Best Beauty & Skin Care Products

8 Foundations That Won’t Irritate Sensitive and Rosacea-Prone Skin

Rosacea is one of the most common skin conditions. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, rosacea affects up to 16 million Americans. We consulted with Dr. Jessie Cheung, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago to get to the root of what exactly rosacea is and how to find a foundation that is gentle enough for sensitive and rosacea-prone skin.

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by flushing and redness to the face. “The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, but there is ongoing research identifying inflammatory pathways and immune responses,” explains Dr. Cheung. “We know of various triggers, including heat, caffeine, spicy foods, sunlight, and Demodex skin mites.” Symptoms of rosacea appear as flushing and skin irritation, such as stinging, burning and itching. “The redness can last as swollen blood vessels persist in the skin and swelling can make [your] pores look larger,” Dr. Cheung adds. Rosacea is usually limited to the face, but according to Dr. Cheung, some patients have reported symptoms on the neck, as well.

Acne and rosacea can overlap and look similar with red pimples and pustules—but acne is not associated with flushing, while eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis are red, flaky, irritated skin conditions, but not associated with flushing. Basically, if your skin is flushed with red pimples, it’s more likely to be rosacea than not. According to Dr. Cheung, many doctors believe that genes and the environment play a role in developing rosacea.

How to Pick the Right Foundation for Rosacea-Prone Skin

When it comes to picking a foundation, look for one that’s been formulated for sensitive skin and is fragrance-free, as fragrance can be irritating. ​​Look for anti-redness and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as soy, aloe vera, and vitamins C and E. There are also some green-tinted foundations on the market that can help color-correct and conceal redness. “Avoid anti-acne or anti-aging formulations, which can contain irritants such as salicylic acid or retinol,” says Dr. Cheung. “When in doubt, go for a pure mineral powder foundation,” Dr. Cheung adds.

Our Favorite Products for Rosacea and Sensitive Skin

If you’re in the market for a foundation to help conceal your rosacea without making it worse, check out these top picks.

  1. jane iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation Refill (0.35 oz.)
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    jane iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation Refill (0.35 oz.)

    For a pressed powder that is gentle enough for sensitive skin, reach for this mineral-based formula from jane iredale. Infused with ingredients like algae extract for soothing and zinc oxide for UV protection, this mineral foundation is the perfect addition to your conceal-and-cover efforts.

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  2. ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation (1 fl. oz.)
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    ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation (1 fl. oz.)

    The blend of botanical actives in this lightweight foundation includes aloe leaf, rosehip, jojoba and marula oils, which work to nourish and soothe skin while also delivering a velvety finish. Think of it as equal parts skin care (serum) and makeup (foundation), providing light-to-medium coverage that helps blur imperfections and minimize the appearance of pores, while also keeping your complexion hydrated and healthy.

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  3. Dermablend Flawless Creator Multi-Use Liquid Foundation (1 fl. oz.)
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    Dermablend Flawless Creator Multi-Use Liquid Foundation (1 fl. oz.)

    This foundation offers an oil-free formula that is blendable, buildable and customizable to smooth and even skin. It can be used alone or mixed with your moisturizer to cover hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and redness. Allergy-tested, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, this formula is safe to use on sensitive skin.

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  4. Glo Skin Beauty Satin Cream Foundation (1.4 fl. oz.)
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    Glo Skin Beauty Satin Cream Foundation (1.4 fl. oz.)

    This long-wearing and buildable foundation drapes your complexion in smooth, satiny pigment and dries to a soft-focus finish for an even appearance. Antioxidants work to protect your skin from age-causing damage while aloe vera soothes away redness and irritation. Oil-free, lightweight and mineral-based, this foundation blends beautifully on your skin without clogging your pores or irritating sensitive and redness-prone skin.

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  5. bareMinerals Original Liquid Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20 1 fl. oz.
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    bareMinerals Original Liquid Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20 1 fl. oz.

    This mineral SPF-containing foundation blurs the look of redness and imperfections without clogging pores or causing breakouts. And while this product delivers a luminous finish, it also works to improve skin from the inside out while you wear it over time. Ingredients like squalane and peptides work to hydrate and fortify the skin, while mineral SPF 20 protects you from the sun for longer-lasting skin health.

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  6. Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation (9 g.)
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    Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation (9 g.)

    This pressed powder can be worn on top of a full-glam look or bare skin to blur imperfections. On top of that, it boasts a slew of skin-loving ingredients, such as aloe-leaf extract, jojoba esters and hyaluronic acid that work to absorb excess oil and restore suppleness.

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  7. Kjaer Weis Invisible Touch Liquid Foundation (1 oz.)
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    Kjaer Weis Invisible Touch Liquid Foundation (1 oz.)

    Formulated with organic ingredients like chamomile water and the brand’s exclusive ingredient Dioscorea Batatas (Root of Light), this serum-like foundation is like makeup and skin care rolled into one product. Its silicone- and paraben-free formula nourishes and smooths skin, making it perfect for sensitive skin types.

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  8. Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation (15 ml.)
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    Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation (15 ml.)

    This foundation is a double-acting complexion corrector that refines the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and other imperfections while keeping breakouts at bay—thanks to its acne-fighting formula that includes salicylic acid to de-clog pores, antioxidants to counter free radicals and aloe vera gel to reduce redness and inflammation.

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Amanda Mitchell

Amanda Mitchell is a writer and podcaster with bylines at Marie Claire, OprahMag, Allure, Byrdie, Stylecaster, Bon Appetit and more. Her work exists at the apex of beauty, pop culture and absurdity. A human Funfetti cake, she watches too much television, and her favorite season is awards season. You can read more of her work at amandaelizabethmitchell.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter @lochnessmanda.