Covering up spots can be a bit of a conundrum, but our list of the best foundations for acne prone skin is here to help. We get that you want to cover up your blemishes, so that they’re invisible to everyone. But, on the other hand, you want to let your skin breathe, so you don’t aggravate the situation.
Dr Ross Perry, cosmetic doctor and managing director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, has words of caution when it comes to pairing oily and acne-prone skin with make-up: ‘The temptation is to cover up oily skin with make-up, especially if there are blemishes as well. However, getting make-up to stay in place can be quite tricky and choosing the wrong regime or products can make your skin worse too.’
Luckily enough, there are some fantastic foundations on the market that help to actively treat acne while covering it, which is definitely multi-tasking at its finest. Look for salicylic acid on the ingredients list – the magic ingredient has spot-busting superpowers, and will help clear excess oil. We’ve already rounded up the best foundations for oily skin, so head over there for formulas to help keep you matte all day long – but there are also some pretty great oil-free foundations on this list that won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts.
As much as you can cover acne with foundation and concealer, it’s crucial to understand what’s causing it in the first place. We’ve already debunked the myth that foundation causes acne, so we can keep our beloved bottles and tubes. You may also need our favourite spot treatments in your arsenal to layer under your makeup, so they can get to work throughout the day.
With the latest formulations on the market, you can have the best of both worlds. Find the best foundation for your skin below…
- Best foundation for acne prone skin
- Best foundation for acne skin with full coverage
- Best foundation for acne prone skin with large pores
- Best foundation for acne prone oily skin
- Best liquid foundation for acne prone skin
- Best powder foundation for acne prone skin
- 1. Get Real About Your Skin
- 2. Keep a Skincare Log
- 3. Invest in a Foundation Primer
- 4. Choose the Right Foundation and Concealer
- 5. Practise Diligent—But Not Overzealous—Cleansing
- No-Breakout Makeup: Non-Comedogenic Foundation Reviews
- How to find out if a foundation is safe for your skin
- Step 2
- Step 3
- Irritation = Acne
- A note on foundation with SPF
- What’s the deal with mineral makeup?
- High-End Foundations: The Good
- Drugstore Foundations: The Good
- The Not-So-Good
- Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15
- Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream
- Garnier SkinActive BB Cream Sunscreen Oily/Combo Skin
- Clarins Everlasting Compact Foundation SPF15
- Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup
- Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup
- Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten Baked Color Correcting Foundation
- Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15
- L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup
- Makeup breakup
- Best Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
- What to Look for in Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
- 15 Best Makeup Products for Oily & Acne Prone Skin
- 1. Revlon ColorStay Concealer
- 2. Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer
- 3. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer
- 4. Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin
- 5. Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation
- 6. LORAC POREfection Foundation
- 7. BareMinerals Original Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Foundation
- 8. IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination
- 9. CoverGirl Smoothers AquaSmooth Compact Foundation
- 10. Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte Plus Poreless Foundation Makeup
- 11. Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup
- 12. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte 24HR Foundation
- 13. NARS Blush
- 14. . NARS Bronzing Powder
- 15. Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips All-In-1 Custom Nude Palette for Face & Eyes
- Top Tips for Managing Acne-Prone and Oily Skin
- 10 best foundations for acne-prone skin that cover blemishes without causing breakouts
- Marc Jacobs re(marc)able full cover foundation concentrate: £37, Harvey Nichols
- It Cosmetics your skin but better CC+ oil-free matte with SPF 40: £31, Cult Beauty
- Giorgio Armani luminous silk foundation: £42, John Lewis & Partners
- Fenty Beauty pro filt’r soft matte long-wear foundation: £28, Harvey Nichols
- Kevyn Aucoin sensual skin enhancer: From £35, Beauty Bay
- Bare Minerals matte foundation SPF 15: £27, John Lewis & Partners
- Burt’s Bees goodness glows foundation: £10.04, Look Fantastic
- Dior forever matte foundation: £37, John Lewis & Partners
- Too Faced born this way foundation: £29, ASOS
- Hourglass vanish seamless finish liquid foundation: £51, Liberty London
- The verdict: Foundations for acne-prone skin
- Give Your Skin a Makeup Break
- How to Wear Makeup and Reduce Breakouts
Best foundation for acne prone skin
Oxygenetix ACNE Control Foundation, £55, Face the Future
It comes with a bit of a hefty price tag, but this foundation was initially created for doctors to prescribe to their patients. Luckily for us, it’s now a mainstream product and available over the counter. Infused with a supercharged oxygen complex called Ceravitae, this innovative formula optimises skin cell oxygenation, to encourage your cells’ repair and renewal processes, diminish scarring, combat dehydration, reduce redness and create the ultimate environment for healthy cells to thrive. Available in 14 different shades, it’s also water resistant for up to 90 minutes and contains SPF 20 for that all important bit of sun protection.
Best foundation for acne skin with full coverage
Estée Lauder Double Wear SPF 10, £34, Fabled
You can find a bottle of Double Wear inside many a beauty lover’s make-up bag (especially those who like their coverage full), and for good reason. The formula sinks into skin and disguises any dark spots, scarring or active blemishes while still looking skin-like. What’s more, it lasts all day long – no joke. A little goes a long way, and you can even mix it with your moisturiser on a good skin day and still look flawless. It’s now available in a whopping 60+ shades, too.
Best foundation for acne prone skin with large pores
Surratt Beauty Surreal Real Skin Foundation Wand, £62, Space NK
Sometimes a super matte formula can dry up and collect around pores, enhancing rather than minimising them, but this handy brush pen delivers a soft matte finish that manages to make pores unnoticeable, and the rest of your face look flawless.
Best foundation for acne prone oily skin
Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up, £28.50, Fabled
This oil-free foundation, conceals, neutralises the appearance of redness and does a formidable job of keeping oily shine in check. Although it can’t treat acne by itself (you’ll need other products for this), the amount of salicylic acid can help to prevent future breakouts, by ensuring your pores don’t clog. It’s lightweight, which makes it an absolute dream to glide over bumps and you can build it up to a moderate coverage to hide blemishes without looking like you’re wearing anything at all.
Best liquid foundation for acne prone skin
La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur, £16.50, Boots
OK, so this one’s technically not a foundation, but you won’t even care when you try out this guy. It keeps oily skin matte, lasts all day, and fights acne, but the mousse-like formula won’t offer as much coverage as you might hope. We love popping this under a light layer of your normal foundation – especially as it only comes in two shades.
Best powder foundation for acne prone skin
BareMinerals Blemish Remedy Mineral Powder Foundation, £27, Fabled
bareMinerals’ formula tackles acne-causing bacteria to keep breakouts at bay, while covering redness and scars to perfection. Your skin will feel like it can actually breathe, although a light layer of one of the best concealers might just be needed on those days where your skin needs a helping hand.
See five more of our hero buys for foundation for acne prone skin below. Consider your acne vs make-up dilemma, solved.
These five commandments for acne-prone and sensitive skin can help you achieve a smooth complexion without breakouts, irritation, or redness.
Caring for sensitive, acne-prone skin can feel like a full-time job, particularly if you’re not sure what’s triggering your breakouts or sensitivity. Cosmetics often make matters worse by irritating, drying, or congesting your skin.
These five simple makeup rules can help you rein in even the most stubbornly sensitive skin while getting a flawless makeup finish every day.
1. Get Real About Your Skin
To combat acne and breakouts, you need to know why your skin reacts the way it does. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my skin change seasonally? If so, you might have combination skin or a seasonal allergy.
- Does my skin tend to develop dry patches? Dry skin can trigger breakouts when dead cells clog pores and traps oil. Dry skin is also less protected by natural oils.
- How quickly after applying makeup does my skin look shiny? Oily skin will shine within a few hours, while dry skin may actually get drier as the day goes on.
- Do I have other unexplained symptoms? Sensitive skin accompanied by gastrointestinal distress, frequent illness, or fertility issues can signal a health problem such as diabetes or PCOS.
2. Keep a Skincare Log
If you can’t narrow down the causes of your skin’s sensitivity, consider keeping a skincare log for two weeks so that you can really get to know your complexion. You might be surprised by the patterns you uncover. Make note of:
- How your skin looks and feels every day—including its texture, physical appearance, and whether it itches or is uncomfortable.
- Each and every skin reaction, including acne, rashes, and dry patches.
- Which products you use each day. Don’t forget to include shampoos and other products that make incidental contact with your face.
- Whether you took any medications, including vitamins, herbs, or over-the-counter medications.
- What you ate each day, since food sensitivities can sometimes trigger skin issues.
- The weather, including temperature and precipitation.
- Whether anything about your life (such as stress level) or routine (such as exercise level) was different.
You may find that some lifestyle issues trigger skin reactions, or you may notice that your reactions hinge entirely on specific ingredients in your makeup. Eliminate these ingredients, and you may soon see a major improvement.
3. Invest in a Foundation Primer
Primer is an all-purpose corrector that can address just about every skin issue, from uneven skin tone and redness to acne and irritation. Choose a primer that’s free of irritants, and steer clear of any product not specifically designed for your skin type.
4. Choose the Right Foundation and Concealer
You might get away with ill-advised foundation experiments on normal skin. But when your skin is acne-prone or sensitive, the wrong foundation can trigger reactions that take weeks to get under control.
Oily skin can benefit from treatment formulas that combat acne as they conceal it. We’ve compiled a list of acne-friendly makeup to help you sort through your options.
If your skin tends towards dryness, don’t use products formulated for acne-prone skin. You’ll end up with painfully dry skin and may trigger a sensitivity reaction. Instead, select creamy moisturising foundations, which help restore your skin’s oil balance while combating sensitivity.
5. Practise Diligent—But Not Overzealous—Cleansing
An acne-friendly makeup regimen is about much more than just slapping on the right product and hoping for the best. You can combat reactions before they start with the right cleansing and skincare routine.
No matter how good your makeup is, it can and will clog your pores and irritate your skin if you sleep in it. So gently cleanse your skin with a product designed for your skin type each night. Better still, take off your makeup as soon as you no longer need to wear it, so your skin has time to breathe.
Of course, there’s absolutely too much of a good thing. Scrubbing your skin, unnecessary or frequent washing, and harsh cleansers can all have the opposite effect of what you hope for.
Cleanse no more than twice per day, and limit your use of chemical and mechanical exfoliants to no more than two to three times per week. And don’t forget to moisturise after each cleansing session!
No-Breakout Makeup: Non-Comedogenic Foundation Reviews
Whether you buy your makeup at a drugstore, department store, Sephora, or other retailer, it’s important to take a look at what’s in it—lest you end up with breakouts or dry, irritated skin. So we’ve rounded up a bunch of popular foundations, from high-end to inexpensive drugstore brands, to find out which are safe for acne-prone or sensitive skin.
Psst… whether or not high-end foundations are worth the premium is totally up to your personal preference — and depends on the ingredients in each product. High-end makeup products aren’t necessarily “better” for you!
How to find out if a foundation is safe for your skin
Head on over to CosDNA.com and search the product name.
If it isn’t on there, have the ingredients list handy. The manufacturer’s website should have an ingredients list. Alternatively, you can check makeup resources like MakeupAlley or websites that sell the product, such as Ulta or Sephora.
Copy the ingredients, then paste them into the text box under “Analyze Cosmetics,” and click “Analysis.” Look in the “acne” column — if there are any 3’s, 4’s, or 5’s, we’d recommend avoiding it if you have acne-prone skin. If there are only 0’s, 1’s, or 2’s, the product can be used on acne-prone skin, and is considered “non-comedogenic.” We’d also recommend avoiding any products with 3’s, 4’s or 5’s in the irritant column if you have acne (or sensitive skin).
Irritation = Acne
One rule of thumb: avoid foundations and any product that contains denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol actually doesn’t clog pores (it’s non-comedogenic), but it can be very irritating and drying — especially to pimples that are already red and inflamed. Denatured alcohol is rated a “5” under the Irritant column on CosDNA.com. As with the Acne column, we’d recommend avoiding any products with 3’s, 4’s or 5’s in the irritant column if your skin is acne-prone.
A note on foundation with SPF
Some foundations contain SPF—which is great!—but don’t let that fool you. You probably still need to wear sunscreen underneath your makeup. SPF 15 may be enough sun protection for everyday use (like if you’re just going to be indoors at work most of the day), but if you plan to spend any time in the sun, consider wearing sunscreen underneath your foundation. We recommend SPF 30 at least. If your foundation does have SPF 30 or higher, remember that SPF isn’t a one-and-done deal: you need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day for it to keep working.
What’s the deal with mineral makeup?
In general, mineral makeup contains ingredients like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica, iron oxides. Mineral foundation tends to have fewer ingredients, which is a good thing for people with sensitive skin. But if you have oily skin, sometimes the mineral powder combines with oil and can appear caked or clumpy.
Enough preamble—on to the reviews!
High-End Foundations: The Good
Alima Pure Satin Matte Mineral Foundation — $28
Photo Credit: Alima
- Light to medium coverage
- 45 shades
- Vegan, nut-free, gluten free, cruelty free (but pricey)
BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Loose Powder Foundation — $29
Photo Credit: bareMinerals
- Contains acne-fighting salicylic acid
- Powder allows for light yet buildable coverage
bareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 — $31
Photo Credit: bareMinerals
- Contains only 5 ingredients
Glo Skin Beauty Pressed Base Foundation — $50
Photo Credit: Glo Skin Beauty
- Contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream with SPF 50+ — $39
Photo Credit: IT Cosmetics
- Great built-in sun protection
- Long ingredient list, so maybe avoid if you have sensitive skin (or if you’re a minimalist).
Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation — $36
Photo Credit: Kat Von D
- Full-coverage, matte, might need setting powder
MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 — $31
Photo Credit: MAC
- Medium-to-full coverage
- Matte finish
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation — $31
Photo Credit: MAC
- Medium coverage
- Matte finish
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation — $43
Photo Credit: Make Up For Ever
- Buildable pigment to achieve medium-to-full coverage
- Natural, skin-like finish
PÜR 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15 — $29.50
Photo Credit: PÜR Cosmetics
- Long-lasting, matte finish
- Built-in SPF
Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation — $40
Photo Credit: Urban Decay
- Full coverage with a matte finish
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup — $40
Photo Credit: Urban Decay
- Lightweight feel, per its name!
Drugstore Foundations: The Good
e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation — $6
Photo Credit: e.l.f.
- Contains salicylic acid (BHA) to combat acne while wearing makeup
- Vegan and cruelty-free
e.l.f. BB Cream SPF 20 — $6
Photo Credit: e.l.f.
- Reviews mention it does leave a sheen/glow, probably not ideal for oily skin
La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur — $29.99
Photo Credit: La Roche-Posay
- Only has 10 ingredients (most foundations have 20-30!)
- SPF 20
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation — $7.99
Photo Credit: Maybelline
- Formulated for normal to dry skin
Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation — $32.99
Photo Credit: Mineral Fusion
- Vitamins C and E for antioxidant protection against free radical damage
Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free All-in-1 Cushion Foundation — $16.59
Photo Credit: Walgreens
- Great if you have a talc allergy!
- SPF 50
L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup — $10.95
Photo Credit: Wal-Mart
- Wide range of shades to match skin color and undertone (cool vs. warm)
- SPF 17
A few foundations to avoid—for the sake of your skin.
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15
- Comedogenic (myristic acid = 3 on CosDNA — not good for acne-prone skin)
Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream
- Contains some denatured alcohol (5 in irritant column). If you have this foundation and your skin feels irritated, you may want to stop using it!
Garnier SkinActive BB Cream Sunscreen Oily/Combo Skin
- Contains denatured alcohol — again, this can be irritating/drying for inflamed acne or irritation-prone skin
Clarins Everlasting Compact Foundation SPF15
- Comedogenic (Algin— not good for acne-prone skin)
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup
- Contains denatured alcohol, which can dry out your
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup
- Comedogenic (Polyglyceryl-3-Diisostearate — not good for acne-prone skin)
Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten Baked Color Correcting Foundation
- Comedogenic (Isopropyl Palmitate—not good for acne-prone skin)
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15
- Comedogenic (contains potassium chloride — not good for acne-prone skin)
L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup
- Comedogenic (Isostearyl Neopentanoate, an emollient that can clog pores)
Clogged pores, nasty breakouts, irritation, and redness can result from using the popular foundations above. If you’re trying to recover from a foundation that did you dirty, Curology has your back with dermatology providers and a custom prescription cream to help restore your skin back to health.
We know it isn’t easy to choose a foundation that checks all the boxes: the right texture, color, consistency, finish (matte or glowy?), and safe ingredients. But take it from the experts: the safety of a product’s ingredients should be your #1 concern before putting anything on your skin! Especially if you’re prone to acne or irritation.
If all these choices seem overwhelming, or your skin doesn’t seem to react well to any foundation, remember: there’s absolutely no shame in forgoing foundation! It can be beneficial to give your skin a break from makeup and let it breathe. Try just a little concealer, a tinted moisturizer, or a BB cream (check out our guide to BB and CC creams on the blog). And if you’re ready to break up with makeup altogether, try the minimalist approach: just slap on a non-comedogenic sunscreen in the AM, and you’re golden. Your skin will thank you — and you’ll have more time to snooze.
Just a reminder: we aren’t affiliated with any brands. Our product reviews are always based on what’s best for you and your skin!
Best Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
What to Look for in Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
There are key factors you might want to consider before trying a bronzer, highlighter, or tinted moisturizer formulated for oily or acne-prone skin.
- Non-comedogenic or oil-free label Before choosing makeup for acne-prone or oily skin, you might want to read the label first. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you find makeup products that have “oil-free,” and “non-comedogenic” on their packaging to avoid clogged pores and skin irritation.
- Important Ingredients Some makeup products for oily and acne-prone skin are formulated with ingredients such as salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, minerals, and sulfur that can help minimize stubborn breakouts and skin irritation. “Salicylic acid has keratolytic properties (meaning it breaks up the dead skin cells in the pores) to declog pores, and hyaluronic acid can help moisturize the skin,” says Julia Tzu, MD, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. “Minerals (such as titanium dioxide) have SPF properties that block UV radiation, sulfur is anti-inflammatory in nature and helpful for people with acne.”
- Ingredients to Avoid Some popular makeup products can irritate oily and acne-prone skin. Weiser recommends avoiding certain makeup ingredients, such as cetearyl alcohol and silicone derivatives, that can trigger acne issues. “Many of the additive ingredients used in traditional makeup can cause significant congestion and clogging of pores. Certain types of alcohols in makeup such as cetearyl alcohol and oleyl alcohol (these are actually emollients and not drying like rubbing alcohol) are occlusive,” says Weiser. “Additionally ingredients such as lanolin, silicone derivatives (like dimethicone and siloxanes), and petroleum petrolatum are highly problematic for acne-prone skin.”
- Precautions While considering makeup for oily and acne-prone skin, it’s also helpful to reassess your skincare regimen with your dermatologist, according to Yunyoung Claire Chang, MD, a board certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “I see a lot of patients who have acne resistant to standard treatments. When asked to bring in all their products they use, I often find that patients are using the wrong regular skincare products or makeup,” says Dr. Chang. ”It’s important to consult your dermatologist to ensure every product or ingredient that touches the skin is safe and not triggering your acne.”
Plus, Dr. Tzu advises that you check active makeup ingredients, such as salicylic acid, to make sure they don’t interact with your acne medications. “It’s important that if you are on an anti-acne medical regimen, the active ingredients from the makeup do not interact or further irritate the skin that is already being treated with medications,” says Tzu. “If a patient is already on an irritating regimen of topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, the patient should not be using makeup containing salicylic acid, which would worsen any baseline irritation.”
If you decide that you need to revamp your beauty routine, here are our top makeup picks for oily and acne-prone skin.
15 Best Makeup Products for Oily & Acne Prone Skin
Oily and acne-prone skin can be high-maintenance and demands a beauty routine tailored to its needs. While this, of course, includes picking a cleanser and moisturiser specific for your skin type, it also involves choosing the right makeup. While the wrong makeup can make problematic skin worse, the right products can create the appearance of a flawless complexion. So, if you want to throw away the blotting sheets and have skin that appears clear and matte, all you need to do is follow this guide.
RELATED: 10 Best Foundations for Oily Skin
1. Revlon ColorStay Concealer
The ColorStay Concealer from Revlon is perfect for covering blemishes, pimples, and acne. Its liquid formula glides on smooth to balance imperfections for a continuously flawless look. Lasting up to 24 hours, this handy product will provide you with full yet undetectable coverage all day long.
2. Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer
Make Up For Ever’s Full Cover Concealer is just what you need to get through a busy day without having to worry about visible blemishes. Designed to camouflage imperfections and pimples, this product will hide anything you don’t want the world to see. It’s also waterproof, meaning that it’ll stay in place through the toughest of conditions.
3. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer
When it comes to acne-prone skin, only full-coverage concealer will do the trick. Of course, you still want something that’s light and gentle, so finding the right combination can be tricky. Luckily, Urban Decay has created the Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer. The product’s light, paraben-free formula is just what problematic skin needs.
4. Revlon ColorStay Liquid Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin
This ColorStay Liquid Makeup from Revlon is specifically created for combination and oily skin types, so you know it’ll work well for you. The product, which glides on smooth, provides long-lasting shine control for up to 24 hours thanks to its oil-free formula containing dimethicone. On top of that, it’s also fragrance-free, offers SPF protection, and comes in 22 shades.
5. Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation
Rimmel’s Stay Matte Foundation is an efficient and affordable makeup option for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. The liquid mousse formula provides lightweight shine control and blends flawlessly for a natural-looking finish. Unlike other foundations, which can often feel heavy and greasy on oily skin types, this product will leave you with a smooth, perfectly matte finish.
6. LORAC POREfection Foundation
Achieve the complexion of your dreams with LORAC’s POREfection Foundation. Designed to create a poreless-looking, silky-smooth finish, this product is perfect for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Not only is the formula oil-free to combat shine, but it’s also paraben-free and fragrance-free, meaning that there’s less chance of exacerbating breakouts.
7. BareMinerals Original Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Foundation
This mineral powder foundation from BareMinerals is clinically proven to promote clearer, healthier-looking skin. The award-winning product is designed to create flawless coverage while achieving a no-makeup look. Using minerals to diminish the appearance of imperfections, the formula promises up to eight hours of great-looking skin.
8. IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination
The best-selling Celebration Foundation Illumination from IT Cosmetics instantly creates an airbrushed appearance, and disguises blemishes. Its skin-loving formula also includes ingredients, such as hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, and antioxidants for a youthful and healthy complexion.
9. CoverGirl Smoothers AquaSmooth Compact Foundation
While ladies with oily and acne-prone skin often know to avoid liquid foundations with oil, they sometimes forget that powders can have oil too. This Smoothers AquaSmooth Compact Foundation from CoverGirl is oil-free to ensure a shine-free complexion. On top of that, it’s also hypoallergenic and designed not to clog pores, meaning that it won’t provoke breakouts.
10. Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte Plus Poreless Foundation Makeup
This liquid foundation from Maybelline New York has everything acne-prone skin needs. Designed for normal and oily skin types, it contains genius blurring micro-powders that erase pores and absorb oil for a naturally beautiful finish. It was also created to match natural skin tones and textures to ensure you get the best results possible.
11. Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup
Perfect for those suffering from acne, this oil-free foundation from Neutrogena contains salicylic acid. So, not only will this makeup provide you with a smooth, lightweight layer of colour, but it’ll also banish pore-clogging dead skin cells and help control breakouts. Designed also to control shine, this product is the ideal skin-clearing concoction.
12. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte 24HR Foundation
The quality of the foundation you use makes a big difference when tackling acne-prone skin, so it’s best to choose trusted brands. L’Oreal Paris is one such brand, and its Infallible Pro-Matte 24HR Foundation is perfect for hiding imperfections for a smooth, clear complexion. The product, and its ultra-lightweight formula, also boasts a matte finish, making it ideal for oily skin types.
13. NARS Blush
If you have acne-prone or oily skin, it’s best to opt for a powder blush, such as this high-quality one from Nars. While gels and liquids can provide good colour, they can also “grab” over areas of uneven skin texture or pool in enlarged pores. Likewise, also avoid cream blushes, as these often contain emollients or oils that can aggravate acne.
14. . NARS Bronzing Powder
As acne-prone and oily skin types tend to be shiny, it’s best to opt for a bronzer without too much glitter or shimmer. That being said, you don’t want to appear dull either, so what’s the answer? This Bronzing Powder from Nars. The sheer colour creates the look of tanned skin with just a slight golden shimmer. On top of that, it also glides over blemishes and fills in pores for a smooth finish.
15. Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips All-In-1 Custom Nude Palette for Face & Eyes
If you’re looking for a product that combines blush and bronzer into one, you can’t go past this palette from Physicians Formula. While other products can be harsh on skin and exacerbate breakouts, this multi-purpose product is gentle. The dermatologist-approved formula is both hypoallergenic and paraben-free.
Top Tips for Managing Acne-Prone and Oily Skin
- Cleanse skin gently using soothing products with skin-friendly ingredients. Avoid harsh cleansers as they can cause the skin to over-dry and produce more oil as a result.
- Avoid exfoliating skin, especially with products containing abrasive ingredients like beads. Instead, gently massage skin with fingertips and pat dry afterwards.
- Keep skin hydrated by moisturising immediately after washing and avoiding over-drying products, such as those containing alcohol.
- Choose products that contain salicylic acid. The ingredient is one of the most powerful acne-fighters that’s also kind to your skin.
- Clean makeup brushes regularly to rid them of dirt and bacteria.
- Choose makeup wisely to avoid exacerbating acne and oil.
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Skin type:✔ Combination
What it is:
A lightweight, full-coverage, loose powder foundation with salicylic acid, for a clearer, healthier-looking complexion.
Calm, cover, and reduce the look of acne and imperfections with this full-coverage, loose powder foundation. It’s formulated with 0.5 percent salicylic acid to address acne breakouts fast, oat protein to soothe and nourish skin, Moisture Mineral Complex to help keep skin hydrated, and a blemish-busting mineral blend of zinc, sulfur, and kaolin clayall of which work together to mattify skin and purify pores. It also contains phytosphingosine to support skin’s defenses against future bacteria. Mineral pigments provide breathable, buildable coverage with a natural-matte finish that lasts all day.
This one-of-a-kind loose powder foundation is clinically shown to diminish the look of acne and address the causes of future breakouts, while maintaining skin’s essential moisture. It’s specifically formulated to be used as part of a skin-clearing makeup routine with bareMinerals Blemish Rescue™ Anti-Redness Mattifying Primer (sold separately).
What it is formulated WITHOUT:
What else you need to know:
bareMinerals Blemish Rescue™ is full of clean acne-fighting coverage and free of irritating dryness.
This first-of-its-kind skin-clearing makeup regimen resolves current breakouts and prevents future ones while maintaining skin’s essential moisture. Salicylic acid, a blemish busting mineral complex, and a blend of soothing ingredients help calm and nourish acne-prone skin, while mineral pigments provide confidence-boosting coverage for a clearer, healthier-looking complexion.
This product is non-drying, noncomedogenic, non-acnegenic, dermatologist-tested, and formulated for all skin types.
In a 6-week clinical study of 30 women:
– Shown to clear acne in a s little as 3 weeks
– 90% of participants saw improvement in their acne
In a 4-week clinical study of 28 women, after 4 weeks:
– 96% showed an improvement in skin texture immediately after application
– 100% showed improvement in skin’s hydration
10 best foundations for acne-prone skin that cover blemishes without causing breakouts
Using foundation when you suffer with acne can often seems futile. On the one hand it’s tempting to cover up any breakouts, but on the other you don’t want to aggravate your skin anymore than you have to. The wrong foundation can only serve to worsen acne.
In an ideal world, foundation would work with your skin to combat the oils that trigger acne, as well as building up to easily mask problem areas. During our testing, we put each product to the test on acne-prone skin, testing each formula across several days where we were either on the verge of a breakout or already in full-swing.
Using new products is notoriously risky on acne-prone skin, which can be easily triggered. The idea that foundation will worsen your complexion stems from the fact that most products are synthetically fragranced, which can be the worst aggressor for acne. So we searched for formulas that were as free of irritants as possible, to give our skin the best fighting chance.
We were also looking for formulas that blur imperfections – like acne scarring – and hold oiliness at bay without falling into the matte-trap of leaving skin looking too flat or dull. Any foundations that left skin looking cakey or inflamed were omitted from the list, as were those which reduced our tester’s skin’s natural glow for the sake of coverage.
While we wanted to our foundation to even out texture caused by acne, we also wanted to try and stop it in its tracks — and, if possible, help our skin improve in the long-term.
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Marc Jacobs re(marc)able full cover foundation concentrate: £37, Harvey Nichols
Marc Jacobs’ foundation gained cult status overnight when it was released, and for good reason. Out of all the entries on this list, it by far had the best staying power (you can easily cover your whole face with two drops) without going patchy. As a result, it feels incredibly light on the face, which is refreshing for such a pigmented formula. While it may be on the pricey side, we feel like it’s worth the splurge as a little goes a long way thanks to its use of lecithin – an ingredient with a skin-like texture – which helps it blend effortlessly for a smooth finish.
Our tester wore this on a day where she felt particularly conscious of residual acne scarring around the jaw. While other products tend to wear off in that area over time, her jawline looked as clear at the end of the day as it had after application – the first time she had ever experienced this – and her skin didn’t react negatively to the new formula.
It Cosmetics your skin but better CC+ oil-free matte with SPF 40: £31, Cult Beauty
The It Cosmetics CC+ cream is already a staple in most make-up artists’ kits, but for those struggling with acne, the original formula is too dewy to keep things under control. Thankfully the brand have added an oil-free addition to their collection, combining everything we loved about the original — its buildable, light consistency and glowy finish — without congealing over shiny, acne-prone skin as the day goes on. This edition is also unscented and generally feels more nourishing to skin, thanks to its use of tea tree extract and Moroccan lava clay. Don’t be put off by the thicker than expected consistency: our tester found that when blended with a dense brush, it masked a fresh breakout for most of the day.
Giorgio Armani luminous silk foundation: £42, John Lewis & Partners
While Giorgio Armani also offers a matte foundation –power fix – which sounds like a more traditional formula for acne-prone skin, our tester actually preferred luminous silk. As the name suggests, it’s a lightweight, fluid foundation that blends so much easier than its matte counterpart. It not only masked imperfections but gave a subtle, oil-free glow – moisturising skin enough to add radiance, but not too much that it fed a breakout.
Fenty Beauty pro filt’r soft matte long-wear foundation: £28, Harvey Nichols
Our tester was initially sceptical of this pro filt’r foundation from Rihanna’s hugely popular make-up brand, as it looked cakey after the first application. However, using it with the Fenty Beauty primer is a game-changer, taking it from disappointing to one of the most impressive formulas our tester has ever used. It’s easily buildable, but manages to blur flaws without hiding your natural complexion. The finish is matte with a very subtle glow, but oxidises slightly so be sure to get an accurate match – not that that should be difficult, considering the brand’s legendary shade range. It’s also a non-comedogenic formula, which means that you don’t need to worry about it clogging pores or enabling the growth of bacteria.
Kevyn Aucoin sensual skin enhancer: From £35, Beauty Bay
This is the most unorthodox addition to the list, with a formula so thick that we initially dismissed it as a surefire cakey mess. It also comes in a small, concealer-like pot, providing only 0.63oz of product. While it can be used as a foundation, the trick is not to approach it as such, but rather use it as a concealer, foundation and highlighter hybrid. It’s extremely well-pigmented, covering textured breakouts and scarring alike. The consistency seems like it should be an acne sufferer’s worst nightmare, but in actuality it allows you to use minimal product to great effect, letting your pores breathe where they can. It’s no surprise that it’s Kylie Jenner beauty must-have.
Bare Minerals matte foundation SPF 15: £27, John Lewis & Partners
Powder foundations are hit and miss on acne-prone skin. On one hand they can be gentle enough to keep your complexion calm, but on the other it can clog your pores and make the situation worse. Bare Minerals have mastered powder products, with a formula free of parabens, binders and fillers.
The result is a natural-looking finish that keeps skin matte without layering on ingredients that irritate acne — the brand claims that its formula is so pure that it wouldn’t cause a breakout, even if you slept in it. While we wouldn’t recommend that, it definitely makes a positive and noticeable difference to your natural skin over time and converted our powder product-averse tester.
Burt’s Bees goodness glows foundation: £10.04, Look Fantastic
Burt’s Bees have come up with this 98.9 per cent natural mineral formula, free from parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum and anything that irritates skin. We loved how natural this felt to apply — it’s more akin to a liquid moisturiser than a formula. However, those whose acne comes hand-in-hand with oiliness might want to avoid this one, as it definitely struggles to control shine all day long.
Dior forever matte foundation: £37, John Lewis & Partners
Dior foundations are always a safe choice, but we particularly like their forever matte formula. Acne-prone skin is usually accompanied by larger than average pores, which can appear magnified under the wrong product. While no foundation is going to shrink your pores, this foundation stands out in its ability to give the appearance of tightening and refining your skin.
It provides a medium-full coverage that isn’t too heavy and contains rose hip extract, which helps protect inflamed skin from further aggressors. Our tester loved how it served as the perfect base for other products, clinging onto powdered bronzers and blushers which tend to be the first to slip off when skin gets too oily.
Too Faced born this way foundation: £29, ASOS
The ultimate goal for a foundation is to look like you’re wearing none at all. That can seem impossible when you’re prone to acne, with oil-control often serving as the biggest hurdle between you and fresh, flawless skin. Born this way is oil-free, instead opting to develop your glow over time – some of its primary ingredients are coconut water and hyaluronic acid, which gently balance out your skin and boost moisture without triggering an oily disaster. We found this product to be one of the easiest to layer, as well as looking the closest to our natural skin. Perfect for summer, we recommend this one for hotter climates.
Hourglass vanish seamless finish liquid foundation: £51, Liberty London
Hourglass products are notoriously high quality and their vanish seamless finish liquid foundation is no exception. It’s a weightless, highly-pigmented formula that uses light-refracting microspheres to leave you with the kind of soft, dewy finish that can often seem so elusive to acne sufferers. We especially liked how little product you need upon application; on breakout days, our tester used one pump, while only half was needed when her skin cleared up.
It’s easy to overdo it when trying a new foundation, so we recommend approaching this one with a less is more attitude to avoid a cakey mess or breaking out your skin with too thick a layer. This is definitely on the pricier side, but if you’re looking to invest in a long-term product, this could be the formula for you.
The verdict: Foundations for acne-prone skin
When it comes to both masking and preventing acne, Marc Jacobs’ re(marc)able full cover foundation is tough to beat. However, it is a bit pricier than other options, we also loved Burt’s Bees’ more affordable foundation for its impressive formula. For the most natural finish, we recommend It Cosmetics’ CC cream.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
I’ve had so many requests for a skincare routine that targets oily, acne-prone skin and admittedly, I haven’t posted a video on it because I’m dealing with the exact opposite skin right now. I’m super dry!
But I want to make sure everyone has the right routine for their skin type, so I decided to write this post to hopefully help get you started on the right track. Oily and acne-prone skin can be two completely different skin types, so it’s really hard to suggest a one-size-fits-all routine, but there are some common themes that I find with people that deal with both or either.
Keep in mind, I partnered with Walmart on this post for their “Here for Every Beauty” campaign because they have a wide variety of products to choose from and they’re affordable.
But before I get into the products, I want to call out some of the mistakes I see people with oily, acne-prone skin make:
Too many harsh ingredients and products.
Acids, scrubs, benzoyl peroxide, alcohols, face cleansing brushes…the list goes on and on. There are so many products geared towards those with oily, acne-prone skin that it seems obvious that a combination of them would help strip the skin. The truth is, it can make your skin worse. It can exacerbate oil production by signaling to your skin to produce MORE oil since it feels tight and dry. And worse, you can cause inflammation, scarring, and hyperpigmentation if you’re too rough with your skin.
Just because you have oily skin, doesn’t mean you don’t need a moisturizer. Just like you don’t want to overstrip your skin with too many harsh ingredients, you also want to replenish your skin.
Using occlusive ingredients.
I always tell people to look for “non-comedogenic” on product labels. While it’s not 100% accurate since the term isn’t regulated, most of the time it means the ingredients in the product were proven to not clog pores. There are also ingredients that are widely used in beauty products that work for some with oily skin, but don’t work for others. The two I tell people to be aware of most are silicones (like dimethicone) and certain oils. Your skin might be able to handle some use of these ingredients, and oftentimes silicone is in products geared directly to those with oily skin, so play around and figure out what you can and can’t handle.
Not seeing an expert.
I find a lot of people who say they have oily skin or acne, eventually need to see a dermatologist to diagnose their issues. There could be an internal problem (hormones, diet, stress) or you could be dealing with fungus, rosacea, or other issues that need to be tackled by a doctor or at least brought to your attention.
That all said, let’s get into some skincare products I think generally work for those with oily skin!
You break out, so you cover it with makeup. The makeup then clogs your pores and causes a new breakout. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends.
Many makeup lovers with acne-prone skin have gone through this cycle at least once. But as time goes on and makeup formulas become more skin-friendly, it’s far easier than it used to be to manage acne while wearing makeup. Still, those of us who struggle with breakouts benefit from approaching makeup strategically.
If you have adult acne but also like cosmetics, these tips can help you minimize breakouts while you continue to use the products you love.
Give Your Skin a Makeup Break
If you wear makeup on the daily and have acne-prone skin, the first thing you should do is give your skin a makeup break for a few days.
Many skincare experts say if you wear makeup (even foundation) every day, it doesn’t harm your skin. After all, today’s makeup formulas are much gentler than the heavy, pore-clogging products of the past. However, acne-prone skin can still benefit from a break.
Even if your makeup isn’t inherently contributing to your skin problems, it can play a role. For example, if you don’t thoroughly wash off all your makeup at night, it leaves residue on your skin. This residue can grow bacteria and contribute to breakouts.
But most importantly, you never know how your skin will react to a makeup break until you try it.
It can be terrifying to expose your makeup-free, acne-having face to the world, but the benefits are worth it. For example, if you notice you’re breaking out less after a few makeup-free days, you can wait for your skin to clear, and then start wearing makeup occasionally rather than daily.
If you don’t feel comfortable going out makeup-free, take this break when you’re spending most of your days at home. Invest in a high-quality moisturizer with SPF to wear on those days (mattifying formulas are great for acne-prone skin).
Give your skin some makeup-free time and see what happens—you can learn a lot from this process.
How to Wear Makeup and Reduce Breakouts
Once you’ve taken a makeup break, you can see whether your makeup is contributing significantly to your breakouts. Based on what you discover, you can change up your makeup routine.
If you can wear makeup even a little less often, that’s usually the best thing to avoid breakouts. When you do wear it, these tips can help you keep acne to a minimum.
Clean Your Brushes Often
Dirty makeup brushes harbor bacteria, oil, and other filth that can cause acne. If you’re prone to breakouts, you should clean your brushes more often.
If you wear makeup regularly, clean the brushes you use once a week. The brushes you use for eye products can be cleaned a little less often (try every other week).
Use a brush cleaner or simple castile soap to get the job done. You can also use dish soap or a gentle shampoo in a pinch.
If you skimp on moisturizing, your skin produces extra oils to make up for the lack of moisture. If you already have oily skin that tends to break out, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Even when you wear makeup, always apply your favorite moisturizer first. If you want to skip a step, you can use a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation. And, of course, always wash your face before you apply moisturizers and makeup.
Apply Light Layers
When you have severe acne or acne scars, it’s hard to resist the temptation to hide them under thick layers of product. But not only do those layers contribute to more acne, but they can also make your existing skin issues look worse.
Heavy layers draw attention to uneven skin textures, like bumpy zits and acne scars. A light layer hides acne better, even if a bit of redness still shows through. Add some concealer to boost the coverage of your foundation where you need to, but use a light hand.
Try Color Correcting
If you have serious acne-related discoloration, you can also conceal it better with color correctors. The opposite color on the color wheel cancels out the color of your acne or scars.
So, for example, greenish concealers help cover up red spots, while peach or orange concealers work well on the cool blue tones of many acne scars.
Don’t Be Afraid to Highlight
If you have acne, your skin is probably also shiny or oily. This can make you reach for matte formulas, which is great. However, don’t shy away from a dose of shimmering highlighter, too.
Highlighter makes your skin look more natural than a completely matte canvas. Plus, it’s fun to play with all the different highlighting colors and formulas. If you find yourself drawn to those shimmering products, by all means, use them. Apply a small amount at first, and then build up from there, so you don’t overdo it on the shine.
Stop Shopping Oil-Free
For many years, oil-free formulas were the default makeup choice for people with acne. However, oil-free means something a little different than it used to.
Many of today’s best makeup and skincare products contain hydrating natural plant oils, like olive or jojoba. These oils are actually good for acne-prone skin. So, instead of defaulting to “oil-free,” check the ingredients list for skin-loving oils.
You can also buy plant-based oils in small amounts and test them on your skin, so you can find out which ones work best. For example, coconut oil makes some people break out, while others find it gives them great skin.
If you buy a plant oil your skin doesn’t like, you can use it as a hair mask or body moisturizer, or even in the kitchen.
If you have acne-prone skin, you know how sensitive it can be. No matter how carefully you select a formula, when you add something new to your makeup routine, it might cause a breakout.
If you add multiple new products at once, you won’t know which one is causing the acne. So, try to add only one new product at a time. Give your skin a week or two to adjust, so you can see how it fares with that product before adding anything else.
If your current makeup routine seems to be making you break out, use each product one at a time, and see if you can isolate the problem.
Sometimes, merely wearing fewer products simultaneously can help your skin. The issue might not be with an individual product, but rather, the interaction of ingredients in two or more of them.
While makeup habits alone can’t cure acne, these small changes can help keep breakouts at bay. If you find the right products, apply them to clean skin with clean tools, and give your skin regular makeup-free days, you’ll find it much easier to keep your acne under control.
For more skin-friendly makeup habits, don’t miss our guide to proper makeup removal.