As someone with very dry skin, shine isn't really a problem for me. Even my T-zone is fairly matte in the winter. If anything, I'm usually trying my hardest to achieve a dewy finish. When summer rolls around, however, my hunt for blotting sheets that really work begins. My favorite concealers and foundations (specifically MAC Face and Body Foundation, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Gel Cream) save my life in the winter but start to cause trouble once June hits. Suddenly my dewy complexion crosses the line to shiny and oily, which is not a good look on anybody.
Obviously I'm not going to go out and replace my favorite products with matte-finish alternatives. I don't have the money for products that I'll probably only use for three months. I don't really like finishing powders and sprays for a matte effect, either. I don't like how they look or feel, and again those products can be expensive.
No, what I really need (and I'm sure a lot of you do too) is a decent set of blotting papers. They're usually quite affordable, easy to tote around in even the smallest clutch, and they only take a second to reduce shine... If you get the right ones, that is. There's a lot of options out there, so I rounded up a few of the most popular varieties under $10 (because I think it's silly to pay any more than that for blotting papers) and tried them all out.
Starbucks napkins, free at any Starbucks
If you haven't heard about this life hack yet, you've been missing out. Starbucks napkins have long been known for their ability to work as blotting papers. I found that they weren't the most precise (although you could always fold them for reaching smaller areas) and that they tended to lift a lot of makeup in addition to oil.
That said, they're free! And they actually do work really well for absorbing shine. If you're out and about and suddenly realize you're in need of blotting papers, these will do great in a pinch. I also like to keep a few in my car, just in case.
I've used these forever simply because of the price, but they're not really my favorite. They're pretty flimsy; they're actually essentially just tissue paper.
Still, they do work pretty well and they're only $1 so it can't hurt to pick up a pack the next time you're at Target. I don't think they would be ideal for extremely oily skin types, but for drier skin types like me they do a good job of blotting shine without wiping off makeup.
These are $3 more expensive than the e.l.f. sheets and barely any more substantial. They have a strange, slippery texture that doesn't seem absorbent. I could see makeup residue on a sheet after using it but no blotches of oil. My face didn't look particularly matte afterwards either.
I picked these up on a whim because I generally love NYX products but I don't see myself using these much in the future.
I liked these a lot because they have rice powder on one side of the sheet, which I found really helps to create a matte finish. Even if you have dry skin like me and usually can't wear powder (it always looks too caked-on), you will be able to use these. The powder is completely translucent, although they do offer varieties with skin-colored powders.
And yes, in addition to leaving behind my makeup and a new matte finish with the powder, they also soaked up a lot of oil which I could see on the sheet afterwards. I also liked that these easily release one sheet at a time, meaning no fumbling required and no wasted sheets being pulled out.
I was excited for these because they have a very different texture from the other blotting sheets. These are much more substantial, with a thick, almost rubbery texture (sort of like a balloon). In the end, however, I didn't find that they absorbed more oil than the Palladio sheets. They did seem to pick up more oil than the e.l.f. and NYX sheets, for what it's worth.
Also I did love that it made it easy to remove individual sheets, thanks to a sticker on the inside cover that pulls a sheet out for you. That was thoughtful and well-done.
And the winner is...
In the end my favorite blotting sheets, hands down, were the Palladio Rice Paper Tissues.
They're under $5, the packaging is both easy to use and looks lovely sitting on one's desk, and they effectively remove oil while adding a matte finish with a light touch of rice powder, which I thought was brilliant.
Need proof? Below is my forehead before using a Palladio Rice Paper Tissue:
As you can see, my makeup is not only still intact but looks even better, thanks to the elimination of shine.
Here's another angle for good measure. Before:
Pretty amazing, right?
I already know I don't need to try any other kind of blotting sheets ever again; I've found my Holy Grail. I will happily repurchase these for the rest of the summer and beyond. Although I'll still keep Starbucks napkins in my car, of course.
Images: Kelly Dougher