When your face makeup leaves you with blemishes or clogged pores, consider these picks for oil-free foundations, primers, concealers, and powders

By Jenna Birch
April 14, 2015
Corbis Images

You've probably seen "oil-free" labels on various moisturizers, foundations and powders when you hit the cosmetics aisle-but what does it mean, and should you care?

The answer is yes, take note of the stamp, primarily if you have sensitive skin or adult acne. "We have to think about skin in terms three types," says Gary Goldenberg, M.D., a dermatologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital. "Some people have oily skin, some have dry skin, and some have combination or normal skin. For those with dry skin, oil can help-but for virtually everyone else, I recommend oil-free products, because anyone can get clogged pores." Oil can also lead to exacerbating blemishes and breakouts. (Suffering of breakouts? Consider one of our Alternative Adult Acne Treatments.) In fact, unless you're suffering from a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, which oil-based products and lotions can help sooth, "more oil is going to make problems worse," he says.

This is especially important to remember in a day and age where beauty oils are so popular. "A lot of people are using oils, because they think they need them to keep skin hydrated," he says. "But that's why it's important to use a moisturizer." A good moisturizer.

Do you need to go oil-free though? Not necessarily. Goldenberg says that if you've never thought about what beauty products might be causing breakouts-because you're basically blemish-free-it's not a problem. But if you are dealing with spots and dots, start checking the labels-and switch to oil-free incarnations if you notice that wearing your makeup from day to night, or from the gym to drinks, is leading to breakouts. You'll likely save your skin some serious hassle. Check out some of our favorite oil-free products below.



For a pretty, hydrated glow, try NARS Aqua Gel Oil-Free Moisturizer ($58; narscosmetics.com)-or if you need extra oil control, mop up shine with Shiseido Pureness Matifying Moisturizer Oil-Free ($34; shiseido.com).



Smashbox's cult-classic Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light ($36; sephora.com) comes in an oil-free version with all the staying power of the original-without the clogged pores. (Start your beauty routine the right way: 11 Primers with a Purpose.)



We're big fans of Marc Jacobs Genius Gel Super-Charged Oil-Free Foundation ($48; sephora.com), with its innovative, lightweight formula, and Laura Mercier Silk Crème Oil-Free Photo Edition Foundation ($48; lauramercier.com), for its extra-smooth wear.



To conceal that spot or hide those dark circles, Make Up For Ever's HD Invisible Cover Concealer ($28; sephora.com) is the perfect fix.



Keep shine at bay with Maybelline Oil-Control Loose Powder ($4; ulta.com), or opt for Estee Lauder Double Matte ($33; esteelauder.com) if you're more of a pressed-powder fan.



Your cheeks can be a sneaky problem area for clogged pores and pimples. Lancome's Blush Subtil ($31; sephora.com) is an oil-free formula that should help manage the issue. (Check out more 11 Blush Products for a Pretty, Natural Flush.)



For an all-over glow instead of an oily sheen, try Shiseido Bronzer ($35; shiseido.com)-which should help ward off breakouts, and won't make your face glisten in the wrong way.


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