If your skin breaks out faster than a Disney Channel star onto the music scene, you know how hard it is to find a suitable foundation that’s devoid of pore-clogging ingredients and won’t leave you looking greasy, shiny, and — worst of all — with fresh breakouts. So what are we naturally glossy people to do?
According to both board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, who is based in Connecticut, and cosmetic chemist Ginger King, salicylic acid is a key ingredient to look for in foundation. As useful as it is in your cleansers, serums, and acne treatments, it also helps retexturize and even out your skin tone when infused into a foundation. The two experts also agree oil-free, noncomedogenic (meaning it won’t cause pore blockages, otherwise known as comedones) foundations are the way to go.
In terms of specific ingredients to avoid, King calls out myristyl myristate, a waxy emollient found in some foundations. But, generally speaking, “anything that is heavy — like petrolatum, mineral oil, and lanolin — has the potential to clog pores,” she adds.
A common misconception is oily skin can’t be dehydrated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “Dehydrated skin is a lack of water, not oil. So you can actually have an oily complexion but still have dehydrated skin,” Ross C. Radusky, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, previously told Allure. Therefore, you should enlist a foundation containing some form of hyaluronic acid (which doesn’t trigger acne, by the way) to increase hydration in your skin and strengthen your barrier so less moisture escapes. Gohara says. She also recommends choosing a foundation spiked with antioxidants (like vitamins C and E) that have anti-inflammatory properties and fight off destructive free radicals.
Look for keywords on the packaging, like “oil-free, long-wear, mattifying, and 10- (or any other double-digit number) hour wear,” says makeup artist Mai Quynh. She also notes to check for ingredients with soft-focus microsphere powders and water as the first or second ingredient in the product. “Avoid ingredients like jojoba or any other types of oils or emollients,” says Quynh, as these can make oily skin look shinier.
We rounded up the best foundations for acne-prone skin — no pore-clogging, face-drying, or skin-irritating formulas in sight — at a variety of price points. Best of Beauty Award winners, like the Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Foundation and Uoma’s Say What?! Foundation, will keep your skin clear and completely shine-free all day long. You won’t even have to break out a pack of blotting papers by noon. Trust us.
Without further ado, read on for 21 expert-approved foundations for oily skin ahead.