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Editor’s Picks: The Best Makeup for Oily Skin

Got oily skin? These must-have mattifiers will help keep it under control.

Recently, Michelle responded to a reader question about getting rid of oily skin that I read with sympathy because, girl, that is my life. Sometimes my face gets so shiny that you could hurt your eyes from the glare. 

That post covered the long-term solutions for treating the underlying causes of sebum overproduction, as well as how to lighten up your skincare routine—but today, I want to talk about fast fixes. By that I mean what you should use when you just need to degrease RIGHT NOW. I've finally cultivated my perfect shine-eliminating makeup regimen, and I'm willing to share my secrets.

In my experience, there is no single mattifying product that works for everyone. Since my skin swings from dry-normal in the winter to outrageously oily in the summer, it takes about six different products to soak up the grease. Luckily for you, that means I've probably found a product that will be your shine-eliminating grace. 

From The Styling Edit Archives

I've split up the products into everyday wear and the ones I'll pull out if I'm going on, say, a 15-hour outdoor date in July. Some of you might find this overkill, and others might want to wear every one of these products every single day—you do you! 

Everyday Products for Matte Skin That Lasts a Regular Workday 

Laura Mercier Secret Finish Mattifying Gel

Laura Mercier Secret Finish Mattifying Gel has been my HG mattifier for years. It immediately eliminates shine on any area it's applied to (especially my nose, which has the tendency to shine like a lightbulb). I trust no other product to uphold a matte finish on my skin for hours on end. I use it as a final step after applying makeup in the morning, and sometimes I also re-apply midday. It only takes a tiny blob (think half a Tic Tac) applied with my fingers in light, circular motions for instant mattification. Note that this is a silicone-rich product, which some of you will hate. 

BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

For a silicone-free option, try BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector. I haven't actually tried this one, but Michelle swears by it and you can read her review here. It's a gel that's best used for spot-treatment of oily areas (either under or over makeup) because it can be very drying... which is what you want!

MAC Blot Powder

MAC Blot Powder is my saving grace for areas that get outright sweaty, like my upper lip (so gross, I know). I load up an eyeshadow blending brush like the MAC 217 and dust a bit on the areas that need some help. A small brush gives you greater control, so you can really target your powder application. Note that powder can get cakey fast, so don't go packing it on areas with large pores (for me that's on either side of my nose). 

Shiseido Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Paper

If you find your whole face gets oily, try a blotting paper to absorb the oil without adding more product to build up on your skin. Blotting papers only go so far on me, but Shiseido's Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Paper has the longest-lasting effect of any I've tried—about a half hour for me. 

For a budget-friendly blotting option, try Starbucks' napkins! Something about their recycled, scratchy texture is a total grease-magnet. 

When using blotting paper, make sure you pat it on your face—don't sweep it. You shouldn't see any of your makeup smeared on the sheet, only the satisfying translucence of sebum. 

Extra-Fancy Products for Matte Skin That Lasts Well Into the Night (and Possibly the Next Morning)

Then there are days where I'm not only concerned with shine, but also with having my makeup simply melt right off my face. If you think you might get sweaty or you live in a hot climate, and you have things to do beyond a regular work day (two counts of your-life-is-way-more-fun-than-mine!), here are some products I consider a wonderful luxury to have and use.

Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray

To get my makeup to last from day into night, I'll spritz on Urban Decay's De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray as both the very first thing to touch my skin after cleanser, and the very last thing after applying makeup. I find that its slight stickiness (which disappears after a few minutes) helps my makeup really grab onto my otherwise bare skin. And as a finishing touch, it seals all my mattifying work into place. 

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

If I'm desperate to keep my makeup on, I'll double up priming formulas by adding a layer of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. (It's also SPF 15, but that's not enough and you never rely on makeup to be your sun protectant.) As a primer though, it is ah-mah-zing. Hourglass is a new brand to me, but I've quickly learned that they have mastered makeup that lasts. (Seriously, their Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick stays on my mouth—which eats, drinks, and talks endlessly—ALL DAY.)

The Hourglass primer is an unexpectedly runny texture, which somehow keeps my foundation from dissolving into an oily mess after eight hours. The one substantial peeve I have with this is that it leaves a white cast on my face before I cover it with foundation. (When will beauty companies recognize that 99 percent of people's skin tones aren't printer-paper white? If you're in the 1 percent, no offence meant... I'm just bitter that thousands of beauty lines forgot my skin tone exists.)

Usually a combination of these luxury base products plus my must-have everyday products are enough to keep my face shine-free for a work day and evening drinks. That said, I have one final trick reserved for days when I find myself giving a presentation in an unventilated room: powder foundation. 

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

I'm a longtime fan of MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation, which I swirl all over my face using a kabuki brush, making sure to blend well. This final step locks in all the aforementioned products, keeping the shine off my skin for hours. It's my go-to finishing touch when I don't plan on looking in a mirror for 24 hours. 

It's pretty obvious that this is a lot of makeup, and not a routine I would personally advocate for daily wear. I think spot-treating your skin is definitely the way to go for oily areas, and in general it's better to focus on reducing sebum production rather than just hiding it. 

That said, when the shine just won't quit, it's nice to have a few options stashed in your purse. Now that you know my magical elixir for perfectly matte skin, let me know which products YOU rely on to keep shine at bay!

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