No matter the skin tone, foundation can be a double-edged sword for people that deal with acne. You want to cover up imperfections, but every foundation you’ve tried so far has left your face with a shine that only leads to more breakouts.
Though you may not believe it, foundations do exist that don’t clog your skin’s pores and won’t result in acne flareups. You just have to find the formula that’s right for you.
No matter how challenging your situation currently is, there’s an option for your skin that won’t give you that greasy, caked on feeling. With the best foundations for acne prone skin below, nothing will stop you from wearing makeup when you want or need to.
The Best Foundations for Acne Prone Skin in 2023
1. Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
A powerhouse brand that has lived up to its hype, this Fenty formula is proof that a buildable medium to full coverage foundation doesn’t have to be heavy and thick.
Light as air and oil-free, the liquid foundation glides over skin and dries to a powder for an instantly smooth, matte finish and a feeling that you’re wearing nothing at all. Climate-adaptive technology that resists humidity and sweat (meaning no shine) is a relief for all skin types, but especially oily skin.
2. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Foundation
Created specifically for acne prone skin, the oil-free formula is packed with skincare ingredients you’ll love.
Salicylic acid treats any existing breakouts and keeps them from coming back, sea algae extract purifies and caffeine works to reduce irritation. It effectively blends away blemishes and counteracts redness for dry, combination and oily skin.
A true workhorse, this medicated formula will combat acne, improve skin lesions and give you a medium coverage, natural look.
3. Tarte Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation
A great powder foundation for acne sufferers who need full coverage, this formula diffuses light and fights redness.
With a matte finish, skin looks even and smooth without the heavy, caked on feel. Some of the ingredients include kaolin clay that absorbs excess oil, caffeine to perk skin up and green tea to soothe irritation.
This lightweight foundation is vegan and longwear, lasting up to 12 hours, and the perfect option for those who want a flake-free, naturally radiant appearance.
4. No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation w/ SPF 15
A well-known drugstore gem containing salicylic acid, this No7 product treats existing breakouts and controls oil production without clogging the pores and has SPF for sun protection.
Great for oily skin, the fine oil-absorbing powders used in this oil-free foundation control sheen and reduce the need for touch ups throughout the day. It conceals blemishes and gives your skin a poreless, matte finish that is velvety-soft and shine-free.
You’ll proudly flaunt the flawless skin you’ve always wanted while simultaneously treating any skin issues.
5. Almay Clear Complexion Liquid Foundation
Dermatologist-tested, this lightweight formula does a great job at controlling shine, minimizing pores and hiding unwanted blemishes. It also uses salicylic acid to suppress potential flareups – all without smothering your sensitive skin.
Some foundations can disguise imperfections, but they tend to disguise your skin texture too. Not so with this one. Its buildable coverage produces a gorgeous matte finish that allows the real you to shine.
6. Becca Skin Love Weightless Blur Foundation
Acne scars and hyperpigmentation unfortunately go hand in hand with acne. The lingering dark spots and scars can linger long after your skin has healed, but this foundation is ready to fight.
By using an array of blurring ingredients and vitamin C, it works to reduce the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation as well as existing acne. Hydrating, brightening and nourishing, this buildable, medium coverage foundation provides a natural finish that mimics healthy skin and won’t settle into fine lines.
7. Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Foundation
Neutrogena is known for its high-quality ingredients and affordable prices, so it’s no surprise they’ve created another drugstore beauty product to obsess over.
Containing Micro-Clear technology and developed by dermatologists, the sensitive skin formula has a unique blend of salicylic acid and aloe to dissolve dead skin cells and oil built up in pores, treating current breakouts and preventing future ones. It provides shine-free natural coverage that is breathable and looks great.
How to Choose the Best Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin
A part of managing acne is covering marks without making things worse, which can happen if you use the wrong makeup.
The best foundations for acne-prone skin have two essential qualities: they don’t clog pores and cover up acne without looking heavy or cakey.
Here are the things you need to know about finding the right foundation that will protect delicate acne-prone skin.
Avoid ingredients that can make skin worse
Do not buy anything that contains alcohol, fragrances, mica and silicones unless you like breakouts. Oil, coconut oil in particular, is found in many skincare products and it is known for clogging pores and causing pimples.
For those with dry skin, alcohol will dry it out further, causing damage to its protective barrier.
Look for formulas designed with acne-prone people in mind
A good general rule of thumb is to look for products won’t clog your pores. There are a few ways this may be labeled:
- Does not clog pores
- Won’t cause breakouts
While it isn’t a guarantee they won’t contain potentially irritating or pore-clogging ingredients, this is a useful guideline. You should always check the ingredients to be 100% sure.
Try formulas with medicated ingredients that fight acne
Foundations containing acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid or hyaluronic acid, can be really helpful in your battle against acne and go a long way to aid in the healing process, while still allowing you to have the beauty look you want.
Opt for liquid foundations with low concentrations of salicylic acid to safely fight blemishes, exfoliate dead skin cells and eliminate excess oil.
Consider switching to a different type of foundation
It’s never easy breaking up with a foundation that checks all the boxes, but if it causes redness, irritation or breakouts you may have no other choice.
If you are tired of or worried about your pores being clogged, consider trying powder-based foundations. Brands like Tarte and BareMinerals have outstanding formulas. Powder foundations have larger pigment particles, reducing the chance that they will clog your pores.
Don’t think you can live without liquid or stick foundations? No problem. Just make sure they are matte and oil-free products. A dewy finish may have your face covered in grease by lunchtime. For those with dry, acne-prone skin, a stick or cream foundation is your best bet.
Skin in need of serious coverage? Look for foundations that double as concealer.
Conceal, Heal & Feel Great
The best foundations for acne prone skin can do more than gloss over imperfections caused by acne, they can improve your actual skin, too.
You might also be interested in these foundations for other skin types:
- Best Foundations for All Skin Types
- Best Foundation for Combination Skin
- Best Foundation for Dry Skin
- Best Foundation for Mature Skin
- Best Foundation for Sensitive Skin
- Best Foundation for Pale Skin
- Best Foundation for Dark Skin
- Best Natural Foundations
Shopping for Good
When you shop brands that partner with Giving Assistant you can feel good about your purchase. We’ve partnered with over 3,000 retailers who pay us when you shop with them.
Make sure to download the Giving Assistant free browser extension button. Instantly find out when new coupons are available.