Saving Face.. From Oil Slick to Clean Slate

Ah, finally. It’s five o’clock. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant across the street has happy hour and you can already practically taste the shockingly good martini they serve. A good-looking man across the bar has caught your eye. His loosened tie and whiskey-on-the-rocks indicates that he just stepped out of a stuffy office job and is looking for a relaxing, if not semi-wild, evening. There is even a sexy five o’clock shadow making it’s merry way across his gorgeous face. You want to catch his eye, so you make a quick, discreet peek in your cosmetic mirror to make sure you look presentable. You wonder who the hell got into your purse and taped an ugly photo on your mirror when – HOLY SHIT – it’s you!

Yes, the dreaded, ongoing battle of over oil production on the female face strikes again. And, of course, at the most inopportune moment (like always).


I swear, if scientists could figure out a way to scrape the oil off of our skin and turn it into gasoline, we would never EVER have to worry about fuel shortages again. In fact, gas prices would probably plummet.

Legitimately, that is how much oil production happens on my face – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It is AWFUL.

And as a professional woman in the working world, I HAVE to wear make-up. Not a TON, mind you, but at least enough for a little bit of coverage. And it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to find make-up that is made for oily skin. Forget about trying to find an entire line of the same product that will battle the doomed midday oil explosion. That is completely out of the question.

So what is a girl to do?!

I can’t say that my methods will work for everyone, but they sure as hell have begun to work for me. The least I can do is share my secrets for the constant and ongoing oil reduction battle with my fellow comrades.

The first thing you must ALWAYS do is wash your face. I’ve always used plain Dove bar soap (just the basic navy blue labeled one), which is great for oily skin. It doesn’t completely dry out your skin, just cleanses and rids the surface of dirt and oils. Recently, I was turned on to a skincare line called “Say Yes to Tomatoes” (or grapefuit, carrots, blueberries). Each product is designed for a different skin type, but the “Tomatoes” line is specifically for combination/oily skin. If you choose to invest, it is best to purchase the whole product line. Not just the moisturizer or just the cleanser. They work best together (Say Yes to Tomatoes can be purchased at Target or Walmart).

yes to tomatoes

After cleansing you MUST apply moisturizer. I know it seems silly when you already have a ridiculous amount of moisture production on your face, but this is actually caused by excessive drying of the skin. Your body thinks it needs to produce MORE oil to compensate for the lack of moisture left in and on your skin post cleansing. There are a million moisturizes out there that are created specifically for oily skin. I use the “Tomatoes” brand, but Olay makes a great one as well (which also contains SPF 15, which is a plus).

The next step for me is applying primers. I found a brand at Ulta called “Cargo.” Their products are designed for those of us with oily skin. I recently acquired a Mary Kay primer as well (also designed for more oily faces), which I apply after the Cargo layer. I use my fingers for both of these, but it’s probably best to use brushes for all make-up application. As I’m sure you’re well aware, our hands are constantly picking up dirt and grime throughout the day. Regardless of whether or not you’ve just washed your hands in cleansing your face, your hands still carry generic body oils that can be transferred back onto your face in make-up application. This is best avoided by using brushes (which you must cleanse at least once a week, as these will also grab onto your facial oils and carry them in their bristles, and then brush it all back onto your face – GROSS).

make up 1

Not everyone uses liquid foundation, but I have to. My skin isn’t all one color, and have small patches of redness that need to be evened out with a little bit of liquid base. I’ve tried every product under the sun, but the best ones that I’ve discovered are drug store brands – Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline, etc. These companies are constantly changing their formulas and developing new products. As strange as it seems, their make-up lines are always the most up-to-date products on the market. Revlon makes a great liquid for combination/oily skin, as well as Cover Girl. I recently switched to the Cover Girl – it gives me GREAT coverage and I hardly have to use any to get the look that I want. The bottle literally lasts for months. And it costs about $6. Can’t beat that!

cover girl

I never used to wear cover-up, but as I’ve gotten older and my eating and lifestyle habits have changed, I’ve found more of a necessity for it. In this I have also tried a million different products, but my two favorites are Tarte (they have two kinds, a liquid and a stick – I prefer the stick) and Too Faced Absolutely Flawless. They are both great for those pesky dark circles that magically appear under your eyes for no apparent reason, as well as covering annoying red patches that also happen pop up in the most random of places.

make up 2

While I let the liquid foundation and my cover-up soak in and “dry up” a bit, if you will, I move to my eyes. The first thing I do is apply an eyeshadow primer. Not entirely necessary, but it definitely helps to keep your shadow and liner on all day long without reapplication. The only brand I’ve tried is MAC Primer Pot, but I’m sure any other (namely: cheaper) product will work equally as well. After the primer I apply first my shadow(s) and then my liner. I use Kat Von D Ink Liner, or MAC Liquid Liner Pot. If you love the “cat-eye” look like I do, liquid liners are definitely the best choice – especially because they will last much longer without a necessary reapplication midday. Liquid liners also respond best to oily skin – even though oils are, more often than not, produced in the infamous “T-Zone” and sometime on our chins, occasionally some will make it’s way to the eyelids, which can be a disaster for eyeliner situations. I have found that liquid will power through an oil struggle a lot better than pencil will.

The next step is foundation. Again. For non-liquid foundations (aka loose powder or compressed/packed powder), the best for oily skin is usually loose powder. I did some research and read that MAC’s loose powders are the best for oily skin, but I cannot attest to this since it’s pretty much the only product I’ve ever used (I was already using their powder when I did some reading). I also have a compressed powder by Pixie (Target), and another loose powder by Bare Minerals. I use the MAC the most, but the other two combined work great as well. This is more of a personal preference, I think, but loose powders are definitely better and soaking up any lingering facial oils.

make up 5

make up 4

If you wear bronzer, it is applied next, after the powder. Not everyone wears bronzer, but I do. I like to have a little bit of a glow, especially in the dead of winter when I look like Snow White after rolling around in a pile of flour. For bronzer I have used compressed MAC, but I’ve recently started to shy away from their bronzer because, in my experience, it is not good quality and doesn’t stay on my face. These days, I’m loving Too Faced compressed bronzer, and also loose Sonia Kashuk from Target. Again, personal preference falls into play here, since there really isn’t one bronzer that is going to be better at oil absorption.

make up 6

make up 3

If you fill in/pencil in your brows, this step would fall in here (well, it does with my daily routine, at least).

Once I’ve got the base of my face on (so, basically, everything sans eyelashes), I spray on Urban Decay’s De-Slick make-up setting spray. It’s designed specifically for setting your make-up, and, BONUS.. OIL CONTROL! This is BY FAR the BEST product, to date, that I have found. I have had it for about two weeks, and have not had to touch up my make-up a single time in the middle of the day. The bottle says to spray your face 2-4 times, but I limit myself to 1 or 2 and it’s definitely enough to last through the day.


And, finally, mascara, to finish off your beautiful, glowing (and from make-up, not oil) face.

I hope my make-up methods work as well for the rest of you as they do for me. At the end of a long workday, there is nothing more gratifying than peeking in the mirror to find that your face is still on and ready for mingling.

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