8 Foundations That Actually Work For Acne-Prone Skin

When you have acne-prone skin, finding the right foundation is hard — and when you finally do, you never want to let it go. The process of scouting the perfect formula in the first place means paying close attention to a few qualifiers: level of coverage, texture, finish, and the potential for clogging pores. That's where the term "non-comedogenic" comes in.

"'Non-comedogenic' is a term used to describe a product that will not block pores and promote acne," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Not to be confused with oil-free products — as most, but not all oil-free products are also non-comedogenic, Dr. Zeichner explains — non-comedogenic translates to being free of pore-clogging ingredients, whereas oil-free applies to products that do not contain petrolatum, but can still contain alternative oils.


Most dermatologists do stand by the recommendation to look for non-comedogenic formulas, but the claim itself is actually flawed: There is no approved industry regulation for that label. Some brands place the term on their products based only on the fact that they don't contain certain individual ingredients known to block pores, without actually testing to prove that the formula doesn't cause breakouts. That’s why it’s crucial to still look at the ingredients list, even if the the product boasts the non-comedogenic claim.

To help cut down on the time you spend deciphering the itty-bitty print on the back of the bottle, we've researched the products that don't just say they're non-comedogenic, but actually don't include common skin-clogging culprits (like petrolatum, which Dr. Zeichner says is the biggest offender). The best non-comedogenic foundations on the market, ahead.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

This long-lasting, buildable formula is both non-pore-clogging and oil-free, so it never feels heavy or greasy. The ingredients that are included, like coconut water and alpine rose, actively work to hydrate and strengthen the skin.
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation$39.00 Buy
You won't need more than one pump with this bestselling foundation: A little goes a long way. Plus, it promises to be waterproof, transfer-proof, and sweat-proof, so it's ideal for hot summer days or hiking dates.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation$56.00 Buy
"This liquid foundation contains a low concentration of salicylic acid, which is ideal to help keep pores clear and prevent breakouts," Dr. Zeichner says.
Neutrogena  Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup $13.99 Buy
Dermatologist-favorite Clinique has an acne-fighting, oil-free foundation that contains the whole shebang of medicated ingredients to treat and prevent breakouts while also delivering eight-hour coverage.
Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup$29.00 Buy
It's hard to imagine that a foundation could create a dewy finish without feeling heavy on the skin — but believe it, with this luminous non-comedogenic buy that also happens to be under $5 and contain SPF 18.
Maybelline FIT ME! Dewy + Smooth Foundation$4.38 Buy
Consider this skin care-infused serum foundation the ideal multitasker for covering up blemishes and keeping skin balanced and nourished.
Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation$54.00 Buy
Formulated without drying alcohols and pore-clogging ingredients like petroleum, this lightweight liquid leaves skin looking soft and satiny, never greasy.
Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation$16.00 Buy
Not a fan of a full-coverage finish? This medium-weight foundation is for you. The buildable sheer-to-medium pigment is so natural-looking, and the formula also contains vitamin C and turmeric to leave skin more even.
NARS Sheer Glow Foundation$47.00 Buy
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