What foundation is good for acne prone skin?

The best foundation for acne-prone skin has two crucial qualities: It covers up your pimples without looking cakey and it doesn’t clog pores to create a never-ending cycle of breakouts.

“Covering marks is an important part of managing acne, but you can make matters worse if you use the wrong products,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Heavy oils block your pores, leading to an accumulation of bacteria that promote inflammation and cause breakouts.”


How to choose the best foundation for acne-prone skin

Avoid making your skin worse: As a general rule of thumb, look for noncomedogenic products (which basically means “non-pore clogging”), and avoid foundations that contain SD denatured alcohol, sometimes called isopropyl alcohol. “This kind of alcohol harms your skin’s protective surface, makes oily skin worse, and exacerbates acne,” says Yoram Harth, MD, San Francisco-based dermatologist and co-founder of MDacne, an acne-treatment app.
Check for acne-fighting ingredients: “Look for a liquid foundation with a low concentration of salicylic acid,” Dr. Zeichner says. “Salicylic acid removes excess oil and exfoliates dead skin cells, working like a pipe cleaner to keep pores clear.”

Try a powder: Dermatologists generally recommend powder products over liquid foundation for acne-prone skin. “Powder foundations are less likely to clog your pores since the pigment particles are larger,” says Dr. Zeichner. If you prefer a liquid foundation, avoid products with a dewy finish (this could end up looking greasy midday) and go for something oil-free and matte instead. (If you’re struggling with oil but don’t deal with breakouts, check out these foundations for oily skin.)
Thankfully, there are plenty of foundations that cover up (and maybe even improve) breakouts over time. Here, the best foundations for acne-prone skin.

These are the 2 things to avoid in your makeup if you have acne-prone skin

  • Finding makeup for acne-prone skin can be a challenge.
  • We reached out to several dermatologists to get their recommendations.
  • They advise looking for makeup with salicylic acid and oil-free formulas.
  • It’s also recommended to avoid products with silicones or mica.
  • Their product recommendations included brands like Neutrogena, Almay, Clinique, and Hourglass.

Acne-prone skin and makeup don’t always work well together.

Many turn to makeup as a way to conceal their breakouts — and then end up with more than they started with. Foundations can be heavy and pore-clogging, powders can irritate sensitive skin, and concealer can only do so much.

In an effort to help solve this dilemma, we turned to dermatologists for their best tips and tricks when it comes to finding makeup for acne-prone skin. They revealed everything from what ingredients to look for — and avoid — to what brands they’d recommend to their clients.

Most of the dermatologists we spoke to recommended oil-free and non-comedogenic formulas, especially if they contain salicylic acid.

“Unless they contain salicylic acid, I generally recommend avoiding heavy liquid foundation makeups which can trap dirt and oil and block pores, leading to breakouts,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner told INSIDER.

Though salicylic acid can help clear your pores, dermatologist Rebecca Kleinerman recommends avoiding it if you are already taking other topical acne medications.

“Sometimes the combo can over-dry one’s skin and instigate further breakouts,” she told us.

If you’re prone to clogged pores and sensitivity, dermatologists say to stay clear of makeup with silicones and mica.

“Silicones can block pores and make it more likely to break out or get bumpy,” dermatologist Debra Jaliman told INSIDER. “Mica in powder makeup can irritate sensitive skin. The particles can be rough.”

Jaliman also advises that sometimes “less is more,” and to simply go for a good oil-free moisturizer and sunscreen whenever possible.

Packaging is more important than you think.

Always look for a pump. JAYANNPO/

While the formula of the actual product is certainly important, the packaging it comes in can be just as crucial to keep in mind.

“I recommend getting liquid makeup that comes in a pump and not a cushion or bottle which touches your hands then goes back in the bottle,” Kleinerman told INSIDER.

When it comes to drugstore brands, Neutrogena seems to be the most popular choice with dermatologists.

Neutrogena’s SkinClearing line of makeup is a good drugstore option. Ulta Beauty

Both Zeichner and Jaliman recommend Neutrogena’s SkinCleaning ($9.99 – $14.59) line of products since they contain salicylic acid and are oil-free.

Almay offers affordable options for sensitive skin. Ulta Beauty

Jaliman also recommends Almay’s Clear Complexion Blemish Healing Liquid Makeup ($14.99), since it contains soothing ingredients like aloe and chamomile.

If you’re looking for high-end makeup, try Clinique or Hourglass. Sephora

She also recommends Clinique’s Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup ($28) for its salicylic acid, and Hourglass Veil Fluid Makeup ($60) since it contains hyaluronic acid for hydration and matrixyl to stimulate collagen production.

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Salicylic Acid

What Is Salicylic Acid?

A natural plant hormone derived from willow bark, salicylic acid reigns supreme as a blemish-busting, spot-stifling superstar ingredient. A Beta Hydroxy Acid (or BHA), it’s been scientifically proven to prevent and treat acne, so you’ll be forgiven for reaching for a bottle (or three).

What Does Salicylic Acid Do?

Known to banish a whole host of blemish bothers (like acne, breakouts and clogged pores) salicylic acid is the wonder ingredient you’ve been missing. More oil-soluble than most BHAs, it penetrates deep into the skin’s pores to exfoliate dead skin cells and dissolve the spot-inducing glue holding them together. As it works to unclog pores, it also exfoliates the pore lining, leaving you with clearer, smoother skin.

Once put to work, salicylic acid also regulates sebum production (that’s the oily stuff that makes you look super shiny). In addition, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory and works overtime to soothe inflamed red skin.

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Who Should Use Salicylic Acid?

If you suffer from breakouts, acne or oily skin, consider this your skin savior. But, sensitive souls, steer clear. Salicylic acid can irritate skin and, if overused, has the potential to dry you out, so always check the label. Unfortunately, this potent ingredient can’t be used if you’re pregnant or taking certain medications.

How To Use Salicylic Acid In Your Routine

While we don’t recommend slathering salicylic acid all over your face every day, it works wonders when used correctly. Either use it in a cleanser, toner or face wash twice a week or look for a treatment that you can apply directly to the spot or problem area (nose, chin, and forehead, anyone?) When choosing products, look forsalicylic-infused products with a concentration between 0.5% and 2%.

Our Fave Salicylic Acid Skincare Products:

Source: Mario Badescu

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17: We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again; when it comes to blemish-zapping products, this tried-and-true formula is the Holy Grail. Thanks to the blend of salicylic acid and calamine lotion, it dries out pimples overnight, while soothing angry skin.

Source: Neutrogena

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne-Fighting Face Wash, $8: An oldie but a goodie, this drugstore staple has been our go-to since the seventh grade. Penetrating deep into your skin, it removes debris and unclogs pores. The formula is also packed with skin soothers, to prevent irritation and over-drying.

Source: Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Oil, $80: Chock-full of 1.5% Salicylic Acid, this medicated face oil clears acne and obliterates blackheads without drying out skin, thanks to its out-of-this-world milk thistle and cucumber seed oil-infused formula.

15 Best Foundations For Acne-Prone Skin Esha Saxena Hyderabd040-395603080 January 17, 2020

Ladies, we all know that acne and pimples are not confined to just our teenage years. Adult acne is a very real struggle that is mostly driven by hormones. If you have acne-prone skin, you know how difficult it is to find makeup that won’t aggravate your skin issues. Your foundation plays a key role in the overall health and appearance of your skin, and using the wrong formula can worsen your acne. If you’re wondering what products look out for when shopping for foundation, here is the ultimate guide to the best foundations for acne-prone skin.

Products Check Price
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Check Price
Innisfree Matte Full Cover Cushion Check Price
Neutrogena Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup Check Price
Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation Check Price
Burt’s Bees Mattifying Powder Foundation Check Price
E.l.f Acne Fighting Foundation Check Price
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation Check Price
Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint Check Price
Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation Check Price
Bare Minerals Matte Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Check Price

15 Best Foundations For Acne-Prone Skin

1. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup


Are you looking for a lightweight foundation that looks and feels natural? This one from Clinique is an oil-free formula, and it contains salicylic acid that treats existing breakouts and prevents them from coming back. It is also free of parabens, phthalates, and fragrance. If you have extremely oily skin that is prone to acne, this foundation will work wonders on you. It is available in 16 shades.

  • Long-wearing
  • Does not clog pores
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Good coverage
  • Dermatologist recommended


Back To TOC

2. Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Makeup

This liquid foundation from Burt’s Bees is made using Meadowfoam seed oil – an ingredient known for its moisturizing properties. It gives you an even-toned, smooth complexion without drying out your skin. It is available in 18 shades to match a wide range of skin tones. The highlight of this foundation is that it does not look cakey or feel heavy on your skin.


  • Buildable coverage
  • Value for money
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Cruelty-free
  • Chemical-free



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3. Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup

This SkinClearing foundation from Neutrogena offers natural-looking coverage for oily, combination, and sensitive skin types. With salicylic acid in its formula, it not only treats acne and blemishes but also prevents breakouts. If you’re worried about that midday sheen, this foundation does a great job at keeping it at bay. It is available in 14 shades for different skin tones.

  • Lightweight
  • Natural coverage
  • Does not clog pores
  • Treats and prevents blemishes
  • Value for money


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4. Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation

The Maybelline Fit Me foundation is a cult classic. If you’re struggling with acne or acne scars, you’ve got to give this foundation a shot. It is incredibly lightweight and offers light to medium coverage. The formula contains micro-powders that absorb excess oil and leave you with a gorgeously matte and poreless finish. This foundation is available in 40 super-saturated shades.

  • Buildable coverage
  • Long-wearing
  • Controls oil and shine
  • Photographs well
  • Dermatologist tested


Back To TOC

5. Burt’s Bees Mattifying Powder Foundation

If you have oily or combination skin, this is one of the best foundations for acne-prone skin like yours. This mattifying mineral powder from Burt’s Bees is formulated without parabens and synthetic fragrances. The formula is exceptionally lightweight and non-comedogenic. It is available in six shades to match a variety of skin tones.

  • Lightweight
  • Mineral powder
  • Chemical-free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Not tested on animals
  • Limited shades

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6. e.l.f Acne Fighting Foundation

This lightweight foundation from e.l.f cosmetics is a blessing for acne-prone skin. It is infused with wholesome ingredients like camphor, tea tree, witch-hazel, aloe, and salicylic acid to fight acne and blemishes. It offers buildable coverage to even out your skin tone and reduces redness. This foundation comes in 10 different shades.

  • Long-wearing
  • Good coverage
  • Suitable for oily and combination skin types
  • Treats blemishes
  • Affordable
  • Strong smell

Back To TOC

7. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

If you can’t seem to find the perfect shade for your skin tone, you sure need to take a look at this foundation from Fenty Beauty. It comes in 40 diverse shades and looks extremely soft and natural on the skin. It is long-wearing and offers medium to full coverage. Best part? Its light-as-air texture gives you that ‘my skin, but better’ finish.

  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Buildable coverage
  • Does not cause breakouts


Back To TOC

8. Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint

The NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint is more of a tinted moisturizer than a foundation, but with extra coverage. Its oil-free formula controls shine and leaves you with a natural-looking finish. It blurs out imperfections and evens out your skin tone. It also contains ingredients like vitamins C and E to give you naturally dimensional skin that never looks flat or chalky. This skin tint comes in 12 shades.

  • Contains SPF 30
  • Long-wearing
  • Lightweight
  • Buildable coverage
  • Natural finish


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9. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation

If you’re looking for a foundation that offers full coverage, this one from Tarte is one of the best. A little product goes a long way in fully covering up acne scars and blemishes. It is ideal for you if you have dry to combination skin that is prone to acne. It is formulated without parabens or mineral oil and contains Amazonian clay to help balance out your complexion. This foundation is available in 25 shades.

  • Dermatologist tested
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Long-wearing
  • Vegan
  • Oil-free


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10. Bare Minerals Matte Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15

Want something that allows your skin to breathe? This loose powder foundation from Bare Minerals is a 100% vegan formula that’s made with just six ingredients. It offers broad spectrum SPF 15 and gives you buildable coverage with a silky matte finish. Its weightless mineral formula controls oil and shine. It also does not cause breakouts or clog your pores. This powder foundation is available in a range of 30 shades.

  • Long-wearing
  • Lightweight
  • Mineral makeup
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Natural finish


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11. Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation

Does your skin look dull and lack luminosity? Then try out this foundation from Bobbi Brown that does a great job at adding life back into your skin. A little bit of this foundation goes a long way in covering up existing blemishes and flaws. It also tackles redness effectively. Its staying power is impressive, and its formula is suitable for all skin types. This foundation comes in a range of 30 shades.

  • Buildable coverage
  • Hygienic packaging
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Does not clog pores
  • Semi-matte finish
  • Expensive

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12. Cover FX Natural Finish Oil Free Foundation

This water-based foundation from Cover FX imparts a radiant finish to your skin. It contains ingredients like vitamins C and E to protect your skin from free radicals. Its lightweight texture leaves you with a soft, luminous finish and offers medium to full coverage. It comes in a wide range of 40 shades to choose from.

  • Oil-free formula
  • Buildable coverage
  • Easy to blend
  • Long-wearing
  • Suitable for sensitive skin


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13. Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup

If there’s one foundation that lives up to its hype, it’s definitely this one from Estee Lauder. This formula is amazing for problematic skin. It offers full coverage and is humidity- and sweat-resistant. It is also super gentle on your skin. As its name suggests, it does “stay in place” all day long and feels very comfortable on the skin. This foundation is available in over 50 shades.

  • Long-wearing
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Blends like a dream
  • Suitable for every skin type
  • A little expensive

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14. Covergirl Clean Matte Oil Control Liquid Makeup

If you’re on the hunt for the best drugstore foundation for acne-prone skin, this one from Cover Girl is a fantastic option. It is a thin water and silicone formula that is extremely easy to apply and blend. The oil-absorbing powders in the formula kill shine and minimize the need to powder your face. It leaves you with a glowy, matte finish and is a must-try for oily-skinned gals. This foundation is available in 12 shades.

  • Matte finish
  • Controls oil and shine
  • Long-wearing
  • Blends easily
  • Affordable
  • Inconvenient packaging

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15. Revlon Colorstay Makeup

Revlon Colorstay is one of the best foundations for acne-prone skin as it works quite impressively on combination or oily skin. It mattifies your skin through the day, preventing any midday shine. Its lightweight formula blends seamlessly into your skin and does not settle into fine lines or wrinkles. It is also available in a normal to dry skin version and comes in a wide range of shades for every skin tone and undertone.

  • Buildable coverage
  • Oil-free formula
  • Long-wearing
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable


Back To TOC

Now that we’ve found the 15 best foundations that are ideal for acne-prone skin, here are some tips to help you choose your holy grail foundation and make the most of it while protecting your delicate skin.

Tips: How To Choose And Use Foundation For Acne-Prone Skin

  • Dermatologists recommend using makeup that contains salicylic acid and oil-free formulas. Their product recommendations often include brands like Clinique and Neutrogena.
  • It is critical to avoid formulas that contain silicones, mica, alcohol, and fragrance if you do not want to worsen your acne.
  • The way you apply your makeup plays a major role in the well-being of your skin. If you have sensitive skin accompanied with active acne, always use a light hand and apply your foundation as gently as possible.
  • Take off all your makeup at the end of the day. The way you remove it also makes a difference. Use micellar water and a mild cleanser to get rid of every last bit of your makeup.
  • If you have dry skin that is prone to acne, choose a cream or stick foundation formula. If you have oily skin and tend to break out often, choose a powder-based formula.
  • If you struggle with large pores, apply a mattifying primer gel before you go in with your foundation. Use a clear, water-based primer that won’t clog pores and will keep your face shine-free.
  • Remember – less is definitely more! Don’t make the mistake of applying too much makeup as it does not flatter any skin type.

Although bare skin is amazing, there are times when you will want to cover up a little. And yes, it can be challenging to apply makeup on blemish and acne-prone skin. But, all it takes is the right foundation formula and a tad bit of practice to hone your makeup skills. With that, we come to an end of our round-up of the 15 best foundations for acne-prone skin. Which one are you looking forward to trying out? Let us know in the comments below.


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Esha Saxena

Esha Saxena is a writer, journalist, and a full-time wallflower. She holds a Master’s degree in Media and Mass Communication and firmly believes that makeup is nothing less than art. Combining her love for writing with her passion for makeup, she brings to you reviews, techniques, and her ever-growing knowledge on this form of art. In her spare time, she loves reading, listening to obscure indie bands, and writing poetry – all of this while being a crazy dog lady.

Whether you’re dealing with the occasional pimple or a constant onslaught of zits, you can be sure of one thing: The wrong foundation can make your breakouts look a hundred times worse. Sure, you can slather on the first full-coverage foundation you can find in hopes of minimizing the redness, bumps, and dark marks (although, IMO, I say let your natural skin shine free in all of its beautiful glory), or you can use one of these 15 tried-and-true foundations for acne-prone skin.

Each of these zit-approved foundations are formulated to cover breakouts, neutralize redness, absorb excess oil, and even treat your existing breakouts. So find your new favorite formula, below, and get blending.

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Courtesy Image Real Glow Skin Tint Lune+Aster bluemercury.com $52.00

This Lightweight Foundation

1. Lune + Aster Real Glow Skin Tint

If you hate the feeling of heavy makeup on your face, you need to try this lightweight foundation. A few pumps offer sheer-to-medium coverage that literally feels like nothing on your skin. I blend a thin layer all over using my fingers, and then add a few more drops across my chin and forehead where I tend to have more breakouts.

Courtesy Image Firm Flesh Thickstick Foundation Flesh ulta.com $18.00

This Foundation Stick

2. Flesh Firm Flesh Thickstick Foundation

This creamy, full-coverage stick foundation is ideal for when you’re out and need to quickly cover up a breakout. It’ll never spill or leak in your bag, and you don’t even need to use a sponge to apply it. Just buff the stick into areas that need a little more coverage, and blend with your (clean) fingers.

Courtesy Image Double Wear Light Soft Matte Hydra Makeup Estée Lauder ulta.com $42.00

This Hydrating Foundation

3. Estée Lauder Double Wear Light Soft Matte Hydra Makeup

The problem with overly mattifying foundations? They can actually make your skin oilier and more prone to breakouts. Why? They often dry the hell out of your face, which can end up triggering excess sebum production, leaving you with a greasy, pimply situation. Instead, go with a mattifying formula that’s infused with hydrators like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, like this one from Estée Lauder.

Courtesy Image Goodness Glows Liquid Makeup Burt’s Bees ulta.com $16.99

This Fragrance-Free Foundation

4. Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Makeup

Fact: Synthetic fragrance (you can ID it as “parfum” or “fragrance” on the ingredients list) can irritate the hell out of your skin, causing acne and redness to flare. Play it safe and opt for a foundation that says “fragrance-free” on the packaging, like this one from Burt’s Bees. (Side note: “Unscented” doesn’t count—it only means the formula doesn’t have a distinct smell, not that it doesn’t contain synthetic fragrance).

Courtesy Image Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation Juice Beauty ulta.com $44.00

This Organic Foundation

5. Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Serum Foundation

This organic, silicone-free foundation works just as well as conventional face makeup to help cover up breakouts and old acne marks. It uses plant-based pigments to give buildable coverage plus antioxidants and hydrating coconut extract to help smooth skin without clogging your pores.

Courtesy Image Pro Longwear Foundation MAC Cosmetics ulta.com $36.00

This Long-Lasting Foundation

6. MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation

Sweat, humidity, triple-digit temps…this liquid foundation can hold up to it all. The medium-to-full coverage formula is totally waterproof and lasts for 36 hours (not that you should leave it on that long, but still, pretty awesome), so you don’t have to worry about it sliding off your face during the day.

Courtesy Image Custom Cover Drops Cover FX ulta.com $29.00

This Customizable Foundation

7. Cover FX Custom Cover Drops

These liquid foundation drops allow you to adjust the coverage level of your foundation without having to use a bunch of different products. Use one drop on your best skin day, two drops when you want sheer coverage, and three or four drops when you want something a bit more full-coverage. Or if your new foundation or tinted moisturizer is a bit too dark for your skin tone, brighten the color with a few of these drops in a lighter shade.

Courtesy Image Stay All Day Foundation & Concealer stila amazon.com $40.00 $20.00 (50% off)

This 2-in-1 Foundation

8. Stila Stay All Day Foundation and Concealer

If you have cystic acne (the kind that manifests in red, angry bumps under your skin) then you know that a few layers of foundation aren’t always enough to cover things up. Your solution? This foundation and concealer duo. Use the foundation to even out your skin tone, then flip open the cap to reveal the matching concealer, which you can use to spot-treat bumps.

Courtesy Image Bye Bye Foundation with SPF 50+ It Cosmetics ulta.com $39.50

This Foundation With SPF

9. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation With SPF 50+

Okay, so the SPF 50 in this foundation shouldn’t take the place of your regular facial sunscreen, but it’s a great way to get some added protection from skin-damaging UV rays on days that you’re going to be outside. The hydrating, non-comedogenic formula gives you full coverage and comes in 12 different shades to suit your exact skin tone.

Courtesy Image Skin Love Weightless Blur Foundation Becca ulta.com $26.40

This Brightening Foundation

10. Becca Skin Love Weightless Blur Foundation

You can’t talk about acne without talking about PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation)—the dark marks and scars that linger on your skin well after your zit has healed. This brightening foundation helps reduce the appearance of both existing acne and PIH, thanks to its combo of blurring ingredients and spot-fading vitamin C.

Courtesy Image Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation Bare Minerals sephora.com $29.00

This Powder Foundation

11. BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder

When you think “powder foundation,” you probably think heavy and cakey. Not this mineral formula formula though. Not only does it gives you a full-coverage finish, but it also stays lightweight and breathable on your skin, so you won’t feel weighed down. The formula also contains 0.5 percent salicylic acid to curb oil production and oat proteins to calm irritated skin.

Courtesy Image Skin Clearing Makeup Neutrogena amazon.com $13.37

This Pore-Clearing Foundation

12. Neutrogena Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup

Shine from your highlighter? Cute. Shine from the excess oil on your skin? Maybe not so much. The lightweight, oil-free foundation helps to keep your T-zone under control, while also dissolving oil and dead skin cells that get built up in your pores with its key ingredient, salicylic acid.

Courtesy Image Acne Fighting Foundation e.l.f. amazon.com $9.50

This Soothing Foundation

13. E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation

Although salicylic acid is an OG acne-fighting ingredient, it can also be a bit drying on your skin. So instead, this formula uses tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial) and aloe (an intense soother) to mitigate dryness and inflammation from your zits—or worse, your acne products. It also applies super smoothly, giving you top-notch coverage for under $10.

Courtesy Image Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Hourglass sephora.com $56.00

This Oil-Absorbing Foundation

14. Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation

Does anyone actually powder their nose in the middle of the day when shine creeps up? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Thankfully, this liquid-to-powder foundation eliminates the need for a midday touch-up with its kaolinite-clay base, which absorbs pore-clogging oils while giving you a matte, airbrushed finish.

Courtesy Image Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Clinique ulta.com $29.50

This Matte-Finish Foundation

15. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

A foundation that really, truly stays matte all day is a match made in heaven for acne-prone skin. So, please meet the new love of your life. This foundation not only covers all redness and breakouts (without getting cakey), but it also contains a bit of beta-hydroxy acids to calm irritation and keep pores clear.

Lauren Balsamo Senior Beauty Editor Lauren Balsamo is the senior beauty editor at Cosmopolitan covering all things skin, hair, makeup, and nails for both the magazine and website.

Is that midday shine your beauty nemesis? Do you battle with breakouts? If you haven’t got the best foundation for oily skin in your arsenal already, then listen up as we bring you the best of the bunch.

Dr Ross Perry, cosmetic doctor and managing director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, has words of caution when it comes to pairing oily, acne-prone skin with make-up. ‘Before thinking about make-up, review your skin regime. Getting the best cleanser and moisturiser for oily skin is key, so experiment to see what suits your skin.

‘Don’t be tempted to ditch the moisturiser as your skin still needs hydration, but choose a formulation which suits oily skin,’ he continues. ‘Exfoliate regularly to remove excess sebum as well as dead skin cells.

‘Sleep, drink water, and eat your fruit and veg – do everything you can to improve your skin from within, making you less reliant on foundation.’

Next, evaluate what exactly you want from your foundation. A full-coverage formula will mask hyperpigmentation from previous breakouts, while something designed to mattify will keep your skin shine-free all day.

Oilier skin types often get along well with powder-based foundations, like bareMinerals’ offering, while a liquid will glide on seamlessly whilse strategically locking in oil.

Without further ado, join as we run through the best foundation for oily skin below.

Best foundation for oily skin with full coverage

Giorgio Armani Power Fabric, £42, John Lewis

This lasts for hours and hours, offers great SPF protection, conceals pretty much every blemish and dark circle and locks down any excess sebum production. It’s a total all-rounder and an absolute must for oily skin.

Best foundation for oily skin with large pores

Surratt Beauty Surreal Skin Foundation Wand, £62, Net-A-Porter

This handy all-in-one foundation brushes on seamlessly, minimising pores and fine lines – and it’s perfect for just chucking in your bag.

Best foundation for oily skin with acne

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup, £28.50, Fabled

This lightweight, oil-free formula conceals blemishes whilst actively tackling them and preventing them from returning. Plus, its cooling sensation and skin-soothing ingredients help calm flare-ups and inflammation.

Best longwear foundation for oily skin

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, £31.50, Fabled

If you like your coverage to feel weightless, then opt for NARS’ water-like formula. It’s oil free and doesn’t bring on shine throughout the day, a little goes a long way, and gives such a gorgeous, skin-like finish that lasts for hours upon hours.

Best liquid foundation for oily skin

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Makeup, £33.50, Fabled

Double Wear is pretty full coverage, making it perfect for anyone who wants a completely flawless base – but it can be easily lightened up when mixed with a dot of moisturiser. What’s more, it mattifies skin and lasts all day and into the night, without smudging or needing any touch-ups at all.

Best matte foundation for oily skin

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil Free Photo Edition Foundation, £36, John Lewis

Perfectly matte thanks to its oil-free formula, this one packs some major pigment while still remaining lightweight. Your skin will feel comfortable and look great in this foundation that lasts up to 12 hours. Bravo, Laura.

Best drugstore foundation for oily skin

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Matte Foundation, £8.99, Feelunique

Super duper mattifying, this one. And all for the bargain price of £8.99. Apply all over and buff from the centre of the face outwards for smooth coverage that’ll last all day, with no oily patches appearing around 3pm.

Best powder foundation for oily skin

bareMinerals Original SPF15 Foundation, £28, Fabled

Nothing really beats a powder foundation when it comes to oil control, and bareMinerals’ is a timeless favourite for a reason – the mineral formula is completely non-comedogenic, so there’s no risk of pores becoming blocked, and still only contains five ingredients.

Your oily-skin foundation woes are officially fixed. Shininess, be gone…

Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin

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Breakouts. Irritation. Scars. If these pesky skin issues are impacting your daily beauty routine, you’re not alone.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States and impacts 50 million individuals each year. Acne is caused by four factors: plugged follicles from skin cell debris, increased production of sebum (oily secretions) by the skin’s sebaceous glands, inflamed skin around the follicles, and Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Acne treatments, including prescription medications and oral contraceptives, are available under the care of a dermatologist for managing small breakouts or severe cases of the skin condition.

If you have acne, though, it can be challenging to find makeup. If you need to conceal breakouts, you might want to consider using a foundation that’s safe for oily and acne-prone skin.

What to Look For in a Foundation for Acne-Prone or Oily Skin

There are a few key factors you might want to consider before trying a foundation for oily or acne-prone skin.

  • Non-comedogenic or oil-free labels Using a foundation that’s non-comedogenic or oil-free can help reduce clogged pores and prevent skin irritation, according to Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “It’s important to use non-comedogenic or oil-free makeup because products that have an oily base can aggravate and worsen acne,” says Dr. Chwalek. “These can contribute to microcomedone formation or plugged pores.”
  • Ingredients Some foundations for oily and acne-prone skin have key ingredients, including salicylic acid, sulfur, and hyaluronic acid. “ may also contain ingredients that we use to treat acne: salicylic acid or sulfur (these help to reduce sebum and unclog pores),” says Chwalek. “Hyaluronic acid helps to hold moisture in the skin, which can be important since many ingredients used to treat acne sometimes cause excessive dryness.”
  • Precautions Before testing out a foundation, it’s important to speak with your dermatologist about potential complications, according to Julia Tzu, MD, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. “Using the wrong skin care products can easily lead to an acne breakout,” says Dr. Tzu. “If you are on prescribed medications for your acne, make sure the active ingredients in the anti-acne foundation does not cause additional irritation to the skin.”
  • Treatment While using a foundation for oily or acne-prone skin, it’s important to also consider other acne treatment options, according to Jennifer MacGregor, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Ideally, patients with acne or acne-prone skin use over-the-counter or even prescription topicals to help their acne,” says Dr. MacGregor. “Short-term oral medication is also often needed for severe inflammatory, scarring, or hormonal acne.”

If you decide that you need to switch up your beauty routine, here are some options for foundations for oily and acne-prone skin.

  • Prime

    Controlling blemish-prone skin and preventing breakouts starts with a great base. A primer that directly targets the causes of blemishes, soaks up excess oil and improves the texture of the epidermis will clear as it covers and extend the wear of your foundation. Just make sure you apply to cleansed, moisturised skin with uber-clean hands. Among the best we’ve tested are…

  • Prime

    Murad Skin Perfecting Primer, £29.00, available from www.murad.co.uk
    What it does: Clears and prevents breakouts while refining pores and skin texture. Glides on easily and leaves the skin feeling smooth, matte and clean.
    Spot fighters: Salicylic acid and a probiotic complex to promote resistance to spot-causing bacteria.
    USP: Can be used under foundation or alone, thanks to its unique adaptive shade technology, which changes to match individual skin tone.
    Best for: Super-oily skin that gets shiny quickly.

  • Prime

    CoverFX Matifying Primer, £28, available from House Of Fraser
    What it does: This lightweight gel treats and heals blemishes and soaks up unwanted surface oil while it instantly improves the texture of the skin.
    Spot fighters: Willowbark extract, which naturally contains salicylic acid, Ancient African Tree Bark Extract reduces pore size, shine, sebum and inflammatory acne, and Vitamin F, Squalene and Hyaluronic Acid for moisture.
    USP: It’s water-resistant and extends the wear of foundation. Plus, it’s free from parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oils and talc and is great for sensitive skin.
    Best for: Super-sensitive skin, and those looking for a lightweight solution.

  • Prime

    Smashbox Photofinish, £28, available from Smashbox.co.uk
    What it does: Treats breakouts, provides oil-free hydration and creates a smooth canvas for makeup application.
    Spot fighters: 2% salicylic acid to slough dead skin cells and prevent breakouts
    USP: Boasts that wearers will have “clearer skin in just two weeks”.
    Best for: Young acne-prone skin in need of an extra clearing boost.

  • Perfect

    Finding a foundation that provides great coverage to blemish-prone skin, doesn’t slide off or aggravate the problem is tough. But there are fantastic formulas out there that can actually help to heal as they cover. For example…

  • Perfect

    Lancôme Teint Visionnaire, £36, available from www.lancome.co.uk
    What it does: A high-tech make-up duo that corrects uneven skin tone, refines pores, targets imperfections and minimises wrinkles as it covers.
    Spot fighters:
    The LR 2412 skin molecule was cooked up in the Lancôme labs to refine pores, reduce wrinkles and even out skin tone. Although it doesn’t directly treat the problem, it’s great at promoting healing.
    USP: Claims to transform the complexion within just four weeks thanks to the aforementioned super-molecule, which is protected by a mammoth 20 patents.
    Best for: Those looking to improve scarred skin with a natural, flawless and lightweight foundation, or sufferers with mature skin.

  • Perfect

    Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up, £24, available from www.clinique.co.uk
    What it does: Powerful special formula effectively balances and camouflages blemish-prone skin and minimises sebum without stripping it of moisture.
    Spot fighters: Salicylic acid, laminaria sacharrina extract (a sea algae that regulates sebum production), hydroxydecanoic acid to control the spread of blemishes, and caffeine to minimise irritation.
    USP: Long-lasting, eight-hour coverage treatment makes it one of the best for everyday use.
    Best for: Young, acne-prone and combination skin.

  • Perfect

    CoverFX Pressed Mineral Foundation, £31, available from House Of Fraser
    What it does: Mineral-based powder foundation that airbrushes imperfections, matifies and calms inflammed skin.
    Spot fighters: Green tea extract to calm and Vitamins C and E to heal and prevent premature aging.
    USP: As with all CoverFX products, it’s free from parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oils and talc and is great for sensitive skin. Also comes in 24 shades, so getting the perfect match is simple.
    Best for: Combination skin that can get overly dry. Great for everyday use and touch-ups on the go.

  • Perfect

    Avon Ideal Flawless Skin Loving Beauty Balm, £12, available from www.avonshop.co.uk
    What it does: Easy to blend mineral BB cream provides great coverage, moisturises and minimises redness without clogging the pores.
    Spot fighters: A secret formula of skin-nourishing minerals and healing Vitamin E.
    USP: Boasts a 10-in-1 formula that calms inflammation, evens skin tone, conceals blemishes and continues to improve the skin, even after you take it off.
    Best for: Dry and sensitive blemish-prone skin in need of TLC.

  • Perfect

    bareMinerals Ready SPF20 Foundation, £25, available from www.bareminerals.co.uk
    What it does: Encourages cell turnover, improves skintone and moisture with a super-gentle, super-natural mineral complex. Also helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
    Spot fighters: Algae, seaweed, rose hip seed oil, cold-pressed seed oil, and spot-fighting Vitamin A.
    USP: Formulated without preservatives, talc, waxes, binders, filler and fragrances, it’s natural enough to wear at any time.
    Best for: Super oily skin. It lasts for 12 hours, and blends seamlessly for super-natural, flawless coverage.

  • Perfect

    Korres Pomegranate Foundation SPF15, £19, available from www.korres.com
    What it does: A full-coverage cream foundation that hides blemishes, evens skintone, matifies and refines pores.
    Spot fighters: Pomegranate extract is full of antioxidant tannins (Vitamins A, B and C) to combat free radicals on the skin. It is also has astringent properties, which tightens pores and strengthens the skin epidermis.
    USP: The elastic formula makes it durable and easy to blend without clogging pores.
    Best for: Oily or mature skin.

  • Perfect

    Oxygenating Foundation – Acne Control in Ivory, £59.50, Oxygenetix

    Spot fighters: Salicylic acid and oxygen complex reduces bacteria and encourages renewal.
    USP: Water resistant and including an SPF of 25, it’s the perfect pool-side coverage.
    Best for: The lightweight coverage is enough to camouflage blemishes while maintaining a breathable base, important in the skin renewal process.

  • Perfect

    Blemish Remedy Foundation in Clearly Pearl, £26.50, Bareminerals

    Spot fighters: Aspen bark, salicylic acid and tea tree oil to reduce inflammation and break down bacteria.
    USP: Powders sit on the surface of the skin and thus don’t create congestion by seeping into pores.
    Best for: Oily skin or those with facial redness.

  • Perfect

    The Soft Fulid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20, £80, La Mer

    Spot fighters: Marine plant-based stem cells infuse the foundation with regenerating ferments, hydrating aged or dry skin.
    USP: Infused with La Mer’s legendary Miracle Broth, the foundation provides elements of the iconic Creme De La Mer.
    Best for: Dehydrated skin and a fuller, more natural coverage.

  • Conceal

    Big, inflamed breakouts need a little extra coverage that foundation doesn’t always provide. Thankfully, concealers that heal as they cover without caking do exist. Best blended over liquid foundation with a clean brush, under powder foundation or directly onto primed blemishes, here is our pick of the best…

  • Conceal

    CoverFX Cream Concealer, £21, available from House Of Fraser
    What it does: Completely camouflages EVERYTHING thanks to its water-based, “healthy” cream formula.
    Spot fighters: Anti-inflammatory Bisabolol, anti-aging Ceramide 2 and Palitoyl Oligopeptide and Vitamin F for natural hydration.
    USP: Super-long wear and free of mineral oil, fragrance, gluten,
    parabens and talc, so it’s safe for use on even the most sensitive of skin.
    Best for: Those in need of serious coverage without the dreaded caking effect.

  • Conceal

    Murad Blemish Treatment Concealer, £19, available from www.murad.co.uk
    What it does: Hides and tackles unwanted outbreaks head-on with a dual formula that fights acne and provides long-lasting coverage.
    Spot fighters: Salicylic acid, vitamin A and green tea extract to combat spot-causing free radicals on the skin.
    USP: 86% of users experienced overall better skin within two weeks.
    Best for: Super oily skin. The thick formula has great staying power, but can cling to dryness.

  • Conceal

    bareMinerals SPF20 Correcting Concealer, £21, available from www.bareminerals.co.uk
    What it does: Brightens and protects the skin to conceal imperfections without clogging the pores.
    Spot fighters: Lemon peel extract helps to brighten discoloration and improve the appearance of dark spots and scarring and skin-nourishing copper.
    USP: It’s natural enough to wear at any time, and although won’t directly treat acne, is super-gentle to use on sensitive skin.
    Best for: Covering up super-dry former blemishes that aren’t quite ready to be fully out on display, but don’t need to be treated.

  • Conceal

    Dermalogica Concealing Spot Treatment, £30.70, available from www.dermalogica.co.uk
    What it does: Intensely treats and covers unwanted surprise breakouts as they emerge.
    Spot fighters: Sulfur and Zinc Oxide quickly target and clear acne.
    USP: Great alternative for those who need a strong treatment without using a product that contains Benzoyl Peroxide. Also fragrance and colour free.
    Best for: Camouflaging the odd big whopper during the day, rather than using over larger problem areas.

Best Foundations For Acne-Prone Skin (Without Salicylic Acid)

Recently, a reader asked me what the best foundations for acne-prone skin are. The only caveat? They shouldn’t contain salicylic acid. I’m not sure why she doesn’t like this ingredient.

Salicylic acid is wonderful for oily, acne-prone skin because it exfoliates the pores from the inside out, preventing them from getting all clogged up and causing breakouts.

But not everyone reacts well to this ingredient. In some people, it can cause irritations. In others, it may not work at all. And it can’t be used together with retinoids because it inactivates them.

In all these cases, a salicylic acid free foundation works best. Here are my favourites:

Clinique Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup ($23.00)

Clinique Stay Matte Oil-Free Makeup has a creamy, slightly fluidy texture that provides medium to full coverage, helping to cover breakouts and other imperfections. Longlasting and easy-to-blend, it has a matte finish and oil-absorbing properties that keeps excess oil at bay (but you may still need to use blotting paper during the day). There are 20 shades available, but they are mostly warm-toned. If you are cool-toned, you may struggle to find a good match.

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluid ($48.00)

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Fluid is available in 24 warm, neutral, and cool shades, so most people will be able to find a good match for their skintone. The coverage is light to medium, but can be easily built up to full, and covers redness and small pimples well. The foundation blends like a dream, drying to a matte finish that looks very natural (but it can accentuate dry spots, so if you have any, moisturize well before application).

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation ($4.99)

Are you on a budget? Then try Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation. One of the few matte options available at the drugstore, it provides medium to full coverage. But application can be a bit tricky. A little goes a long way, but, because the foundation dries really quickly, you may at first apply more than you need. Another drawback is the small shade selection. There are only 8 available, mostly with a neutral undertone. But if you can find a good match, this is definitely worth a try.

Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($42.00)

Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation has a creamy but fluid texture that blends like a dream. It provides medium to full coverage, which hides all imperfections, and a natural matte finish that makes you look your best both in real life and in pictures. With 25 shades, in all kinds of undertones, available, it’s impossible not to find a good match.

What are your favourite foundations for oily, acne-prone skin?

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