Don’t freak out because you’re breaking out. There are many makeup foundation options that can help you control and heal your acne blemishes. In this post, I will go over some of the best foundations for acne skin and also point out a few things people with acne skin should be aware of.

The Best Foundations for Acne (Our Best Picks)

Foundation NameKey Features
Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup- 12 Shades
- Oil Free
- Good For oily, combination or sensitive skin
- Matte coverage
e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation- 6 Shades
- Matte coverage
- Non-Cakey application
- Works on Sensitive Skin
bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Acne-Clearing Foundation- Powder Foundation
- 3 Shades (Medium to Neutral tones)
- dermatologist-tested and noncomedogenic
- Great for Oily Skin
Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup- 9 Shades
- Long Lasting (at least 12 hours)
- Great for dry skin
- Works on Sensitive Skin

Does Foundation Cause Acne?

It really depends on the type of foundation that you are using. Certain ingredients found in foundations and trigger acne and make you break out. Common ingredients associated with breakouts are:

Fragrances – I personally love fragrances in my makeup but it doesn’t work for everyone. Fragrances are added into foundations to mask the unpleasant scent of certain chemicals. Have you noticed that perfumes evaporate really quickly? In order for perfumes to produce their fragrances, they are designed to react in such a way that makes them evaporate quickly. When this happens on the skin, it could trigger allergic reactions and breakouts. A great article over at Paula’s Choice explains this well.

Silicones – You may be surprised but silicone by itself is actually hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. What makes them problematic is the fact that they allow other ingredients to penetrate into your skin. According to skin care expert Renée Rouleau, if there are other ingredients in your silicone foundation that doesn’t work well with oily or acne skin, the silicone may create a way for these ingredients to block your pores, which leads to acne complications.

Alcohol – According to the experts at ExposedSkinCare.com, alcohol changes your hormone levels. An imbalance in your hormone levels causes your skin to breakout. Furthermore, alcohol suppresses your immune system, which is responsible for fighting acne bacteria in your skin.

I’ve only listed a few common ingredients here that I have had bad experience with. If you want a complete list, check out this list from CarySkinCare.com!

Another thing to note here is that blocked pores due to inadequate makeup removal can also cause acne breakouts. Remember this: What you put on your skin at the beginning of the day must come off before you go to sleep! This is a simple and effective way to keep your skin clear and free from acne.

 

Will Applying Foundation To Pimples Slow Down The Healing Process?

Yes! applying foundations could slow down the healing of pimples and acne. This is because acne bacteria is anaerobic, which means they thrive in oxygen-free environments. When you introduce oxygen into your pores, the oxygen kills the acne bacteria. Certain types of foundations, like liquid foundations, creates a barrier between your skin and the outside air. This is the reason why most makeup and skin care professionals advises people to stop applying makeup when acne breaks out.

When searching for a liquid foundation, look for ones that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic Acid is an exfoliant that helps to keep your pores clear. Powder foundations won’t clog your pores. However, they provide less coverage than liquid foundations.

 

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Does Mineral Foundations Cause Acne Breakouts?

Minerals in foundations won’t clog your pores. However, you still have to be careful when choosing them. Some manufacturers add other ingredients into their mineral makeup that could irritate your skin. For example, you may have noticed Bismuth Oxychloride in mineral foundations.

Bismuth Oxychloride provides a shimmer appearance for your foundation. However, this ingredient is a known irritant for sensitive skin. It could cause rashes and acne breakouts.

 

Tips for Applying Foundation If You Have Acne

Here are my tips for applying foundation if you have acne. These are the tips that I think people with acne skin should know. If you are interested in learning to apply foundation, I have written a full guide on applying foundations, primers and concealers here.

Have a Game Plan – Study your face in front of a mirror and take notes on which areas have acne. Conceal only the areas with acne with an oil-free, non-comedogenic concealer and then apply your foundation. Remember, you only need to tackle the trouble areas. Just because you have acne breakouts, doesn’t mean you need a full coverage foundation.

Blend the Colors  – Blend the redness of your acne skin with complementary colors. If you have really red acne, you will notice that applying your regular concealer just won’t do the trick. Instead, try to use a green concealer on your red acne. This creates a brownish tone which is much easier to work with. Apply your regular foundation on top of the concealer and that should do the trick.

Clean Your Tools – This one is simple but it’s often overlooked. Be sure to properly clean your tools after each use. I have written on how to clean your foundation brushes . Your foundation brushes and sponges can harbour bacteria which gets spread to other places of your face if they are not cleaned after each reuse.

Moisturize Before Applying – If you are using an acne medication to treat your acne, you may notice your skin will become more dry and flaky. That’s because most acne medications are designed to dry out your skin. Moisturizing your skin will restore its stretchiness and reduces the chance for inflammation and further damage.

Choose a Foundation with SPF – Further to the point above, using acne medication makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. A foundation with SPF is effective for protecting your skin from the sun and allows your skin to heal better.

 

Our Final Recommendations

Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup
Neutrogena Foundation
This great little bottom of magic from Neutrogena may be just what you need. They are generous with the number of shades that they offer. This foundation contains salicylic acid which is great for clearing up acne skin. Neutrogena’s MicroClear technology is what makes this foundation so great. MicroClear cuts through oil and allows acne fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid, to get straight into your acne. The makeup heals your skin while allow you to look great. My clients have reported quick clearing of acne blemishes within days of using this product. At a low price, this foundation is simply too good to pass.

Out of all the times I have used it, I have only had one case it which it didn’t work out for a client whose skin was really sensitive. As I always tell everyone, you have to test any product you put on your face and same goes for this foundation.

 

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup
Clinique Foundation
Clinique is no stranger in the makeup world and this foundation from them simply works. It is very easy to apply and it glides onto your skin nicely. It’s not greasy and is lightweight. You don’t need a lot of the coverage and the bottle could actually last pretty long. The foundation is buildable and contains important acne fighting ingredients like salicylic acid. The formula is long lasting and my clients have reported they could use this for 12 hours without any problems.

The one thing that I didn’t like about this foundation is that the salicylic acid makes the foundation just a bit too dry. This is especially a problem for my clients who have combination skin. However, given that could easily be fixed by prepping your skin ahead of time. I find that this foundation simply worked well for clearing up acne and covering blemishes.