Acne Face Map: What Does Acne Reveal About Your Health

9 Best Foundations for Acne Prone skin and Oily Skin

by Christine GlasgowJune 3, 2017

The Best Makeup & Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin

For many, the thought of leaving the house without make up is one they find rather unsavory, especially if they have acne prone skin. However, as some find out the hard way, choosing the wrong foundation can cause more problems for acne prone skin than it solves. While looking for an effective way to create the illusion of better skin – and better skin tone – some choose a heavy, comedogenic preparation that worsens the acne that’s already driving them nuts.

Making use of foundation effectively – and achieving that much wanted flawless finish we’re all looking for – is about more than just finding a non-comedogenic – aka non-pore clogging – foundation though, it’s also about applying it in the right way. Let’s take a closer look at the issue to see just how you can use a foundation that’s kind to your skin to enhance it rather than damage it any further.

The Problem with Some Foundations

Foundation does tend to be rather heavy, sometimes even gloopy stuff. Therefore, it’s not too hard to see how wearing it on the skin for hours at a time can clog pores and make an acne problem even worse. Some are also oil based, great for longevity and even wear, but not so great for skin that is already prone to be oily in general anyway.

Before we start looking at just which foundations are better for those with acne prone skin we should consider how it should be applied once you find it. Foundation can be great when it comes to covering up existing acne and acne scarring but to do so it must be applied in the right way. Done wrong, rather than getting the great results they are hoping for it’s far too easy to end up looking like a clown, caked in makeup that’s too heavy, too dark and wears into ugly blotches in just a few hours. To avoid this fate, keep the following basic ‘rules’ in mind.

  • Use a beauty blender and/or brush to apply foundation, rather than your germy fingers.
  • Keep your blenders and brushes clean, as dirty tools are just as bad as dirty fingers.
  • Understand that there is rarely one foundation that suits every occasion. You may need one for all day wear at work, a lighter one for summer wear and one that offers a little moisture for the winter months.
  • Start with a primer. These colorless formulas help mattify oily skin and create a smooth base for the makeup to come, as well as extend wear.
  • Don’t apply more than a layer or two. Any more than that will look cakey.
  • Set your foundation with a loose powder. This will not only help it wear longer but also further ‘blur’ any skin imperfections like pimples and scarring.
  • Never go to bed without removing your foundation. This is a rule that everyone should follow, even if they have ‘good skin’, but it is particularly important for those who battle acne.

Foundation Application Tips for Acne Coverage

Is there really a ‘magic formula’ for applying foundation to cover all your acne and acne scars, allowing you to present a fresh, blemish free face to the world? According to dozens and dozens of YouTubers there is, and they all have videos posted on the video site to ‘prove it’.

If you have the time and inclination, a quick search on YouTube will help you find these videos and, if you have a couple of hours, feel free to experiment with some of the very different techniques that the beauty bloggers demonstrate for using your makeup to create a ‘flawless look’. If you need the short version though, check out our ’round up’ of those many tips below:

  • Ensure that your skin is clean and moisturized before you do anything else.
  • Using a beauty blender or VERY CLEAN fingertips, apply a primer to your whole face in a thin, even layer.
  • Use a concealer to cover any very stubborn pimples and/or acne marks, applying it in an ‘x’ to the affected areas.
  • Blend the concealer using a beauty blender or thin stippling brush. Do not rub it in.
  • Apply liquid foundation lightly with a blender or stippling brush. Add an extra layer after allowing the foundation to set for a few minutes if you feel you need it.
  • Finish the look by applying a loose powder
  • Carry a pack of blotting sheets to dab away excess oil during the day and reduce shine.

Best Foundations for Acne Prone Skin

Now that we’ve discussed applying foundation in the right way, it’s time to take that look at some of the best options available right now:

Dior Diorskin Forever Perfect Makeup

There are some that say that, when it comes to concealing skin imperfections, including active acne, redness and acne scarring, this foundation is a ‘real life Instagram filter’.

Found at beauty counters all over, not only does Diorskin conceal even very noticeable redness with a one layer application it also reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, which creates a smoother, younger look that is quite fresh and relatively natural looking. The price may be a sticking point for some though, as $50 for a smallish bottle is not cheap.

Clarins Pore Perfecting Mattifying Foundation

This is a brand-new product (first released in April of 2017) that already has many makeup artists excited. It contains red clay, which works to soak up excess oil, as well as mattifying ‘blur beads’ that, when crushed during application minimize skin imperfections, a little like the ‘soft glow’ filter in your favorite selfie editing app.

The foundation is also very lightweight, a definite bonus for summer wear, and yet, according to those who have used it, provides surprisingly full coverage with just a single layer application. It costs around $40, and can be purchased online direct from Clarins or at Clarins Beauty counters in numerous large department stores.

Too Faced Born This Way Absolute Perfection Foundation

Beauty product aficionados love Too Faced for their stunning eyeshadow palettes – especially the now near legendary Sweet Peach Palette – but this lightweight foundation is a great find as well, especially for those with acne prone skin.

As finding a foundation that is not oily is a must for those with acne prone skin, the fact that the formulation of this product is based on a coconut water and hyaluronic acid combo is a real plus, and the range of colors available is very extensive. You’ll have to head to Sephora to pick up this one, where it retails for $39.

MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation

This foundation is a fantastic choice for those who want to hit the beach but are not prepared to do so completely bare-faced. It’s oil free and yet ‘strong’ enough that it can actually double as a concealer, and it is designed to stay put in the face of both ocean spray and sweat for up to eight hours. It’s also available in a wide range of shades suitable for all ethnicities. To find this acne friendly foundation head to MAC’s retail website or an in-store counter at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s with $32 in your pocket.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

For some people who regularly have to deal with acne, skin redness is a problem as well. The combination of pimples, acne scars and red blotches can be a challenging one to cover up, but this NARS foundation was especially designed to do just that.

It’s an oil free formula, but is not too thin or runny. In addition to providing even coverage that camouflages and ‘normalizes’ red spots and imperfections it also contains ‘shine beads’ that illuminate the skin and brighten dullness, a common complaint for some who suffer from acne. You can pick this one up to try out for yourself for $48 at Sephora.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Smashbox foundations are a favorite of many a makeup pro, thus the camera-ready tagline. This one offers a lighter approach, based on the BB cream formulations that have become very popular in recent years.

BB creams, originally from Asia, were initially designed to blur acne imperfections without too much heaviness, as well as to brighten skin. Some, however, don’t provide quite enough coverage, but this one does, as well as a high level of SPF protection that remains active for several hours. It’s available for $42 at Sephora.

BareMinerals Matte Foundation

Yes, as some of you may know, the BareMinerals cosmetic collections consists of a range of powder like formulations rather than liquids, and some people shy away from them because they are a) not quite sure they’ll provide adequate coverage and b) afraid they’ll apply them wrong and end up looking like they have a floury, rather than a flawless complexion.

However, somehow the company formulated this one so that it feels like a creamy liquid when applied, even if it isn’t. And for those with fairly oily skin, it can be used to create a great matte finish without ‘sinking into’ fine lines and wrinkles. It’s available online at the BareMinerals site, or at ULTA Beauty, for $28.00.

Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation

This is another slightly unusual foundation, as it is a gel rather than a liquid or powder. It’s made up of 60% ‘charged water’ that is designed to restore a healthier pH balance to acne prone skin while also helping to deliver a light, matte finish. It’s completely oil free and wears well even in the summer sun. The downside? It’s the most expensive choice on our list, as it retails for $75 exclusively at Nordstrom’s.

E.L.F. Acne Fighting Foundation

An effective, attractive foundation especially formulated for acne prone skin that you can find at your local drug store, or even at the supermarket? Sounds like a dream, but it’s actually a reality.

The foundation is formulated using salicylic acid, witch hazel, tea tree oil, and aloe vera – which are all tried, tested and trusted acne fighters – so by wearing it you are in effect treating your acne as well as covering it up. It’s a great choice for those days when an acne breakout is really flaring up and at just $6 it’s a real bargain as well.


These are some of our favorite choices for a great foundation for acne prone skin, but there are of course lots and lots of them out there for you to experiment with. And speaking of that, we’d like to know, have you found a foundation that was particularly effective when used on your acne prone skin? Do you have a favorite that we haven’t mentioned here? If so, tell us about it, we’d love to hear from you.

Christine Glasgow
Canadian girl addicted to beauty and fashion. I'm a Blogger, Entrepreneur and web influencer 👑 I mostly talk about anything related to skin care and beauty. I created this site to share science-based information on skin conditions, treatments and skin care.

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