Tested and Approved: These 5 Foundations Are the Best of the Best for Acne-Prone Skin

Only the good stuff that really works.

If you've got acne—whether it's a little cystic zit on your jaw, or a full-on breakout across your cheeks—it can be anxiety-producing to slather a layer of foundation across your face every morning (if, of course, wearing makeup's your thing). Because at best, the formula completely covers your redness like a mask. But at worst, the wrong formula can aggravate your zits, making your breakouts worse. So, you know, a vicious cycle.

Which is why we fully believe that if you're layering something over your acne, it better be working double-time to not only cover up your zits, but gently treat them, so your skin looks clearer at the end of the day then it did when you woke up. And to help you in that acne-free journey, we hand-picked the very best, top-rated, human-approved foundations that really, truly get rid of breakouts, without destroying your skin in the process.

1. E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation

E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation

(Image credit: E.l.f)

E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation, $6


If you’ve got both oily and acne-prone skin, this witch hazel- and tea tree oil-infused foundation will be your holy grail. The witch hazel acts as a natural astringent to mattify skin and remove excess oil, while tea tree oil unblocks and quite literally disinfects clogged pores in a way gentler fashion than benzoyl peroxide. Mix a bit of the anti-inflammatory campho in there, and you’ve got a legit acne-fighting powerhouse in a tube.

2. Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Eraser Makeup

Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Eraser Makeup

(Image credit: Almay)

Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Eraser Makeup, $15


Usually, we’re skeptical about anything that promises to do a bunch of things all at once (like, hey, we’re not ordering a filet mignon at IHOP for a reason), but this formula promises to “cover, clear, calm, and control,” which, based on its salicylic acid, aloe, and chamomile ingredients, we fully believe.

3. ​Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

​Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

(Image credit: ​Clinique)

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup, $28


You can’t talk acne-fighting makeup without including the cult-favorite Clinique foundation, which is infused with zit-killing salicylic acid, plus a touch of caffeine to temporarily take down puffiness, and glycerin to lightly hydrate skin. Some people tend to find it a bit drying, though, so we recommend skipping this one if you have especially dry skin.

4. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout

(Image credit: It Cosmetics)

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout, $28


Okay, although this isn’t technically foundation—it’s straight-up concealer, if we’re being real—we kinda go off book with it and mix a few drops in with our tinted moisturizer to create a super lightweight foundation feel that legitimately keeps skin clear, thanks to a mix of tea tree oil and sulfur (antibacterials), kaolin clay (mattifier), and zinc oxide (anti-inflammatory and astringent).

5. Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup

Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup

(Image credit: Neutrogena)

Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Makeup, $10


We get it—this is the same formula you’ve seen on television since high school, and it doesn’t exactly scream exciting or new, but there’s a reason why it’s stuck around and stayed popular for so many years: It’s really, truly that good. It has a small dose (just 0.5 percent) of salicylic acid and some soothing aloe extract, so it won’t dry out sensitive, acne-prone skin. Basically, it gets the job done, which is all you really care about anyways, right?

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, obsessively writing about new makeup launches, the best hair products (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare formulas that really work for every skin type (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.