No Joke: These Are the Best Foundations for Combination Skin

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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

4.7
Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Youth-Boosting Perfect Skin Foundation

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Gives skin a glow

  • Provides smooth, even coverage

  • Feels light on the skin

What We Don't Like
  • Shade range could be expanded

Who else recommends it? PureWow and Glamour both picked 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. 

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1.4 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Oil-Free: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation

What We Like
  • Natural, skin-like finish

  • Velvety texture

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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. 

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 22 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best With SPF: Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation SPF 25

Armani Power Fabric Longwear High Cover Foundation SPF 25

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • SPF 25

  • Wide shade range

  • Lasts all day

  • Goes on smoothly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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. 

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 30 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Not cakey

  • Lasts all day

  • Doesn't cause breakouts

What We Don't Like
  • Shade range could be expanded

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. 

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 11 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Matte Finish: Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation

4
Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation

 Courtesy of Make Up For Ever

What We Like
  • Feels comfortable on the skin

  • Buildable and blends seamlessly

  • Natural, skin-like finish

What We Don't Like
  • May accentuate textured or dry, flaky skin

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. 

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 40 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation

Byrdie / Khera Alexander

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

Bareminerals Blemish Remedy Foundation

Courtesy of Nordstrom 

What We Like
  • Helps treat and prevent breakouts

  • Silky texture

  • Byrdie Clean

What We Don't Like
  • Not hydrating enough for dry skin

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. 

Coverage: Medium to full | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What To Look For in a Foundation For Combination Skin

Acne-Fighting Ingredients

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. 

Sun Protection

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.

FAQ
  • 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.  

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Dryness and Oily T-Zones Be Gone, Here Are the 15 Best Foundations for Combination Skin. PureWow. https://www.purewow.com/beauty/best-foundation-for-combination-skin

  2. The 17 Best Lightweight Foundations That Actually Look (and Feel) Like Your Skin. Glamour. https://www.glamour.com/gallery/best-foundations-lightweight

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