The Best-of-the-Best Foundations for Every Skin Condition, From Acne to Eczema

Getty: Caroline Tompkins
Fact: A lot of inconveniences can be blamed on Mercury retrograde, but being late for work in an attempt to calm and cover a sudden skin flare-up might be a bit of a reach. While the obvious solution is often to apply a treatment and let the affected area breathe, we get it—you’ve got things to do, people to see, and the last thing you want is for the issue bringing you stress to be on full display.

No need to stress the cover up, though. We picked the brains of pro makeup artists to get their very best tips on how to calm the situation, then cover it up without further exacerbating the unique needs of your skin type or the skin condition that you're dealing with. Keep reading to get pro-approved suggestions on how to apply foundation and be out the door in five flat.

Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

Acne-prone skin

Asking for a friend: At what age does this whole “adult acne” thing eventually give it a rest? Resist the urge to proceed with the motions of your heavy middle school foundation routine at all costs. According to makeup artist (and budding pop star) Neil Scibelli, your best course of action is to find a lightweight, water-based formula that allows your skin to breathe, but doesn’t veer towards a dewy finish.

“When covering active breakouts, I would suggest steering away from any foundations or products that have luminous or shimmery qualities to them because that will only accentuate the skin's texture,” explains Scibelli, who recommends Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup ($13). “Apply the foundation using a synthetic brush to minimize bacteria transferring onto your skin, and use a patting motion to layer the product onto your breakouts.” This technique helps to build coverage without looking caked on. Scibelli also likes the salicylic acid-based IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Concealer ($28) for any direct spot coverage during the day, because it squelches the zit while providing coverage. Remember to use patting motions so not to disrupt the foundation, but avoid laying the product on too thick.

Redness or rosacea

If aggressive red tones are what ail you, Scibelli recommends applying a green color corrector pre-foundation. “This will help to neutralize the initial redness and prep your skin for foundation,” he says. “E.L.F. ($4) and Make Up For Ever ($37) both have great options.” In terms of your foundation, Glamsquad artistic director Kelli J. Bartlett recommends taking the less-is-more approach. “As someone who suffers greatly from rosacea, this is a huge challenge for me that I take personally,” says Bartlett, who begins her own routine with Glamsquad Morning Glow Radiant Face Primer ($28). “Keep the coverage light! Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer ($8) has a super creamy texture that gives high coverage without looking synthetic. The type of brush you use can also aggravate skin, so stick with a soft, synthetic fiber brush.”


When dealing with eczema on your face, the goal is to prevent irritating it further, triggering that itchy, flaky cycle of doom all over again. “Amp up your hydration game, both internally by drinking water and topically with skin care that doesn’t use any harsh ingredients,” Scibelli suggests. Additionally, a foundation infused with hydrating elements can also help to take the edge off the irritation—we love Guerlain L’Essentiel ($60). “The probiotics in the formula can actually help rebalance the flora of the skin, which can help to keep eczema under control,” says makeup artist Maxime Poulin, who advises applying both your hydrating skin care and the foundation with the same brush. “This helps to create an amazing texture, ensuring that your skin won’t flake or appear dry.”

Peeling or flaking skin

If your skin is peeling, flaking, irritated, or generally pretty dry, the first course of action would be to apply a moisturizer like Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice ($39) to hydrate the skin and create a smooth canvas. Then, pick up a damp makeup sponge and lightly apply foundation over the top of the affected areas. “Working in small sections is key. If you go in too heavy handed or use too much product, it can set before you have time to buff it out,” says makeup artist Emma Chen, who recommends BECCA Ultimate Coverage 24-Hour Foundation ($44). “Use less product where you don’t need the coverage, like under your eyes or the top of your lip, to ensure you don’t lose dimension in the skin but cover where you need to." Finally, mist your foundation sponge with a hydrating primer and pat it over your complexion to lock in the moisture.


Depending on the color of your hyperpigmentation, some color-correcting action may be needed prior to picking up your foundation. Makeup artist Orlando Santiago advises picking up a concealer and applying it after primer, but before foundation to neutralize any uneven tones. Then, pick up a foundation sponge like a BeautyBlender ($20) to layer on a lightweight formula like Urban Decay Stay Naked Weightless Foundation ($39) over the top. “Use a patting motion to soothe the skin and achieve a smooth application,” says makeup artist Steve Kassajikian.

FYI: Here's why it's good to have more than one foundation on hand and here are three surprising places you should go light on foundation.

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