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How to apply cream makeup for normal-to-oily skin.
I know what you’re thinking… this is impossible. Oily skin WITHOUT powder, no way.
I’ve always been quite attached to my powder products – the baking trend changed the game for me.
Funny story, when I first started doing my makeup, circa 2010, I thought if a foundation didn’t “take” powder, it wasn’t good. I would frequently complain that they just kept “eating up” my setting powder. Much later, I discovered that different foundations have different finishes. Who knew?
That’s probably why I spent several years looking like buttercream frosting.
A lot of the beauty gurus I follow have been really focusing on more dewy-finish looks, and at first I was NOT here for it. Same with lip gloss, still not here for that nonsense.
However, I was able to combine a few tricks to make the powder-free look work for me.
I’m not saying that you’ll be matte all day. Let’s be honest, keeping a matte finish all day with oily skin is a bit unrealistic, especially without touch-ups. However, if the makeup isn’t totally broken down, I consider that a win.
Even with my most matte, full coverage, powder-caked application, I get at least a little dewy on my forehead and chin. I figured there had to be a way to do my makeup a bit lighter and not have to use 18 different powders.
I’ve also tried mattifying moisturizers and other products designed to control oil, and they just make me break out. Sigh.
Check out this video for a demo on how to apply cream makeup for normal-to-oily skin, or keep reading to see how I did it!
The perfect base for cream/liquid makeup.
The most important, MOST. IMPORTANT. Step is to prep your base. I’m not talking about skincare at the moment, but that is also important.
Instead of relying on your setting powder to control oil from over your foundation, we’re gonna stop it before it gets there.
You can do this in two different ways (or both).
My favorite way is to use a matte setting spray as the first step after skincare. That’s right – not primer – setting spray. My favorite has been the NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray. Give it a shake, spray it on, and let it dry. It will still feel a bit tacky on bare skin, this is fine.
You can also use a translucent setting powder, after primer. Preferably a mattifying primer since we are trying to control oil.
My pick for primer is actually the e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Primer but you could also go with their Matte Putty Primer. I have only tried the Hydrating Primer and the Poreless Putty Primer, the Matte Putty primer is next on my list!
And for the setting powder, the NYX HD Finishing Powder is great. I try not to use it over makeup because of the flashback, but it won’t matter if it’s underneath.
Sometimes I use both the mattifying spray and the powder-primer trick, sometimes I just do one or the other.
Or I forget altogether and just end up powdering on top of the foundation as normal. It happens.
You’re ready for foundation and concealer.
Once your base is ready, you can start applying your foundation and concealer.
I love the Power Play line from CoverFX. They have an amazing shade range, and the foundation dries down on its own. In the Power Play Foundation, I am in the shade N20, and in the Power Play Concealer, I am in the shade N Fair 2.
However, in this video, I used the UOMA Beauty Stay Woke Concealer in the shade White Pearl T0.5.
I apply foundation and concealer most of the time with a sponge, like the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, because it makes the product less cakey. Plus, I have some dry patches as well, so a brush accentuates those. Just experiment with whether a sponge or brush works best for you with the particular foundation you’re using.
I really only use a brush if I don’t feel like getting up to wet the sponge.
At this point, you may choose to set your concealer to prevent creasing. I just wouldn’t go overboard so you can avoid the harsh line of powder on your cheeks. But also, do whatever you want, try it and see what works for you!
Finishing it off with cream contour, blush, and highlight.
I don’t know how many cream bronzers and highlights I’ve bought at this point, and always forget to use because I just automatically powder after foundation.
Some formulas work over powder, but often they just move the foundation around and it’s not a good look.
The best way I’ve found to apply cream products is either with a sponge, or directly onto a brush and then onto the skin.
First, I apply a bronzer. Depending on your preference, you can do bronzer, contour, or both.
My favorite cream contour/bronzer recently is the UOMA Beauty Double Take Contour Stick. It comes in several shades for the spectrum of skin tones. The sculpting side of the White Pearl shade reminds me of chocolate milk. It’s a pretty neutral tone, not grey/ashy, and not orange either.
It blends so easily with a brush or sponge, much easier than other stick contour products I’ve tried. My favorite brush set for cream products is the 360 Ultimate Blend set from Eco Tools.
Next, I apply a cream blush. If I’m using one in a compact like the Juice Beauty Last Looks Cream Blush, I will take the sponge straight to the product and apply it.
If I’m using a stick type product like the Axiology Lip-to-Lid Balmies I will apply it onto a brush like the e.l.f. Cosmetics Small Stipple Brush and then onto my cheeks. You can also apply it straight to the sponge.
Same for a cream highlight. I have really been enjoying the highlight from the UOMA Beauty Double Take Contour Stick in the shade White Pearl. The base color is similar to the skin tone, so it just leaves a beautiful, natural highlight.
The finishing touches for cream makeup that lasts all day.
Every makeup look needs a good setting spray.
My favorite is the Milani Make it Last Setting Spray, and they also have a version with SPF.
Avoid “dewy finish” sprays, as they aren’t as long-lasting, in my experience. I would recommend the dewy sprays such as the Milani Make it Dewy Setting Spray for those with dry skin.
I would also avoid matte finish sprays, they can tend to leave white spots, and also I’ve done tests with a matte versus regular “setting” spray and have found the matte ones aren’t as long-lasting. They’re excellent for underneath makeup, though!
We focused on the face makeup for this look, but there are lots of good cream eyeshadows too! For super-duper long-lasting, I love the e.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Shadow Sticks. I wish they would come out with more colors, most they have now are lighter shimmers.
Check out the video above to see how these products applied, and to see how I did an eyeshadow look with only cream and liquid products!
The lip products I used in the video were the Milani Color Statement Lip Liner in Nude and the Melt Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Nood.
Let me know, what are your favorite cream makeup products? Do you have any other tips and tricks for applying them and getting them to last?
(All products are cruelty-free at the time of posting. Products followed by a * are owned by a parent company that tests on animals. See this post for more info on which brands I consider to be cruelty-free.)
- NYX Cosmetics Matte Finish Setting Spray *
- E.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Primer
- E.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Putty Primer
- NYX Cosmetics HD Finishing Powder *
- Cover FX Power Play Foundation
- Cover FX Power Play Concealer
- Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
- UOMA Beauty Double Take Contour Stick
- EcoTools 360 blend set
- Juice Beauty Last Looks Blush
- Axiology Lip-to-Lid Balmies
- Milani Make it Last Setting Spray
- Milani Make it Last SPF Setting Spray
- Milani Make it Dewy Setting Spray
- E.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Shadow Sticks