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Question: What is the best drugstore primer, foundation and concealer for combination skin?

Answer: This is such a common issue! Women with combination have it the worst — makeup looks perfect when we put it on, but by noon it’s all oily and cakey! First of all, you have to determine if you are truly oily or if you are just in major need of moisturizer. If you never wear moisturizer, your skin will actually crave moisture and will overcompensate by producing sebum (oil). If this vicious cycle sounds familiar, you’ll want to moisturize for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference in your skin. If you do, indeed, moisturize on a regular basis — then you are correct in thinking that you have combination skin.

If you have come to the conclusion that your skin is oily or combination, you’ll first need to find products that are oil-free. Brands add oil to their products to help you achieve that glowy, moisturized look for those who are lacking — but we with oily skin don’t need that! I’ve tried many products (read: literally almost all of them), and here are my recommendations for the best primers, foundations, and concealers for combination skin:



Out of all the drugstore brands, I have found one by boots No7 that mattifies and soothes my combination skin without making my face oily. It’s more of a cream base rather than a serum, so it’s pretty different than any other primer out there. I wrote an in-depth review about the Boots products on my blog, which you can read here. You can buy this product at your local drugstore, or find it online. If you’re looking for more of a serum-based primer in the same price range, I like to use this one by Motives. My makeup lasts so much longer with this primer and my skin rarely gets oily throughout the day when I use it. Plus, I use it almost every day and it lasts forever…the tube is huge!


Okay, let’s be real here — no drugstore foundation is going to solve your problems. The pigments in a lower-quality foundation are not as high as that of a higher-end foundation, and therefore it will not provide you with all-day coverage. Your best option when it comes to foundation for combination skin is a liquid-to-powder consistency. You will get the liquid foundation that gives you a dewey glow for the dry areas of your skin, and then the powder finish will mattify the oily areas. My absolute favorite out of the hundreds that I’ve tried is the Motives Liquid Powder Mineral Foundation. It goes on as a liquid, dries as a matte powder, it’s sheer enough to let your skin breathe — and is still heavy enough to cover up discoloration. This product is mineral based and has no additives, meaning that you can fall asleep in it and it won’t harm your skin or cause you to break out! It doesn’t seep into your pores; it lies nicely on top of your skin, making it impossible to clog your pores. It’s very concentrated and build-able, and you can add as many layers as you want for foundation coverage that doesn’t look cakey! I wear a very thin layer as a tinted moisturizer/CC cream for my casual days, and wear two layers (sometimes three when I’m feeling extra glamorous) for weekend festivities. Wait…the best part is that it’s only $25. It’s a truly life-altering product.


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The same pigment rule applies to concealer — but let’s not forget that it’s much easier to touch up your concealer throughout the day than your foundation, so you can easily get away with using a drugstore concealer. The best one I’ve tried is Revlon PhotoReady concealer. It provides heavy-duty coverage, so it lasts a very long time. It is also matte (hence, why it is “photo ready”), so it will cover up any trace of oily skin that you may have. It comes in a small and convenient twist-up tube that makes it very easy for touch ups!