Top Ten

7 Best Foundations for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

When your skin is prone to breaking out, it can be a struggle to find a foundation that won’t aggravate your complexion. While it’s tempting to cover up redness, bumps and post-acne marks with products that promise full coverage, this could spell bigger trouble if you’re using the wrong product. “Generally, if your foundation isn’t formulated for your skin type, it could clog your pores and worsen acne,” explains Sandra Johnson, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Fort Smith, AR.

Choosing Foundation for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

These days, makeup products come in all shapes, formulations and consistencies, so picking out the best foundation for oily and acne-prone skin can be rather overwhelming. While some makeup products won’t necessarily indicate the skin type it’s best suited for, their labels could offer you some clues. To narrow down your options, look for products that say “hypoallergenic,” “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic” as these tend to work better on problematic skin, as with mineral-based loose powder formulas.

But if you want to play it even safer, “It’s important to not only rely on the ‘non-comedogenic’ label on cosmetics, but instead, turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients list,” says Brittany Buhalog, MD, chief dermatology resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In a 2006 study using a modification of the Mills and Kligman test, Dr. Buhalog notes that researchers found ingredients like octyl palmitate, lanolin and its derivatives, isopropyl myristate and isopropyl isostearate (both esters of isopropyl alcohol) as potential contributors to acne.

And since you’re likely going to be wearing foundation all day, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting extra skin care benefits from your makeup. Reach for foundations that are formulated with SPF, antioxidants and brightening and anti-inflammatory ingredients to pamper and protect your skin.

How to Apply the Foundation on Your Skin for Best Results

Product buildup is one of the primary causes of clogged pores and breakouts, so Dr. Buhalog says, “Try to use the thinnest foundation you can get away with! The last thing someone with acne-prone skin should be doing is applying thick foundation!” Instead, keep things light and focus on areas where you need it most. Follow it up with a concealer that contains salicylic acid “to provide some acne-treatment while you correct,” shares Dr. Buhalog.

To apply your foundation, Dr. Buhalog suggests doing so with clean hands rather than a brush or sponge. “[Some women] rarely wash their makeup tools as often as they should, which promotes bacterial and fungal growth. Finish with a loose setting powder (which typically has fewer potentially pore-clogging binders and ingredients as pressed powders) in areas that really need it like the forehead, chin and area around your nose,” adds Dr. Buhalog.

Here are some tips on how you can make the most of your foundation if you have oily or acne-prone skin:

  • Consider using a mattifying gel or primer under your foundation to help keep your makeup in place.
  • To minimize shine, keep blotting paper on hand.
  • When you’re trying a foundation for the first time, try the product on the inside of your arm for two weeks before trying it on your face so you know how well it works with your oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Don’t forget to cleanse your face at night and apply moisturizer (yes, even if you have oily skin) in the mornings and evenings before wearing foundation. Remember: Over-cleansing or skipping moisturizer could lead to irritation and more oil production and may make breakouts worse.

Our Top Foundations for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

  1. jane iredale Beyond Matte Liquid Foundation
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    jane iredale Beyond Matte Liquid Foundation

    With jane iredale, you can be sure this foundation does more than just hide blemishes and reduce shine. Not only does it deliver buildable coverage with a velvety, matte finish, it also tightens pores and improves the skin’s elasticity—thanks to a unique blend of skin-restoring ingredients that include peptides, plant-based hyaluronic acid and linseed extracts. With its lightweight, long-wearing and non-comedogenic formula, this primer, concealer and foundation in one stays flawlessly in place even on long days.

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  2. Dermablend Smooth Liquid Camo Foundation with SPF 25
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    Dermablend Smooth Liquid Camo Foundation with SPF 25

    When you have oily skin, you can bet the wrong foundation will start slipping off your face faster than you can say “blotting paper!” Fortunately, this shine-free liquid foundation, featuring Dermablend’s camo-pigment™ technology, offers 16 hours of consistent wear without smudging, fading or transfer. Weightless and buildable, it delivers a flawless, natural-looking coverage that reduces the appearance of rosacea, acne, hyperpigmentation and even birthmarks. Formulated without phthalates, triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, this non-comedogenic foundation is allergy- and sensitive skin-tested.

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  3. Glo Skin Beauty Pressed Base Powder Foundation
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    Glo Skin Beauty Pressed Base Powder Foundation

    This mineral-based pressed powder foundation is all about coverage, correction and protection. Infused with green tea extract and vitamins A, C and E, it provides brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits with every application of its cream-like formula. With its semi-matte finish and sheer to full coverage, it leaves your skin shine- and oil-free while covering up redness and blemishes. Its feather-light formula also makes it perfect for layering on top of liquid or cream foundations for additional coverage.

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  4. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup
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    Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

    Making sure your makeup is on point all day is no easy task—even more so when you have oily skin. The solution? This full coverage liquid makeup that instantly conceals blemishes, evens out skin tone and holds makeup in place for up to 24 hours. Its proven long-wearing formula is designed to withstand heat and humidity, which means you’ll never have to think about frequent touch-ups or keep checking your clothes for any smudging.

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  5. Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation
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    Wander Beauty Wanderlust Powder Foundation

    With ingredients like aloe leaf extract, hyaluronic acid, jojoba esters and honeysuckle flower extract, it’s safe to say this pressed powder foundation is a cut above the rest. Not only does it check all the boxes of what your foundation should be (long-wearing, sheer to full coverage and matte finish), it also hydrates and soothes your skin while helping to absorb excess oil. And if your skin is constantly battling breakouts, you’ll love that it provides antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits as well!

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  6. bareMinerals Original Liquid Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20
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    bareMinerals Original Liquid Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20

    If you’re looking for a liquid foundation that leaves your skin looking naturally radiant while still concealing pores, discoloration and blemishes, then this one is for you. Its light-as-air medium coverage leaves you with flawless-looking skin while protecting it from sun damage. Infused with minerals, squalene and peptides, it also improves your skin over time—smoothing texture, refining pores and protecting against moisture loss.

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  7. Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation
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    Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation

    With its aloe vera-infused formula, this breatheable foundation is perfect for skin that needs a calming touch while still providing sheer and buildable coverage to blur uneven skin tone and blemishes. It also features salicylic acid and antioxidants to help keep breakouts at bay and protect from free radical damage.

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Beauty Reporter

Janeca Racho

With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for a good pair of hiking shoes and skip hotels to camp under the stars. She loves horror movies, googling ingredients in her beauty products and backpacking trips with her toddler. Her newfound obsession: nude lipstick.