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The Best Drugstore Foundations for Oily Skin

The Best Drugstore Foundations for Oily Skin

I have been on a real kick with drugstore foundations recently. With the launch of CoverGirl’s Matte Made and NYX Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop - featuring 40 and 45 shades, respectively - it’s easier than ever to find a shade that works for you. If you have oily skin, finding a shade that matches your skin tone is only part of the battle. I have been on a bit of a mission over the last few months to try affordable foundations that are marketed for oily skin - and a few that are not- and see how they perform. One thing that has stuck out for me is that a lot of the “drugstore” foundations I have used recently have performed better than a lot of the higher end foundations I own. You no longer have to spend a ton of money on foundation if you don’t want to.


NYX Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Foundation

This foundation was all over the place when it was released in August of this year. And rightfully so. Featuring 45 shades (the shades were created in collaboration with beauty YouTuber Alissa Ashley) it was on of the most inclusive shade ranges to be released post-Fenty. I purchased this foundation more out of curiosity than anything else. And after wearing it a few times, I have some definite opinions: First off - this is matte. Like SUPER matte. If you do not have oily skin I would steer clear of this foundation altogether. And even if you do have oily skin I would proceed with caution. Super matte foundations can often have the opposite effect of what we want, drying out the skin and making it produce even more oil. I used this one by itself with just my sunscreen underneath (which is how I have been wearing all of my foundations lately) and my skin felt dry. My skin never feels dry. The second time I tried it I decided to add a moisturizing primer. I used Too Faced Hangover primer and it applied more smoothly and wasn’t as drying. This foundation application and finish-wise reminds me a lot of the Fenty Pro Filt’r Foundation. In fact - I will go ahead and call it a dupe. CSWS is a bit more mousse-like in texture than the Fenty foundation but they apply exactly the same. You have to work quickly with both and they are best applied with a foundation brush - I found with both foundations that when I used a damp beauty sponge, the sponge actually lifted up the foundation I’d already applied. Another similarity is the somewhat confusing shade range. I struggled to find my match with Fenty and it was much the same with CSWS. There are a ton of choices, which is amazing. But if you are of a medium-deep skin tone it can be a struggle to find an undertone that works for you. I purchased two shades: Golden Honey and Neutral Tan. And neither are perfect. One is waaay too orange and the other is a tad too light. I though about picking up Golden which is smack dab in the middle, but I don’t know if I will wear this foundation enough to warrant purchasing a third shade. While it wore well throughout my 12 hour day, I wasn’t in love with how my skin looked at the end of the day. Which ironically, was the same thing that happened with the Fenty foundation. I have two shades that aren’t exactly right and because I rarely wear the foundation I haven’t felt the need to search for a better shade because I don’t really love the way it wears on my skin. I would give NYX Can’t Stop Wont Stop a solid B for application, shade range and wearability.


CoverGirl Matte Made

This one has been my go-to foundation since I purchased it. I had stepped away from matte foundations and had been rocking natural satin formulas for most of the summer. This one surprised me with how well it wears. It is matte, but it isn’t so matte that your face resembles a pancake after applying it. It retains a skin-like quality which I love. I chose the shade T30 which is a pretty spot-on match for my face , which is lighter than my neck. I could probably go a shade deeper but I’m not mad about it. I apply it with a damp sponge and it applies nicely. I haven’t tried this with a brush, but because it is fairly full coverage I don’t feel the need to do so. It also builds nicely. I am having a bit of a stress-induced breakout at the moment and I can apply the foundation and then go over certain areas with a bit more product and it never looks cakey. This is also one of the few foundations that doesn’t breakdown around my mouth and chin by the end of the day. I wear my foundations from about 6:30am when I apply my makeup until I get home from work - which can be between 5:30-6pm or sometimes later if I have an event. And this foundation lasts the entire day. My makeup still looks fresh. I do blot a bit throughout the day, but I have to do that with literally every foundation I wear. #oilyskinlife But with Matte Made I usually only have to do so a few times. I give this a solid A


Physician’’s Formula Health Foundation

This one may be a bit controversial. It’s not a matte foundation. It is a natural finish foundation. This is the foundation that changed my mind about always needing a matte foundation when you’re oily. You really don’t. And in fact I find that my skin looks better when I use either a natural finish or matte satin foundation. Coverage is light medium to medium. I wore this all of the spring and the majority of the summer. I got so many compliments on my skin when I started wearing this. For me foundations like these are all about what you put under and over them. With the Healthy Foundation I use a combo that works well for me: The first was I would apply my sunscreen as my primer, the foundation using a damp sponge, followed by CoverFX Perfect Setting Powder, Too Faced Sweet Peach Mattifying Setting Spray followed by Mac Fix +.This was my winning combo for quite sometime. I also would occasionally use my Dr. Brandt Pores No More Primer which worked nicely as well. With only 15 shades, the range is still lacking despite Physician’s Formula expanding it. They still have quite a bit of work to do when it comes to their shade ranges, but shade DW2 works well for me. I give this a solid A -

CoverGirl Vitalist-Healthy-Elixir-Foundation.jpg

CoverGirl Vitalist Healthy Elixir Foundation

After discovering the Physician’s Formula Foundation, I got cocky and decided I could try this one as well. Decidedly not marketed to us oily skin babes. But I didn’t care. I was throwing caution to the wind when I bought this. And….I was impressed?? What, the what?! Seriously. This is actually a really nice foundation. I would recommend it for all skin types - which is crazy, I know. But it has a lovely natural finish that isn’t matte but isn’t dewy either. It’s right snack dab in the middle, which means you can matte it with your setting spray or powder or add a bit of dew with primer and setting spray. I treated this foundation much like the Physician’s Formula one. I don’t apply primer - I just use my sunscreen (which actually works really well as a primer since it has a natural matte finish). I apply it with a damp sponge - though I think this would apply just as well with a brush. I set it with either my CoverFX powder or my Maybelline Fit Me loose powder- both work well. I use my CoverFX Matte Setting Spray and Mac Fix +. This is a great option if you want coverage but also want a more natural finish. But I would not wear this for a night out or for an event. It simply doesn’t have the staying power for that. I did wear it for an entire work day and while it lasted, it did start to break down around the 6-7 hour mark. Shade-wise I struggled to find a shade that matched me. Like the Healthy Foundation, Healthy Elixir only has 15 shades. Which is utterly ridiculous considering that CoverGirl’s other foundations like Matte Made boast a 40 shade range. I wound up picking up two colors that I mix. With drugstore foundations I’m not as against buying two shades to get my shade as I am with higher end foundations. Even with purchasing two they are usually still only a fraction of higher end options. But that’s a personal choice and you may not feel the same. I give this one a B +


The Ordinary Serum Foundation

Okay so this isn’t a”drugstore” foundation, but at less than $7 it is affordable so I decided to throw it in. If you are on social media or pay attention to beauty industry news, then you know the parent company of The Ordinary, Deciem, has been in the news a lot lately. I won’t go into all the details (you can read all about it here) - because there’s a lot. But, I will say that since the company’s founder was removed I feel comfortable talking about their products again. Because despite the drama - the products are really good. And the serum foundation is no exception. I went in fully expecting to hate this foundation because the other foundation in their collection, the Full Coverage foundation is my sworn enemy. I hate that foundation. The only foundation I hate more than that one is the Wet N’ Wild Photo Focus (which not only oxidizes like crazy and turned me into an oompa loopma but broke me out!). The Full Coverage didn’t break me out but it oxidized and turned into an oily mess on my skin. So…yeah…I didn’t go into trying the Serum foundation out with high hopes. In fact, I had bought the two at the same time and was so turned off by the Full Coverage that the Serum foundation sat untouched for literally months. And now it’s one of my favorite foundations. Go figure. This is where I give you a bit of warning though: if you don’t have any interest in sheer to light coverage foundations that give you that “your skin, but better” look this is not the foundation for you. It is thin and watery and is best applied with your fingers. The finish is so natural and light and pretty. It has a semi-matte finish that doesn’t look dry or flat. With the Serum foundation, I do all of my regular makeup steps and then I spot conceal any blemishes or anything I want covered with concealer and use my CoverFX and MAC setting sprays. This is what I call my “weekend” foundation. It is not long-wearing. But is great if you are out running errands or going to lunch with friends and want a natural but pretty look. And the shade range is actually pretty good, even with only 21 shades. It is my closest (nearly perfect) shade match in my entire collection. What I love about this foundation is that it gets the undertones right. Which is actually more important than having 40 plus shades that are all orange or pink, IMO. Could the range go darker? Absolutely. For ease of use and because it has become such a go-to for me I am giving this an A-.


Revlon ColorStay for Combination/Oily Skin

I haven’t reached for this foundation in ages, but it was my holy grail for a long time and so I would be remiss not to include it. If you love high coverage, super matte, long-wearing - this one’s for you. This was my holy grail for a reason people! It does not budge. This is a great option for an event night or for a night out with friends. You can apply this one with a sponge or a brush - what you choose will vary your coverage. I don’t recommend building this one up - I honestly don’t think it needs it and it can become cakey if you apply too much. The shade range for ColorStay is iffy at best. There are huge gaps between shades where Revlon could have fit in two or more shade variants. For instance I use Toast. Which is a smidge light for me, but the next shade up has orange undertones that doesn’t work for my neutral/yellow undertones. So while the shande range is BIG at 43 shades - there is a lot lacking with undertones and gaps between shades. Hopefully Revlon will eventually remedy this. I give this foundation and A -.

Honorable Mentions


Maybelline SuperStay

I hated this foundation the first time I tried it. It felt heavy and cakey and my skin was super oily by the end of the day. You’re probably thinking, “Well, Ameerah if you hated it so much, why the hell are you recommending it?” Keep reading young Padawan. Keep reading. This is F-full coverage with a capital F. If you are looking to cover blemishes this is a great option. I tried this foundation numerous ways, using different types of primers, powders, etc. And I still couldn’t get it to work for me. It would look okay. But by the 6 hour mark I was a cakey mess. And then one day I had the genius idea to mix it with another Maybelline foundation that I also hated. And a magical combo was born….


Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless

The Maybelline Fit Me Loose Setting Powder is one of my holy grail products. I reach for it over my higher end powders again and again because it’s just that good. But the Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless foundation? Not so much. It just did nothing for me. It didn’t offer decent coverage, it applied meh and I didn’t feel that the finish was all that matte. I own three bottles of this foundation. Mainly because my hunt for the perfect shade was elusive (the shade range for this foundation is a puzzle for me). With 40 shades I struggled to find an undertone that worked for me. I finally settled on 322 . So again why am I recommending this? Well I’m not recommending it on it’s own. Nope. I am recommending that you combine this one with the Maybelline SuperStay. Who knew that two mediocre foundations mixed together could create something so nice? I did, that’s who. (Honestly I didn’t - I was just trying something out to salvage two foundations that were a wash for me). Matte & Poreless keeps SuperStay from being too cakey and SuperStay gives Matte & Poreless the coverage and matte finish it needs.

Now would I run out and buy these two just for this combo? Probably not. There are better foundations on the market (as evidenced above) that work just as well and better. But if you happen to own these two like I did and are trying to find a way to make them work for you this is my suggestion.

What are some of your favorite foundations for oily skin? I am always looking for new foundations to try so let me know in the comments!

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