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Figuring out the best foundation for combination skin is no easy task. It often means having to deal with both the drawbacks of having oily skin and the drawbacks for having dry skin. The foundation that looks good over your oily T-zone makes your dry cheeks feel parched, and the foundation that gives your dry areas a radiant glow turns your oily areas into a veritable pool of grease by midday.
Since combination skin exists on a spectrum, there is no one way to do makeup for combination skin – instead, it’s all about learning what the different options are, and then play around with them until you find what’s right for you.
We’ve selected the best foundations for combination skin, with a variety of finishes and coverage-levels so you will definitely find something you’ll like! We also recommend a few other must-have makeup products for combination skin that will work seamlessly with your foundation to ensure your makeup looks exactly how you want it to all day long.
Next, we explain exactly what you should know when picking different makeup products for combination skin, and even cover exactly how to use them with a thorough application guide. To finish things off, there are a few beauty tips and tricks to help your combination skin look as balanced as possible.
Combination Skin Makeup Guide: Contents
- 19 Best Foundations for Combination Skin to Do Flawless Makeup
- 9 Other Makeup Products for Combination Skin
- How to Choose the Right Makeup for Combination Skin
- How to Apply Foundation When You Have Combination Skin
- Other Balancing Makeup Tips for Combination Skin
The best foundation for combination skin of your dreams is by all means on this list of 19 cult-favorite options on the market, so go for the one that appeals to you most of all!
1. It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
The great thing about having skin that is somewhere in the middle is that you can truly enjoy the best of both worlds with two-in-one makeup and skin care products that will nourish your skin without making you look greasy but will also cover without caking up or weighing you down. It just so happens that’s exactly what this cult product does, and this is why it is one of the best foundations for combination skin. As a bonus, it offers real sun protection. It is available at Sephora.
2. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
This foundation is normally a favorite of those with dry skin, but it’s also one of the best foundations for combination skin. It definitely gives the skin some glow, which not everyone likes, but if that’s your jam then definitely consider this one! It won’t smudge or crease, even if your T-zone gets a little oily, but it’ll also keep your dry parts hydrated. Buy it from Nordstrom!
3. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation
This is the best foundation for combination skin, especially if it is truly in the middle or leans a little towards oily. It offers medium coverage that will take care of unevenness and can be built up to even cover blemishes and has a natural finish that will skew matte on dry areas but will stay satiny over the oily areas. Pick it up at Sephora!
4. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Liquid Makeup
If you like full coverage and find it difficult to control those oily parts of your combination skin, then this is the foundation to try. It offers total coverage, without letting even a hint of discoloration show through, and it is fantastic for oil control. Avoid it if your dry parts get flakey sometimes, however. You can get it at Nordstrom.
5. Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
Just because you have combination skin doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of a glow sometimes. This foundation has a radiant finish, but the formula sets and holds very well so it won’t make the oily parts of your face look greasy. Go for it if you like a dewy look. It is sold at Sephora.
6. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
People all over the skin type spectrum adore this tinted moisturizer, which is a good sign that it can be one of the best foundations for combination skin. It offers light, effortless coverage along with a bit of sun protection. Despite being quite hydrating, it’s not overly dewy, so if you set it with powder you’ll end up with a velvet finish, while if you skip the powder you can look just a little glowy. Find it at Nordstrom!
7. Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation
The foundation from this up and coming brand is going to be all the rage very soon, we can tell. It is a matte-not-flat option that gives intense coverage that feels like nothing, and doesn’t over-mattify so you don’t need to worry about the dry parts of your skin getting flakey. The shade range is incredible, with 51 colors to choose from, so you will definitely find a match. It is available at Ulta.
8. MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Fluid Foundation SPF 15
If your combination skin leans just a little towards oily then this foundation is a classic. It offers full coverage and helps to control oils, but it doesn’t flatten the skin or dry it out. It’s a velvet finish in the truest sense of the word. The shade range is phenomenal, and the formula has been tried and tested by thousands of pros and average consumers over the years. Buy it from Nordstrom!
9. Benefit Cosmetics Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation SPF 15
This super lightweight foundation for combination skin blends into the skin in seconds. It gives light to medium coverage that can even out the skin tone but still let freckles peek through. It has a demi-matte finish that works no matter which direction your combination skin leans in. Because of the light coverage the smaller shade range is not egregious, and if you are prone to oxidizing choose one shade lighter. It is available at Ulta.
10. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Foundation
We’d be comfortable recommending this wonderful foundation to just about anyone, which is why it deserves recognition as the best foundation for combination skin. It is pretty simple: it works well on every type of skin surface. This foundation offers medium coverage that can be built up slightly, but it feels quite lightweight. Its skin care ingredients are quite robust, including the peptide complex Matrixyl 3000 to prevent premature aging and green tea extract to keep the skin calm. You can find it at Nordstrom.
11. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
Stick foundations are well known for their blendability and high coverage, as well as for having a unique texture that is neither dewy nor matte. This foundation would be best for combination skin that is either balanced or leans towards oily, because although it doesn’t totally mattify it also doesn’t load the skin up with moisture. The focus here is on a quick application and good coverage, so it can also double as a concealer if necessary. Get it at Sephora!
12. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
Just because you have combination skin doesn’t mean you can’t rock a dewy makeup look. This glowy foundation is a classic, offering light coverage and a luminescent finish. It moisturizes the skin, so it is particularly nice if your combination skin leans towards dry. Order it from Nordstrom!
13. Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation
This is another amazing foundation for those with combination-oily skin. It mattifies completely and blurs out pores and fine lines, with full coverage to hide every little imperfection. The final result is makeup that looks like it’s been put through an Instagram filter, but naturally. You can pick it up from Sephora.
14. Sulwhasoo ‘Perfecting Cushion’ Foundation Compact
For those days when your combination skin is feeling a little dry, this cushion compact is a godsend. Cushion foundations are whipped with a lot of air, so they feel refreshing and light on the skin. This particular formula will make your skin a little dewier, but you can powder your T-zone to control excess shine. The formula is quite moisturizing, so your skin will feel soft all day long. The coverage is light to medium, and it’s especially nice for touch-ups. Buy it from Nordstrom!
15. Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation Refill SPF 20
This is a lovely pressed powder foundation for combination skin. It is quick and non-fussy the way powder foundation should also be. It would be best for combination-oily skin, but it’s not so mattifying that it won’t work on your dry days. Do note that to actually get sun protection from this you would have to apply more product than would actually look good. The coverage is light, but you can build it up to medium. It is available at Dermstore.
16. Dior BACKSTAGE Face & Body Foundation
Face and body foundations are often the best for combination skin. This is because they are made to look as natural as possible despite being self-setting. Once applied you’ll easily forget you have makeup on, because it’s so lightweight and really does look like skin. It has a medium coverage, and it doesn’t require any powdering. Order it from Sephora!
17. Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35
Sun protection, anti-aging ingredients, and a radiant finish, yet formulated for skin that gets oily sometimes – doesn’t that sound magical? It’s exactly what this phenomenal BB cream offers, with light coverage that is perfect for summer. It contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and firming caffeine so your skin will look good in the short term and even better in the long term. You can get it from Nordstrom.
18. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30
When skin care companies branch out into makeup, they usually get the texture just right – what’s a little rarer is the color. However, FAB did it well, creating a wonderful tinted moisturizer in a respectable range of colors. This product helps smooth out the skin tone, protect from the sun, and moisturize the skin, but without causing breakouts or oiliness. It’ll definitely give you a dewy finish, but you can powder it to mattify. It is sold at Sephora.
19. Dermablend Smooth Liquid Camo Foundation
You don’t hear about this foundation a lot, which is quite unfortunate. If your combination skin manifests as dry patches and breakouts, then this is the best foundation to try. It offers full coverage, with a natural yet moisturizing finish that does not catch on dry patches – ever. It covers even the most persistent redness and can be mattified easily with a powder. Get it from Ulta!
Apart from the best foundation for combination skin, here we also find 9 more makeup products that will make your skin shine!
1. bareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer
This makeup primer is one of the best makeup products for combination skin because it is able to smooth out all types of skin issues, regardless of whether they stem from dryness or oiliness. It is able to fill in pores and minimize the appearance of fine lines, but it won’t mattify. What it will do, however, is make your foundation look phenomenally smooth all day long. Buy it from Ulta!
2. Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Primer
If your combination skin is feeling a little dry or flaky, then this primer is the best. It is filled with emollients to help soften the skin and glide over the dry patches. It gives the skin luminosity without greasiness, so it’s a must if you’re aiming for a glass skin-style makeup look. The formula contains a whole range of hydrators and probiotics to keep the skin nourished all day long. It is sold at Sephora.
3. Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
Sometimes the oily parts of your combination skin need to be tamed, and this is the best primer for the job. It fills in the pores and controls oil, to allow your skin to stay matte throughout the day with or without powder. Despite this, it is gentle enough to not dry you out or emphasize flakiness. You can get it at Nordstrom.
4. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
This is the perfect under-eye concealer because it offers full coverage without any dryness or creasing. It has a natural finish that is neither overly shiny nor overly matte, so it can also work to hide any discoloration on the drier parts of the face. The formula includes natural plant extracts that give the skin antioxidant protection. Pick it up at Sephora!
5. Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer
Shape Tape has a cult following thanks to its fuller than full coverage and ability to self-set. While we don’t love it for under the eyes if the skin is dry, it is phenomenal for covering blemishes and discoloration over oily skin. You can always sheer it out a bit with a touch of foundation or primer, as well! Find it at Ulta!
6. Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Match Stix Matte Skinstick
These little makeup sticks can do a lot of different things, and they are super portable to boot! They are just creamy enough not to catch on those dry areas of skin, but they still have the matte finish that is ideal for natural-looking complexion products. Go a few shades darker for your contour, a few shades lighter for highlight, or pick one up in your skin tone to use as an all-over concealer. You can buy these at Sephora.
7. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder
This loose powder has a special place in the makeup world, because it perfectly mattifies without getting cakey, and it looks incredible both in real life and in photos. This simple setting powder can definitely make the skin too matte, so you can apply it only in the areas where you need the oil control. Order it online from Sephora!
8. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural
Finding a great powder for combination skin is no easy task, but we dare say this powder might be it. This pressed powder is lightweight with very low pigmentation, so it doesn’t cake up or feel heavy on the skin. It helps to control oil, but its subtle pearlescent finish adds a bit of dimension to the face. It gives an ethereal, smooth finish to the skin without being shiny. Pick it up at Ulta!
9. Milani Make It Last Setting Spray Prime + Correct + Set
This fantastic setting spray locks makeup into play, with or without powder, but otherwise it doesn’t impact your skin’s finish. This means that no matter what kind of combination skin you have or what kind of makeup texture you like, this will help refine your look and keep your makeup in place. The spray nozzle distributes an even mist, and it can also double as a makeup primer if necessary. It is sold at Ulta.
Combination skin exists on a spectrum, so it can be really hard to figure out hard and fast rules for how to choose the right makeup for combination skin. Take into account the unique behaviors of your skin, and then choosing products will become easier. Be aware that what might work beautifully for one person may not work for you, and vice versa.
Makeup Primer for Combination Skin
You may find it hard to believe but makeup primers that do it all exist! When you have balanced or dry combination skin, you should look for an all-over primer that will fill in both pores and fine lines but without overly mattifying the skin. You can also use a glow-enhancing primer, but it’s best to keep it localized to the high points of the face where you would also apply a highlighter.
If your combination skin gets very oily in certain areas, then you can definitely choose a mattifying primer, and then only apply it to the parts of the face that get oily or it will emphasize flakiness elsewhere.
Foundation for Combination Skin
With combination skin, you will usually want to avoid both the overly mattifying and the overly moisturizing foundations, and instead, stick to products that give a natural, demi-matte or satin finish. This is especially true if you want an all-over foundation.
Your personal preference also matters, of course. Opt for a foundation that leans more towards a satin finish if you like a more radiant look, or opt for a demi-matte foundation if you prefer a matte finish to your skin.
The way you set your foundation will ultimately have the biggest difference when it comes to how matte or dewy it looks, as well, but more on that in the powder section.
Some people with combination skin will use a more mattifying foundation over the oily parts of the skin, like their T-zone, and a more moisturizing foundation on the dry parts of the skin. You can absolutely give that a try, if you like and if you’re willing to spend that kind of time on doing your makeup.
Concealer for Combination Skin
Since concealers are meant to be applied locally, the concealer you choose totally depends on what you need to conceal and on which part of your face. Concealers for dry areas of the skin like the under eyes should be creamier and more hydrating, while concealers meant to cover blemishes or discoloration in the oilier areas of your skin should be a little more matte and quick-setting.
You can also choose a middle-of-the-road, natural finish concealer if you’d like to have something you can use all over the face.
Powder for Combination Skin
Finding the right powder can be tricky when you have combination skin. You need a powder that will set your makeup well and control oils on the oily parts of your face without sucking all of the moisture out of the dry parts of your face.
One easy solution is to find a light but mattifying powder and to only apply it to the oily parts of the face. Another solution is to choose a hydrating powder and to apply it all over the face. This powder will set the makeup all over, but it’ll also help prevent dryness throughout the day. These kinds of setting powders are especially great if you like a more luminous look.
• Choose a primer that will help target your main concerns. If you’re using a targeted primer to control oils or minimize pores, use about half a pea-sized amount and gently pat it only into the areas where that effect is needed. You can use a more moisturizing primer on the dry parts of your face, or skip it altogether.
• Once it’s time for foundation, the way you apply it depends on the tools you have and your preferences. For a sheer and dewy application, dot a bit of foundation all over your face and then use a damp makeup sponge and stippling motions to blend it out so it covers your whole face easily. Use the larger side of the sponge to cover more area and use the thinner side for getting foundation into the creases of the face.
• For a more full-coverage, matte application, use a flat-topped makeup brush. Dot the foundation for combination skin over your face, and then use the brush to blend it out over the face with circular motions. If necessary, use a smaller brush to get into tougher-to-reach areas like under the eyes or around the nostrils.
• If your initial foundation application is looking a little too heavy, use a clean makeup sponge to soak up and blend out the areas with excess product.
• Next, apply your concealer. Choose a creamy concealer for under the eyes and any drier parts of your face, and if necessary use a more mattifying one for concealing the oilier parts of the face.
• Dot your concealer over your skin, using a small pencil brush for small blemishes and your finger, a larger brush, or the included applicator for larger areas of discoloration. Then blend it out with a brush or sponge, using a combination of tapping and circular motions.
• If you like, you can absolutely apply cream-based contour, highlight, and blush. They will blend very easily over your foundation, look a little more natural than powder complexion products, and will help keep your skin looking dewy if that’s what you’re going for.
• Once it’s time to set your base, take into account the formulation of your foundation and the final look you would like to have. Set your whole face if you like a more matte look that will stay in place all day long. If you prefer a dewier makeup look then, depending on your foundation, you might be able to skip setting your makeup altogether, or you can try only setting the parts of your face that get overly shiny.
• Choose a fluffy brush for a lighter powder application that will partially set your foundation but will keep your skin looking a little dewy. Opt for a powder puff or a dense kabuki brush to set your foundation more thoroughly and to totally mattify the skin.
Whatever method you choose, you will want to load up your applicator and then tap off any excess product. Use a tapping motion in order to apply the powder to the skin without disrupting the foundation underneath.
• Use a smaller brush or the pointy end of a makeup sponge to apply powder under the eyes, using the same tapping motion.
• Lastly, spray on a bit of face mist or setting spray from about an arm’s length away. If you would like a dewier finish, opt for a hydrating mist, while if you need to lock things into place, use a dedicated setting spray.
• Figuring out which products, combinations, and techniques work best for you is all about experimenting. Play around with different applications to see what your combination skin likes best: it’s hard to predict if combining a dewy foundation and powder will work better than using a demi-matte foundation without powder, for example. Try to have fun when learning what will work best for your skin!
• Remember that your skin will change season to season. Combination skin tends to get a little drier in the winter and a little oilier in the summer, so you might find yourself having to change foundations or techniques based on the time of year.
• If you find yourself getting shiny throughout the day, blotting sheets will do a great job of getting rid of the oils, and unlike powder, they won’t catch on your dry patches.
Photos via @janicejoostemaa, @ymorbeauty, @ohuprettythings