13 Products That Control Greasy, Oily Skin So You Can Wear Makeup Like a Normal Person

These primers, foundations, and powders transform cringe-tastic greasy skin to velvety-matte LITERALLY all day long.
Publish date:
May 12, 2016
shoppables, makeup, grease, oiliness

I've always absolutely hated the feeling of having greasy or oily skin. Ever since I was an acne-prone teenaged girl with a lot of emotions, I've been oiler than average. Being oily meant that I was always left with a slick shiny face in photos, my computer keyboards had a distinct sheen, and in high school my rubber cellphone case was so shiny from my grease-filled face that it became an inside joke amongst my friends —one that was always more like a gut punch than a joke to me, personally.

Oily skin is caused by a combination of factors — weather, hormones, genetics, puberty — and clearly the odds were not in my favor with the combination I had been dealt. Even as I grew older and got many aspects of my skin issues under control, I still consistently found myself oilier than I wanted. It was especially frustrating, as the most distressing part of my predilection to greasy, oily skin was not actually the impact it had on my appearance (though that definitely wasn't fun). No, the far more distressing part of my oily skin was how it made me feel. The feeling of having oil on my skin made me cringe like nails on a chalkboard, static cling, or a high pitched dog whistle. I hugged people differently (pulling my face away from them in case they felt my skin), I hated touching my own face (and that included washing it, which wasn't great for my already temperamental skin), and I slathered my face in mud masks and acne gel whenever I got home just so I could avoid the feeling of greasy makeup sliding around on my face.

Therefore, even as I started to get my oily skin under control from the inside — by controlling my hormones, cutting back on dairy in my diet, and washing my face with a gentle oil cleanser — an even more positive move I made was learning to control the effects of my oily skin. That is, I found products that removed the cringe-tastic greasy, oily feeling that I so hated and replaced it with a matte velvety smooth feeling. Now, when I wear makeup I don't immediately worry that it is instantly going to melt off my face.

Here are the products that actually work to help control oily skin and let you wear makeup like a normal person (and give you the smooth velvet skin of your dreams).


Primer is one of those things that you don't always think you need (and hey, maybe you don't). However, for me, using a primer has always made a huge difference in reducing the oiliness of my skin and keeping my makeup in one place.General oil-control foundation primers, like Laura Mercier's Oil Free Foundation Primer ($36) are good for keeping makeup in place and reducing visible oil slicks, all while not being too drying.

However, if you want to bring out the big guns and make your skin feel as smooth and touchable as a rabbit's ear (ew? Idk), you definitely want something like Benefit's The PoreFessional Face Primer ($31)or MAC's Prep Prime Fix + ($22).

An even bigger splurge, the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer ($52) makes your face feel perfect and literally seamless. Even if you put it on over blemishes or scars, you'll want to stroke your face constantly.


There's nothing more annoying and uncomfortable than knowing your foundation is pooling in your fine lines, congealing in your pores, and slowly melting off of your face like you're a flesh-toned Olaf. Even the most effective foundations can fall to this fate after a long sweaty day, and the ones that do stay in place sometimes feel either sticky or dried out by the end of the night. I fell in love with primer because it helps to mitigate this issue, but the other surefire remedy is a bulletproof oil-control foundation.

After a lot of trial and error (because I am a foundation perfectionist in all ways), I found three foundations that I love for oil control. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup ($38), Clinique Stay Matte Oil Free Makeup ($24), and Hourglass Immaculate Mattifying Foundation ($55). All three of these foundations stay in place all day, but they also make your skin feel baby-soft with a clean matte finish and no sticky residue. The Hourglass foundation specifically, especially when coupled with the primer, makes my skin feel so phenomenal I have to resist the urge to touch my face.

If you're looking for slightly lighter coverage with the same velvet feeling, NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint ($44) is one of my favorite new products of the year. It's light like a BB Cream, but matte like a foundation. Here's a picture of me wearing Estee Lauder foundation and Hourglass primer with a super harsh flash under hot lights. Do I look shiny? NOPE.

Do I look shiny? NOPE.


I've raved about the Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder ($35) before, and that's because it's some seriously good shit. It's the perfect oil-resistant finish that lasts allllll day and night, without fail. It's so absorbent, I sometimes (read: often) use it as dry shampoo in a real pinch. However, if you want a different, and equally mattifying finishing powder I've had great luck with NYX HD Finishing Powder ($9.99) or the ever-so-slightly opalescent Guerlain Mattifying Translucent Powder ($59).

Here's a picture of me wearing Clinique foundation and Make Up Forever Powder after a 10+ hour day. Do I look oily to you?

Okay so what about when you do everything right but the club is still super hot and you can't stop dancing to "Work" because Rihanna is a goddess and your foundation is melting off anyway? That's when you bust out the other trick of the trade for us oil-prone ladies.

Blotting Papers

Blotting papers. And lots of them. My all time fave has been Boscia's Black Charcoal Blotting Linens ($10) for ages, but Milk Makeup recently came out with the awesome Roll Blot Papers ($10) that you can also use to roll up...whatever you'd like.

There's nothing like an oil-free badass.

hero photo credit: Maryanne Braine photo credit: Nick Wiesner