obsessive tester

The Best Foundations for Oily Skin, Tested and Reviewed

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

The dewy-looking makeup trend is one of the best things ever to happen to people with oily skin. Thanks to brands like Glossier and Milk, it’s not just acceptable but downright fashionable to have a face that’s not exactly dry.

However, there’s a difference between prepackaged oily-looking products you can buy at Sephora and oil that naturally seeps out of your pores. I have oily skin, so my work-around for getting “that wet look” is applying a matte foundation, topping it with a light dusting of pressed powder, and adding a highlighter on top of that. Yes, it takes three steps, but such is life.

To find out which brands make the absolute best foundation for oily skin, we tested out a ton of them, analyzing them for breadth of shade, durability, and ability to stay matte — even under masks. Here are the best ones from drugstore to luxury.

Our Top Picks:

The CC cream with really good coverage

Shades: 12 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

If you’d rather opt for a CC cream but still want the perks of an actual foundation, this IT Cosmetics formula is your answer. It lasts just about all day and the matte version does a much better job at combating shine than its original formulation. It’s oil-free and infused with skin-care ingredients like collagen, peptides, and charcoal, plus I’m always a fan of foundations with built-in SPF. The downfall? It only comes in 12 shades.

The one with an extra C

Shades: 15 | Coverage: Light | Finish: Satin

Out of all the foundations in my collection, this is hands down my most-used product. It’s a BB and CC cream hybrid that seamlessly blends in with your skin tone and provides lightweight, sheer coverage (CCC is short for Color Control and Change). I also like the fact that this product is clean and cruelty free, so I don’t feel guilty about having it on my skin for long periods of time. The formula is buildable, which makes it easy to wear on a casual day off or increase coverage for a night out. The key for oily or combination skin is to ensure you’re setting this with powder for a look that reads dewy versus oily.

The one that doesn’t feel like makeup

Normally, tinted moisturizers don’t provide quite enough coverage or oil control for me, but this one did the trick to earn its way into my regular rotation. For days by the beach (yes, I still like some coverage then) or heading to a workout, this is the perfect product to provide coverage without feeling like it’s clogging your pores.

For a camera-ready airbrushed look


Shades: 30 | Coverage: Medium | Finish: Matte

If you were skeptical about the hype around Charlotte Tilbury’s arsenal of viral products, this foundation will make you a believer. It blurs pores, has a matte finish without overly drying out the skin (thanks to hyaluronic acid), and it’s guaranteed to last all day without the need to reapply on your T-zone. You’ll look airbrushed (in a good way) from morning to night, trust me.

More Tried-and-True Options

The natural matte foundation

Shades: 34 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Natural matte

If you hate matte foundations, this one might make you convert. The full-coverage foundation is matte but still looks natural and helps keep oil at bay throughout the day. It touts itself as transferproof, and while it didn’t wipe off completely onto a mask, you might want to set it with powder and setting spray to really keep it in place. Like most of the brand’s complexion range, it comes in 34 shades. If you already have a NARS foundation shade, you’ll likely be able to grab the same shade here.

The best overall foundation

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

My favorite part about testing Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation is that I blind-guessed my shade, and I could not have been more off. I’m white and if you lined up all the skin tones in the world, I would not be in the middle, yet I’m usually a “medium.” But the medium-looking shade here was way too dark for me, as it logically should be. Rihanna’s been praised to the moon and back for this inclusive 40-shade range, and she deserves it. I was surprised at how much coverage this foundation offered because of how thin the formula is. It’s very, very matte and does not budge. It dries fast, so apply a lot of moisturizer beforehand and have a wet Beautyblender or brush handy to even it out.

The best drugstore foundation


Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Finish: Matte

This one is good if you’re trying to hide the appearance of pores. I feel kind of silly recommending a foundation as a primer before applying another foundation, but that’s what I think this one’s best for. It comes in 40 shades, and many of those are darker shades which are new to the range.

The dependable foundation

Shades: 16 | Coverage: Medium | Finish: Natural matte

I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in a Clinique product — it’s been a dependable brand for me since my middle-school Happy days. The one offers nice creamy coverage, goes on super smooth, and stays put all day. I appreciated the way the tip doles out exactly the right amount of foundation you need — no aggressive squeezing required.

The IRL Instagram filter foundation

Shades: 39 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

Huda Beauty describes this foundation as “lifeproof,” meaning it’s waterproof and transferproof, among other things. To put it plainly, the long-wear formula promises to withstand almost anything. While we didn’t jump into any swimming pools wearing it, it does withstand the usual oily midday T-zone without much touching up. It is full coverage, but it’s not cakey or too matte, and it has a radiant — not dewy — blurring finish like that Instagram filter you love, hence the name.

The dewiest drugstore foundation

Shades: 22 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Demi-matte

The demi-matte finish of the one is nice but might not work if you’re very oily. While the matte finish reduces the amount of shine, the “demi” does keep things dewy. It’s medium coverage and says it last for 24 hours, which is a stretch (I’d clock this one at around 6). It’s very easy to squeeze way too much out of this tube (and not as easy to suck it back in).

The light foundation your grandma will like

Shades: 46 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

The consistency of Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Foundation actually did remind me of clay. It was thick, almost like a less curdy cottage cheese, and not very liquidy at all. (Once you blend, it thins out considerably.) On my face, it struck a nice balance between matte and dewy without looking oily, but the coverage wasn’t quite enough for me and I felt like it wore off a bit throughout the day. If you just want something light, though, this is a great option. When I wore it to my last Easter my grandmother said I looked “so beautiful,” so there’s that.

The really blendable foundation

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

The one blends so smoothly. Applying it, I noticed that I couldn’t see any lines along my cheekbone where the makeup stopped and my makeup-free skin began. It feels very light yet offers full coverage. The matte velvet effect works well for oily skin, and the consistency is also great for texture.

The no-makeup makeup foundation

Shades: 30 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

The one from Bobbi Brown blends nicely but it was a little light for my personal tastes, even though it’s listed as being full coverage. However, it does advertise oil-free shine control and a weightless feel, and it delivers. If you’re oily and don’t need full coverage, this one’s certainly worth a shot.

The best hydrating formula for oily skin

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Matte

Who could forget the iconic Lock-It Foundation from Kat Von D’s makeup line? Well, this lightweight balm from the brand — which is now called KVD Beauty, following the tattoo artist’s departure in 2020 — is just as good. The full-coverage formula effortlessly covers blemishes and discoloration while also minimizing the appearance of pores. It has a natural finish that never looks cakey, plus it is infused with nourishing skin-care ingredients like apple extract and sodium hyaluronate.

The best clean foundation

Shades: 30 | Coverage: Medium, buildable | Finish: Satin

I’d classify the one as more of a skin-care product than a makeup product, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on how much coverage you want. It’s clean, goes on very light, and has a nice, essential oil-type smell to it. Because it’s a serum foundation, I wouldn’t really recommend it for someone who doesn’t want to feel oily.

The fancy-lady foundation

Shades: 62 | Coverage: Medium to full, buildable | Finish: Matte

The draw for me about this product is that it makes me feel fancy, rich, and sophisticated, as I would like to be someday. The foundation goes on smooth and does, as the packaging promises, stay in place throughout the day. My only complaint: It has a slight paint smell. You might only notice this if you were in the art club in high school, though.

The sweat-resistant foundation

Shades: 42 | Coverage: Medium | Finish: Matte

Dior’s Diorskin Forever Undercover Foundation is one of the more expensive foundations on this list, but I’d argue it’s actually worth its price if you can stomach spending $52 on foundation. It comes out thick and creamy but doesn’t feel heavy, and it blends easily for full coverage. (I also found it was good for uneven texture, which I have in addition to oily skin. Fun!) It stayed on well throughout the day and didn’t wear off when I started to sweat (I wore it on a hike and still took a selfie in the rest-stop bathroom).

The best luxury foundation

Shades: 26 | Coverage: Full | Finish: Natural matte

This foundation comes out creamy and feels so luxe, and the packaging is beautiful. It’s thick and dries to a subtle matte finish that looks beautiful. The only thing I don’t love about it is I could feel it on my face after application, so I’d probably be more apt to use it as a base layer before applying more serious going-out makeup.

The Best Foundations for Oily Skin, Tested and Reviewed