Makeup Products » Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin in 2023

Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin in 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Finding a foundation that delivers everything you want isn’t always easy when you have acne-prone skin. Some formulas prompt breakouts or cling to pimples or dry patches; others just don’t provide the right coverage level for your needs. 

To save you the hassle, we’ve curated a comprehensive list of foundations for acne-prone skin. We start off with formulas that actively address breakouts with acne-fighting ingredients. Then, we branch out into other foundations with different shade ranges, coverage levels, finishes, and formats. No matter what kind of makeup lover you are, there’s a foundation that’ll give you the look you want without breaking out. 

Best foundation for acne-prone skin overview:

How we chose the best foundations for acne-prone skin

We researched manufacturer specifications, including formulas and noncomedogenic status, and we spoke to double board-certified dermatologist Dr. Swati Kannan to create a short list of the top foundations for acne-prone skin. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best foundation for each category.

Our picks for the best foundations for acne-prone skin

Best overall
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

What we love

  • Salicylic acid treats acne
  • Provides natural-looking coverage
  • Oil controlling

What we don’t love

  • Shade range is slightly limited
  • May still need concealer

This medicated foundation isn’t simply a safe choice for acne-prone skin — it’ll help treat your breakouts. It’s made with salicylic acid, a gentle chemical exfoliant that can unclog pores and fade blemishes. 

This product has medium coverage, ideal for hiding redness without looking cakey, although you may want to add a layer of concealer over the angriest blemishes. Reviewers liked that it controls oils well while looking light and natural on the skin.

Shades: 13 | Key ingredients: 0.5% salicylic acid | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 oz

Best budget
Almay Clear Complexion Makeup

What we love

  • Contains 1% salicylic acid
  • Budget-friendly
  • Natural-looking coverage and finish

What we don’t love

  • Can show texture on dry skin

With 1% salicylic acid, this is an even more powerful anti-acne foundation at a budget-friendly price point. It has a natural-looking medium-coverage formula with a soft matte finish that’ll work well for those with oily or combination skin. 

If your skin gets dry or flaky, though, you may notice a bit of texture. While it does contain salicylic acid, it also features some skin-soothing ingredients, like aloe vera and prebiotics, to keep the skin calm and hydrated.

Shades: 16 | Key ingredients: 1% salicylic acid, aloe vera, prebiotics | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 fl oz

Best medium coverage
Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

What we love

  • Budget-friendly
  • Buildable and easy to work with
  • Pore-blurring and mattifying

What we don’t love

  • No skincare ingredients

This is one of the world’s best-selling foundations, with a matte, pore-blurring formula that blends and builds easily. It’s budget-friendly and easy to work with, so it’s a fantastic choice for beginners. 

Despite the matte finish, most reviewers found that it blended smoothly and didn’t cling to dry patches. The formula is noncomedogenic, so it shouldn’t aggravate breakouts. It also doesn’t contain any special acne-fighting ingredients — if you’re already on acne medications and don’t want to add anything else, this foundation might be a good choice.

Shades: 40 | Key ingredients: N/A | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 fl oz

Best shade range
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

What we love

  • Extensive shade range
  • Buildable to full coverage
  • Soft matte finish

What we don’t love

  • Not forgiving of shade mismatches

If you struggle to find noncomedogenic foundations that’ll match your skin tone, Fenty is a must-try. This product’s 59-shade range makes finding your exact foundation match simple. 

This is particularly important because the Pro Filt’r formula provides buildable full coverage. It can hide the worst breakouts but won’t accommodate a foundation mismatch. It offers a long-lasting soft matte finish, making it ideal for those with oily skin.

Shades: 59 | Key ingredients: N/A | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 fl oz

Best full coverage
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

What we love

  • Matte finish
  • Porcelain-like appearance
  • Very long-wearing

What we don’t love

  • Can be intense
  • A little pricey

This matte, full-coverage foundation blows some concealers out of the water. It’s our top pick if you want to hide everything and achieve perfected porcelain-like skin. It lasts all day and all night with incredible longevity, even in the face of heat or water. 

That said, it’s an intense option that’s not quite in line with today’s dewy skin trends, and it may emphasize dry skin texture.

Shades: 57 | Key ingredients: N/A | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Full | Size: 1 oz

Best drugstore
Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup

What we love

  • Medicated formula
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lasting mattifying effect

What we don’t love

  • May separate throughout the day
  • Awkward to dispense

This drugstore foundation is another budget-friendly choice for those who want a medicated formula. It fights acne with a touch of salicylic acid while helping to even out your skin tone. 

It does a great job of controlling oils with a lasting, natural matte finish, although some reviewers found that it separated a little on the skin throughout the day. It comes in a glass bottle container without a pump, so dispensing it can be a little messy.

Shades: 14 | Key ingredients: 0.5% salicylic acid | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 fl oz

Best dewy
Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

What we love

  • Glowy finish
  • Noncomedogenic
  • Adjustable medium coverage

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

This is one of our favorite foundations of all time. If you like a more glowy finish despite having acne-prone skin, it’s an excellent option. The formula is oil-free and suitable for all skin types, but it offers the skin a radiant, nongreasy glow that’s highly trendy these days. And, an exclusive Micro-fil technology makes it look incredibly smooth on the skin. The coverage is buildable and adjustable, so you can keep it natural or add more layers when you have more to hide.

Shades: 30 | Key ingredients: Micro-fil technology, glycerin | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 fl oz

Best light coverage
Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream

What we love

  • Sheer skin-like coverage
  • 2% salicylic acid
  • Budget-friendly

What we don’t love

  • Minimal shade range

Dream Pure is an ideal BB cream for acne-prone skin, and we highly recommend it if you’re looking for sheer skin-like coverage. This super-light formula is made with 2% salicylic acid to clarify your skin. It evens out skin tone gently and provides a natural-looking finish with a bit of oil control. It won’t hide intense discoloration or breakouts, but it’ll tone them down and diffuse redness.

Shades: 5 | Key ingredients: 2% salicylic acid, kaolin | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Light | Size: 1 fl oz

Best CC cream
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+

What we love

  • Full coverage
  • Nourishing ingredients
  • Sun protection

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

This CC cream offers high coverage, serious sun protection, and skin-nourishing ingredients like balancing niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid. The finish is natural, which means it’s neither dewy nor matte. If you’re already using some drying or sensitizing acne treatments, the gentle formula will help protect your skin from the sun without highlighting dryness.

Shades: 22 | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Full | Size: 1.08 oz

Best powder
BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation SPF 15

What we love

  • Alternative to liquid foundations
  • Minimalistic, non-comedogenic formula
  • Adjustable coverage

What we don’t love

  • Too shiny for some
  • Loose format can be messy

Some people with acne-prone skin find that every cream or liquid foundation they try still breaks them out, while others find liquid formulas simply inconvenient or uncomfortable. If that applies to you, this loose powder foundation is one of the best. 

It has a minimalistic, non-comedogenic formula that provides ultra-adjustable coverage. It gives the skin a luminous finish that blurs the pores beautifully, although some reviewers found it a little too shiny. Additionally, the loose powder in a jar format can be a little messy to dispense.

Shades: 30 | Key ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, responsibly-sourced minerals | Formula: Powder | Coverage level: Light to full | Size: 0.28 oz

Best pressed powder
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

What we love

  • Can build up to full coverage
  • Very matte and oil-controlling
  • Large shade range

What we don’t love

  • Can look cakey on dry skin

If you like powder foundations but would rather avoid a mess, a pressed powder might be a better option for you. This famous pressed powder from MAC builds up to full coverage with a powerful oil-controlling matte finish. The shade range is massive, so you’ll have no problem finding a color match. It’s ideal if your skin is oily but may look cakey if dry.

Shades: 53 | Key ingredients: N/A | Formula: Powder | Coverage level: Medium to full | Size: 0.52 oz

Best silicone-free
Kosas Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation SPF 25

What we love

  • Natural-looking
  • Medium coverage
  • Skin-loving ingredients

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

Comedogenicity (i.e., the likelihood that something will cause a breakout) can be hard to predict. So far, most of the foundations on our list include silicones, which have amazing texture and a non-comedogenic reputation.

And yet, there’s a small group of people who find that silicones break them out. If you’re a member of that group, this clean foundation from Kosas might do the trick. This medium-coverage formula, made with alternative emollients and skin-loving ingredients, perfects the skin for up to eight hours. It is, however, a bit on the pricier end.

Shades: 35 | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, caffeine, squalane | Formula: Liquid | Coverage level: Medium | Size: 1 oz

Best stick
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation Stick

What we love

  • Matte
  • Full coverage
  • Easy to apply

What we don’t love

  • Pricey
  • Awkward brush

Stick foundations can be an excellent alternative if you find liquid foundations messy or inconvenient. The only issue is that they’re often too greasy for oily skin. The Lancôme foundation stick, however, is an oil-free, cream-to-powder formula. 

It offers a matte finish and foolproof blendability, making it a great option for oily or acne-prone skin. It’s designed to double as a concealer, so expect full coverage. We love how convenient this stick can be on the go, but note that some reviewers didn’t love the built-in kabuki brush.

Shades: 22 | Key ingredients: N/A | Formula: Cream | Coverage level: Full | Size: N/A

Cover and treat 

There aren’t many rules when it comes to selecting a foundation for acne-prone skin. A full-coverage foundation will hide the angriest breakouts, but a lightweight formula might fare better if you’re using drying acne medications.

If you’re just starting out, lightweight, buildable formulas offer the most versatility. Our top choice, Clinique’s Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup delivers just that, and it’s also infused with acne-fighting salicylic acid to prevent breakouts actively.

How to pick the right foundation for acne-prone skin

When looking for the best foundation for your acne-prone skin, you’ll want to pay close attention to the ingredients list. Depending on your skin type and preferences, other factors include formula and finish. Here’s how to decide. 


The key is to choose noncomedogenic foundations made without oils, drying alcohol, and excessive fragrance. Instead, look for silicone-based foundations (e.g., ingredients that end in -cone or -xane) since they’re widely considered noncomedogenic

You can even look for foundations with skincare ingredients known to help with acne, such as salicylic acid, a pore-unclogging exfoliant, and niacinamide, which has a balancing and soothing action. And of course, if you find that specific ingredients trigger your acne, make sure to avoid those.


Most foundations come in a liquid formula that’s very light and easy to spread. It’s ideal for acne-prone skin because you won’t need to apply much pressure when blending, and the finish is often lightweight. Plus, liquid formulas are often best for delivering anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid. 

If you don’t like the feel of liquid, powders can be an excellent alternative. Powder foundations offer adjustable coverage and aare quick and easy to apply. They also tend to mattify better than liquid formulas. 

Finally, there are creams that have thicker texture. We don’t like them as much for acne-prone skin because they require a little more effort and pressure to spread and often have greasier formulas. That said, they can be more convenient on the go, and some formulas, like our pick from Lancôme, are quite matte and gentle on the skin. 


Acne-prone skin is often also oily, which is why most of the options on our list have a matte finish. The matte finish helps to control oil and keep your skin from looking greasy. That said, matte finish foundations can sometimes cling to dry patches or texture, so if that’s a common issue for you, you may want to avoid them.

Formulas with a natural finish are a solid in-between option. If your skin is oily, you’ll look a little dewier with a natural formula, while balanced or dry skin will look more matte. Most importantly, these formulas are likely to glide nicely over textured areas. 

Finally, dewy foundations give the skin a bit of a glow, which can be ideal if your skin is dry despite being acne-prone. 


Can foundation clear acne? 

Probably not. Some reviewers found that medicated foundations with salicylic acid, like our picks from Clinique and Almay, helped reduce their breakouts. However, foundation isn’t a replacement for a skincare routine designed to help you get rid of acne. In persistent cases, you may even need to speak to your doctor about prescription treatments that will clear your breakouts for good. 

Which foundation is dermatologist-recommended for acne?

Dr. Swati Kannan recommended formulations advertised as oil-free or noncomedogenic. “This means these formulations are less likely to clog your pores, and therefore less likely to worsen or trigger acne breakouts,” she told Glowsly.

Beyond that, Kannan suggests looking for lightweight liquid foundations containing acne-fighting salicylic acid, like our picks from Clinique, Almay, and Neutrogena. 

What makeup makes acne worse?

According to Kannan, it’s best to “avoid foundations with heavy fragrance or alcohol content [since] the alcohol can dry out the skin, worsening breakouts.” She also recommends avoiding most foundation sticks for acne-prone skin, “as the ingredients to keep the sticks solid can be comedogenic.”