10 Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin That Fight Breakouts and Make You Look Flawless
Prevent your blemishes from getting worse with these top foundation picks.
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The foundation of flawless skin
If you have acne-prone skin, picking out makeup can be an intimidating prospect. You don’t want to layer anything on your face that will make breakouts worse, but you probably want a foundation that will help cover up some of the issues acne causes. “If you have acne-prone skin, you most likely experience texture, redness, and overproduction of oil,” says Stevie Rose, a professional makeup artist and director of education for beauty brand Saie. That’s why finding the best foundations for acne-prone skin is so important.
Does foundation worsen acne?
The simple answer to this question is that foundation can make acne worse—but it doesn’t have to. As long as you pick an acne-friendly formula, it should not worsen pimples and blemishes. “You want to look for non-comedogenic foundations, which means they won’t clog pores and create breakouts,” says celebrity makeup artist Beck Wainner. “You should also stay away from anything with oils.”
Not only will selecting one of the best foundations help you avoid making acne worse, but if you pick formulas with certain ingredients, the foundation can also help you fight breakouts. “Look for foundations with salicylic acid, which can diminish blemishes,” Wainner says.
What type of foundation is best for acne-prone skin?
The best foundations for acne-prone skin come in a range of formats: liquid, powder, stick, and beyond. In fact, just about anything can work for skin that tends to break out—even matte formulas typically crowned the best foundations for oily skin. Powder formulas can certainly help sop up excess oil, but there are plenty of liquid formulas that will work with blemish-prone skin too.
Your options range from light to full coverage, though your choice will depend on personal preference. If you use one of the best concealers, a lighter-coverage foundation will be just fine. Want your foundation to cover blemishes? You may need to go with a medium- to full-coverage pick. It’s all about knowing your skin, your goals, and how to apply foundation (psst! you’re going to want to start with a great primer) to get the most from your acne-covering endeavors.
Whether you’re a regular at the annual spring Sephora sale or dread shopping altogether, having a list of the best foundations for acne-prone skin can help make your life so much easier. To provide you with just that, we spoke with top makeup artists and combed through oodles of products to find the ones with five-star ratings and the best user reviews. Check out the winners now!
The best foundations for acne-prone skin
Best overall: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Wear Matte Foundation
Best tinted moisturizer: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
Best full-coverage foundation: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation
Best powder formula: Bare Minerals Loose Powder Mineral Foundation SPF 15
Best matte finish: KVD Beauty Lock-It Full-Coverage Long-Wear Matte Liquid Foundation
Best glowy finish: Nars Sheer Glow Foundation
Best value: Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup
Best shade range: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation
Best skin care benefits: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation
Best SPF formula: It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Wear Matte Foundation
Long-lasting coverage, a matte finish, an extensive shade range, and an oil-free formula? Acne-prone skin couldn’t ask for anything more. In fact, the full-coverage formula may be all you need to even your skin tone, no dark spot corrector necessary.
This forever-favorite foundation has earned its spot on the list of best foundations for acne-prone skin with 3,000 five-star reviews on Sephora. Danni, who has combination skin, says, “It blended perfectly and helped to cover my imperfections without looking cakey.”
- Stays put
- Oil-free formula
- Good shade range
On the pricier side
Best tinted moisturizer
Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
Tarte’s tinted moisturizer contains Amazonian clay to help soak up excess oil, vitamin C to brighten, and vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to boost your skin’s hydration. See, just as oily skin can up your chances of breakouts, dry skin is also a no-no. If you dry out your complexion, your oil glands will work overtime to lubricate it—which can lead to more breakouts.
Using one of the best moisturizers for oily skin is a smart idea (never skip moisturizing!), but if you’re looking for light color, Tarte’s BB cream is a great alternative. Reviewers love it so much that more than 1,000 of them have given it five stars on Sephora.
- Tinted lotion hydrates your skin
- Contains SPF 20
- Smaller bottle
- Limited shade range
Best full-coverage foundation
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation
The Double Wear foundation promises to stay put for up to 24-hours and is oil-free, so it won’t further gunk up acne-prone skin. Need proof that this is one foundation you won’t have to reapply? Many of the 4,000 people who gave it a five-star review on Sephora mention just how long it lasts. Ameli writes, “It stays in place all day long and helps control my oily skin.” If sweatproof makeup is a must for you, this full-coverage formula checks the box.
- Full coverage
- Lasts all day
- Oil-free formula with a matte finish
Full coverage isn’t necessary for everyone
Best powder formula
Bare Minerals Loose Powder Mineral Foundation SPF 15
If your skin sometimes resembles an oil slick, you may want to go with a powder foundation. The Original Loose Powder from Bare Minerals has 15,000 five-star reviews (yes, really!). Use a light dusting for sheer coverage, or layer it on to build coverage.
- Powder formula counteracts oily skin
- Natural finish
Can look patchy if you apply it to dry skin
Best matte finish
KVD Beauty Lock-It Full-Coverage Long-Wear Matte Liquid Foundation
Tame a shiny complexion with KVD Beauty’s Long-Wear Matte Foundation. Just a few drops will give skin a velvety finish. One five-star reviewer on Sephora notes, “I have extremely oily skin, and this foundation makes it truly matte.” Another benefit: You won’t need to know how to get makeup out of clothes if you use this—it’s transfer-proof and won’t rub off your face.
- Gorgeous matte finish
- Transfer-resistant, so it won’t stain clothes
On the pricier side
Best glowy finish
Nars Sheer Glow Foundation
While many people with acne-prone skin prefer a matte finish to combat too much sheen, there may be times when you’d like your skin to glow. Nars’s oil-free Sheer Glow Foundation is packed with water to give you a dewy vibe. It also contains vitamin C, which can brighten skin and combat discoloration caused by old acne blemishes.
It’s one of the best foundations for dry skin. And users love the stuff—it has 3,000 five-star reviews!
- Gives skin a glowy finish
- Provides medium coverage
Limited shade options for deeper skin tones
Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup
For under ten bucks, you can get a foundation that provides medium coverage and will even help diminish blemishes while you wear it. (Bonus: You can easily buy in it drugstores and on Amazon.) Salicylic acid is a super-popular over-the-counter spot treatment, and Neutrogena’s SkinClearing foundation contains the acne-fighting ingredient. Amazon reviewer Tamara Patton says it “has reduced the acne problems other products have created.”
For more skin-clearing power, layer a moisturizer for acne-prone skin beneath your Neutrogena makeup. Think of it as the foundation for your foundation.
- Affordable price point
- Contains acne-fighting salicylic acid
Limited shade range
Best shade range
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation
Repeat after us: Every skin tone deserves makeup made for it. From the best lipstick for every skin tone to the best blush for every skin tone, products created to suit your skin shade can make a huge difference in how you look. And getting foundation in the right color for you? It’s a must—especially when you have acne-prone skin. The wrong shade will just draw attention to blemishes.
That’s what’s so great about Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r foundation: It comes in 50 different shades!
- Wide range of shades available
- Matte finish
Could look cakey if you have dry skin
Best skin care benefits
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation
When dead skin cells build up, pores can get clogged and pimples can form. Salicylic acid helps remove dead skin cells, preventing and clearing up zits. Clinique’s Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation, which has over 800 five-star reviews on Sephora, contains this acne-busting ingredient.
It’s also easy to blend, oil-free, and free of fragrance (so it won’t irritate sensitive skin). And Clinique is easy to find in department stores, Ulta, and Sephora, so re-upping is easy.
- Made with salicylic acid to fight zits
- Oil-free formula
Limited shade range
Best SPF formula
It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
A sunburn can aggravate acne, so you should avoid getting one at all costs. Using a moisturizer with SPF is a great idea, but you can also protect your skin while covering acne and discoloration by using the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream, which contains SPF 50. This foundation has 2,000 five-star ratings and provides full coverage to help hide any blemishes or acne scars.
Love makeup tips from professionals? Check out this application pointer: “With acne, you don’t want to put bacteria-ridden brushes or sponges on the face,” says celebrity makeup artist Margina Dennis. “That’s why I recommend disposable sponges or washing your brushes immediately after use.”
- Contains SPF 50
- Provides full coverage
Limited shade range
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