I have had oily skin for as long as I can remember (apart from several merciful months as an acne-prone teen on Roaccutane), and for anyone else with the same affliction, you know that “have” is not quite the appropriate word. “Suffer with on a daily basis” is more accurate. Those of us whose skin errs on the side of oily really only experience a normal matte face in the hours immediately proceeding our morning skincare routine, as by late morning/lunchtime, the grease monster has reared its vile head, either all over the face or concentrated to certain areas in violently unattractive patches. Cue enormous quantities of self consciousness and a discreet trip to the nearest bathroom, where the blotting papers and/or pressed powders (and in extreme cases, a bottle of cleanser and a flannel) are whipped out. Urgh.
Awkwardness and maddening inconvenience aside, it’s not all bad news. Oily girls dodge a lot of the bullets that our drier-skinned sisters often can’t avoid, such as tightness, sensitivity, and a co-dependent relationship with moisturisers and hydrating serums. Us greaseballs are also less disposed to developing wrinkles and fine lines, with the Vitamin E in all that excess sebum acting as a first line of defense against UV rays and damage from free radicals. Thanks, excess sebum!
I’ve road-tested a lot of products geared towards oily skin spanning all levels of the budget spectrum, prompting the important realisation that there is no one product or combination of products that is going to change my skin. But with the help of a few hero jars and tubes I can muster up some fairly convincing and reasonably long-lasting mattification, and can troubleshoot the 2pm greasies if time/location/inclination allows. Now, as I get the majority of my skincare and makeup advice from beauty bloggers/YouTubers, anyone with a similar penchant will no doubt have encountered many a review of these prodz already so I do apologise if this is all old-hat. For those who are new, I hope this is helpful!
Cleanser | I’ve gone about Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel here, and after using it for a few months now I can safely say that it’s become a super friend to my oily skin (and is especially great for indulging in a Lisa Eldridge-esque facial massage). It’s a lightweight oily-gel texture, which is not the dubious oily skin match that it sounds. Rather, it removes all the day’s makeup and grime and, thanks to the likes of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and pumpkin enzymes, is super nourishing. While a lot of “oil-fighting” cleansers can strip the skin and leave it tight and shiny, this one promotes calmness and clarity, delivering the bright-not-shiny skin coveted by all of us with an oily mug. Smells bloody divine too.
SPF | Sun protection often lends itself to revoltingly heavy creams, but brands are starting to jump on the matte-finish bandwagon – oily girls, rejoice! I’ve professed my love for the Alpha-H Ultra High Protection SPF 50+ here, and I’m also a massive fan of the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ (picked up devastatingly cheaply from a French pharmacy recently). My current favourite, which gets bonus points for the adorable packaging, is the Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45. This incredibly lightweight and oil-free liquid melts into the skin with no greasy residue, leaving a lovely matte finish that’s almost primer-like in its smoothness. If you’re going to be applying makeup, this is a great canvas to build on.
Primer | In the interest of keeping layers to a minimum, I usually only crack out a primer if I’m going to an event that’s likely to span several hours and I subsequently require that extra level of oil-inhibiting longevity. Up until recently I’d always opt for the Smashbox Photo Finish or the Makeup Forever Mattifying Skin Equaliser, but my new darling is the Laura Mercier Mattifying Secret Finish, a relatively new purchase bought purely on the recommendation of Sali Hughes (although to be honest I would rub dirt into my face if she encouraged it). It’s a super smooth gel that can be applied pre-foundation like a regular primer, and also used during the day to matte-down any greaseball patches, which for me is more agreeable than applying a layer of powder or struggling with blotting papers. Lighter than a lot of other primers, I feel you can get away with wearing this one every day without feeling too weighed down.
Foundation | I’m all-for trying new foundations (and am a known sucker for anything that promises “long wear” or “all-day matte finish”), but I find that products geared towards oily skin just don’t cut the mustard for me – a heavy, cakey, dull, “applied with a trowel” complexion just ain’t what I’m after. Over the last year or so Chanel Perfection Lumière Velvet has taken pride of place in my foundation stash. It’s a light-as-air formula that goes on so smooth and sets to a pleasing velvety medium-coverage finish, mattifying the skin without the dreadful powdery look that so many oily-skin foundations just can’t seem to avoid. In terms of wear and tear, it goes the distance respectably well considering how light-weight it is and (depending on one’s level of exertion throughout the day), encourages a bit of dewiness without letting the skin stray too violently into full-on greaseball territory.
Powder | I’m not a huge fan of touching up with powder during the day (see fear of cake-iness above), but will always reach for it on days when I’m wearing makeup and want to set the areas where the greasiness is known to be most aggressive – forehead and nose in in my case. My current go-to is the Healthy Balance Compact Powder from Bourjois, which sits pleasingly on the budget-friendly end of the spectrum and is a much-raved about beauty blogger favourite (and as such I shall make this short and sweet). The formula is incredibly fine so it goes onto the skin without looking chalky, sets everything in place very handsomely, has great staying power, and is packaged in a pleasingly slim compact with a handy mirror to boot.
Leave a comment below if you have any tips for fighting the grease monster!