How to Apply Makeup to Oily Skin

How to Apply Makeup to Oily Skin

Every month, a variety of models and pop icons beam from the covers of fashion magazines. Their faces seem to glow around their smiles, but for most people, the first hint of shine means that oil is yet again seeping through their makeup. If you feel that your glow is less dewy radiance and more blinding oil spill, you have options to dim the glare for the look you want.

The oil in your skin isn’t your enemy — it’s more like having a high-maintenance friend. Like any good friendship, it comes with demands, but it also has its benefits. Oil does the important work of lubricating and protecting both your skin and your hair, keeping them flexible and moist. Think of the alternative — dry, flaky skin and brittle frizz.

The high-maintenance part of the relationship comes when you have too much oil. Your oil glands, called sebaceous glands, can get over-enthusiastic about their job and produce too much sebum, the greasy stuff that accumulates on your face. Certain stimulants, such as hormones, cosmetics, genetic characteristics and overdrying of the skin through harsh weather and abrasive cleansers, can push your oil glands into overdrive. When those glands produce too much sebum, the oil builds up on your skin and makes you look greasy [sources: Syrett, Bouchez].

But with a little thought and effort, you can manage the oil. Given the wide array of cosmetics available today, you can find the best options to even out your oily complexion without worrying that your makeup will slide off your face. Certain application tools, types of makeup and blending methods help enhance a healthy glow without creating an offensive shine.

First, you need to learn how best to take care of your skin and what prep work to do to get the most satisfaction — and the least grease — out of your makeup.

Prepping to Apply Makeup to Oily Skin

Now that you’ve decided to make friends with the oil in your skin, it’s time to coax your skin — and its oil — into the right state for makeup application. This prep work will help keep your skin healthy in part by adjusting the amount of oil on your skin. Try these simple steps to control oil production on your face.

To manage oily skin, you first need to clean your face properly — this doesn’t mean you should pull out a scouring pad and start scrubbing. One of the biggest mistakes people with oily skin make is cleansing too often or too harshly. Too much abrasion strips skin of the good oils that it needs to be healthy, and this causes skin to think it needs moisture, prompting the sebaceous glands to compensate and produce more oil. To avoid this situation, be gentle and don’t wash your face more than twice a day. Also, try using a gel or a water-based cleanser to remove unwanted dirt, leftover makeup and extra oil without stripping your skin [sources: Syrett, Bouchez].

Also, always apply a thin coat of sunscreen or use a foundation that contains a sun protection factor of at least 15. If you’re worried about sunscreen making your skin greasy or causing you to break out, you’ll be happy to know that sunscreens are not all thick and oily. Try a sunscreen that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide — these are gentler on sensitive skin and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties [source: Today].

Even if you have oily skin, you need to moisturize daily to prevent your skin from drying out. Remember, if your skin thinks it’s dry, it will produce more oil. To hydrate your skin without adding excess oil, use a light, oil-free moisturizer [source: Bouchez].

Now that you’ve cleaned, moisturized and protected your skin, continue reading to learn about the best makeup application tools.

Makeup Application Tools

You’ve prepared your face so you can work your makeup magic. To complete the transformation, you need the right tools — the magic wands of the trade, so to speak. Professional makeup artists create their bewitching effects on celebrities not so much with the makeup they choose but with the methods and tools they use to apply it.

You, too, can become a wizard with makeup by lining up your own arsenal of makeup tools. Start with these three essential items:

  • Use an eye shadow brush — not a sponge applicator or a cotton swab — to apply eye shadow. It’s easy on the sensitive skin around your eyes and enables you to apply color more precisely [source: com].
  • Apply foundation with a sponge or foundation brush, not your fingers. Sponges are good for either spot coverage or all-over coverage, while foundation brushes are especially good for providing full coverage. Both tools enable you to be gentle while evenly applying makeup [sources: com, Today].
  • As with foundation, you want to avoid using your fingers when applying blush. To get naturally rosy or bronzed cheeks, you need to find a good blush brush. Brushes are designed to work with the natural curves on your face without applying too much pressure [source: com].

Although you may be tempted to apply makeup with your fingers, keep in mind that fingers carry dirt, germs and oils that can transfer to your face, causing irritation and breakouts [sources: Syrett, Today]. Plus, when you touch your makeup with your fingers, you transfer whatever gunk is on your hands to your makeup — you could mix your eye shadow into your blush, and you run the risk of turning all your makeup into bacterial Petri dishes.

Now that your skin is prepped and your tools are laid out, it’s time for the main event — putting on your makeup. Read on to learn the proper application process.

Blending Makeup

You’re now ready to apply your makeup. Before you whip out your brushes, take a moment to visualize what you want to look like when you’re done. Unless you’re performing on stage or under the big circus tent, you’re probably not imagining a wild and wacky made-up look. This means you’ll need to blend your makeup to get a natural, polished look.

To get that healthy, elegant glow without the oily shine, you need to choose colors that complement your skin tone and apply them in the proper order. If you have oily skin, you want to apply primer first. Primer helps your makeup stay in place, without smearing, creasing or melting — for oily skin, you can use a matte primer that absorbs oil and reduces shine. Primer also smoothes out other makeup so you can easily blend your foundation and powders. To apply primer to your face, rub it into your skin and give it a few minutes to sink in and dry before moving on to the next step [source: Wu].

If you have pimples or dark circles, you need to work on those next. First, apply concealer to hide circles, smoothing a small amount into your skin gently so it doesn’t stand out. Next, use a cover-up or foundation stick — not concealer — to hide unwanted blemishes. Apply the cover-up directly to the imperfection and pat it gently to blend [source: Today].

Now it’s time for foundation. For people with oily skin, foundation can be really helpful. You can use oil-free, powder or mineral foundations to absorb and control the oil in your skin. If you have acne, you may want to use a foundation that contains salicylic acid. When applying foundation to your entire face, be sure to blend it along your jaw line to avoid makeup lines. You may also want to use a foundation brush to dust a thin coat of powder over your finished foundation — powder seals foundation and reduces shine [source: Matlin].

Finally, you want to apply the finishing touches — blush and eye shadow. For oily skin, colored gels work well, but they can be tricky to apply. Whether you apply powder or gel makeup, you want to avoid looking like a clown. This means you need to blend well, dusting a small amount of blush over the apples of your cheeks, then up toward your hairline and back down [source: Today]. For your eyes, you can avoid hard stripes of color by using a brush to carefully blend the colors into one another [source:].

You now have the makeup tricks to create the look you want. Keep reading to learn what cosmetics can help you put your best face forward.

Makeup Products to Avoid

Even when you’ve done all the prep work and have all the right tools, you can still run into trouble applying makeup. Using the wrong cosmetics can increase the oiliness of your skin, causing your makeup to look blotchy and streaky. Before you know it, your makeup may start sliding down your face.

To avoid makeup meltdown, you need to consider the types of cosmetics, skin cleansers and other facial products you use. The most important thing to remember for oily skin is to avoid thick, heavy and overly creamy products that contain oils. For example, you shouldn’t use products formulated for dry skin — these are meant to increase oil production.

You should also steer clear of the following oil-inducing products:

  • Cleansers that feel sandy and gritty may be too abrasive for oily skin, causing it to produce extra oil to counteract the harshness [source: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics].
  • Your instinct may be to remove as much oil as possible, but be wary of products like toners that typically contain certain drying alcohols. These can cause the same rebound effect that occurs from using a harsh cleanser. If you need to use a toner, opt for a mild one [source: com].
  • Use oil-free moisturizers that will keep skin hydrated without encouraging greasy buildup [source: WebMD].
  • When selecting sunscreen, look for oil-free options and avoid lotions that are thick and heavy [source: Syrett].
  • If you have oily skin, you may be prone to breakouts, so look for products labeled “noncomedogenic” — this means they won’t clog pores [source: WebMD].

Overall, if you take care with your beauty habits, you can turn your oily skin into a glowing success. By using proper preparation, tools, techniques and products, you can develop a wonderful relationship with the oil in your skin.

For more information on applying makeup to oily skin, see the links on the following page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles


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