The 5 Best Makeup Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin

Just because you have acne doesn’t mean you have to avoid wearing makeup. There are many oil-free foundations that cover blemishes and won’t irritate your face. There are certain key things to look for in a foundation that will help you know if it’s safe for acne-prone skin.

Look for these words on the label

  • Noncomedogenic” means it doesn’t clog pores.
  • “Non-acnegenic” means it doesn’t cause pimples.
  • “Hypo-allergenic” means it shouldn’t cause an allergic reaction.

Healing ingredients

  • Water should be the first ingredient on the label, the base for everything else (unless you’re looking at a powder, of course)
  • Glycerin is a humectant, which means it pulls moisture from the air into your skin. Hyaluronic acid does the same thing.
  • Salicylic acid* helps shed skin cells to clear pores.
  • Dimethicone smoothes out skin texture and hides redness.
  • Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and silica also hide redness and absorb oil.

Avoid these things that create more oil on your skin

  • Mineral or coconut oil, or any oil at all
  • Petrolatum and derivative products
  • Cold cream
  • Cocoa butter

Potential allergy alert

*If you are allergic to aspirin, avoid makeup and skin care products that contain salicylic acid. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure about this. Even small doses can make you sick. In this list we included two products that do not have this ingredient. Skip down to the L’oreal and Bare Escentuals foundations at the bottom.

The 5 Best Foundations

There’s a lot of options out there; it’s hard to choose between them. We hunted down makeup with the right ingredients, consistently positive reviews, and praise from the experts.

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup

Neutrogena has a whole lineup of personal care products made for people suffering with acne. Dermatologists often recommend this brand to their patients.

This Skin-Clearing foundation has salicylic acid which helps cut through oil, unclog pores, stop redness, and get rid of dead skin. It covers up your blemishes while it helps them heal faster. In clinical trials, 100% of the women using this makeup witnessed improvements in their skin.

A lot of users have loved that this foundation feels light on their faces and lasts all day. The main complaint was finding a color compatible with their skin tone. Neutrogena offers this makeup in only 12 shades, so some have had to purchase two bottles and blend them.


Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

Here’s another foundation with salicylic acid. It also contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin. These two ingredients mean that it works for oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin.

The Clinique Acne Solutions comes out of the bottle looking thick, but thins out quickly as it’s applied. A little goes a long way, and you may still need concealer for trouble spots. It leaves skin looking natural, not shiny and not dead matte, and it lasts all day.

In the middle of the list of ingredients you may notice that right before glycerin it says “caffeine.” We wish this makeup made us wake up, but that’s not the case. Caffeine is an antioxidant and it constricts blood vessels to reduce redness.

Clinique offers this foundation in 16 shades which can be blended together if needed.


e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation

EyesLipsFace, or e.l.f., is an up-and-coming brand pleasing people with their great products and low prices. Like the previous two brands, this Acne-Fighting Foundation contains salicylic acid to stop breakouts. It also has aloe to soothe irritated skin.

On the bottle you’ll see they included other ingredients that you don’t normally see in a foundation. Witch hazel is an astringent that shrinks pores and isn’t as nasty to skin as alcohol. Tea tree oil fights infections, as does camphor (which is also a mild anesthetic). All of these things help reduce redness, kill pimples, and protect skin.

It does a very good job of covering flaws with a matte finish that lasts all day. Some older users have commented that it will show lines and creases. It comes in only 7 shades, from ivory to coffee.


L’Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup

If you have a difficult time finding the right color foundation, L’oreal has 23 shades in their True Match lineup. Problem solved…but it doesn’t say anything about “acne-fighting,” so now what?

No worries, we wouldn’t have included it here if it caused pimples. The True Match formula has no fragrance and no oils. It contains dimethicone, grapefruit extract, and wheat germ to protect and heal your skin. (It does not contain salicylic acid.) Some of the shades offer SPF 17 protection.

In case you’re wondering about the details: Grapefruit extract has vitamin C and it kills infections and parasites. Wheat germ has vitamin A and E. It helps form collagen and heal dry skin. Users says this foundation goes on smooth and light. The final effect is subtle, almost like not wearing makeup at all.


Bare Minerals Medium Beige Foundation

Even though the other four products are liquids, some people prefer a powder foundation. We found Bare Escentuals bareMinerals. It has fans in all age ranges, perhaps even more who are in their 30s and older.

It contains titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and silica to absorb oil. These ingredients also give natural protection against the sun up to SPF 15. It doesn’t contain talc, parabens, or fragrances so it doesn’t irritate your skin. (It also does not contain salicylic acid.)

You may be thinking that smearing powder on your face isn’t going to blend well, but it goes on creamy and leaves a silky texture. It hides pores and smoothes out imperfections.

e.l.f. says bareMinerals lasts up to 8 hours. Many users have commented that their skin feels softer and looks younger. They also noticed an improvement in their appearance after continued use.


Skin care and makeup removal at the end of the day

Don’t forget to gently clean and moisturize your face at the end of the day. Don’t leave makeup on-even the best formulas can clog pores with the help of the grime that builds up on your skin during the day.

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