For many of us, blotting papers were our first foray into skincare and makeup. A magical square of tissuey paper with the ability to make oil disappear and restore order to our blossoming teenage complexions. Keeping an envelope of blotting paper in your purse, backpack or back pocket felt like you were carrying around a kind of insurance against your face standing out for all the wrong reasons. However, it seems all these years (and products) later, even though blotting paper is still very much around, we’ve all but forgotten about it.
If you haven’t given blotting papers a second thought since you were in high school, it’s time to reconsider. Blotting papers have come a long way since the ones you used during your teen years. The ones of today are formulated with more effective ingredients that sop up excess oil without ruining your makeup.
“Blotting sheets are highly absorbent papers that help to absorb oil from the skin leaving a more matte complexion,” explains Ramya Kollipara, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Dallas. And if you wouldn’t necessarily classify your skin type as “oily,” that doesn’t mean blotting papers can’t play a useful role in your skincare routine. “Anyone can use them when their skin is feeling oily, especially in the summertime or when wearing lots of products on the face,” says Kollipara.
As for how to use them, Kollipara suggests gently pressing the sheet against your skin and leaving it on for a few seconds while the oil is absorbed. “Don’t rub the paper on the skin as this can be irritating and can spread the oil around instead of absorbing it,” she says.
What to Look for in Blotting Paper
While the blotting paper of yore was essentially nothing more than a piece of paper, many of today’s top contenders are made with specialty ingredients like willow bark, charcoal and abaca tree fiber that can help gently lift oil away from skin. Some of Kollipara’s favorite ingredients in blotting papers are rice, cotton, and flaxseed. Consider these if you’re super oily or acne-prone.
For more than a simple sop-up, go for a blotting paper that’s been coated in mattifying powder to instantly absorb excess surface oil while refreshing makeup and helping your complexion to look fresher for longer. It’s like keeping a red-carpet touch up with you at all times.
Sure, they’re just paper, but at two or so blots a day, every day, that’s a lot of waste. Fortunately, many of today’s hottest blotters are made from earth-friendly biodegradable materials, helping to keep our routines as clean as possible.
Ready to add this nifty product back into your beauty routine? Here, we’ve rounded up the best blotting papers available today.
Best Overall: Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers
Courtesy of Amazon
These blotting papers receive top honors for the way they remove excess oil from the skin, leaving a soft-feeling, matte-looking complexion behind. The papers are formulated with 100% natural abaca leaf and gold flakes and help to absorb oil without interfering with your makeup. They’re free of synthetic fragrances, powder, and mineral oil, making them a great pick for sensitive skin—and they’re also biodegradable.
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup Blotting Paper
Courtesy of Ulta
One of the best things about blotting papers is that you can find some very inexpensive options that still work really well. This budget blotting paper pick seriously gets the job done. The 100% pulp paper blotting sheets can be used before or after makeup application to reduce shine for a matte look. Plus, customers rave about how easy they are to carry.
Best Drugstore: Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets
Courtesy of Walgreens
Sometimes you just can’t beat a classic: This drugstore find has stood the test of time, and for good reason. These blotting papers are designed to remove excess shine especially around the nose and T-zone, two areas that are particularly prone to getting oily. The sheets themselves have a soft and silky feel, and you can use them throughout the day without any risk of smudging your makeup.
Best Luxury: Shiseido Oil-Control Blotting Paper
Courtesy of Nordstrom
For those who want something a little more luxurious, turn your attention to these splurge-worthy blotting papers. They’re coated in powder to immediately eliminate shine and freshen up your complexion. Reviewers like how easily they get rid of oil while keeping makeup intact.
Best Splurge: Serge Lutens Powdered Blotting Paper Petit Buvard
Courtesy of Net-a-Porter
If you need another reason to splurge, then look no further than these chic blotting papers made in France. The double-sided sheets have a fancy floral scent and work fast to sop up excess oil when you’re on the go. Use them throughout the day anytime you need a touchup.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Boscia Clear Complexion Blotting Linens
Courtesy of Boscia
Oily skin and acne often go hand in hand, so if you’re prone to pimples, you’ll want these blotting papers in your makeup bag. They’re formulated with willow bark extract and abaca tree fiber. They help absorb excess oil and sweat, and can also help prevent breakouts as well.
Best K-Beauty: Etude House My Beauty Tool Oil Control Film
Courtesy of Sokoglam
Following a 10-step K-beauty routine? Make these blotting papers part of the action. The super-thin sheets remove excess shine ASAP without doing a thing to your makeup so you can rest assured your foundation won’t be ruined.
Best Eco-Friendly: Mai Couture Bamboo Charcoal Blotting Sheets
Courtesy of Goop
This formula of these blotting papers, made with charcoal, helps draw out impurities for a fresh, matte look without messing up your face makeup. They are hypoallergenic and work wonders on all skin types, from acne-prone to dry. The biggest draw: They are biodegradable, making them an earth-friendly option.
Best Packaging: DHC Blotting Paper
Courtesy of Dermstore
Blotting paper packaging doesn’t have to be plain. DHC’s blotting papers come housed in the prettiest printed packaging. The sheets also do serious work: The blotting papers are made from hemp fiber, which is soft and natural, to blot away shine.
Best Powder: Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder
Courtesy of Sephora
Rihanna is always being photographed, whether on the red carpet or by paparazzi. So her makeup always has to be on point, which is why it’s not surprising that she’d develop blotting papers designed specifically for on-the-go touchups. These sheets are covered in a translucent powder that helps absorb oil and blurs the look of pores without budging your makeup.
Best Post-Workout: Palladio Rice Paper
Courtesy of Amazon
Headed to a boxing class, then brunch, with no time for a shower after class? Stash these blotting papers in your gym bag. They’re made from natural rice, which is an excellent oil- and sweat-absorber.1 Just remember to pack the dry shampoo too.
Best Cruelty-Free: Payot Emergency Anti-Shine Sheets
What is blotting paper for skin?
A super handy beauty tool comprising a sheet of thin paper that helps absorb excess oil from the surface of the skin without disturbing makeup. They can be used as often as needed to keep skin shine-free.
Can blotting paper cause acne?
A spate of blotting papers have been known to contain mineral oil which, even though it rates relatively low on the comedogenicity scale, may contribute to clogged pores on acne-prone skin. To avoid this, those with very oily or acne-prone skin should opt for a variety made with ingredients that may help manage excess oiliness, such as willow bark.
How many times can you use blotting paper?
While few things come close to the satisfaction of seeing the amount of oil a blotting paper is able to remove from your face, remember that some oil is supposed to stay there. If you find yourself constantly blotting to keep oil at bay, perhaps consider fine-tuning your skincare routine to help manage oil production. All in all, you shouldn’t blot more than 3-4 times a day.