearing" or "24-hour wear." Guerra says these formulas are designed to last longer and can stand up against oil production better than other foundations.
According to Guerra, powder foundations are the best bet. "Mineral-based, loose powders or compact powder foundations can be excellent options for oily skin. They leave a matte finish, are lightweight, and absorb excess oil. Touch-ups are also much easier and more convenient. Just be sure they're finely milled for the best finish," he says.
As for specific ingredients, check the label for salicylic acid, silica, and dimethicone. The first one can treat breakouts, the second one can absorb oil, and the third one creates a smooth surface for a flawless-looking complexion. On the flip side, Guerra recommends avoiding isopropyl myristate, which makeup artists call IPM: "It can exacerbate oiliness, clog pores, and even lead to severe breakouts."
Best Overall: Armani Beauty Power Fabric + Longwear High Cover Foundation
Guerra recommends this foundation for oily skin. It's just as good as the brand's iconic Luminous Silk Foundation ($69) but much better suited for oily skin since it has a matte finish that keeps shine at bay. It provides flawless medium-to-full coverage.
Promising review: "I think I may have found my holy grail foundation! I don't wear foundation much and when I do I usually need it to last long and not break down/get super oily! I have normal/combo skin and this lasts so well on my skin!! This foundation literally blurs your pores. It feels super lightweight and has solid buildable medium coverage." — Sephora customer
When it comes to drugstore foundations, we like this formula from Maybelline, which is specifically formulated for oily skin and provides a matte finish with a bonus blurring effect. Translation? It makes enlarged pores look smaller.
Promising review: "I have never found a foundation that can cover as well as I need it to without melting off my face in three hours, so I don't wear it often. ... I was shocked at how well it stayed as well as how well it covered." — Target customer
This is one of Guerra's favorite powder foundations, and it is so silky and lightweight—perfect for people who don't like the feel of wearing makeup. If you know, you know. It still offers full coverage that's transfer-proof.
Promising review: "I purchased this item and have never looked back to any other compact. This is the best foundation, it is light on the face breathable, and looks natural. I get compliments on what a beautiful complexion I have." — Dior customer
Ever since this product first launched, it's been a go-to for people with oily skin. That's because it creates a smooth, seamless finish while absorbing excess oil.
Promising review: "This product is perfect if you have oily skin. I have been using this powder foundation since it was released." — Sephora customer
Another drugstore foundation we recommend, this one boasts 24-hour wear, meaning it won't slip and slide on oily skin. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's one of the best budge-proof formulas out there.
Promising review: "I am honestly blown away by this foundation. ... It does not transfer and it’s sweat-proof as well! I have oily, combination skin for reference." —Target customer
Another silky and mattifying powder foundation, this one comes in a refillable compact. Oh, how we love sustainable makeup products.
Promising review: "If you like powder foundations definitely try this! I have it in two colors. My skin is combination and I love that this works for both oily and dry skin." — Ulta customer
This formula offers sheer-to-medium coverage, so if you're a full-coverage-foundation person, this probably won't be the best fit for you. However, if you like a natural-looking, velvety-matte foundation that has a French-girl vibe, you'll love it.
Promising review: "I love this foundation! This truly gives a soft flawless appearance to the skin!" — Macy's customer
Guerra says this isn't a fully matte foundation, but it's a good option for people who have oily skin and also prefer a satin finish. Yes, it's expensive, but the smooth, seamless coverage it offers makes it well worth the price for so many people who struggle with oily skin.
Promising review: "This foundation is amazing and it makes you flawless! It's pricey but in my opinion very worth the price!!!" — Sephora customer
The same goes for this formula; it has more of a satin finish than a matte one. To put it another way, it gives the skin a lit-from-within glow without the dreaded oil-slick quality.
Promising review: "This foundation glides on smoothly and looks beautiful. It’s matte yet not flat-looking. It has a subtle natural radiance. It did not oxidize and lasted the day on me (12 hours). It looks natural not cakey. Two pumps were enough to cover the face and bring down the neck. It’s medium coverage. I recommend it." — Nordstrom customer
Another matte drugstore foundation, this one has a pretty stellar shade range that accounts for different skin tones and undertones.
Promising review: "I have been using this foundation for five years now. I will say it is not full coverage but it is buildable. This foundation feels so lightweight and it gives such a natural look. I've tried other foundations but always come back to this one 'cause it's just so good!" — Ulta customer
Guerra also recommends this luxurious formula from Tom Ford. It comes in 40 shades, it's infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid, and it even has light-diffusing microspheres. The latter is what makes it so perfect for a "cloud skin" effect—a velvety matte complexion.
Promising review: "It is so lightweight but still provides the perfect amount of coverage. It looks completely natural but covers every flaw. This is a pricey foundation but one of the very few I've used and can honestly say worth it." — Sephora customer
This is yet another foundation that's perfect for the TikTok-viral "cloud skin" effect. It has a matte finish, but it doesn't read as one-dimensional on the skin. Instead, it gives it a soft and velvety feel.
Promising review: "The best foundation you'll ever get your hands on! It's medium to full coverage and it's buildable. Also, it doesn't feel heavy, but it does provide that full-coverage look! Great for everyday use." — Sephora customer