Absolute Best Drugstore Foundation for Acne Prone Skin in 2024 [Buying Guide]

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Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages, genders, and skin types. 

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Whilst acne is nothing to be ashamed of, many of us wear foundation products to cover up blemishes and enjoy clear-looking skin. 

The great news is that plenty of well-loved drugstore makeup brands are producing affordable foundations designed to provide full coverage and, in some cases, treatment for acne-prone skin. 

Absolute Best Drugstore Foundation for Acne Prone Skin in 2020 that are under $15

But with the drugstore makeup industry constantly growing and evolving and new products being released, finding the perfect foundation for your skin type can be difficult. This problem is exacerbated when you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

We’ve compiled a list of the best drugstore foundations for acne-prone skin to achieve a blemish-free look without breaking the bank. 

If you need extra help choosing your perfect product, we’ve also constructed a buyer guide and FAQ section for some additional guidance.

Want effective acne coverage as soon as possible? Here’s our top pick:

Revlon Colorstay Liquid Foundation

  • Wide range of 43 shades 
  • Suitable for both oily and combination skin
  • It lasts for up to 24 hours
  • High pigmentation
  • Buildable coverage
  • Contains SPF 15 

Top 11 Best Drugstore Foundations for Acne Prone Skin

1. Revlon Colorstay Liquid Foundation 

Revlon’s Colorstay Liquid Foundation is perfect for oily or combination acne-prone skin. Its oil-free formula minimizes excessive shine and reduces the likelihood of makeup-related breakouts. 

In 43 inclusive shades ranging from ‘Ivory’ to ‘Java,’ you can be confident that you’ll find a shade to match your skin tone. 

The highly-pigmented formula allows for buildable coverage, giving you added control over the level of coverage you want for any occasion or makeup look. 

Revlon’s Colorstay foundation is formulated to last for up to 24 hours and even incorporates SPF 15, making it suitable for wear in all weather. 

The main drawback to this foundation is that Revlon tests its products on animals in countries where animal testing is required by law. Therefore, this foundation will not be suitable for those opposed to cosmetic animal testing.

Pros

  • Available in 43 shades 
  • Suitable for oily and combination skin
  • 24-hour wear 
  • Highly pigmented
  • Buildable coverage 
  • Contains SPF 15 

Cons

  • Revlon tests products on animals where required by law 
Revlon Liquid Foundation, ColorStay Face Makeup for Combination & Oily Skin, SPF 15, Medium-Full Coverage with Matte Finish, Natural Beige ((220), 1.0 oz
  • LONG-WEARING: Oil-free, fragrance-free foundation creates a flawless look for up to 24 hours; comfortable and lightweight feel
  • BUDGE-PROOF: Transfer-resistant, waterproof & mask-friendly; resists heat, sweat & humidity; SPF 15
  • SKIN-CARING: Antioxidant Vitamin E helps nourish & protect skin from pollutants
  • PORELESS, MATTE FINISH: Earth-sourced, multi-mineral powders control oil breakthrough
  • FOR ALL SKIN: 43 diverse shades

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 22:21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


2. Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

Maybelline’s Fit Me Matte and Poreless Liquid Foundation is one of the most well-loved drugstore foundations. Available in 40 different shades, ranging from ‘Fair Porcelain’ to ‘Espresso,’ this foundation is designed to include various skin tones. 

Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation provides matte coverage while reducing the appearance of pores for a flawless finish. 

The formula is suitable for normal to oily skin, which is well suited to acne-prone skin since excess oil is a known contributor to acne. 

The formula also contains micro-powders, which absorb excess oil. The primary purpose of this is to reduce shine for a matte finish. However, by preventing oil buildup, this foundation also has the potential to reduce acne breakouts.

If your acne is typically difficult to cover with foundation, you might benefit from Maybelline’s buildable coverage formula, which allows for multiple layers to be applied to the skin for extra coverage without looking cakey or stifling your skin.

Pros

  • Available in 40 shades
  • Suitable for normal to oily skin
  • Pore-refining formula 
  • Absorbs excess oil 
  • Buildable coverage 

Cons

  • Maybelline test their products on animals where required by law 
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Oil-Free Foundation Makeup, Warm Nude, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)
  • Maybelline Fit Me Matte Foundation: For a natural looking medium coverage liquid foundation makeup, look no further; In 40 shades,...
  • A Shade That Fits Me: Maybelline Fit Me liquid foundation provides coverage for a wide array of skin tones, from Ivory to Mocha;...
  • Maybelline Fit Me For A Flawless Face: With Matte + Poreless foundation or Dewy+ Smooth foundation with SPF 18, concealer,...
  • Create any look with Maybelline; foundation, BB creams, concealers, and setting powders for the perfect canvas, eye shadows,...
  • Remove Maybelline Makeup With Micellar Water: Use Garnier Micellar Water as a gentle makeup remover at night, and as a facial...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 22:21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


3. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation

L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation is available in 22 shades, from ‘True Porcelain’ to ‘Rich Ebony’, and is suitable for normal and oily skin types. 

Despite its lightweight formula, this long-lasting foundation promises to last up to 24 hours, providing a natural-looking, demi-matte finish. 

The lightweight property of this foundation means it leaves your skin free to breathe throughout the day while providing full coverage that effectively hides blemishes.

The formula is oil-free, meaning it won’t contribute to oil-related breakouts, and is also transfer-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about staining your clothes or anything else your skin may come into contact with.

Pros

  • Suitable for normal and oily skin
  • Oil-free formula
  • Transfer-resistant 
  • 24-hour wear
  • Lightweight 
  • Natural, demi-matte finish

Cons

  • Only available in 22 shades 
  • L’Oreal tests on animals were required by law 
L'Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation, 105 Natural Beige, 1 fl; oz.
  • L'Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation: Lightweight and creamy, foundation goes on smooth with a demi-matte finish that...
  • Air-Light Matte-Finish Foundation Makeup: For a matte finish that won't fall flat, apply with fingers, makeup sponge, or...
  • The Foundation Of Your Look: From natural to full coverage, L'Oréal Paris face makeup has what you need for a smooth, even...
  • Because You're Worth It: L'Oreal Paris Makeup helps you create the look you want with our full line of makeup including...
  • Perfect To Pair With: L'Oreal Paris Infallible Pro Matte Lock Longwear Face Primer; Pro Matte-Lock Primer smoothes skin to perfect...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 22:21 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


4. e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation 

e.l.f. is a highly affordable drugstore cosmetic brand, and their Acne Fighting Foundation is one of the best products for smoothing and soothing acne-prone skin.

This foundation is both lightweight and designed to provide full coverage, meaning that it strikes the desired balance between breathability and effective skin tone evening. 

The acne-targeting formula is infused with natural ingredients, including witch hazel, tea tree, and aloe, that help to soothe acne at its source whilst reducing the inflamed appearance of blemishes on a surface level. 

The soothing properties of this foundation are enhanced by its lack of phthalates, parabens, and other potentially toxic or irritating ingredients. This makes e.l.f.’s foundation safe for sensitive skin. 

One of the best things about e.l.f.’s products is that they are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

However, this particular foundation is only available in 10 shades and is therefore not the most inclusive of varied skin tones.

Pros

  • Full-coverage 
  • Lightweight
  • Infused with natural, acne-fighting ingredients 
  • Suitable for vegans 
  • Phthalate and paraben-free 
  • Cruelty-free

Cons 

  • Only available in 10 shades 
e.l.f., Acne Fighting Foundation, Full Coverage, Lightweight, Evens Skin Tone, Reduces Redness, Fights Blemishes, Sand, 6 Shades, SPF 25, Infused with Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree, 1.21 Fl Oz
  • Lightweight formula provides full coverage to help even skin tone and reduces acne redness while working to help clear your skin
  • Infused with salicylic acid, witch-hazel, camphor, tea tree, and soothing aloe that help fight blemishes
  • For best results, use a damp blending sponge to apply
  • Available in a range of shades
  • Cruelty-free, vegan and 100% free from Phthalates, Parabens, Nonylphenol, Ethoxylates, Triclosan, Triclocarban, and Hydroquinone

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 22:22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


5. Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Acne and Blemish Fighting Liquid Foundation 

Also making our list is Neutrogena’s SkinClearing, Oil-Free, Acne and Blemish Fighting Liquid Foundation. This hypoallergenic foundation is available in 12 shades and is specifically formulated by dermatologists for acne-prone and sensitive skin. 

Neutrogena’s MicroClear technology and incorporation of soothing salicylic acid into their foundation help to soothe inflammation, unclog pores, and actively treat, rather than cover, acne outbreaks. 

The oil-free formula controls excess shine and reduces the likelihood of causing breakouts while providing natural, lightweight coverage.

Unlike other foundations, this is non-comedogenic and won’t clog your pores or contribute to skin problems. 

Pros

  • Oil-free formula 
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Provides natural, light coverage
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Incorporates MicroClear technology for treating acne 

Cons 

  • Only available in 12 shades 
  • Coverage may be inadequate for more severe acne 
  • Neutrogena tests on animals where required by law 
Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Acne and Blemish Fighting Liquid Foundation with.5% Salicylic Acid Acne Medicine, Shine Controlling Makeup for Acne Prone Skin, 20 Natural Ivory, 1 fl. oz
  • 1-fluid ounce of Neutrogena SkinClearing Acne Fighting Liquid Foundation Makeup with .5% Salicylic Acid Acne Medicine in shade...
  • Formulated for acne-prone skin, it is the first and only liquid makeup foundation with MicroClear technology that not only treats...
  • This liquid face makeup for acne-prone skin provides natural and breathable coverage, controls shine, and rapidly cuts through oil...
  • This oil-free acne fighting foundation contains .5% salicylic acid acne medicine to provide fast acne relief and help fight acne...
  • Developed by dermatologists and designed for acne-prone skin. This acne foundation comes in a variety of shades and is formulated...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 22:22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


6. ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Hydrating Foundation

You’ll never go wrong with ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Hydrating Foundation for a lightweight, natural skin-like finish. And other satisfied makeup enthusiasts could attest to that!

With 42 shades, this foundation can cater to all ladies. This foundation helps hydrate the skin from the name itself by combining hyaluronic acid with other key ingredients.

This medium coverage foundation is also dermatologist-tested, paraben-free, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free. Its natural finish will give you that healthy skin effect on par with beauty editors and filters!

foundation for acne prone skin type

Pros

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Natural skin-like finish
  • Hydrates skin instantly and over time
  • Extensive shade range (42 shades)
  • 100% vegan and cruelty-free
  • No added fragrance, alcohol, or parabens

Cons

  • Coverage may be inadequate for more severe acne 
ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Hydrating Foundation

Key Ingredients

  • Hydrafresh Complex, formulated with fruit extracts, enhances the look of skin by instantly hydrating & diminishing the look of fine lines while delivering hydration over time.
  • Hyaluronic acid is known to attract 1,000 times its water weight.
  • Coconut water is known to support hydration & skin softness.

7. Covergirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation

If you want the light coverage + dewy finish combo addition to your beauty routine, say no more! The Covergirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation is for you.

This foundation is perfect for all skin types since it is made with Good-For-You Ingredients, such as hydrating coconut milk and aloe extract.

To top it off, it is formulated without formaldehyde, sulfates, and talc. This is one of the best drugstore brands for sensitive skin.

Pros

  • Lightweight foundation coverage for all skin types
  • It gives your skin the moisture boost it craves
  • Cruelty-Free

Cons

  • Coverage may be inadequate for more severe acne 
  • It only has 14 shades
COVERGIRL Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation, Hydrating Foundation, Vegan, 1 Count, (packaging may vary)
  • ALL DAY HEALTHY GLOW - Lightweight foundation coverage for all skin types
  • NOURISHES SKIN WITH GOOD-FOR-YOU INGREDIENTS - Infused with hydrating coconut milk and aloe extract for a youthful, dewy glow
  • SAFE INGREDIENTS - This foundation is formulated without formaldehyde, sulfates and talc
  • LIGHTWEIGHT - This nourishing liquid foundation gives your skin the moisture boost it craves
  • CRUELTY-FREE - Our products are not tested on animals

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 23:41 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


8. L’Oréal Paris Makeup Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder

As the previous foundations are all liquid, let’s check out one of the best foundations in a powder formula that is great even for sensitive, acne-prone skin.

Lo and behold, the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder.

This foundation has a natural matte finish, giving you that “beauty filter” illusion. It’s water, heat, and sweatproof and offers full coverage with no acne-triggering ingredients.

Its lightweight formula will leave your skin feeling fresh and comfortable for 24 hours!

Pros

  • Transfer resistant
  • Dermatologist tested
  • It has a blurring effect

Cons

  • It has a limited shade range (20 shades)
  • Other buyers have said that the shades don’t match the advertised shades
L'Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder, Up to 24H Wear, Waterproof, Pearl, 0.31 oz.
  • Powder Foundation: With a weightless texture that gives full coverage and a natural, matte finish that looks fresh hour after...
  • All Day Coverage: With a blurring effect and all day matte finish, this powder evens skin tone with no transfer and covers like a...
  • The Infallible Collection: Turn to the cosmetics the pros use and get long-lasting color, expert definition, and full coverage...
  • Because You're Worth It: Create the look you want with our full line of makeup including foundations, concealers, highlighter...
  • L'Oreal Paris Beauty: A leading total beauty care company based in Paris, we offer innovative products and unique expertise from...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 23:31 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


9. Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Liquid Foundation

If you want that camera-ready foundation, Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Liquid Foundation is the one for you. Yep, kiss white cast goodbye!

How can I be so sure that it is photo-ready, you asked? It has been tested under seven different photo lighting conditions to ensure it looks flawless in pictures.

This cream foundation has buildable coverage and a matte finish and is 100% cruelty-free!

Pros

  • Photo flashback-proof
  • Cruelty-free
  • Second-skin finish

Cons

  • Limited shades (20 shades)
  • Based on reviews, it smells like paint
wet n wild Photo Focus Dewy Liquid Foundation Makeup, Bronze Beige
  • YOUR SKIN, ONLY BETTER: Our high-performing, skin-perfecting foundation is formulated with a matte, light-diffusing complex to...
  • SELFIE-APPROVED FOUNDATION: Color matched for all undertones with a matte, second-skin finish, this foundation delivers buildable...
  • BEST FACE FORWARD: From bronzer & blush to primer, highlighter, natural finish powder, & concealer, we've got you covered & photo...
  • ALWAYS CRUELTY FREE: We are 100% cruelty free, & always have been! We also carry vegan makeup & tools such as foundation, nail...
  • STAY WILD: We are the trusted beauty destination for beauty lovers of all ages, ethnicities, skin colors, & economic statuses. No...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 23:41 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


10. Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation

Next, we have the ultra-lightweight, high-coverage foundation, Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation. A natural-looking finish is yours to take!

With its unique dropper applicator, this foundation offers a matte finish and ultra-lightweight texture and is formulated with skin-perfecting niacinamide.

It is also sweatproof, transfer-proof, and waterproof. Above all, it is vegan and cruelty-free!

Pros

  • Long lasting 24H wear
  • Best for normal to oily skin types
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan

Cons

  • Limited shades (23 shades only)
Catrice | HD Liquid Coverage Foundation | High & Natural Coverage | Vegan & Cruelty Free (032 | Nude Beige)
  • THE COVERAGE OF YOUR DREAMS! The Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation is an ultra-lightweight, high coverage, long lasting...
  • BENEFITS: Covers imperfections and mattifies the skin creating a smooth and even complexion for up to 24 hours; features a unique...
  • CLAIMS: Cruelty free, Vegan, Paraben Free, Gluten Free, Oil Free, Alcohol Free. Made in Italy.
  • A CLEANER STANDARD: At Catrice Cosmetics, we are committed to a cleaner standard. This means communicating to you what’s in our...
  • CRUELTY FREE: Catrice Cosmetics is certified and acknowledged by PETA as a cruelty-free brand. We do not test any of our products...

Last update on 2024-07-24 at 23:41 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


11. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation

Coming right next is a non-irritating, oil-free foundation: the Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation.

This darling is formulated to help treat existing breakouts and prevent their recurrence. It’s a skin-clearing makeup with salicylic acid! It does a great job of covering blemishes, too.

It has moderate coverage and a natural matte finish, giving you a fresh look.

Pros

  • Non-irritating
  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Allergy tested

Cons

  • The brand tests on animals where required by law
  • Limited shades (16 shades)

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Best Drugstore Foundation for Acne Prone Skin Buying Guide

The drugstore foundations listed in this article are all fantastic options for acne-prone skin.

However, there are a few factors to consider that will help you determine which foundation will work best for you.

Skin Tone 

First and foremost, the most important factor to consider before purchasing a foundation is shade and skin tone.

The foundation you choose must match your skin tone as closely as possible to provide the most natural and effective coverage. 

drugstore foundations for acne prone skin

Unfortunately, many cosmetic brands still do not include enough of their customer base’s wide range of skin tones. This is especially true of darker skin tones, which are sadly still largely underrepresented in the products manufactured by the makeup industry.

However, within the list of foundations above, you will find an extensive range of shades to match the vast majority of skin tones, so you should be able to find your perfect color match for seamless acne coverage. 

Skin Type 

The second important thing to consider when purchasing a foundation, especially for acne-prone skin, is skin type. 

best drugstore foundations

As previously mentioned, acne can affect all skin types. However, acne is most common in extra-oily or extra-dry skin types. This includes combination skin types, which feature dry and oily problem areas. 

Oily skin increases the risk of blocked pores, making breakouts more likely. Meanwhile, dry skin can encourage your glands to produce more natural oils, which may combine with dead skin flakes to clog up your pores.

With combination skin, these issues are likely to occur twofold. 

drugstore foundations for acne prone skin 1

If you have particularly oily skin, you should ideally select an oil-free formula so as not to contribute to your skin’s natural moisture. Additionally, a formula that contains micro-powders is likely to be beneficial as it will help to absorb excess oil. 

For dry skin, stick to lightweight and breathable foundations to avoid drying out or irritating your skin further by stifling its ability to breathe properly. 

When dealing with combination skin, you should try to select a foundation that is both lightweight and oil-free.

best foundations for acne prone skin

If your skin is especially sensitive, opting for a hypoallergenic foundation can help to reduce the risk of irritation or allergic reactions. Avoid parabens and phthalates where possible, as these ingredients are known to irritate sensitive or inflamed skin further. 

Natural ingredients such as tea tree, witch hazel, and aloe vera can help to soothe sensitive and irritated skin, reducing the inflamed feeling and appearance of acne breakouts. 

Additionally, if you’re especially pale and prone to sunburn, a foundation that incorporates mild sun protection, such as SPF 15, can help protect your skin from sun damage, known to worsen acne.

Cruelty-Free? 

With recent advancements in science and technology, testing methods that negate the need to test cosmetic products on animals are being developed. 

However, many drugstores and high-end makeup brands still test on animals as part of their dermatological testing process. This kind of testing is often limited to production in countries where animal testing is required by law.

drugstore foundations

If you oppose animal testing, acne-targeting foundations are available on the market, such as e.l.f.’s Acne Fighting Foundation, which has not been tested on animals and is, therefore, cruelty-free. 

Additionally, if you are vegan, foundations that do not contain animal-derived ingredients are available, with e.l.f—again being an example. 

The bottom line is that you don’t need to compromise your ethics to find a foundation that effectively covers and treats your acne: vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics are on the increase and are readily available for affordable prices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does foundation make acne worse?

Acne-prone skin can increase sensitivity, meaning some foundations may irritate the skin and worsen the condition. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t wear foundation if you have acne. 

foundations makeup

As the products in the list above demonstrate, many cosmetic brands manufacture foundations free of common irritants such as parabens and phthalates.

Some foundations are even hypoallergenic to prevent adverse reactions. 

Acne prone skin foundations

Foundation formulas that are lightweight, breathable, and oil-free are also suitable for acne-prone skin as they are less likely to clog pores and stifle the skin. 

So, ultimately, while some foundations can make problematic skin worse, choosing a lightweight, oil-free, or hypoallergenic foundation formula should minimize the likelihood of your foundation exacerbating your acne. 

How do I apply foundation to acne-prone skin? 

Applying foundation to acne-prone skin can be more complicated than unblemished skin.

However, you can use a few application techniques and tips to ensure smooth and seamless coverage, even with more severe acne breakouts. 

clinique foundation

First, it’s important to ensure you fully cleanse your face before applying any makeup. This will remove any excess oil that would stop the foundation from setting properly. 

If you have dry or combination skin, it’s also a good idea to apply a gentle moisturizer to affected areas to reduce flaking or peeling, which may affect the appearance of your foundation. 

Choosing a foundation that allows for buildable coverage can also be helpful when applying makeup to acne-prone skin since multiple layers can be applied without resulting in a cakey or unnatural finish. 

yves saint laurent foundation

Finally, if cleansing, moisturizing, and selecting a buildable coverage foundation doesn’t provide the necessary coverage, consider pairing your foundation with a green-tinted concealer. 

Green concealers help to neutralize areas of redness, reducing the visibility of blemishes and evening skin tone for better overall coverage. 

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