16 Foundations That Are Superior to All Others If You Have Acne-Prone Skin


(Image credit: @danishrolls)

Foundation and acne sometimes don't mix. If you've ever dealt with any form of acne, you know what I mean. As someone who has struggled quite a bit with it, I've gotten in the habit of double-checking the ingredients in any formula before I buy to make sure nothing is super comedogenic (Comedogenic products will clog your pores big time.) Foundation can be especially tricky, though. To get more insight into the matter, I called in the experts. Two dermatologists and a makeup artist provided me with a well-rounded perspective. Keep reading for tips on how to choose the best foundation for acne-prone skin and product recs. 

How to Choose the Best Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin

With many foundation formulas now boasting skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, it's a good idea to seek those out if you have acne-prone skin. Niacinamide can help control oil production if you have oilier skin and curb breakouts. Hyaluronic acid provides light hydration without being heavy or clogging pores. Soothing and moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera can also be good for redness. Additionally, if your skin can tolerate it, some foundations even have acne-fighters like salicylic acid in them. Dermatologists and makeup artists have a few other tips. 

"[Certain] foundations can trigger acne breakouts. But don't despair. With the right products and skincare regimen, you can wear makeup," says board-certified dermatologist Snehal Amin, MD. "Look for labels that say 'oil-free' and 'noncomedogenic.' The same rules apply to makeup removers—choose oil-free products and avoid scrubbing the skin. Sometimes, it's not the actual skincare product or makeup that is triggering your acne but rather the makeup brushes and applicators you're using. They can harbor acne-causing bacteria, dead skin cells, and oils. Clean frequently and don't share them."

Makeup artist Alexa Persico also says there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best foundation for acne-prone skin. "Don't pick up the moisture-targeted foundation formulas. Most of these contain a high percentage of mineral oil, which can cause breakouts," she shares.

Finally, our third expert, board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, has one last piece of advice. "Avoid heavy formulas—particularly ones with petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, coconut oil, avocado oil, and silicones—as these tend to clog pores," she says. "Avoid added fragrances that can cause new pimples to form and irritate existing pimples. You'll also want to steer clear of foundations with a waxy emollient like myristyl myristate, as they tend to cause buildup and congestion in pores. Go for oil-free, lighter foundations that have hyaluronic acid."

Best Overall: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Foundation

Best Luxury: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

Best Lightweight: Oxygenetix Oxygenating Breathable Foundation

Best Matte: Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation

Best Stick: Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick

Best Powder: The Good Mineral Loves You Back 3-in-1 Powder Foundation

Best Liquid: Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Oil-Free Foundation

Best Dewy: Nars Sheer Glow Foundation

Best for Sensitive Skin: Ilia True Skin Medium Coverage Serum Foundation

Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation

Best Waterproof: MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Liquid Foundation

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This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.