While dewy skin may now be on trend, as anyone with oily skin knows, there’s a big difference between a radiant glow and an oil slick T-zone. Indeed, as someone who grew up with oily skin in the height of the matte skin trend, I consider myself an unofficial expert when it comes to choosing and applying makeup products to help combat that unfortunate combination of greasy skin, enlarged pores, forehead shine, and breakouts.
I learned (the hard way) the importance of skin prep, how to layer makeup to ensure it lasts all day, and exactly what to do when the shine begins to seep through. I also learned how important it is to consider the formula of a product when choosing makeup—liquid blushers and cream bronzers may be trending, but if you have oily skin, powder formulas will always reign supreme.
When you’re oil-prone, you probably find that makeup doesn’t last very long on your skin, and tends to slide off or melt into (and emphasise) pores by midday. The solution? Oil-free, mattifying primers that reduce shine and keep skin looking fresh and balanced all day long, powder textures that absorb excess oil, and setting sprays and powders to keep makeup locked in place.
But first, let’s talk skin. We all know that good makeup starts with the right skincare routine, so I enlisted the help of dermatologist Sonia Khorana to give us her top tips for oily skin.
“Oily skin is basically due to an excess production of sebum on the face,” explains Khorana. “This can be caused by genetics, puberty, or several environmental factors that could be affecting the skin.”
“Sebum production is under the control of hormones (specifically sex hormones called androgens). Sebum is actually critical to overall skin health — that is, when it’s not over- or under-produced by the body. When hormone levels fluctuate – sebum production can be affected. Genetics and stress also play a role,” she adds.
Sebum levels can be affected by a large number of different triggers, from puberty through to medication, diet, and underlying conditions, so it’s not always easy to control oily skin with products alone. However Khorana recommends starting by looking out for products that are labelled ‘oil free’ and ‘non-comedogenic’ and using sebum-regulating ingredients such as niacinamide and salicylic acid.
“Cleanse twice daily using a cleanser with oil-balancing ingredients but also incorporate some gentle, non-comedogenic ingredients like squalane and ceramides to ensure your skin barrier is well looked after,” she adds. “A disrupted skin barrier can lead to sensitivity, breakouts, inflammation and dehydration, so do not skip moisturiser—just look for lighter, gel-like textures.”
When it comes to makeup application, Khorana emphasises the importance of prepping your skin with skincare products first, especially a good cleanse. “A mattifying primer is essential,” she adds. “And you might need to apply a light dusting of powder before foundation if your skin gets very oily.”
Not every makeup routine needs a primer, but if you’re prone to oiliness and shine, and want to ensure that your makeup lasts all day, then this extra step can make a huge difference. This one works by creating a barrier between skin and makeup that absorbs excess oil.
This anti-shine primer gives skin a smooth, matte finish so that makeup applies easily and sits seamlessly on skin.
Perfect for everything from brightening under eyes to covering breakouts, this creamy concealer has a light texture and soft-matte finish. it stays put on even the oiliest complexions.
Although it’s highly pigmented and delivers a full coverage matte finish, this concealer doesn’t feel heavy or look cakey on the skin—and nor does it settle into pores.
If you prefer a lightweight base and natural-looking makeup, this oil-free tinted moisturiser provides just the right amount of coverage and leaves skin with a demi-matte finish.
Of course, not everyone with oily skin wants a matte finish. If you do like your skin to have a fresh-faced glow (without verging on shiny), try this serum-textured foundation. It contains hydrating ingredients to support the skin barrier and add a radiant glow.
Powder formulas last longer on oily skin than cream or liquid ones. This matte bronzer is perfect both for softly sculpting skin and for adding all-over warmth.
Likewise, opt for powder blush formulas over liquid ones. This one subtly illuminates cheeks as well as adding a flush of colour, so you won’t need to add highlighter.
Thanks to its super-pigmented formula this colour-rich blusher lasts impressively well on oily skin types.
Refy’s water-based primer not only sets makeup and removes and prevents shine, but also blurs the appearance of enlarged pores.
A staple in professional makeup artist kits, this loose powder is a cult classic for good reason. The finely-milled powder promises 16 hours of transfer-resistant, shine-free wear.
Specifically formulated with oily skin in mind, this setting spray locks makeup in place for up to 16 hours, blurs pores, controls shine, and contains niacinamide and witch hazel to treat skin in the process.
If, no matter how hard you try, you still can’t escape the dreaded 3pm shine from appearing, keep these handy blotting sheets in your bag for on-the-go mattifying.