Why Does Your Highlighter Look Oily?

Do you love using highlighter but hate the way it makes your skin look oily?

You’re not alone!

When applied incorrectly, a highlighter can make oily skin appear shinier. With just a few tips and tricks, you can make your highlighter look glamorous all day.

Highlighter can look greasy on oily skin for so many reasons. To avoid looking like a shiny disco ball, you need to prep your skin correctly before makeup. Use a mattifying primer and a matte foundation. Choose a good quality powder highlighter and apply a tiny amount to the right places.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

How to avoid highlighter from looking oily?

Follow these simple steps to get a natural looking highlighter or illuminator that lasts all day.

Prepare Your Skin

amore pacific skincare kit

To get a long-lasting makeup look, it’s essential to prepare your skin before foundation or concealer. Highlighters can make the face look shiny and oily if you don’t take care of your skin underneath correctly. Plus, when you don’t prepare your skin, your makeup might separate and become patchy.

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and exfoliate to get rid of dead skin cells. After cleansing, you can also use a facial toner to remove any excess dirt.

Once you’ve thoroughly cleansed your skin, apply a lightweight moisturizer. Avoid using a thick moisturizer as it might cause your face to become shinier. Let the moisturizer get absorbed, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen before applying any primer.

Quick Tip: To get a dewy look, mix your moisturizer with a tiny drop of foundation. This helps to give a natural lit-from-within glow.

Use a Mattifying Primer

primer stay matte primer

Apply a mattifying primer before foundation to prevent excess sebum production throughout the day.

This will help your skin stay matte, and it can also help keep your makeup in place.

You don’t need to apply primer all over your face. Instead, focus on the areas where your skin gets oily such as the chin or forehead.

If you have large pores, use a blurring primer that helps to minimize the look of big pores. Foundation might settle in your pores, and using a highlighter can emphasize the look of skin texture. Using a blurring primer can make the foundation glide on smoothly, which gives the skin a flawless look.

Quick Tip: To get an easy foundation application, mix your primer and foundation, and this helps your foundation glide smoothly into the skin.

Use a Matte Foundation

revlon matte foundation

You might notice that your highlighter looks more oily if you apply it over a dewy foundation. To get a shine-free look, use a mattifying foundation instead.

Avoid applying a highlighter without foundation if you have very oily skin, as this can prevent it from lasing well throughout the day. Apply a thin foundation layer to cover any blemishes and get an even skin tone. Avoid applying too much foundation as it might cause your makeup to look dry and cakey.

If you’re using a thick and full coverage foundation, you can add water to your foundation to thin it out. This trick helps to give the complexion a natural and healthy look.

If you have extremely oily skin, consider using an oil-free powder foundation instead of a liquid foundation. Mineral powder foundations are finely milled, and they help absorb excess oil during the day.

Set Foundation With Powder

rimmel setting powder

An oil-absorbing setting powder can help absorb excess oil and hold the foundation in place. Apply a thin layer of pressed or loose setting powder with a sponge or soft powder brush after applying the foundation. You can also dust a translucent powder over any oily areas such as the t-zone.

The setting powder will help your powder highlighter blend more easily on the skin. Make sure to choose a powder shade that matches your foundation or is one shade lighter.

Choose the Right Highlighter Formula for Your Skin Type

cream shiny highlighters

Powder highlighters are good for oily skin because they last longer than a cream or liquid highlighter. Avoid using a shimmery or glittery highlighter and opt for a creamy formula instead. Sparkly highlighters can make the skin look oily, so avoid using them, and they can also emphasize large pores and fine lines.

This highlighter is an excellent option for oily skin. It has a light formula that looks very natural. It doesn’t have a lot of shimmer or glitter, and it gives the cheekbones a beautiful glow.

Use The Right Tools

The tools you use to apply your highlighter are also important. Choose a fluffy brush and apply your highlighter using light, sweeping motions. It’s important not to press the brush too hard into your skin to avoid moving the foundation and setting powder underneath.

I use this soft brush to apply highlighter on the high points of the cheekbones. It’s slightly tapered, applying the product perfectly on the skin. It is also very soft and extremely affordable.

Avoid Layering Shiny Makeup

milani blush

Avoid using a shimmery blush with a highlighter, which might give the skin an oily look. Apply your highlighter directly on top of the setting powder instead. Layering too many shimmery products can make oily skin appear greasy, not the most flattering look.

Choose The Right Shade

highlighter color

When choosing a highlighter, go for a shade that’s one or two colors lighter than skin tone. If you have very fair skin, avoid using a gold highlighter and opt for pale pink or pearl instead.

physcians formula pearl highlighter

If you have a medium skin tone, go for a peach or champagne highlighter.

laura geller baked highlighter

If you have a deep skin tone, avoid using a pearly white color and opt for a bronze highlighter.

Don’t forget to choose the right highlighter undertone to avoid your highlighter from looking grey. For example, if you have cool undertones, choose a highlighter with blue undertones. For warm undertones, choose a highlighter with yellow or peach undertones.

Apply Highlighter Strategically

highlighter looks oily

Applying highlighter to the t-zone can make you look sweaty, which is not a flattering look. The purpose of a highlighter is to draw attention to your best features, so you shouldn’t use it in areas with flaws.

Avoid applying highlighter to the areas where you get very oily such as on the tip of the nose, chin, and forehead. Apply your highlighter strategically and focus on the cheekbones, inner corners of the eyes, cupid’s bow, and under your eyebrows on the brow bone. 

Less Is More

fan brushes

When you have oily skin, apply highlighter with a light hand. Make sure to apply a tiny amount because using too much will make your face look oily, preventing the highlighter from blending seamlessly.

Instead of the highlighter melting into your skin, you will have a stripe of highlighter sitting on top of your cheekbones.

A quick tip is to always tap off the excess product from the brush before applying the highlighter to the skin.

Set Everything With a Setting Spray

milani setting spray

Use a setting spray to set the makeup and make it last longer. Setting sprays also help your makeup to look smooth and prevent it from sliding off your skin. I like to use setting sprays only on special occasions since many of them have alcohol.

This setting spray is one of the best and most affordable. It has a fine mist, and it applies evenly to the skin.

Use Blotting Paper

nyx blotting paper

Blotting papers are a great way to touch up your makeup during the day. Use blotting paper to remove excess oil on your face and keep your makeup matte.

They are easy to use, and I always keep one in my handbag for quick touchups, especially during the summer.

Final Thoughts

Most highlighters are very shimmery, and they give the face the most intense highlight, but if you have oily skin, these might cause your skin to look more oily. However, you can follow many tips and tricks to prevent your highlighter from looking greasy. Prepare your skin for makeup, apply a matte foundation and set it with a mattifying powder.

If you find that it still looks greasy even though you set your makeup, use a mattifying primer underneath the foundation to control oil during the day.

Choose a powder highlighter instead of liquid or creams, avoid using a glittery highlighter and apply a tiny amount on the high points of the face.

I hope these tips helped you avoid your highlighter from looking oily and shiny. Keep in mind that the best highlighter is the one that looks natural on your skin and doesn’t emphasize your skin texture.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Is Dewy Foundation Better Than Matte?

How To Make Foundation Dewy But Not Oily

Can you use highlighter without foundation?

Why is your highlighter looking ashy?

Best Powder foundations for mature skin

Primer Vs Moisturizer

Why does your highlighter looks oily

Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

Leave a Comment

Skip to content