11 best foundations for oily skin

Tackle shine with a make-up base designed especially for your needs

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The Independent Online

My face is a mixture of skin tones; an oily t-zone, dry around the hair line and sides of the face, and prone to irritation and spots around the jaw. And when it comes to make-up, I really want something that covers up the oil, but doesn’t look like I’ve just rubbed my face in chalk.  

A misconception about dealing with oily skin is to cake it in powder, but that can leave you looking like your face is made of suede. Instead, choose a foundation, cream or powder that is designed for oily skin, which will help cover your problem area and keep you looking matte.  We tested a range of foundations, wearing each for a normal working day, to see how well they covered up shine and for how long.

1. Chanel Perfection Lumiere Long-wear Flawless Fluid Make-up: £36, Boots


Apart from smelling absolutely gorgeous with a light and slightly floral scent, the Perfect Lumiere is flawless and actually lasts the majority of the working day, and feels very light on your skin. It’s unusual that something actually does do what it says on the tin – or more accurately, on the sleek Chanel packaging. The medium to intense coverage is very easy to blend with your finger, allowing for a natural look that is instantly matte, covering excess shine. It also hides dark imperfections well - although olive and dark tones are limited in this collection of 13 shades. Save it for nights out if you’d rather, as it gives a photo-perfection finish. 

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2. Laura Mercier Silk Crème Oil Free Photo Edition: £35, Laura Mercier


This matte finish foundation is luxuriously creamy and goes on extremely easily. But as it is a fuller coverage foundation, use with a brush instead of your finger for the best blending results. Apply over the Laura Mercier primer, and you’re left with a glowy feel that won’t slip. There are also 12 shades to choose from.

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3. Eve Lom Sheer Radiance Oil-free Foundation SPF20: £38, Look Fantastic


With a matte design on the bottle, Eve Lom gives the game away with its packaging. The foundation gives a superb, non-chalky matte look and lasted a full nine hours at work, making it a great daywear foundation. The substantially thick and creamy liquid can be applied smoothly onto the skin and helps combat excess oil. With rice powder as an ingredient, it whisks away unwanted oil, helps to moisturise skin and offers SPF 20 protection too, making it worth the heftier price tag.  

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4. Clinique Stay-matte Oil-free Make-up: £23, Clinique


For us, Clinique foundation is a firm favourite. It’s not over the top, it’s not too thick and, importantly, it feels light on the skin thanks to its gel-like forumla. With a matte finish, any excess oil over the T-zone is put to bed. It’s also excellent for covering dark circles and with 17 shades, there’s one for everyone.

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5. Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint SPF 30: £30, Nars Cosmetics


Made for a medium, buildable coverage, the 12 shades of Nars Velvet Matte Skin are oil-free and seamlessly glide onto your skin, allowing you to get the best from it in your own problem areas. Apply this one with a sponge and you can also be pleased with yourself that you’re protecting your skin with SPF 20 too. 

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6. Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder: £3.99, Boots


A firm classic for high street make-up, which has been making beauty products since 1834, Rimmel rarely lets us down. Use the Stay Matte primer beforehand for the best results, which will last much more than the five hours it promises and keeps shine at bay. The pressed powder also helps to minimize the appearance of pores and gives a smooth look to your skin. It’s also free of fragrances, oils and parabens, so skin won’t get clogged up either.

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7. Bobbi Brown Long-wear Even Finish Compact Foundation: £30.60, John Lewis


Presented in a classy, easy-to-use compact, this pressed cream foundation, complete with its own sponge and mirror, saves time and is mess free, as you don’t need any extra brushes or to squeeze out any liquid onto your fingers. The cream has a nice matte finish, with a thicker density that covers up any oil instantly and is better than thinner liquid foundations at covering larger areas. The all-in-one design also makes it a great one for your handbag where you can quickly reapply anywhere.

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8. Clarins Ever Matte Foundation: £28, Selfridges


If you’re after thinner coverage on certain areas such as the forehead, then this is the one for you. It’s lightweight and very fluid, making it a little harder to apply on the nose. But its formula is specially created for combination skin types. Its key is the ingredient tanaka powder, which absorbs excess oil. Make sure you use an application sponge to minimalize the liquid running on your hand, and be careful not to squeeze too much out the tube, just in case.

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9. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation: £29.50, Charlotte Tilbury


Marketing itself as “magic” foundation, it isn’t far off the mark. Offering full coverage in 15 shades, Charlotte Tilbury realises some tones are very close and has created the “half shade”.  With a pump, the foundation glides onto skin and there’s no need to use a concealer beforehand, as it’s on the thicker side for a foundation. But it also means it’s good at covering imperfections and red skin. Lasting most of the day, it gives great coverage, especially with a primer underneath.

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10. Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 Foundation: £25, Bare Minerals


This is a powder that isn’t too “powder-like” – we don’t ask for much. Bare Minerals feels creamy like a liquid foundation, but without the hassle of applying it. It’s a great day powder and the fact it’s easy and quick to apply ticks boxes for a quick morning routine.  Shake a small amount into the lid and apply with a brush. And with an impressive selection of 20 shades, everyone is included.

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11. No 7 Beautifully Matte Foundation: £14.50, Boots 


The No 7’s beautifully matte foundation has a good pump action and the cream works really well at gliding onto the skin. The finish is very matte, giving medium to full coverage, and leaves skin feeling soft too. In an attempt to drag itself away from being your mum’s favourite, the brand has come up with an app to download, which exactly matches the colour of your skin to your foundation. It’s also hypo-allergenic with SPF 15.

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The Verdict: Foundations for oily skin

The Chanel Fluid Make-up is just so wonderful, easy to put on and the matte effect lasts a long time, making it worth its buck, and the smell makes it worth applying every morning. For a cheaper alternative, No 7’s Beautifully Matte Foundation does what it claims to, and at under £15, it’s an everyday solution to controlling your skin.   

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