(Last Updated On: January 27, 2018)

Combination skin is a bit like being near a Middle Eastern oil well (or an oil spill).

Oil flowing and shining in the well (or your T-Zone) surrounded by barren sands (your dry cheeks).

So…what do you do about it?

Well, for a long tern treatment you could, for example, use a combination mask – a moisturizing mask to the dry areas and a mattifying/oil absorbing mask to the T-Zone – every few days (suggested by New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo in Allure).

But if you’re looking to spruce yourself up for a night out, all you need to do is read on.

I’ve reviewed the best-selling foundations out there and compiled the top 5 foundations for combination skin.

Fun Fact

If you find your face starting to darken within hours of applying foundation your foundation is likely oxidizing. Click To Tweet


At A Glance: The 5 Best Foundations For Combination Skin

Revlon Age Defying Makeup with Botafirm for Normal/Combination Skin is a good foundation with SPF and can deal with breakouts and wrinkles.

Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft-Matte Hydrating Foundation has a whipped texture that is quite refreshing on the skin.

Dermablend Blurring Mousse Foundation Makeup with SPF 25 for Medium to High Coverage, Oil-Free gives you a great finish accentuating your natural features.

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily’s USP would be lasting for a long time through oil and sweat without melting or caking.

Clinique Even Better Makeup Broad Spectrum Spf15 Evens & Correct Foundation is hypoallergenic and good for sensitive skin.

The Best Foundation For Combination Skin

01. Revlon Age Defying Makeup with Botafirm for Normal/Combination Skin Review

First things first, ten to one you’re wondering what ‘botafirm’ is.

‘Botafirm’ is a proprietary concoction of Revlon, comprising Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 and selected biologicals which relaxes and reduces expression lines, wrinkles and so on.

Also, this one has a SPF of 20, which is good enough for a shopping excursion, but NOT for a hiking trip.

The SPF is courtesy of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide. Both are physical sunscreens.

The newest packaging includes a pump which is useful for controlling the amount of foundation you take out.

However the flip side is you may find it difficult to get it out when you’re running low. You’ll have to remove the pump and shake it out.

Having taken it out you’ll note it’s very light on the skin and buildable.

That is a great advantage because the coverage is not more than medium so you’ll need to build up if you want good coverage.

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Salicylic Acid are useful in evening out your skin tone and dealing with acne and breakouts which may result from an oily skin.

In addition, Salicylic Acid can soothe aggravated skin.

There are a number of antioxidants in the foundation to complement the anti-wrinkling activity of ‘Botafirm’.

Antioxidants resist environmental damage and encourage collagen production both of which are good at reducing wrinkles.

Overall I think you will get a more dewy less matte look on combination skin.

The key ingredients follow.

Active Ingredients (SPF) – 3% Zinc Oxide and 8% Titanium Dioxide.

SolventWater/Aqua, Cyclomethicone, Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol
Skin ConditioningCyclomethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Glycine soja (Soybean) Protein, Vitamin A*, Vitamin E**, Aloe Vera (Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Roman Chamomile Flower Extract, Saxifraga sarmentosa Extract, Mulberry (Morus bombycis) Extract, PEG-10 Dimethicone
Viscosity ControllingCyclomethicone, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Sulfate, Nylon-12, Aluminum Hydroxide, Kelp Extract, PVP, Silica, Butylene Glycol
EmollientDimethicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, PEG/PPG - 18/18 Dimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Grapefruit (Vitis Vinifera) Extract, Methicone, Dimethiconol, Tribehenin
HumectantPropylene Glycol, pro-Vitamin B5***, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Scutellaria baicarensis Extract, Methoxypropyl Gluconamide, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate
EmulsifierCetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Stearic Acid, Polyglycerin-6 Polyricinoleate, PEG/PPG - 18/18 Dimethicone, PVP, Laureth-7, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone
BulkingMagnesium Sulfate, Nylon-12, Alumina, Silica
FragranceMethyl Dihydrojasmonate/Hedione
AbsorbentBoron Nitride, Aluminum Hydroxide, Alumina, Silica
OpacifyingBoron Nitride, Nylon-12, Aluminum Hydroxide. Alumina, Silica
Slip ModifierBoron Nitride, Methicone
Anti-wrinkleAcetyl Hexapeptide-3
CleansingStearic Acid
BindingTriethoxycaprylylsilane, PVP
ColorantAluminum Hydroxide
AntioxidantVitamin E**, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Aloe Vera (Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Grapefruit (Vitis Vinifera) Extract, Scutellaria baicarensis Extract
ExfoliatingSalicylic Acid
PreservativeSalicylic Acid, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
Skin ProtectingMushroom (Fomes Officinalis) Extract
Chelating AgentTetrasodium EDTA

*As Retinyl Acetate.

**As Tocopheryl Acetate.

***As Panthenol.


  • Clean and dry your face.
  • Pump/shake the foundation from the bottle.
  • Apply it using a sponge. You can buff it on.
  • Use a good cleanser to remove it.

What I Liked

SPF 20.

Pump package helps control amount of foundation.

Lightweight and buildable.

Good at reducing acne and breakouts.

Large number of antioxidants to complement Botafirm in reducing wrinkles.

What I Didn’t Like

Methyl Dihydrojasmonate/Hedione may be sensitizing.

Includes Methylparaben and Propylparaben.

Coverage is not high.

Melting may be a bit of an issue.

The Best Drugstore Foundation For Combination Skin

02. Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft-Matte Hydrating Foundation Review

Neither too oily, nor too dry, Maybelline’s Dream Velvet Foundation is just right for users with combination skin.

It’ll even out skin tone nicely and give you a nice finish. Zits and red spots will vanish.

However, it has a weakness against excessive oil. If your T-Zone is too oily, you may start to shine across your face around 5-6 hours after application.

However I think you can easily blot that out without affecting the rest of your face so that’s a nuisance but not irremediable.

Coming to shades, you have 12 different ones to choose from, ranging from dark coconut to nude and ivory.

However you may face a bit of a problem. For example I found that the Beige shades were a bit lighter than advertised on the package.

So do a patch test to select the correct shade for yourself.

The foundation has w hipped texture which is quite refreshing on the skin. It’s not that heavy and easily buildable.

However please note that the finish is definitely on the dewy side, not totally matte. So avoid this if your skin/T-Zone is especially oily.

Talking of ‘drugstore foundation’ this definitely does play to the ‘drugstore’ theme, lying at the lower end of the price range.

The main ingredients are listed below.

EmollientDimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide
HumectantGlycerine, Sodium Hyaluronate
Viscosity IncreasingDimethicone Crosspolymer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Synthetic Fluorphogopite, Aluminum Hydroxide
EmulsifierDimethicone Crosspolymer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer
OpacifyingHydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide
BulkingSynthetic Fluorphogopite
CleansingDisodium Stearoyl Glutamate
Skin ConditioningDisodium Stearoyl Glutamate
AbsorbentAluminum Hydroxide


  • Clean and dry your face.
  • There’s a Maybelline Dream Blender for it but you can use a sponge to apply.
  • It’s best to just buff it on.
  • You can use soap and water to remove it. Use a makeup remover if you need to.

What I Liked

 Good coverage.

 Nice even finish.

 Lightweight and buildable.

 Refreshing on the skin.

 12 different shades to choose from.

What I Didn’t Like

Some of the shades may not be the exact one advertised on the package – probably a trifle lighter.

The foundation could start to melt and oil start to show through. Carry blotters to remedy that.

The Best Full Coverage Foundation For Combination Skin

03. Dermablend Blurring Mousse Foundation Makeup with SPF 25 for Medium to High Coverage, Oil-Free Review

SPF 25 goes very close to SPF 30 which is the minimum for any serious sun exposure. SPF 25 is absolutely fine for, say, a shopping trip.

The sunscreen is Titanium Dioxide which means no chemical shenanigans, but it may feel a trifle heavy on the skin.

Irregardless of that the foundation is really lightweight. You should not feel anything at all wearing this.

Dermablend has really proved its mettle as far as weight and buildability are concerned.

It’s available in 12 different shades and I think offers enough range for everyone, including women of color.

It does a good job of giving you a smooth but natural look, perhaps a little on the dewy side.

However you may need to build a bit to get close-up grade cover on red spots, acne marks and so on.

That is, a normal cover will do for at-a-distance situations but if your aim is to look good in close-up situations like a date you may want to build.

The finish is just right – keeps it natural while giving you a gloss which is why you can consider it for a date.

If your skin is especially oily and you’re going to wear it for a long time, say over 5 hours, you may need to blot and touch up.

A little on the pricier side, it’s worth it because of the natural yet smooth finish.

Tip – You can consider using it as a primer for a foundation that offers more coverage; after all it is a ‘blurring’ foundation. Its USP is the finish and buildability; exploit that.

The following are the main ingredients.

Active Ingredient (SPF) – 10.4% Titanium Dioxide.

EmollientDimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide
BulkingSynthetic Fluorphogopite
Viscosity ControllingSynthetic Fluorphogopite, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide
EmulsifierHydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine
OpacifyingHydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide
Anti-acneSalicylic Acid
Skin ConditioningDisodium Stearoyl Glutamate
CleansingDisodium Stearoyl Glutamate
Skin ProtectingDimethicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Eperua falcate Bark Extract


  • Clean and dry your face.
  • Apply the initial coats with a sponge or brush.
  • If you have acne scars, red spots etc use your fingers to build on those areas.
  • Use micellar water and a makeup wipe to remove.

What I Liked

 Lightweight and buildable.

 Very nice finish.

 Can be used as a primer for a second foundation with more coverage.

 SPF 25.

What I Didn’t Like

 You will need to build to cover red spots, pimples etc

You may need to blot after 4-5 hours.

Bit on the pricier side.

The Best Liquid Foundation For Combination Skin

04. Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin Review

The SPF is lower, SPF 15, which is adequate for short trips but not for a hike or anything.

One of the best things about this is it’s available in 23 shades.

It shouldn’t feel very heavy on your skin so you shouldn’t feel any discomfort from that. Plus that means it’s buildable.

The coverage is medium, not too high, which is good considering the foundation isn’t heavy on skin. Moreover you can always build coverage.

On the matter of stamina I would say it can hold its own. You may be able to go for more than 6 hours without facing melting or caking.

However oil may begin to show within some time so once again, you may need to blot.

While it does provide good coverage pores may turn out a problem for some users, inspite of it including a dedicated astringent in the form of SD Alcohol 40B.

If you do experience the foundation settling into your pores try to avoid close-ups and you’ll be fine. It shouldn’t be an issue at a distance.

It has a scent; I liked it, some users may not. HOWEVER the scent is very light and should go away within minutes.

One improvement Revlon did was to introduce a pump around 2016 I think. In the earlier version you had to shake it out of the bottle and it spilt quite a bit.

Bisabolol, in addition to moisturizing your skin, brightens your skin tone and soothes aggravated skin.

The main ingredients feature in the chart.

Active Ingredient (SPF) – 7.3% Titanium Dioxide.

SolventWater/Aqua, Cyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Isododecane
Skin ConditioningCyclomethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Bisabolol, Vitamin E**, Vitamin A***, Mallow (Malva Sylvestris) Extract, Madonna Lily (Lilium Candidum) Bulb Extract, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum Flower Extract, Trisiloxane
Viscosity ControllingCyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Nylon-12, Polyisobutene, Sodium Chloride, Alumina
Anti-foamingTrimethylsiloxysilicate, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane
HumectantButylene Glycol
AbsorbentBoron Nitride, Serica/Silk Powder, Alumina
Slip ModifierBoron Nitride, Serica/Silk Powder, Methicone
OpacifyingBoron Nitride, Nylon-12, Alumina
EmollientDimethicone, PEG/PPG - 18/18 Dimethicone, Tribehenin, Isododecane, Methicone
AstringentSD Alcohol 40B*
EmulsifierPEG/PPG - 18/18 Dimethicone, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Sorbitan Sesquioleate
BulkingNylon-12, Alumina
Film FormingPolyisobutene
AntioxidantVitamin E**, Vitamin A***, Mallow (Malva Sylvestris) Extract
FragranceEthylene Brassylate
Chelating AgentTetrasodium EDTA
PreservativeMethylparaben, Propylparaben

*SD – Specially Denatured; 40B means it has been denatured with denatonium benzoate and t-butyl alcohol.

**As Tocopherol Acetate.

***As Retinyl Palmitate.


  • Clean and dry your skin. If you have dry skin apply moisturizer.
  • Take some foundation on the back of your hand and use a kabuki brush (or a sponge) to apply it to your face.
  • I’d suggest sweeping it in circles (buffing) instead of patting it in.
  • Once the initial coat is done, if any pores, spots etc remain exposed use your fingers to apply additional foundation. Stippling may prove more efficient here.
  • For removal I’d suggest using a makeup remover.

What I Liked

SPF 15.

23 shades to choose from.

Lacks a strong scent.

Reasonably light on your skin and buildable.

No melting or caking.

What I Didn’t Like

May settle into your pores.

If your T-Zone is very oily you may need to blot and touch up every now and then.

You will need a dedicated sunscreen for sustained and/or prolonged sun exposure like hiking or working outdoors.

The Best Foundation For Combination Acne Prone Skin

05. Clinique Even Better Makeup Broad Spectrum Spf15 Evens & Correct Foundation Review

The SPF is a good mixture of chemical – Octinoxate – and physical/mineral – Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide – sunscreens.

Each kind has its pros and cons.

That being said, SPF 15 is OK for short sun exposures, NOT for long or sustained exposure. In the latter case, you need a dedicated sunscreen.

This is a good option for sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic and non-irritating.

As you apply it you will like how light and fresh it feels on your skin.

It’s easily buildable. The coverage is light to medium at best (it tries to retain your natural look as much as possible) but you can build up to the coverage you want.

The finish is good. I would say it’s neutral, just a trifle matte. It definitely doesn’t give you a dewy finish.

Active Ingredients (SPF) – 5.9% Octinoxate, 3.5% Titanium Dioxide, 2.8% Zinc Oxide.

SolventWater/Aqua, Methyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol
Skin ConditioningMethyl Trimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Triethylhexanoin, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polidimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Grapefruit* Peel Extract, Acetyl Glucosamine, Dimethicone Crosspolymer-3, Vitamin E***
Anti-foamingPhenyl Trimethicone, Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate
EmollientDimethicone, Astrocaryum murumuru Seed Butter, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylyl Methicone, Methicone, Polyglycerin-6 Polyricinoleate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Lecithin, Caprylyl Glycol
HumectantButylene Glycol, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Glycerin
Viscosity ControllingButylene Glycol, Sodium Myristoil Sarcosinate, Dipropylene Glycol
AntioxidantYeast Extract, Vitamin E***, Vitamin C****
ThickeningAlumina, Sodium Chloride
FragranceBirch** Bark Extract
CleansingSodium Myristoil Sarcosinate
EmulsifierPolyglycerin-6 Polyricinoleate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Lecithin, Laureth-7
Suspending AgentDisteardimonium Hectorite
Film FormingDimethicone PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer
PreservativeCaprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide
Chelating AgentDisodium EDTA
*Citrus grandi.

**Betula alba.

***As Tocopheryl Acetate.

****As Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (also as Tetrahexyldecyl Phosphate).


  • Clean and dry your face.
  • Use a sponge or applicator to apply the foundation.
  • You should use a makeup remover to remove.

What I Liked

 SPF 15.

 Hypoallergenic and non-irritating.

 Lightweight and buildable.

 Has a fresh feeling on the skin.

 Matte-ish finish.

What I Didn’t Like

 Grapefruit Peel Extract may be sensitizing to your skin.

 Will not suffice if you want serious sun protection.

 May sink in and amplify pores. In such a situation avoid close-ups.

 Not suitable for a dewy finish.

What Should You Look For To Choose A Foundation For Combination Skin?

Shade is an important criterion. A foundation is supposed to even out skin tone, cover blemishes and give you a matte or dewy look.

In general a foundation that is too garish is not ideal.

Apart from that the choice of shade is completely unique to the user and there is no general ‘good shade’ or ‘bad shade’.

Coverage is another important criterion. Is your foundation

  • Sheer Cover meaning its pigment content is between 8% to 13%.
  • Light Cover implying pigment content between 13% to 18%.
  • Medium Cover covers foundations with 18% to 23% pigment content.
  • Full Cover are those foundations which have pigment content up to 35%. In certain cases it may go up to 50%.


There are some practical aspects like whether the foundation melts, cakes, fades and so on.

Moisturizers (Humectants, Emollients and other Skin Conditioners) are necessary to keep your skin soft and supple.

Opacifying Agents help reduce the visibility of blemishes.


For the purpose of making and maintaining the foundation the ingredients need to have certain properties like

Suspenders to stop particles from falling out of solution.

Emulsifiers to form and stabilize emulsions which are mixtures of normally immiscible liquids.

Binders to help other ingredients bind to your skin.

Absorbents to soak up stray liquids.

And so on.


Speaking very, very strictly, there are differences between a foundation and a BB Cream or a Concealer.

If you’re inquisitive about that, ask and thou shalt be answered!

While I can certainly help you select a good foundation 50% of the success lies in application. You can either buff (sweep in small circles) or stipple (dab in small spots) it. Each has its own features. Choose wisely.

By now you know enough to know which foundation is good for combination skin but I think I can help you a bit more.

I think even among the top 5 foundations for combination skin (which are all winners in their own right) there is a clear first choice you should check out.

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily

You may object saying other foundations offer much higher SPF (this one only has SPF 15) but you should apply a sunscreen if sun protection is your objective.

Its vast shade range – 23 shades – is certainly a notch on its belt.

However its USP – staying power – is in my opinion a critical criterion for foundation.

If your foundation has good staying power you can think of doing away with primer and applying foundation directly.

Which segues neatly into my last point – oxidization. I don’t think there is a perfect foundation that doesn’t oxidize at all.

That being said, Revlon ColorStay doesn’t oxidize noticeably. So you don’t need a primer to create a barrier between your skin and the foundation to stop oxidization and tinting.

However if your overriding concern is maintaining your natural looks as much as possible go for Dermablend Blurring Mousse Foundation Makeup with SPF 25 for Medium to High Coverage, Oil-Free.

Revlon’s ColorStay, for all its virtue, does give you a noticeable finish. If you just want to accentuate your natural look and/or a lightweight texture, Dermablend is the way to go.

That’s about it.

If you think you know a foundation that’s better for combination skin than the ones I’ve listed, please tell me!

The better suggestions may get a shout-out on Facebook and/or Twitter!

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