Foundation and acne can be a challenging combo. So many of us rely on the pigmented makeup to mask whatever pimples we don’t feel like showing off to the world, but the ingredients in some products can actually cause more acne, creating a vicious cycle that will make you feel like you just can’t catch a break without, well, breaking out.
Your best bet for finding a foundation that won’t leave a smattering of obnoxious zits in its wake? Look for the word “non-comedogenic” on the label, which essentially translates to “won’t clog your pores.” “I always advise our patients to check their skin-care products and use products labeled ‘non-comedogenic,'” says Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology. ‘This label indicates that the product is formulated to not clog pores and is less likely to cause acne.”
He notes that since there is no standard or regulation set to categorize the labeling of a product as non-comedogenic, you need to do a little bit more digging to be sure it lives up to the label. So to determine which foundations are truly in the “all-clear” for acne-prone skin, I took his recommendation and did an ingredient deep dive on the CosDNA website. Any products that contained an ingredient with a three above on the acne scale were automatically eliminated, even if they are technically considered non-comedogenic.
And as Melena Higuera, general manager and executive committee member of L’Oreal, notes: “While being non-comedogenic is critically important for acne-prone skin and thus there’s some awareness in the acne community, we believe it’s a part of having healthy skin care for all skin types, tones, and conditions.” Scroll through for a list of foundations that actually will never, ever make you break out, no matter what kind of skin you’ve got.
A single drop of this full-coverage foundation will cover your entire face, and won’t leave any pimples in its wake. It’s highly pigmented, so you can use it on its own for a more solid (but never cakey) look or mix it with your skin care to create a DIY tinted moisturizer.
The sheer to medium coverage of Laura Mercier’s foundation will give you a finished look that will make your skin look like it’s been lit from within. It’s made with vitamins C and E to also offer antioxidant protection.
If you like a stick foundation formulation, you really can’t find better than Yves Saint Laurent. It offers buildable full coverage, and can double as a concealer for any areas that need extra TLC.
Maybelline FIT ME! Dewy + Smooth Foundation ($6)
You don’t have to drop dozens of dollars for a foundation that’s acne-approved, and Maybelline’s FIT ME! collection is proof. It comes in a dewy and smooth finish for anyone who likes a more lightweight look, and also a “Matte and Poreless” iteration if you want something with fuller coverage.
For a CC cream that won’t clog your pores (and will offer some pretty serious sun protection in the process), look no further than IT Cosmetics’ CC+ Cream. According to the Sephora website, it offers seven different benefits: full-coverage matte foundation, SPF 40 UVA/UVB broad-spectrum physical sunscreen, brightening color corrector, hydrating anti-aging serum, poreless finish primer, dark spot concealer, and moisturizing day cream. Phew—try saying that three times fast.
Another drugstore diamond in the acne-friendly foundation category, L’Oreal’s Infallible Longwear foundation allows your skin to breathe while you wear it, so you won’t get that claustrophobic cake-y feeling that so many other products often leave behind. It also has three oil absorbers to resist sweat, water, and transfer, which means it really will stay on for 24 hours (but, please: take it off before bed).
Formulated with antioxidant hero vitamin C, this foundation from BareMinerals will brighten skin while also seamlessly covering up blemishes. It offers a natural, glowy finish with a nice dose of sun protection, too—a nice bonus.
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