Trying to shop for foundation when your skin is oily or acne-prone is no mean feat. You need a product that’ll not only offer enough coverage while still ensuring skin looks like skin, but that’ll also be gentle and won’t cause further breakouts.
But what should you be prioritising when looking for a new formula? “Look for light, mattifying or gel-based textures rather than anything thick and creamy,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. “I also recommend choosing products that are marked ‘non-comedogenic’ – which means that it won’t block pores.”
If your skin is particularly oily, Dr Mahto suggests opting for a mineral-based cosmetic containing titanium, silica or zinc. Such products can be used to help absorb excess oil and will camouflage any redness.
The key is ensuring any foundation you use won’t exacerbate existing breakouts or cause new blemishes. It’s also important to ensure you’re applying it with a clean makeup brush or sponge. “Dirty brushes can be a haven for bacteria,” says Dr Mahto. “And it’s vital to cleanse skin morning and evening, making sure you remove makeup thoroughly.”
Finding a formula that works for you doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds, though, and with lots of clever new formulas to choose from, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourites to help you figure out which to try first.
How we tested
Each of these foundations has been worn for a minimum of a month. In most cases, our tester – who has acne-prone skin – has used them multiple times in several different scenarios, so she has a good grasp on how well they wear, last and perform throughout the day and night.
The best foundations for acne-prone skin for 2022 are:
- Best overall – It Cosmetics your skin but better CC cream: £32.50, Boots.com
- Best matte finish – Estée Lauder double wear stay in place foundation: £35, Boots.com
- Best for sensitive skin – Oxygenetix oxygenating foundation SPF25: £55, Dermacaredirect.co.uk
- Best powder formula – BareMinerals original loose powder foundation: £29, Boots.com
- Best for lightweight coverage – Clinique anti-blemish solutions liquid makeup: £30, Lookfantastic.com
- Best high-end formula – Chantecaille future skin foundation: £75, Chantecaille.co.uk
- Best for full coverage – Vichy dermablend corrective fluid foundation: £20, Boots.com
- Best for a natural glow – Armani luminous silk foundation: £39, Johnlewis.com
- Best organic formula – Inika organic classic loose mineral foundation: £30, Hollandandbarrett.com
It Cosmetics your skin but better CC cream
A true cult product that’s loved by beauty editors and influencers for good reason. It Cosmetics’ CC cream offers medium coverage, and while it comes in a variety of finishes, including matte and illuminating, it’s the original formula that we like best. Formulated specifically for sensitive skin and designed to cover redness, it perfectly disguises blemishes without clogging pores. It gives the skin a slight glow without being too over the top, and the added SPF50 protection gives us even more reason to love it. Consider it a must-try if you haven’t already.
Estée Lauder double wear stay in place foundation
Best: Matte finish
One of – if not the most – well-known products by Estée Lauder, double wear has thousands of five-star reviews, and there’s a reason why: this foundation delivers on all of its promises. With a seriously impressive range of 60 shades and elite staying power, it’s oil-free and sweat-, heat- and humidity-resistant and waterproof. No mean feat. It glides onto skin like a dream, and despite offering full, matte coverage, it doesn’t look or feel heavy on the skin, and neither does it make it look flat. It really does last all day long, too. Our tester used to wear this formula religiously and wondered why she ever stopped when she tried it again recently.
Oxygenetix oxygenating foundation SPF25
Best: For sensitive skin
Oxygenetix designed this completely breathable foundation that works to conceal skin while minimising and healing breakouts, blemishes and acne scars, thanks to a clever oxygen complex that stimulates skin cell production. It’s as clever as it sounds, and prolonged use provides even better results. The medium-weight, buildable coverage feels light on the skin; it is a truly underrated formula. The only downside is the limited shade range, although we’re hopeful that we’ll see an extended selection in the not-to-distant future.
BareMinerals original loose powder foundation
Best: Powder formula
After initially not being convinced by a powder foundation, this quickly became our tester’s go-to product after trying it. It buffs on quickly and easily, and the coverage is impressive and entirely buildable. That it’s a mineral formula makes it ideal for sensitive skin types, and there’s a reason why it’s a constant bestseller. It’s formulated with just five ingredients, and it helps clear and improve the skin’s appearance over time. It’s never drying, and coverage is genuinely flawless. Available in 30 shades, it’s a real winner, and a little goes a long way, so one pot will last a while.
Clinique anti-blemish solutions liquid makeup
Best: For lightweight coverage
If you’ve never tried a Clinique foundation, believe us when we say you’ve been missing out. It was our tester’s first foray into makeup, and it’s still just as impressive now, more than 15 years later. This particular formula is oil-free, contains salicylic acid to target breakouts and prevent oiliness and is part of the brand’s anti-blemish solutions range. It has a natural-looking matte finish, conceals redness and is buildable so that you can tailor coverage depending on your personal preference. We loved how long this lasted, and our tester noticed she had less oiliness than usual.
Chantecaille future skin foundation
Best: High-end formula
There’s no denying this foundation is incredibly expensive – maybe even slightly overpriced – but there’s also no denying just how good it is. An impeccable gel formula that’s loved by makeup artists across the globe, it’s super light and feels incredibly refreshing on the skin. The formula is buildable, so you can apply as much or as little as you like, and we find it’s great if you need to layer over it halfway through the day. It has light-reflecting pigments that enhance the appearance of skin for a truly flawless finish. The only downside is that our tester found it hard to find a perfect shade match – they seem to skew either slightly too yellow or too pink – and the range of colours available is fairly limited.
Vichy dermablend corrective fluid foundation
Best: For full coverage
Very possibly the original full coverage, corrective foundation, consider this brilliant value for money. Be warned, though, it is incredibly high coverage – it’s often used to cover tattoos – but it is buildable. It evens out overall skin tone, too, and its longevity is impressive. We found it best when we paired it with the dermablend setting powder. It’s worth noting that although it is a heavy foundation, it doesn’t look or feel drying on the skin, it doesn’t irritate and is non-comedogenic, so there’s no need to worry about it clogging pores.
Armani luminous silk foundation
Best: For a natural glow
This is the foundation you’ll see makeup artists using at various red carpet events, and it’s mostly thanks to its ability to give skin a natural, seamless glow. The formula is oil-free and contains micro-fill technology, which works to brighten skin, improve texture and blur imperfections. Plus, it’s got added glycerin to help ensure skin remains hydrated throughout the day. We love how luminous silk makes our skin look and feel, and it’s available in 40 skin-true shades.
Inika organic classic loose mineral foundation
Best: Organic formula
If natural and organic ingredients are your personal preference, Inika’s loose mineral foundation is a great choice. It works to help even out the appearance of skin while concealing acne, scarring, redness and blemishes without causing irritation. Ingredients include mineral mica, which provides a glow, alongside zinc oxide to protect skin against the sun’s harmful rays (but we’d always recommend using a separate SPF as well for optimal protection). We liked how buildable this foundation was, and it didn’t dry skin out or look chalky or cakey, either.
The verdict: Foundation for acne-prone skin
There really is so much choice when it comes to foundation for acne-prone skin, and each one of these products is impressive in its own right. It Cosmetics’ CC cream is one that will never disappoint. The same goes for BareMinerals’ original foundation and Estée Lauder’s double wear. If you’re happy to spend more money, we really do recommend Chantecaille’s future skin. However, if you’re on a limited budget, then Vichy’s dermablend is a good option, but just be warned that it is super pigmented, so it might take a few attempts to work out how much you need to apply – but it can also be made sheerer with a moisturiser if needed.
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