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Oil-based cosmetics are mixed with oil and go on usually heavier, with a matte finish. Most theatre makeup is oil-based. You must powder the make-up to set it, and use a cleanser that takes off oil-based makeup. The final result looks good, but can be mask-like, and the feel of it on skin is heavy. Water-based make-up often is in a cake form, and you use a sponge dipped in water to create a light base which you apply to the skin. The look is sheerer and feels lighter.