Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin

Breakouts. Irritation. Scars. If these pesky skin issues are impacting your daily beauty routine, you’re not alone.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States and impacts 50 million individuals each year. Acne is caused by four factors: plugged follicles from skin cell debris, increased production of sebum (oily secretions) by the skin’s sebaceous glands, inflamed skin around the follicles, and Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Acne treatments, including prescription medications and oral contraceptives, are available under the care of a dermatologist for managing small breakouts or severe cases of the skin condition.

If you have acne, though, it can be challenging to find makeup. If you need to conceal breakouts, you might want to consider using a foundation that’s safe for oily and acne-prone skin.

What to Look For in a Foundation for Acne-Prone or Oily Skin

There are a few key factors you might want to consider before trying a foundation for oily or acne-prone skin.

    Non-comedogenic or oil-free labels Using a foundation that’s non-comedogenic or oil-free can help reduce clogged pores and prevent skin irritation, according to Jennifer Chwalek, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “It's important to use non-comedogenic or oil- free makeup because products that have an oily base can aggravate and worsen acne,” says Dr. Chwalek. “These can contribute to microcomedone formation or plugged pores.”
  • Ingredients Some foundations for oily and acne-prone skin have key ingredients, including salicylic acid, sulfur, and hyaluronic acid. “[Foundations] may also contain ingredients that we use to treat acne: salicylic acid or sulfur (these help to reduce sebum and unclog pores),” says Chwalek. “Hyaluronic acid helps to hold moisture in the skin, which can be important since many ingredients used to treat acne sometimes cause excessive dryness.”
  • Precautions Before testing out a foundation, it’s important to speak with your dermatologist about potential complications, according to Julia Tzu, MD, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. “Using the wrong skin care products can easily lead to an acne breakout,” says Dr. Tzu. “If you are on prescribed medications for your acne, make sure the active ingredients in the anti-acne foundation does not cause additional irritation to the skin.”
  • Treatment While using a foundation for oily or acne- prone skin, it’s important to also consider other acne treatment options, according to Jennifer MacGregor, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Ideally, patients with acne or acne-prone skin use over-the-counter or even prescription topicals [such as. Clearasil or light glycolic-salicylic acid peel pads] to help their acne,” says Dr. MacGregor. “Short-term oral medication is also often needed for severe inflammatory, scarring, or hormonal acne.”

If you decide that you need to switch up your beauty routine, here are some options for foundations for oily and acne-prone skin.

Almay Clear Complexion Makeup

Almay’s Clear Complexion Makeup is formulated for oily and acne-prone skin. Its formula is made with 0.6% salicylic acid, which helps reduce sebum production and unclogs pores. Also, its matte texture offers buildable coverage, so you can customize your makeup look if your skin has mild or moderate blemishes.

See price on Target

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna: Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

This matte foundation by Fenty Beauty is designed for combination and acne-prone skin types. The foundation’s oil-free, lightweight formula won’t clog pores and offers coverage that’s not too heavy or greasy. Plus, Fenty Beauty claims this foundation has climate-adaptive technology that makes it sweat-resistant and humidity-resistant.

See price on Sephora

E.L.F. Cosmetics Acne Fighting Foundation

E.L.F. Cosmetics’ Acne Fighting Foundation formula contains 0.5% salicylic acid, which helps prevent clogged pores and minimize sebum production. Witch hazel is another primary ingredient in this foundation, which can help reduce sebum and the number of bacteria involved in inflammatory acne, according to Chwalek. This foundation has a lightweight texture and customizable coverage.

See price on E.L.F. Cosmetics

Lancôme SKIN FEELS GOOD Skin Nourishing Foundation

If you’re trying to achieve the “no makeup” look, prevent sun damage, and cover mild acne breakouts, this lightweight Lancôme foundation is a good option. This foundation’s oil-free formula doesn’t clog pores, has hyaluronic acid to provide moisture, and SPF 23 for added sun protection.

See price on Sephora

bareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15

If you’re not into the feel and application of liquid foundations, try a lightweight powder for sheer or full coverage. bareMineral’s Original Foundation features five key mineral ingredients: zinc-oxide, titanium-dioxide, bismuth- oxychloride, iron-oxides, and mica. Tzu says mineral makeup in general doesn’t have oily ingredients that clog pores. This foundation has SPF 15, so you can conceal acne without compromising sun protection, and it is 100 percent vegan.

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Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

Clinique’s Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup is oil-free and provides medium coverage, so you can conceal pimples or acne breakouts and redness. The foundation has a matte finish and formulated to be sweat- and humidity- resistant, so it’s ideal for use during the hot summer months.

See price on Ulta Beauty

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