Best Foundation for Acne Prone Skin

(Updated February 22, 2017)

In this article we’ll review and discuss the best foundation for acne prone skin. Acne can be difficult to contend with, and this is especially true when it comes to deciding upon a foundation. 

People who suffer from acne typically want to wear foundation, as it helps to cover up lesions and blemishes. However, the wrong foundation can exacerbate the underlying condition, spiraling a nasty cycle that is hard to break. Naturally, many skincare companies have capitalized on this conundrum by marketing myriad different kinds of foundation that claim to alleviate this situation, leaving the consumer overwhelmed by all of the options.

Best Foundations for Acne Prone Skin
Reviews and Comparison

Product

Image

Rating

On Sale

Neutrogena SkinClearing
Liquid Makeup

best foundation for acne

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup

best foundation for acne prone skin

E.l.f Acne Fighting Foundation

best makeup for acne prone skin

LORAC Natural Performance Foundation

best makeup for acne

stila Natural Finish Oil-Free Makeup

best full coverage foundation for acne prone skin

We reviewed some of the most popular of these foundations to provide some clarity. All of these reviews are based on real client experiences, so you know the opinions are trustworthy. Read on for our recommendation for the best foundation for acne prone skin.

Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup Review

best foundation for acne

This product is our favorite because it is both an active acne treatment and a foundation all in one. Neutrogena advertises that their SkinClearing Liquid Makeup contains a MicroClear Technology that allows it to fight breakouts while also providing all day coverage. What this really means is that the makeup contains 0.5% salicylic acid, which is one of the most effective substances for fighting and preventing acne breakouts.
Salicylic acid unclogs pores, allowing it to eliminate current breakouts and prevent future ones. Therefore, since this makeup contains salicylic acid, it provides coverage, fights current breakouts, and prevents itself from clogging pores, which would cause future breakouts. Also, amazingly, this product is the least expensive option we reviewed, making it a great, effective, budget-friendly choice.
It has 279 reviews on Amazon.com with an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars; 67% of respondents gave it a 5 star review, and only 14% gave it less than a 4 star review. This sample size is large enough to believe that the overall trend is trustworthy. Overall, this is our top recommendation because it fights acne while providing coverage, it is very reasonably priced, and it has good reviews from a large sample size.
Active Ingredients
The key ingredient in this makeup is the 0.5% salicylic acid. This allows the product to be both an acne treatment and a full coverage makeup simultaneously.

Pros

  • MicroClear technology that helps to fight and prevent breakouts
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Some users report that the color matching is off
  • Can irritate sensitive skin
  • No SPF protection indicated

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup Review

best foundation for acne prone skin

The Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Liquid Makeup is a popular choice from a trusted brand. Although they do not list any active ingredients on their website, making it hard to know exactly how the makeup achieves its “anti-blemish solutions,” many respondents report that it does help to soothe their acne while also providing light, all-day coverage. It is a pretty expensive product, but many consumers seem to believe that the quality is worth the price.
It has 112 reviews on Amazon.com with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and 70% of respondents giving it a 5 star review while only 14% give it less than a 4 star review. The sample size is relatively large, making the results trustworthy. Those that like the product rave about its oil-free, gentle coverage. This is our top recommendation for people more concerned with soothing their skin than with fighting the overall acne.
Active Ingredients
Clinique does not advertise the active ingredients in this product. They only say that it is oil-free and an “anti-blemish solution.”

Pros

  • Oil-Free
  • Many users report that it is soothing and moisturizing

Cons

  • Some users reported discoloration of the makeup over time.
  • Expensive

E.l.f Acne Fighting Foundation Review

best makeup for acne prone skin

The E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation also is both an acne treatment and a foundation simultaneously. It contains 0.5% salicylic acid for fighting blemishes while also being a full coverage foundation, containing soothing skin elements to help irritate acne-ridden skin.
Overall, the consensus on this product is mixed. Many respondents report that this combination works quite well, although the salicylic acid can be harsh on very sensitive skin. Others say that it does not prevent breakouts, irritates their skin, and does not adequately color match.
The product only has 55 reviews on Amazon.com with an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. This sample size is low, making the results less trustworthy. However, while taking the small sample size into account, the product still has a low overall rating, indicating a lack of consensus opinion about its effectiveness. Only 51% of respondents gave it a 5 star review, and 29% gave it less than a 4 star review.
The price is relatively reasonable, but the overall opinion is too mixed to give this foundation a glowing review.
Active Ingredients
This product contains 0.5% salicylic acid, which makes it an acne fighting treatment and a foundation simultaneously. It also contains witch hazel, camphor, tea tree, and aloe, all of which help to prevent acne breakouts and soothe dry, irritated skin.

Pros

  • Contains salicylic acid for fighting acne breakouts and natural ingredients for soothing skin
  • Some respondents say that it fights their acne and provides good coverage
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin
  • Many respondents say that the color matching is inaccurate

LORAC Natural Performance Foundation Review

best makeup for acne

The reviews for the LORAC Natural Performance Foundation are all over the place. It has 101 reviews on Amazon.com with an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars. That is a reasonably large sample size and a relatively low rating, and since the sample size is large enough, it makes that lower rating more believable. It is also worth nothing that only 58% of respondents gave the product a 5 star review, while 24% gave it less than a 4 star review.
Some respondents report that the product goes on lightly yet provides full, all day coverage. Other respondents say that the product is greasy and comes off easily throughout the day. Some respondents say that the colors are very accurate and blend easily. Others say that it is very hard to find a color match. Some say that the makeup is soothing on their acne breakouts and does not cause additional lesions. Others say that the makeup causes them to breakout and irritates their skin. It is hard to find a consistent recommendation for this product. Moreover, since the product is definitely on the expensive end, it is hard to recommend it without a base of glowing reviews. It is for this reason that the LORAC Natural Performance Foundation is lower on our list.
Active Ingredients
LORAC lists that this product contains xyleine, premier olive leaf extract, and vitamin A, all of which are supposed to soothe sensitive skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Some respondents report that the product is greasy and easily removed
  • Some users say that the color match is not accurate

stila Natural Finish Oil-Free Makeup Review

best full coverage foundation for acne prone skin

stila’s Natural Finish Oil-Free Makeup comes in last place in our ratings for a few different reasons. They advertise this product as an ultra-light, oil-free product loaded with vitamin E to help soothe dry, irritated skin. However, it only has 9 reviews on Amazon.com, making it almost impossible to get an overall impression of consumer opinion of the product. With only 9 reviews, 44% give it a 5 star review, 45% give it a 4 star review, and 11% give it a two star review.
Consumers seem to like the light feel of the makeup and the matte finish, but they are bothered by the fact that the makeup seems to wear off after only a few hours, meaning it needs constant reapplication. It also is quite pricey, and that combined with the constant need for reapplication make this product quite the investment. Therefore, while it does seem to be beneficial for sensitive skin given its infusion of vitamin E, the stila product comes in last in this review.
Active Ingredients
stila advertises this product as infused with vitamin E, making it a soothing choice for dry, irritated, sensitive skin.

Pros

  • Infusion of vitamin E and other natural substances, making it a good choice for sensitive skin
  • Nice, matte finish

Cons

  • Makeup is not long-lasting
  • Expensive
  • No acne-fighting ingredients

How to Find the Best Foundation for Acne Prone Skin

The best product is always going to be relative. However, when it comes to finding the best foundation for acne prone skin, you want to make sure you know what you are looking for when it comes to your particular condition. Try taking stock of your situation and your desires before deciding. If fighting off the blemishes is your number one concern, you will want to find a product that contains salicylic acid, as this is one of the most effective ingredients for unclogging pores and preventing further breakouts. Choosing either the Neutrogena or the E.l.f. makeup would be “best” for you. However, if you are more concerned about addressing dry, irritated skin and peeling, you will probably want to avoid the salicylic acid in favor of natural ingredients, making the E.l.f, the LORAC, or the stila more appealing.

Price also is certainly a factor, and Neutrogena’s low price for its acne-fighting abilities is one of the main reasons we ranked it first. Another important consideration, and one that Trusted Skin Source definitely employed in this review, is the quality and quantity of consumer reviews. The Neutrogena product had 279 Amazon.com reviews, while the stila product had only 9. This clearly demonstrates that we have more data and more reason to believe the overall positive impression for the Neutrogena product than for the stila product. Taking these things into account is important to make sure you know what you are paying for, and that is another reason that we ranked Neutrogena so high on this list.

Best Makeup for Acne Prone Skin: 
Which Will Work For You?

I want to fight my underlying acne
If this is your major concern, definitely opt for a product with salicylic acid, so that you are getting coverage and acne fighting ingredients simultaneously.
I want to prevent my makeup from causing future breakouts
If this is your major concern, I again would opt for a salicylic acid product, as this helps to make sure that the makeup you are applying is not clogging your pores.
I want to soothe my irritated, inflamed skin.
If you desire soothing, I would stay away from salicylic acid, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Opt for a more natural product, something that contains a vitamin infusion or natural oils.

Keep in mind that foundation is just one part of a good regimen. You may want to include a good moisturizer or vitamin c serum as well.