When struggling with acne, people are commonly told to stop wearing makeup as that’s what causes acne. We’re here to say that isn’t necessarily true! Sometimes your skin will produce acne all on its own, and the makeup really doesn’t do any major harm. So long as your foundation follows some simple guidelines, it will not directly cause acne or inflammation. If acne is something that you want to conceal, keep reading for a list of the best foundations for acne-prone skin!
What is Acne?
Having acne or acne-prone skin means that you have or are prone to pimples, blackheads, or cystic acne. Acne usually appears on the face, but it can occur all over the body, especially on the chest or back.
Acne can be a result of a whole host of things! Some people experience acne because of their diet. The old saying “you are what you eat” rings true in this situation. Those who eat high-sugar and highly processed diets with lots of dairy products frequently experience acne. Your body isn’t happy with the food it’s being given, so it shows that through your skin!
Another common reason for acne is hygiene! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t wash your face enough; twice a day works for most people. It could be that you aren’t changing your pillowcase often enough (once a week), or you might be smashing your dirty phone into your skin when you make a call; also using dirty towels to dry your face can cause acne. Hygiene isn’t just personal hygiene. Keeping yourself and your living space clean is key to keeping acne at bay.
If none of these reasons are what’s causing your acne, you could have hormonal acne. This kind of acne is caused by fluctuating hormone levels in your body and isn’t always caused by anything you are doing. This kind is most common in people going through puberty, but it can be seen at all ages!
As for anything related to skin, we highly recommend you see a dermatologist for any major skin concerns or if you are thinking about trying to treat your acne. You can do a lot of damage to your skin by throwing random chemical products around, so it’s best to consult a professional.
How Can Foundation Cause Acne?
The main way that foundation can cause acne is by clogging the pores. If your foundation contains comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients, those ingredients can cause acne. To avoid this, be sure to find a foundation that is non-comedogenic!
If you have sensitive skin or any topical allergies, you can also experience acne as a reaction. Unfortunately, most people find out they have sensitive or allergic skin through trial and error. If you find yourself having an allergic reaction, some of the top culprits are fragrances, parabens, and formaldehyde. Yes, that gross liquid used to preserve things in science museums can be found in some foundations. Yuck!
Be sure to check your foundation’s ingredient list, or better yet, just use these awesome foundations for acne-prone skin!
Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin
Best Affordable Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin (Under $20)
Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup
This natural coverage foundation comes in 14 shades! It also contains salicylic acid which is an acne-clearing powerhouse ingredient. While you wear it, this foundation will treat active breakouts AND prevent new acne from forming.
SkinClearing Liquid Makeup is formulated for all skin types, even sensitive!
The Ordinary Serum Foundation
This serum foundation might just get you to switch to skin tints full-time! It’s lightweight, medium coverage, and comes in 21 shades. It won’t clog pores and contains SPF 15 to cut down on the number of products you have to use. It’ll blend into your skin without weighing heavily on your pores, so you can get coverage without the breakout!
L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation
This is a full coverage foundation that will give you the masking, correcting power you want without the heaviness! It’s 24-hour wear and is available in 22 shades. With an oil-free formula, you don’t have to worry about pore clogging or new acne! The semi-matte finish will also help control oil visibility throughout the day.
Best Mid-Priced Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin (Under $45)
bareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation
The Loose Powder Foundation from bareMinerals has been around for a minute and has amassed quite the following! Users love it for its light weight, medium coverage, natural finish, and mineral SPF 15. Coming in an impressive 30 shades, you are bound to find a match.
This is especially great for those with acne-prone skin because of its limited but powerful ingredient list that won’t clog pores. This is also a good powder foundation for oily skin!
Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup Foundation
Designed to absorb oil and resist sweat, the Stay-Matte Foundation is perfect for those with active acne. All 16 shades will give you a nice, matte finish with enough coverage to mask any pimple! As it is oil-free, there are no concerns about pore clogging.
If you have skin sensitivities, this foundation contains no fragrances or parabens!
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte
This CC+ Cream made an appearance on our list of the best foundations for red skin, and it’s here for similar reasons. The product is incredibly lightweight while still providing amazing coverage! With the special ingredient charcoal, CC+ Cream absorbs oil and surface impurities preventing skin irritation which could lead to acne.
You can get this in 12 shades, and it contains a whopping SPF 40! This is one of the highest levels of sun protection that you can find in skin makeup.
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation
Clinique strikes again with another acne solution! With this foundation, not only will you get a smooth matte finish with medium coverage, but you will also get an acne-fighting ingredient: salicylic acid. This acid clears out debris and oils that clog pores resulting in a clearer complexion.
14 shades of acne-preventing coverage? Sign us up! This is also on our list focusing on the best matte foundations for oily skin.
Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 16-Hour Full Coverage Foundation
Tarte’s Clay Foundation is something of a revolution in the makeup game. Clay masks are an amazing way to clear skin and fight acne, and Tarte thought to put it in makeup form! All 32 shades apply like a mousse and dry down for 16 hours of full coverage, creaseless wear.
Best Luxury Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin ($45 and above)
Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation
Pat McGrath is one of the leading ladies in the makeup industry for decades, so of course, she has an amazing foundation! Sublime Perfection is natural-finish and medium-coverage making it the ideal, buildable foundation for skin imperfections like acne. It’s also weightless, so it won’t settle into your pores creating more active breakouts.
All 36 shades are hydrating without promoting more oil production. Everyone from models to professional makeup artists agrees that this foundation is a winner!
Tom Ford Traceless Soft Matte Foundation
The Traceless Soft Matte Foundation promises a skin-like finish with incredible coverage. This 40-shade foundation contains vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and antioxidants. All ingredients that nurture the skin and help it in its fight against acne.
Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation
Acne-prone skin can sometimes be irritated to the point of discomfort. This foundation contains an aloe gel that will soothe and heal injured skin! Oxygenetix claims this product treats and covers skin conditions such as acne while you wear it.
It’s available in 14 shades of a lightweight formula that provides “complete coverage”!
Armani Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Oil-Free Foundation
Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is quickly becoming one of our favorite luxury foundations! It’s available in both a radiant and a natural finish, so you have options while still getting awesome coverage for your acne. There are 40 shades meant to hydrate the skin and improve skin texture while you wear.
What Will Foundation Do for My Acne?
This depends on what kind of foundation you use! Above we listed some great products; some that focused entirely on covering and concealing acne and some that are formulated to heal acne as you wear. If you choose to wear a foundation that only covers your acne, you can use products outside of makeup to help! As we already said, salicylic acid is a great acne-fighting ingredient that you can find in serums and face cleaners.
If you choose to wear one of the foundations that contain an acne treatment, you might see some drastic skin improvements the more your wear the foundation. This is a win-win as you get great coverage while healing your skin. Foundation, if chosen correctly, can be a huge help when dealing with acne.
Final Thoughts on Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin
Acne can be a huge struggle; it can be painful and embarrassing, but it’s important to remember that it is completely normal! Everyone goes through skin issues. Foundation can just be an easy way for you to take back some control over your skin and cover up some of those acne marks.
Whether you choose a foundation with an active ingredient such as salicylic acid or just one with great coverage, we hope this list helps you find your perfect match!
Simone is a graduate of Georgetown University and a skincare enthusiast. Her favorite skincare product is currently COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. In addition to her passion for cosmetics, Simone loves to spend time outdoors.