The 15 Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin of 2023

The Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is oil-free and provides flawless coverage.

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The Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin

InStyle / Alli Waataja

For those of us with acne-prone skin, choosing the right foundation can oftentimes be a struggle. With a formula that’s too oily, you’ll exacerbate the problem. For one that’s too creamy, you risk looking cakey. Finding one that’s just right for your skin doesn’t have to be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, but you will need a little patience.

Two of the most important aspects to keep in mind when searching for a foundation are formula and coverage. First, ensuring that the foundation’s ingredients are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores and trigger breakouts, is essential for people with acne-prone skin. Some skincare-infused formulas can even combat acne. Next, consider your desired level of coverage, whether that’s a subtle tint or a full-glam moment. 

To find the best foundations for acne-prone skin, we researched dozens of high-quality products and consulted three experts who shared their insights on everything about shopping for foundations for acne-prone skin. Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation earned the top spot on our list due to its oil-free formula, natural finish and ability to cover up even the biggest breakouts.

Best Overall

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

4.6
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: This foundation leaves a flawless finish that lasts all day.

What We Don’t Like: It’s on the pricier side, but a couple of pumps go a long way.

The Armani Luminous Silk Foundation earned the top spot on our list for its non-comedogenic ingredients, radiant coverage, and long-lasting formula. This foundation is also a top pick from two of our experts. 

“The Luminous Silk foundation is truly the best, the oil-free formula is perfect for anyone,” says celebrity makeup artist Dani Parkes. “It has the most longevity of any foundation; I even use it for red carpet looks.” 

Board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Ava Shamban  adds that “Armani uses a great micro-filling technology that keeps their product super light and bouncy.” 

The lightweight, medium coverage formula blends seamlessly into the skin and lives up to its name by delivering a truly silky finish, all while evening out any discoloration for complete coverage. Plus, we consider its 40-color-shade range a major perk.

Price at time of publish: $69

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz.

Best Splurge

Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation

Oxygenetix Oxygenating Acne Control Foundation

Dermstore

What We Like: It’s loaded with acne-fighting ingredients.

What We Don’t Like: The shade range could be better.

Not only does this dermatologist-recommended foundation cover breakouts, but it also helps prevent future ones. Although it’s on the pricier side, Oxygenetix’s Acne Control Foundation is a favorite of Dr. Shamban; in fact she describes it as “excellent across the board.” 

Salicylic acid is known to shrink pimples, reduce redness and unclog pores — and this foundation is packed with it, meaning you won’t have to worry that you’re triggering a larger flare up down the road. You also won’t have to worry about skin irritation with ingredients like grape seed extract and aloe vera, which Dr. Shamban refers to as “key skin-centric ingredients” to help soothe and hydrate the skin. 

Price at time of publish: $76

Shades: 11 | Coverage: Buildable | Size: .53 oz.

Best Budget

e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Satin Foundation

Elf Cosmetics Flawless Satin Finish Foundation

Ulta

What We Like: This lightweight, affordable formula is on par with far pricier options. 

What We Don’t Like: The bottle is only .68 oz.

The Elf Cosmetics Flawless Satin Finish Foundation is a wallet-friendly pick that rivals luxury options. Its lightweight formula delivers buildable medium-to-full coverage, a boost of hydration (thanks to glycerin), and comfortable all-day wear. 

With oil-free and non-comedogenic labels, the formula won’t block or clog pores, but rather rest on the skin’s surface to offer a radiant coverage. 

Price at time of publish: $6

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium to full | Size: .68 oz

Best Shade Range

Haus Labs by Lady Gaga Triclone Skin Tech Foundation

Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: This shade range features 51 pigments and is packed with skincare-quality ingredients.

What We Don’t Like: It doesn’t blend easily on dry skin.

With 51 shade options to account for the wide variety of neutral, warm, and cool undertones out there, the Haus Labs Double Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation spans the entire skin-tone spectrum. 

Not only is its shade range super inclusive, but it is a fan favorite for its stunning coverage. Its silk-like finish delivers a glowy base, thanks to hydrators glycerin and squalene, without feeling too heavy or cakey on the skin, courtesy of the anti-inflammatory fermented arnica. 

Price at time of publish: $45

Shades: 51 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1 oz.

Best Full-Coverage

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation

4.7

What We Like: This beloved non-comedogenic foundation is available in an impressive number of shades. 

What We Don’t Like: It’s pricey.

If you’re looking for a spotless finish, the Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Foundation has you covered (literally). On top of covering everything from blemishes to dark under eye circles, this oil-free formula works across all skin types, providing a soft, satin finish that lasts throughout the day. We even awarded it the “Best Natural Finish” foundation in an InStyle test of the best full coverage foundations

Embodying the “no-filter-necessary” look, Pat McGrath’s foundation taps skin-smoothing ingredients, including diamond core powder and amino acid-filled pigments, to camouflage and cover uneven skin tone and texture.

Price at time of publish: $68

Shades: 36 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1.18 oz.

Best Stick

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick

Sephora

What We Like: Doubling as both a concealer and foundation, you’ll get solid, even coverage no matter how you use it.

What We don’t Like: It doesn’t contain as much product as liquid foundations.

For lovers of the lighter touch, Merit’s Minimalist Perfection Complexion stick is a foundation-concealer hybrid that covers blemishes, but without a trace of creasing or chalkiness that you’ll often find with creamy sticks. 

The stick foundation offers a range of skin-loving ingredients, including fatty acids and sea daffodil extract, to lock in moisture and reduce hyperpigmentation. 

Its second skin-like coverage works to spot correct or fully conceal pimples, dark spots, or redness with ease, leaving your skin looking healthy and even-toned.

Price at time of publish: $38

Shades: 20 | Coverage: Medium | Size: .23 oz

Best Serum

ROSE INC Skin Enhance Luminous Skin Tint Serum Foundation

ROSE INC Skin Enhance Luminous Skin Tint Serum Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: Half foundation, half serum, this foundation glides easily onto skin.

What We Don’t Like: The shade range could be better.

If you’re a lover of the skincare-as-makeup trend, then we highly recommend Rose Inc’s Skin Tint Serum Foundation. 

As someone who constantly experiences spells of hormonal acne, this foundation-serum hybrid is a personal favorite. The lightweight and dewy formula is gentle on my skin and leaves me with a healthy glow that lasts throughout the entire day. 

With ingredients like squalene, peptides and hyaluronic acid, this clean option will combat acne without drying out the skin as well. 

Pro tip: The foundation is microencapsulated, so be sure to mix it with a brush on the back of your hand before applying it to activate the pigment capsules. 

Price at time of publish: $49

Shades: 14 | Coverage: Light | Size: 1 oz.

Best Powder

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: This matte powder foundation boasts an extensive shade range.

What We Don’t Like: It’s not ideal for dry skin types and contains talc.

The Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Powder Foundation from Fenty beauty is our top choice for a powder formula. Whether you want a light dusting of color or a buildable full-coverage look, this foundation easily works to mattify and blur the skin. Plus, it’s filled with ingredients that combat oil buildup. 

And like all of Fenty Beauty’s products, this powder foundation features a wide range of pigments to make finding your perfect shade a breeze. 

Price at time of publish: $39

Shades: 50 | Coverage: Medium | Size: .32 oz.

Best Buildable

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

4.3
It Cosmetics CC+ Cream

Sephora

What We Like: This non-comedogenic formula is buildable and ideal for dry and uneven skin tones.

What We Don’t Like: The product only comes in 12 shades.

The It Cosmetics CC Cream is the epitome of a multipurpose product: It achieves a flawless finish in just one step, eliminating the need for an oversaturated makeup routine and acne-triggering products. 

“This has been my favorite foundation since the day I started putting makeup on my face,” explains Parkes. “It has great, buildable coverage so when I need to cover anything up, I can just keep applying and it looks even better.” 

By harnessing the nourishing benefits of a traditional CC Cream — namely the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and vitamin E — and adding a slew of color correcting hues and pigment, this foundation is full-coverage, but with the natural finish of a skincare product.

Price at time of publish: $44

Shades: 12 | Coverage: Buildable, full | Size: 1.08 oz.

Best with SPF

Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen

4.5
Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: This foundation provides both coverage and protection from the sun.

What We Don’t Like: The shade range could be better.

The Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation is another multitasking “makeup that does more” option for those who want to incorporate clean and effective acne-busting ingredients into their daily regimen. 

Developed with SPF 30, this light foundation is especially advantageous for long summer days when you want to avoid layering and lathering too much onto the face. It also has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, making it a great option for all skin types, even those who are extra sensitive.

Price at time of publish: $30

Shades: 14 | Coverage: Light | Size: 1 oz.

Best Acne-Fighting

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Makeup

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Makeup

Neutrogena

What We Like: Specifically designed to target acne and blemishes.

What We Don’t Like: Contains talc and the shade range is limited.

“This foundation is designed for acne and blemishes and has a mattifying effect,” explains Dr. Shamban, who strongly recommends it to her acne-prone patients. “It’s not only oil-free, but also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic.”

With a salicylic acid-enriched formula, this foundation was specifically crafted to unclog pores and reduce redness, while providing natural-looking, easy to blend coverage — and it’s less than $15. 

Price at time of publish: $15

Shades: 14 | Coverage: Natural | Size: 1 oz.

Best Dewy

Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

Sephora

What We Like: Medium coverage, a radiant finish and easy to blend formula make this foundation an easy choice. the skin a radiant finish for up to 16 hours.

What We Don’t Like: It’s pricey.

A few pumps of this clean, moisturizing formula will give your skin an impossibly smooth, medium coverage look with a dewy – never oily – finish. Light-diffusing pigments, which mask imperfections and reflect light away from them, along with blurring spheres to deliver a soft-focus finish, work in tandem with a combo of antioxidants and vitamins to protect your skin against environmental stressors and UV damage. 

Price at time of publish: $58

Shades: 32 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1 oz.

Best Matte

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation

Maybelline

What We Like: Maybelline’s popular full-coverage foundation mattifies, masks and is a steal at just $9.

What We Don’t Like: It can make dry skin look cakey.

Maybelline’s Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation evenly smooths and evens out discoloration and uneven texture. Unlike others on this list, the non-comedogenic formula features clay and micro-powders to absorb and regulate oil, meaning that your shine-free finish will last for hours. 

With more than 75,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s fair to say we’re not the only ones who love it. 

Price at time of publish: $9

Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1 oz.

Best for Dry Skin

Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF 30

Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF 30

Sephora

What We Like: This hydrating foundation leaves you looking pore-ess and lasts all day.

What We Don’t Like: It is not ideal for oily skin types.

Shiseido’s non-comedogenic liquid foundation easily hides skin perfections, while still letting your natural skin peek through. Its 30-plus shade range taps specific undertones to suit a variety of complexions and masterfully achieves a smooth, even base. 

We also love that the dewy finish not only provides medium-to-full coverage, but it also has SPF 30 sun protection.

Price at time of publish: $47

Shades: 30 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1 oz.

Best for Oily Skin

Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation

4.7
Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 25

Ulta

What We Like: This foundation contains powerful acne-fighting ingredients.

What We Don’t Like: It’s not ideal for dry skin.

For those with oily and acne-prone skin, the Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation is another pick that works double duty to provide both an effective acne treatment and solid coverage. 

In fact, 91 percent of women in a clinical study said that their skin looked immediately perfected and the color stays true throughout the day.

Brewed with salicylic acid to re-texturize the skin’s appearance, vitamin C to neutralize and brighten dark spots, SPF 25 to protect from sun damage, and hyaluronic acid to keep moisture levels high, this waterproof foundation just about does it all. 

Price at time of publish: $43

Shades: 42 | Coverage: Full | Size: 1 oz.

What to Look For in Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin

Formula

When dealing with acne-prone skin, it is important to carefully check the ingredients list to avoid those that clog pores or trigger breakouts. 

Martin suggests looking for “formulas that are water-based, fragrance-free and made with non-comedogenic ingredients” and staying away from anything with too much oil, which “can be aggressive for the skin barrier,” and trigger future breakouts.

Some common comedogenic ingredients to steer clear of are parabens, fragrance, lanolin and most acids (aside from salicylic).

It's also important to keep your skin type top of mind. Those with dry skin should opt for a liquid foundation with hydrating properties, whereas oily skin types might want to look for matte finishes and powder foundations to control unwanted shine.

Coverage

The desired level of coverage is a totally individual preference. Key considerations are your skin type and the severity of the breakout you’re trying to conceal. 

For those looking to camouflage as much as possible, we recommend a smoothing or fuller coverage foundation, such as the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation or the Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Foundation

For a subtle finish, we suggest a serum-like formula, like the Rose Inc Skin Enhance Luminous Skin Tint Serum Foundation or a buildable one, our favorite being the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream.

Your Questions, Answered

Can I wear foundation over acne?

If you are experiencing active breakouts, it is important to take protective measures to avoid worsening any blemishes. 

“Adding a hydrating primer creates a protective barrier to keep makeup, chemicals, and ingredients out of pores,” explains Dr. Shamban, who also recommends using a pimple patch with ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid, tea tree oil and vitamin C on top of an active zit, but under your makeup for additional protection.

“Using a thin layer of Cortizone gel over the irritated area works to act as a barrier underneath the makeup,” says Martin, who adds that Cortizone gel also helps with redness and calms the skin.

How should you apply foundation on acne-prone skin?

First, it is important to avoid putting makeup or a makeup applicator directly on top of an active blemish. 

Follow Martin’s tried-and-true method: “I apply foundation with a buffing brush onto the skin and finish the application with a wet sponge. This technique allows you to build up the coverage to see how much is needed.” 

It is also important to clean all of your brushes and sponges regularly to wash away lingering bacteria. 

What types of ingredients should I look for in foundation for acne-prone skin?

Dr. Shamban recommends looking for ingredients that can help to absorb excess oils and stop pores from collecting and clogging. This includes ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide, charcoal, aloe Vera, ceramides, and tea tree oil.

Why Shop With Us

Jasmine Hyman is a commerce producer for Dotdash Meredith’s beauty and travel publications. She graduated from Columbia University’s Journalism School with an MS in Journalism and writes for publications including InStyle, People, Byrdie, and more. To find the best foundations for acne-prone skin, Jasmine spent hours researching different brands, products, and ingredients. She also consulted professional makeup artists Daniel Martin and Dani Parkes, and Beverly Hills-based board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban about the best ingredients, tips, and foundations for acne-prone skin.

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