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Matte Makeup for Oily Skin: Cut Shine by Choosing the Best Makeup for Oily Skin!

Updated on November 17, 2015

Find the Best Makeup for Oily Skin for a Matte Complexion

Oily-skinned people, rejoice! After years of "dewy" finishes, matte makeup looks are hitting the fashion world by storm. In the giant sea of makeup store shelves, many products claim they are for oily skin, but it doesn't seem like they really have any idea what oily skin is. They're talking about someone who might get a bit of T-zone shine after a few hours. These products don't help those of us whose faces look like they were dunked in olive oil a few hours after applying makeup!

Here are seven simple steps for achieving the perfect matte complexion if you have extremely oily skin.

1. Exfoliate for a Fresh Look

Exfoliate your skin with a scrub, or a chemical exfoliator.
Exfoliate your skin with a scrub, or a chemical exfoliator.

The first step when applying any type of makeup to oily skin, is to exfoliate. Exfoliating will rub away dead skin cells, leaving your face a brighter and smoother canvas for makeup.

Splash your face with warm water and use an exfoliator such as St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Rub in circles all over the face, concentrating on chin, cheeks, forehead, and sides of nose, where dead skin is most likely to accumulate. If physically exfoliating your skin with grainy scrubs is too rough for your face, find a product that will exfoliate your skin chemically using products containing hydroxy acids, such as salicylic and glycolic acids.

2. Apply a Good Toner

Rinse your face, and apply toner using a cotton ball. Proactiv Toner is my favorite toner for oily skin, as it balances your pH levels so your skin is not stripped completely of moisture. Toner disinfects pores and then shrinks them, which helps prevent makeup and dirt from clogging them. Like exfoliation, toning will make your skin a better surface for smooth makeup application.

3. Milk of Magnesia for Oily Skin

Many people will say I’m crazy for suggesting this, but for people with extraordinarily oily skin it works! The magnesium in this product is highly effective at absorbing oil. Dip the top of a cotton ball into original, unflavored milk of magnesia, or magnesium hydroxide. Swipe the cotton ball over your T-zone so that just a thin layer of wetness can be seen. You don’t need to use much. Allow to dry completely for about 3 minutes before moving to the next step.

4. Apply a Mattifying Face Powder as a Primer

Now that your skin is clean and toned, it's time to start applying makeup. Using a fluffy powder brush, apply a mattifying face powder in place of a gel primer (gel primer has a tendency to clog pores and increase oiliness). Achieving this oil absorbent base layer is the most important step to controlling oily skin!

Mattify! Cosmetic's ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin is my favorite mattifying primer because the product is all natural, absorbs oil, and prevents makeup from lodging in pores to halt breakouts before they begin. Dust it on over your entire face, including eye lids, then proceed to the next step.

Mattify ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin (Matte Powder / Primer)

5. Spot Apply Concealer

Use concealer to cover dark spots and zits.
Use concealer to cover dark spots and zits.

Apply concealer to any areas you need to hide such as acne breakouts scars, and dark under-eye circles. My favorite mineral conealer is L'Oréal Mineral Concealer, and one of the better liquid versions is Cover Girl’s Invisible Concealer. Dot concealer onto dark areas or acne spots and gently blend with a concealer brush or finger tip. Avoid any concealers that are oil-based, as these will clog pores.

6. Apply a Quality Matte Foundation for Oily Skin

Apply a matte foundation for oily skin using a foundation brush or your fingers. Work in sections of your face, blending one section at a time. First, dab a bit of foundation on cheeks, chin, and nose, then blend using downward motions. Repeat this process on your forehead, but blend upwards toward the hairline. If using mineral foundation, blend into skin using a kabuki brush in circular motions.

What foundations and powders are best for making oily skin look matte?
What foundations and powders are best for making oily skin look matte?

The Best Matte Foundations for Oily Skin

If there is one cosmetic you should splurge on, it's foundation. Higher-end brands will always offer better coverage and a longer lasting finish. Here are some good matte foundations for oily skin:

Liquid Foundation:

  • Drugstore Brand: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse
  • High-End Brand: Estée Lauder Double Wear Max Coverage Foundation for Oily Skin

Mineral Foundation:

  • Drugstore Brand: L'Oréal Naturale Powdered Mineral Foundation
  • High-End Brand: Jane Iredale Amazing Base Mineral Powder

7. Apply a Finishing Powder for Oily Skin

The right finishing powder will set your makeup and absorb oil, to give you a flawless finish. Using a fluffy powder brush, apply another dusting of the Mattify ULTRA Powder for Oily Skin. The best part about this product is that it multi-tasks as both a primer and setting powder to soak up the maximum amount oil. If you normally use a colored loose setting powder, apply the Mattify ULTRA first, then your regular colored powder.

To keep your look going strong, apply powder touch-ups throughout the day. A translucent setting powder, such as the Mattify Ultra, won't look cakey when applied repeatedly. If your skin starts to get shiny, you can also blot it with an oil blotter sheet, without disturbing your makeup.

Additional Tips for Achieving a Perfectly Matte Complexion with Makeup

  • If you are wary of applying the milk of magnesia to your skin, this step can be skipped. People with exceedingly oily skin will find it to be very helpful in keeping a matte complexion. Unless you have a sensitivity to magnesium, it should be harmless to your skin and not cause breakouts or clog pores.
  • Be sure to avoid any type of face powder, foundation, or blush that contains mica or bismuth. These are reflective ingredients that will cause your face to look glittery and shiny, rather than matte. These ingredients are best suited to eye shadow and lip products, where you actually want a little bit of sparkle.
  • Complete the steps above before applying eye liner, mascara, and lipstick. Applying these things first will prevent any oil absorbing powder from sticking to your eyes or lips.
  • A matte complexion doesn’t have to be boring! Spice it up with rust colored lips and shimmery eye shadow (browns, grays, and purples will be hot this season).
  • Everyone’s skin is different, so some people may react differently to various ingredients. However, all of the items suggested are oil free and in my experience suitable for acne-prone, oily skin.


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    • Mariana Fuzaro profile image

      Mariana Fuzaro 

      4 years ago from São Paulo, Brazil

      Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Talk about valuable advice here :). I like mineral powder the best to cover my oily skin with.


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