Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

Stubborn skin breakouts and dry spots can take a toll on your daily beauty routine, making it a challenge to find makeup products that provide good coverage without causing irritation. If you would like to achieve the “no-makeup look” and keep pesky blemishes at bay, you might want to consider using makeup that’s safe for oily and acne-prone skin.

Makeup products formulated especially for oily and acne-prone skin can help prevent skin irritation and conceal breakouts. According to Jessica Weiser, MD, a board certified dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group in New York City, it’s important to use the right makeup that won’t irritate your skin and contains ingredients that can help alleviate acne issues.

“Makeup sits on the surface of the skin for hours at a time, and the correct formulation is crucial to preventing excessive occlusion of the skin’s surface,” says Dr. Weiser. “Some makeup products include acne-fighting ingredient, such as antimicrobial peptides, vitamin A derivatives, and rosewater, that can relieve the primary factors associated with acne: bacteria, congestion, and inflammation.”

What to Look for in Makeup for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

There are key factors you might want to consider before trying a bronzer, highlighter, or tinted moisturizer formulated for oily or acne-prone skin.

  • Non-comedogenic or oil-free label Before choosing makeup for acne-prone or oily skin, you might want to read the label first. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you find makeup products that have “oil-free,” and “non-comedogenic” on their packaging to avoid clogged pores and skin irritation.
  • Important Ingredients Some makeup products for oily and acne- prone skin are formulated with ingredients such as salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, minerals, and sulfur that can help minimize stubborn breakouts and skin irritation. “Salicylic acid has keratolytic properties (meaning it breaks up the dead skin cells in the pores) to declog pores, and hyaluronic acid can help moisturize the skin,” says Julia Tzu, MD, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. “Minerals (such as titanium dioxide) have SPF properties that block UV radiation, [while] sulfur is anti-inflammatory in nature and helpful for people with acne.”Ingredients to Avoid Some popular makeup products can irritate oily and acne-prone skin. Weiser recommends avoiding certain makeup ingredients, such as cetearyl alcohol and silicone derivatives, that can trigger acne issues. “Many of the additive ingredients used in traditional makeup can cause significant congestion and clogging of pores. Certain types of alcohols in makeup such as cetearyl alcohol and oleyl alcohol (these are actually emollients and not drying like rubbing alcohol) are occlusive,” says Weiser. “Additionally ingredients such as lanolin, silicone derivatives (like dimethicone and siloxanes), and petroleum [or] petrolatum are highly problematic for acne-prone skin.”
  • Precautions While considering makeup for oily and acne-prone skin, it’s also helpful to reassess your skincare regimen with your dermatologist, according to Yunyoung Claire Chang, MD, a board certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “I see a lot of patients who have acne resistant to standard treatments. When asked to bring in all their products they use, I often find that patients are using the wrong regular skincare products or makeup,” says Dr. Chang. ”It’s important to consult your dermatologist to ensure every product or ingredient that touches the skin is safe and not triggering your acne.”

Plus, Dr. Tzu advises that you check active makeup ingredients, such as salicylic acid, to make sure they don’t interact with your acne medications. “It’s important that if you are on an anti-acne medical regimen, the active ingredients from the makeup do not interact or further irritate the skin that is already being treated with medications,” says Tzu. “If a patient is already on an irritating regimen of topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, the patient should not be using makeup containing salicylic acid, which would worsen any baseline irritation.”

If you decide that you need to revamp your beauty routine, here are our top makeup picks for oily and acne-prone skin.

Neutrogena SkinClearing Complexion Perfector

Looking for an acne treatment and concealer in one? Neutrogena claims that its SkinClearing Complexion Perfector reduces the appearance of acne and provides lightweight coverage. This tinted moisturizer is formulated with 0.5 percent salicylic acid, which, according to Chang, can help exfoliate skin and treat stubborn blemishes. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

See price on Neutrogena

Laura Mercier Blemish-less Foundation Primer

Prepping your skin for makeup can be challenging if it’s oily or acne-prone, so consider an acne-fighting primer such as Laura Mercier’s Blemish-less Foundation Primer. This oil-free gel is formulated with salicylic acid, which helps prevent clogged pores, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and protect the skin from free radicals. The primer has a non-drying formula, which the company claims minimizes the appearance of pores over time.

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GLAMGLOW GlowPowder Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Glow Palette

Want a golden glow? GLAMGLOW’s GlowPowder Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Glow Palette features three different highlighters to help illuminate your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and other key areas of your face. This palette is formulated with hyaluronic acid, which, according to Weiser, can help attract water to the skin’s surface to improve hydration and allow a more even application of makeup. Plus, this powder is free from parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.

See price on GLAMGLOW

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

If you need to add sun protection to your anti-acne beauty routine, SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 is a good option. This tinted moisturizer is formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, minerals that offer broad spectrum protection. SkinCeuticals claims that this tinted moisturizer is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes and doesn’t leave an oily or white residue after application.

See price on Walmart

Cover FX Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment

Cover FX’s Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment can help prep your skin for foundation and other beauty products. Cover FX claims that this oil-free, lightweight primer can help mattify the skin, reduce the appearance of pores, and prevent blemishes. It’s formulated with one percent salicylic acid, which helps unclog pores and treat stubborn breakouts; vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and inflammation; and vitamin C, an antioxidant used to treat various skin conditions, including acne.

See price on Cover FX

Shiseido Oil-Free Bronzer

You might not live in the Mediterranean region, but you can still fake a sun- kissed glow. Shiseido’s Oil-Free Bronzer is a soft powder containing titanium dioxide and iron oxide, which, according to Chang, act as a physical barrier on the skin to reflect UV rays from the sun. Plus, this oil-free bronzer won’t clog pores and helps provide an airbrushed finish.

See price on Walmart

Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush can help give your cheeks some color without making your skin oily. This powder blush, which is made without parabens, phthalates, or sodium lauryl sulfate, is formulated with Amazonian clay, mineral pigments, and vitamin E. Tarte Cosmetics claims that Amazonian clay can help boost moisture and control oil. Mineral pigments, including titanium dioxide and iron oxide, help reduce sun damage, while vitamin E helps soothe inflamed breakouts.

See price on Walmart

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