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Best Face Primer for Oily Skin: The Secret to Long Lasting Makeup

Updated on July 14, 2014

Oily Skin = Greasy Makeup!

You’re at a special event, giving your friend's adorable daughter a hug. Horrified, you quickly discover that your makeup has left a giant beige streak on her perfectly white dress! If you have oily skin, you’ve certainly experienced a similar situation. Skin oils cause the molecules in makeup to dissolve and dampen. The effect? Feeling like you’ve applied a layer of baby oil over the foundation you so painstakingly applied a few short hours ago.

Face Primer for Oily Skin

Since cosmetic companies haven’t come up with a completely oil resistant foundation, your best bet is to use an oil absorbent powder primer for oily skin underneath makeup. Mass-marketed primers usually contain silicone (dimethicone) which does absolutely nothing to absorb skin oils. This means your makeup will feel slick and sticky all day, and will easily transfer onto your hands or clothing. If you have oily skin, opt for a powder primer that will blur imperfections while also controlling oil.

Why are Silicone Face Primers Bad for Oily Skin?

The theory behind Silicone Primers is that the substance will “fill” pores, giving the illusion of smoother skin, and preventing oil from releasing through the pore. The problem? Silicone is a clear, slick substance that can collect inside of enlarged pores, trapping oil and dirt. Once it settles inside the pore, it can adhere like glue, and be very difficult to remove. Even if you’ve carefully cleansed your face before use, it can still trap bacteria beneath the skin, causing a breeding ground for acne flare-ups. The pores are meant to have access to oxygen (the oxygen kills bacteria) - so when access to fresh air is blocked by the Silicone, pores can become severely congested with oil and bacteria - often resulting in cystic acne breakouts that are seeded deep beneath the skin's outermost layer.

Since people with dry skin typically have smaller pores, they usually don’t experience problems from silicone face primers. The Smashbox and Benefit's Pore-fessional are popular among those with dry skin. However, those with oily skin will definitely want to stay away! If you do opt to try a silicone primer, be sure to exfoliate and cleanse skin thoroughly with a salicylic acid based cleanser to properly dissolve the silicone.

What are the Benefits of Powder Primer for Oily Skin?

Powder Primer sits on top of your pores, and actually absorbs skin oil - rather than smothering your skin to prevent oil from surfacing (as silicone does). When you wash your face at the end of the day, all impurities are washed away with the powder, instead of remaining stuck inside pores.

One of the only powder Primers on the market is Mattify Ultra Powder by Mattify Cosmetics. This dual-purpose powder designed for ultimate oil control, and can be used as a primer before any foundation, AND after makeup application as a setting powder. You can apply it using a fluffy brush, or by patting it on with a powder puff. It absorbs 3x its own weight in facial oil, leaving you with a fresh clean complexion that lasts for hours before reapplication is required. Best of all, when used as primer before foundation, it protects pores from makeup. Liquid makeup often contains the dreaded silicone – but when Mattify Ultra Powder is used before makeup application, it will prevent foundation from seeping into pores.

Negatives of Silicone Primer

  • Clogs Pores
  • Does Not Absorb Oil
  • Can Cause Acne Breakouts

Benefits of Silicone Primer

  • Fills in Fine Lines
  • Perfect for Dry Skin
  • Fills in Pores

Negatives of Powder Primer

  • May Dehydrate Dry Skin Types

Benefits of Powder Primer

  • Does Not Settle in Pores
  • Absorbs 3x Itself in Oil
  • Prevents Acne Breakouts
  • Prevents Blackheads
  • Makeup Lasts Longer

If you have oily skin, avoiding silicone based primers can prevent embarrassing makeup faux pas and breakouts! Sticking with powder primer will ensure that your makeup stays put and shine free, without clogging pores.

Which Primer Will You Choose?

My Favorite Primer Is...

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