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As someone with combination skin, I tend to stay away from foundations. I've found that a lot of formulas are either too heavy and clog my pores (hello, next-day breakouts), or they make me look like I've just washed my face in oil. So, no one was happier than I was when brands started making foundations that gave combination skin gals the coverage we need without contributing to our skin problems. Nowadays, we’re lucky to have an abundance of options, from drugstore brands to department store prestige. But when it comes to finding the best fit for you, where to start?
To help narrow down which ones are actually worth the investment, I created a handy checklist: A combination-skin-friendly foundation must be lightweight, mattifying, give natural-looking coverage, and help reduce the appearance of existing blemishes (optional, but ideal). After much research (and testing!), I found the foundations that checked these boxes.
Read on for the best foundations for combination skin.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation
Just because you have oily skin doesn't mean you can't want or have that dewy complexion. This foundation is super lightweight, so it's not likely to clog your pores. In fact, it helps minimize them while also providing hydration, helping to even out skin tone, and smoothing out fine lines.
Best Oil-Free: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation
This oil-free foundation can almost make it seem like you never break out. It’s formulated with cashmere kaolinite clay and transforms instantly from liquid to powder, creating an all-day finish that covers imperfections in a natural-looking way.
Best With SPF: Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation SPF 25
I wanted to be a fan of Armani's popular Luminous Silk Foundation, but it just didn't suit my oily skin. This matte version gives the same coverage as the luminous one without the extra shine. It's so lightweight that it feels like a second skin, but it gives enough full coverage to help hide any blemish or scars.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation
Whoever first invented makeup that also helps to address the acne it's covering get my firstborn named after them. This foundation not only gives great coverage, but it also contains acne-fighting ingredients to minimize redness and help prevent future breakouts.
Best Matte Finish: Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation
For days when you're extra shiny, this foundation combats it well by mattifying skin and controlling excess oil with its powdery finish. Coverage is buildable, and you only have to use a little bit for it to go a long way.
What Our Testers Say
"The product felt weightless on my skin, my dark spots were concealed because of its fantastic coverage, and the matte finish was natural and not too powdery looking." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester
Best Clarifying: bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Foundation
This isn't your grandmother's powder foundation. It's made with aspen bark and tea tree oil to help promote clearer, healthier-looking skin. You get medium to full coverage, and it helps reduce shine.
What To Look For in a Foundation For Combination Skin
Since combination skin can be prone to breakouts, those who have it may want to consider a foundation formulated with ingredients designed to help combat blemishes and balance oily skin. Look for such ingredients as salicylic acid and tea tree oil, to name a few.
Formulas Containing Kaolin
Kaolin, the same stuff that forms the base of many a clay-based face mask, is also a great contender for foundations geared toward balancing out oily skin, thanks to its ability to bind sebum and remove excess oil while promoting a powdery matte finish.
Wearing SPF is a non-negotiable. (Dermatologists and skin experts will back us on that.) It's only helpful to look for a pick swirled with sun protection. It can offer additional coverage on top of your everyday sunscreen.
What foundation is good for combination skin?
The four points you should consider when shopping for a foundation for combination skin include a lightweight texture, oil-controlling properties, natural-looking coverage that doesn’t get cakey, and—if you’re particularly acne-prone—ingredients designed to help reduce breakouts and blemishes.
Is liquid foundation good for combination skin?
While liquid tends to be light in texture, and therefore likely to benefit combination skin, there are also a variety of powder formulations that provide coverage and oil-controlling abilities that can help keep your overactive skin in check.
How do you prepare combination skin before makeup?
The key to getting combination skin under control is to find a skincare routine that strikes a balance between the oily and dry areas of your face. Usually this means using products that remove excess oil without drying skin out, and help provide oil control throughout the day.