woman applying makeup

Acne sufferers, we get the struggle. All too well we know of the losing battle that happens when you need to wear makeup to cover up embarrassing spots, only to break out even more from putting it on in the first place. And while it can feel like an endless, frustrating cycle, it doesn’t have to be when you find makeup that’s designed to keep pesky flare-ups at bay. The key is avoiding products with acne-aggravating ingredients.

What causes acne in makeup?

Since acne develops due to factors like bacteria, oil production, and clogged pores, it’s necessary to skip out on ingredients that will further exacerbate these factors. “The main mechanism by which cosmetic ingredients cause acne is through occlusion of pores”, says New York dermatologist Dr. Arielle Nagler. The pore-clogging ingredients commonly found in makeup products are: alcohols, silicones, petrolatum and lanolin, oils (such as mineral and coconut oil), and fatty acids.


What ingredients to look for (and avoid)

Avoid products that are comedogenic. Look for formulas that aren’t alcohol-based (listed as SD or denatured alcohol), are oil- and fragrance-free, and steer clear of thick or solid products. While it can be tempting to use the fullest coverage makeup to cover up those stubborn red areas, these formulas tend to be the most clogging. Look for ingredients like aloe, retinols, or vitamin a. These ingredients can help improve the rate of cell turnover on the skin and prevent zits from forming.


With our list of the best foundations for acne-prone skin below, you can still feel confident in your skin, while letting your pores breath.

Acne prone skin foundation

1. Covergirl Clean Foundation ($6)

2. Honest Everything Cream Foundation ($30)

3. Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream ($29)

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation ($36)

5. Inika Certified Organic Liquid Mineral Foundation ($65)

6. Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation ($49)

7. Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Tinted Moisturizer ($10)

8. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 – Oil Free ($44)

9. COVER FX Natural Finish Foundation ($40)

10. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup ($28)