Absolute Best Drugstore Foundation for Acne Prone Skin in 2020 [Buying Guide]

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

Whilst acne is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, many of us regularly turn to 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 foundation 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 all the time, it can be difficult to find the perfect foundation for your skin type. This problem is exacerbated when you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.

We’ve put together a list of the best drugstore foundations for acne-prone skin, so you can achieve a blemish-free look without breaking the bank. 

If you need a little extra help choosing your perfect product, we’ve also constructed a buyers 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
  • Lasts for up to 24 hours
  • High pigmentation
  • Buildable coverage
  • Contains SPF 15 

Top Picks for Best Drugstore Foundation 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 not only minimizes excessive shine but also 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 given 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 ColorStay Liquid Foundation Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin SPF 15, Longwear Medium-Full Coverage with Matte Finish, Natural Beige ((220), 1.0 oz
  • OIL FREE FOUNDATION FOR OILY SKIN: Our cult-favorite, lightweight, liquid matte foundation is made to control oil and shine with...
  • ALL DAY, LONG LASTING MAKEUP: Our Revlon ColorStay liquid foundation wears for up to 24 hours so no matter what your day...
  • MEDIUM / BUILDABLE COVERAGE: Blend a small dab for medium coverage and a naturally flawless, smooth look. Build up for full...
  • 43 SHADES THAT FIT YOUR SKIN TONE: ColorStay liquid foundation offers 43 shades for light, medium olive, deep, and dark skin. Use...
  • LIVE BOLDLY WITH REVLON MAKEUP: Revlon has the high-quality, high-pigment, bold makeup you need to be yourself. Create any...

Last update on 2020-12-04 at 11:21 / 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 on the market. Available in 40 different shades, ranging from ‘Fair Porcelain’ to ‘Espresso’, this foundation is designed to be inclusive of a wide variety of skin tones. 

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

The formula is suitable for normal to oily skin, meaning that it 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 you find that 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 Foundation Makeup, Warm Nude, 1 fl oz Oil-Free Foundation
  • 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,...
  • MAYBELLINE HAS WHAT YOU NEED to create any look--foundation, bb creams, concealers & highlighters to create a perfect canvas,...
  • REMOVE MAYBELLINE MAKEUP WITH MICELLAR WATER: Use Garnier Micellar Water as a gentle makeup remover at night, and as a facial...

Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:51 / 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 a range of 22 shades from ‘True Porcelain’ to ‘Rich Ebony’ and is suitable for both normal and oily skin types. 

Despite its lightweight formula, this foundation is long-lasting and promises to last for 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 where 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 2020-12-04 at 12:31 / 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 on the market 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 also 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
  • EVERYDAY BASE: This lightweight, full-coverage formula soothes while it helps fight future breakouts, helping to balance uneven...
  • HOW TO WEAR: Apply primer all over face, then use a foundation brush or damp sponge and blend makeup onto forehead, nose, cheeks,...
  • 100% CRUELTY-FREE & VEGAN: Proud to be 100% vegan and cruelty-free, worldwide. Because kindness is chic.
  • FREE FROM: All e.l.f. products are 100% free from phthalates, parabens, nonylphenol, ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban, and...
  • BEAUTY FOR ALL: e.l.f. Cosmetics provides professional-quality products at get-real prices, because we believe beauty should be...

Last update on 2020-12-04 at 12:31 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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

Last but not least on our list is Neutrogena’s SkinClearing, Oil-Free, Acne and Blemish Fighting Liquid Foundation. This hypoallergenic foundation is available in 12 shades and has been 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 simply cover, outbreaks of acne. 

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

Additionally, this foundation is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores and contribute to skin problems, unlike some other foundations. 

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 Salicylic Acid Acne Medicine, Shine Controlling, for Acne Prone Skin, 20 Natural Ivory, 1 fl. oz
  • 1-fluid ounce of Neutrogena SkinClearing Acne Fighting Liquid Foundation Makeup with Salicylic Acid Acne Medicine
  • Formulated for acne-prone skin, it is the first and only liquid makeup foundation with MicroClear technology that not only treats...
  • Liquid makeup provides natural and breathable coverage, controls shine, and is designed for acne-prone skin
  • This acne fighting foundation contains salicylic acid acne medicine to provide fast acne relief and help fight acne breakouts
  • Developed by dermatologists and designed for acne-prone skin. This acne foundation is formulated to be oil-free, hypoallergenic,...

Last update on 2020-12-04 at 12:31 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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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 to 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.

It’s crucial that the foundation you choose should match your skin tone as closely as possible to provide the most natural and effective coverage. 

Unfortunately, many cosmetic brands are still not inclusive enough of the wide range of skin tones within their customer bases. This 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 when buying for acne-prone skin, is skin type. 

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 tend to feature both dry and oily problem areas. 

Oily skin increases the risk of blocked pores, making breakouts more likely. Having dry skin, meanwhile, can encourage your glands to produce more natural oils, which may combine with flakes of dead skin to clog up your pores. With combination skin, these issues are likely to occur twofold. 

If you have particularly oily skin, you should ideally select an oil-free formula so as not to contribute to the natural moisture of your skin. 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 foundations that are lightweight and breathable 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.

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 to protect your skin from sun damage, which is known to make acne worse.

Cruelty-Free? 

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

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

If you are opposed to the practice of animal testing, there are acne-targeting foundations available on the market, such as e.l.f.’s Acne Fighting Foundation, which have not been tested on animals and are, therefore, cruelty-free. 

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

The bottom line is that you don’t need to compromise your personal 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?

Having acne-prone skin can increase sensitivity, meaning that some foundations may irritate the skin and make the condition worse. 

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

As the products included in the list above demonstrate, many cosmetic brands manufacture foundation that is free of common irritants such as parabens and phthalates. Some foundations are even hypoallergenic to prevent adverse reactions. 

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 definitely 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 a little more complicated than it would be for unblemished skin.

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

First, it’s important to make sure that 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 it means that multiple layers can be applied without resulting in a cakey or unnatural finish. 

Finally, if cleansing, moisturizing, and selecting a buildable coverage foundation doesn’t provide you with quite the coverage you need, 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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