If you are a person that struggles with very oily skin then you know that makeup can be more of a hassle than a pleasure. Dilated pores, blackheads, and of course, possibly acne and scars, as very oily skin is rarely clear. I suffered from medium to severe acne for many, many years, as well as having an extremely oily skin. Over the years I found products that worked even for my very stubborn, difficult to control skin.
This article is not meant to give skincare advice, and it will not go into detail about ingredients and routines. I will only focus on achieving the desired texture on the skin and on products that control that mad excess oil. A very seborrheic skin will have a lot of texture, and it will need all the extra help you can give it before applying your makeup. A silicone based primer for example will smooth the surface you are working with, allowing for a more uniform application of makeup. This, however, will block pores, so be aware of that. In terms of silicone based primers, I found that the High-Adherence Silicone Primer from The Ordinary made my makeup look as flawless as possible. It creates a layer on the skin – think of it as a thin cling-film uniformly spread on your skin – which allows the makeup to not sink in every pore and avoids thus to emphasize your skin texture. Buy here.
In terms of products that leave the skin to breathe more, I always liked the Clinique Pore Refining Solution Stay-Matte Hydrator, which although it contains silicones as well, it has a much lighter texture than The Ordinary primer, feeling more like a moisturizer. It is one of the only products I have ever used that noticeably controlled the oil production under makeup throughout the day.
Now, this is the trickiest one. An extremely oily skin will need strongly mattifying foundations, but all those acne fighting products will cause shedding of the skin and dryness in some areas. This is what I find the trickiest when it comes to finding a very good matte foundation – one that controls the shine and doesn’t over-emphasize the localized dryness of the skin.
Almost all ‘’matte’’ foundations would melt on my face in under two hours. Despite blotting the excess oil and using powders and everything you wish for, most foundations would not last on my very oily skin, but they would also emphasize the dry areas. The only one that didn’t move for many, many hours and did not bring attention to my dry areas was the Maybelline Super Stay 24h Full Coverage Foundation. This one looked matte on my skin for hours, and even once the sebum came through, it did not separate in the same way most foundations do.
The downside of it is that the shade range can be a bit odd. I have light skin with yellow undertones, and this foundation only has light shades with strong pink undertones. Although, this might have changed now, as I noticed they have added a lot more shades available. On the Maybelline’s American website, they seem to have light shades with yellow undertones, so this could be a weird, yet common case of varying shade ranges from continent to continent. In terms of skin tones, it is inclusive and well varied. It might just be a bit odd to find the right undertone as well.
It has medium coverage to full coverage, depending on how you apply it (with a brush, a wet sponge etc.) It is definitely not for the faint hearted ones though, and it will require some extra work after application, as it will erase every trace of colour and shade in your skin. Buy here.
The Rimmel Stay Matte powder is ideal for very oily skin types. It erases some of the texture of the skin, filling in the pores even more, and getting rid of any trace of shininess. It is also fantastic for acne – you can tap some powder on a cotton pad and press it onto a pimple. The mattifying of the area will give the illusion that the skin area is flatter, camouflaging some of the texture and inflammation. It comes in various colours, but I always prefered the translucent one. This is because with oily, acne prone skin you will use several layers of high coverage, and most will vary slightly in shade. The higher the coverage the higher the chance every mismatch in shade will be noticeable, so go translucent where possible. Buy here.
You will need two types of concealer – a creamier one for the under eyes area; and a matte, full coverage one for pinpoint concealing on the face. For the under eyes I always loved to use the Maybelline Instant Age Eraser Concealer as it does not take away all the luminosity and hydration from the delicate area under your eyes. Buy here.
For concealing imperfections though, you will need something matte and more substantial in texture. This is because you want to give the illusion of flat, untextured skin, and creamy concealers will bring more light and reflexions on the area, bringing unwanted attention. For pinpoint concealing I liked the Kiko Full Coverage Concealer. On their website it is advertised as ‘very high coverage concealer’, which I think it is not, but it is a good, reliable matte concealer.
The shade range is good but not ideal, as again, it will be difficult to find your perfect colour with the matching undertone. The trick is to find a product that has a perfect shade for you, as pinpoint concealing on the face only works if the shade is matching the rest of your complexion. What I mean is that, rather than focusing on the brand or a specific product, focus on the finish and on the shade. Buy here.
Bronzer, Contouring and Highlighter
I will not go into mentioning specific products, as there are many on the market that work for an oily skin. My tip for this category is to stick to powder products rather than cream ones, to further erase the skin texture and to mattify the skin even more. You may find that after applying bronzer and blush you will need to re-do some of the pinpoint concealing. You will need a lot of patience, so take enough time to do your complexion.
In terms of highlighter, I personally avoided using one most of the time, as I had acne on most of my face, and I did not want to bring even more attention to it. A good highlighter should not emphasize the skin texture, but it also depends on the application. Stick to less, and never go overboard. The advantage of a very oily skin is that it will be glowy on its own.
If you do want some recommendations for this category, you can watch my fast reviews, as well as finding some of my favourites here.
Over the years I tried several setting sprays in my obsession to make my makeup last longer, but at the time I could not afford any of the pricier ones that were promoted everywhere online. The one I used that worked was the L’oreal Infallible Fixing Mist, but it also irritated my skin slightly, and I avoided using it unless I had a special occasion. The problem with setting sprays is that most contain alcohol, which will dehydrate and irritate the skin, potentially encouraging it to produce even more oil. I must confess I am not the biggest fan of setting sprays. Buy here.
Tip: Blotting paper
Blotting will be your best friend if you have very oily skin. Every few hours you will need to gently blot your skin to absorb some of the excess oil coming through the makeup. You can purchase blotting paper from various brands, or you can genuinely use fine toilet paper or tissues. Just make sure that you do not rub the tissue or the paper on the skin, but rather very gently tap.
Please let me know in the comments below what are your holy grails when it comes to very oily, acne-prone skin.
Disclaimer: All pictures in this article are ©Lipstick Café.
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