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These 7 oil-free foundations won't melt off in the summer sun, plus makeup artist tips on choosing one

Spend less time on touch-ups with the right foundation.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

If you have oily skin, finding the right foundation is already enough of a challenge without having to deal with extreme heat that will melt your makeup off even faster. The goal is to find something that will provide the amount of coverage you want without clogging your pores, feeling too heavy or sliding off as soon as you put it on.

Instead of leaving you to fend for yourself through some expensive rounds of trial and error, Shop TODAY spoke to two makeup artists who told us which foundations the pros use to keep oily skin looking picture-perfect in any condition.

What to look for | Foundations to try | Application tips | Meet the MUAs

What to look for in foundations for oily skin

As you begin your search for a foundation designed specifically for oily skin, celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor suggests you focus less on specific ingredients and more on the claims on packaging (with the exception of trying to avoid certain allergens or toxic ingredients).

“Silicone may be great in one formula for dry skin, but it may also be great in a formula for oily skin. It’s all about an entire combination so don’t stress yourself out reading labels. Unless you’re a cosmetics chemist, you’re better off just using the consumer-friendly information,” he says. “A great cosmetics brand is going to want you to find the right product without having to look at the product formulation.”

So what should you be looking for? Sotomayor, along with New York City-based makeup artist Veronica Gaona, recommends looking for oil-control, mattifying and long-wear claims.

Gaona says she has oily skin herself, so she has first-hand experience in choosing and trying the right foundations. “Because of our type of skin, makeup seems to wear off very easily so a lot of things slip away from the face,” she says. For this reason, she leans toward products that are oil-free, even in skin prep, that also provide hydration.

Be careful not to over-mattify the face, she warns, because that can cause your skin to produce more oil. “Even though our skin is oily, it still needs hydration,” she adds.

Sotomayor emphasizes the importance of choosing a proper long-wear foundation if you have oily skin. “Your skin is pushing oil through your pores and that’s going to lift makeup off of your skin. A long-wearing foundation is more prepared to fight that battle."

Best foundations for oily skin, according to makeup artists' guidance

Covergirl Simply Ageless 3-in-1 Liquid Foundation

For an affordable drugstore option, Sotomayor recommends this foundation from Covergirl. He likes its long-wearing ability and the brand's commitment to producing cruelty-free makeup. According to the brand, this foundation "instantly reduces wrinkles, improves tone and hydrates to firm skin."

Make Up For Ever HD Skin Undetectable Stay-True Foundation

Gaona calls this Make Up For Ever pick her favorite foundation for summer. She describes it "as if their Ultra HD and Matte Velvet had a baby." She says the Ultra HD foundation is ideal for when you're on camera and the Matte Velvet foundation is great for oily skin, so the best qualities of each have combined in this new formula.

"It has both the mattifying factors but it also has a buildable coverage which you need for oily skin, as we’re very prone to acne breakouts and a lot of over-production of oils," she says.

Clinique Suberbalanced Makeup Foundation

One of the things Gaona says to look out for in a foundation is a formula that is free of oil, yet packed with hydration. This pick from Clinique is designed with several skin types in mind, with the goal of balancing out your skin and making it oil-free where you need it most.

Nars Cosmetics Soft Matte Complete Foundation

Another favorite of Gaona's is this Nars foundation for hydration, transfer-proof and full coverage. "A lot of the mattifying products I would recommend are a little bit more long-wearing, which is great because a lot of time with oily skin, a lot of the makeup we’re wearing tends to fade because of how much oil we’re producing throughout the day," she says.

Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation

For light-to-medium coverage, Gaona likes this Dior foundation. She says its liquid, runny texture provides a more natural coverage. With hyaluronic acid as its main ingredient, this foundation promises hydration and the ability to blend in effortlessly with your skin, making for an easy "no-makeup" makeup look.

Supergoop! CC Screen 100% Mineral CC Cream SPF 50

Sotomayor is a fan of this Supergoop! CC cream with SPF because of its ability to tackle several things at once: sun protection, hydration and color. He adds that he recently used this on the set of a film that took place outside so it was helpful for actors who were sweaty and also had oily skin.

Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation

For a lightweight foundation with a clean ingredient list, turn to the Ilia serum foundation, that promises to provide long-lasting medium coverage. Available in over 30 shades, this foundation also boasts niacinamide as its main ingredient, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles effortlessly, combined with aloe, which helps with the weightless feel.

Tips for applying foundation on oily skin

While Gaona notes she likes to use both sponges and makeup brushes to apply foundation, she starts by patting product into the skin with a makeup sponge for higher and more controlled coverage. If needed, she follows it up with a brush and buffs it out in a circular motion.

For the longest-lasting effect, Sotomayor recommends using brushes for all makeup applications but says to be careful when using a wet makeup sponge. “If it works for you, that’s fine, but if you use a wet sponge, you’re adding water to your foundation, potentially changing the formula that a chemist spent a lot of time figuring out. So rather than changing the chemistry of your makeup by adding water with a wet sponge or mixing your moisturizer into a primer or something like that, use the formula as it was intended."

His current favorite foundation brushes are from Cozzette Beauty and Prados Beauty. If you’re using a powder foundation, he recommends opting for a fluffier foundation brush.

Depending on the type of coverage you’re looking for, Gaona offers different approaches. For light, natural coverage, she suggests using your hands; for light-to-medium coverage, a makeup brush; and for full coverage, a sponge.

If you are choosing a brush as your preferred application method, Sotomayor suggests having several of them on hand so you always have a clean brush to use.

“People with oily skin sometimes also break out more often and usually end up touching up their face more often, so you want to be sure that you’re using clean tools to apply your makeup. That’s why you want to have a couple different powder brushes so that you can rotate them through, the same way you rotate your socks,” he says.

If you have oily skin, you know that you’re likely going to have to touch up your makeup throughout the day and blot as a form of oil control. For this reason, Gaona says she always carries blotting sheets or — if she’s in a pinch — Starbucks napkins. “It helps soak up all the oils, all the sweat from your foundation throughout the day,” she says and recommends blotting before reapplying any powders to make sure you have a smooth oil-free slate.

“Every time I go to Starbucks, I always get a whole bunch because they are so good for blotting,” she says.

Meet the makeup artists

  • Veronica Gaona is a celebrity makeup artist based in New York City with experience in film, bridal and editorial.
  • Andrew Sotomayor is a celebrity makeup artist who has won and been nominated for several Emmys for his work in film, television and on Broadway.