Is Your Foundation Breaking You Out?

Recently, I had a tragic experience with a foundation I was using.

Let me fill you in on my struggle with acne. (Skip this paragraph if you don’t care) I started getting acne before I ever wore makeup. My parents made me go to the dermatologist in only sixth grade because they saw that I was already getting moderate acne at such a young age and they didn’t want it to get worse and cause scarring. At the time I was super nervous to go to the doctor and embarrassed about the whole situation. I am now very grateful that my parents made me go to the doctor back then because I’ve been able to keep my acne primarily in check. Although it has been a constant battle. I have been on the high risk acne medicine, Isotretinoin (Previously known as Accutane) two different occasions. Most people can use this acne medicine for 4- 6 months and never have acne again. I was part of the 2% that was not so lucky, although it has helped me more than any other medicine. My skin was clear for about a year after using it. I will probably have to go on the medicine for a third time because over the past year I have started slowly getting my oily skin back and my familiar breakouts.

I have had some of my worst breakouts in my life this past year. Horrible cystic acne, on and off. I realized one of the big culprits.


MAYBELLINE Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

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I started using this foundation because I wanted a more affordable everyday foundation than what I normally used which is Estee Lauder Double Wear. I had heard really great things about this foundation in the beauty community and I liked the coverage and matte finish it gave me. Right when I started using it I noticed worse than normal breakouts. I figured it was a coincidence or my skin needed to get used to the makeup. After I ran out of the foundation my skin cleared up. I again thought it was a coincidence and was because I wasn’t as stressed, so I decided to repurchase. A couple weeks into using it, I had the worst breakout of my life. Cystic, painful acne all around my mouth. I decided to look up reviews about this makeup. What I found was horrifying… Tons of stories of people that never had acne until they used this product. Check out some of those reviews here: I felt like I immediately needed to warn people about this foundation on my Instagram story. I received over 20 messages from girls that also had a similar experience. (Does this mean it will break you out? Maybe not, but if you are someone with sensitive skin, I would be careful using it.) I then was on the journey to look for a new drugstore foundation that wouldn’t break me out. I started looking into what pore clogging ingredients to stay away from. This foundation has several PEG ingredients, which can clog pores. When doing my research about other ingredients, looking for a new foundation became very overwhelming. (List of ingredients to stay away from is at the bottom of this blog) Most of the great coverage foundations recommended in the beauty community were full of pore clogging ingredients. I decided to do a lot of research to find the best foundations for your skin that are also known for great coverage in the beauty community because most people with acne prone skin don’t want to give up the great coverage of a foundation.

Here are some tips for makeup application when you have acne prone skin:


Look for a foundation with water as the main ingredient. Water is obviously not going to break you out, so if you find a foundation that makes your skin look great and water is the main ingredient then you’ve found a winner!


Find a foundation with a pump. A pump foundation keep your foundation from being exposed to the air, which can cause bacteria and change the formula of the foundation.


Some people are sensitive to SPF foundations because of an ingredient called oxybenzone. If you find you are allergic to oxybenzone, find a sun protectant that uses zinc oxide or or octinoxate instead.


Clean your beauty blenders, brushes and sponges!


Be careful of silicones, talc, and sulfate ingredients. Some people’s skin does not react well with those ingredients. Test things out and see what works best for your skin.

The Five Best Drugstore Foundations for Acne Prone Skin

#1 Almay Truly Lasting Color Foundation 

It’s been awhile since I’ve used this foundation, but I remember really liking it because it’s non-comedogenic. I used it for a long time. Contains vitamin E which can help fight acne. If you’re sensitive to makeup with SPF then I would not advise using.

#2 Neutrogena® Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup

I have personally used this foundation as well and liked it. It has Salicylic Acid to help fight acne, so I would only use this product if you have oily skin. Non-comedogenic and oil-free.

#3 Revlon Color Stay Foundation

I recently started using this foundation after finding out about Maybelline Fit Me. My acne has cleared up a bit. It definitely doesn’t last as long as my Estee Lauder Double Wear, but I am liking the formula.

#4 Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation

I haven’t used this foundation yet, but I had a couple friends who have acne-prone skin recommend it to me and it has great reviews.

#5 Loreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation 

I also have not tried this foundation and was recommended it. Dimethicone is the second ingredient listed, so be careful if you are sensitive to silicones.

The Five Best High End Foundations for Acne Prone Skin

#1 Too Faced Born This Way Foundation 

This foundation has a lot of street cred. Two acne-prone Youtubers said this foundation is a holy grail for them. I personally think it is a little too oily for my skin and some do say it breaks them out because of their skin is sensitive to coconut water. If you love coconut-infused products, you will probably love this foundation and it’s vegan!

#2 Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

This is my holy grail foundation. Many full coverage foundations make people break out, but this one has great ingredients.

#3 Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation 

A little pricey, but Koh Gen Do always uses great products for your skin.

#4 Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation Mattifying Oil Free

This vegan foundation is known for it’s amazing ingredients and with helping with breakouts.

#5 Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation 

If you want a glowy foundation, this one may be for you. It’s very hydrating and is also vegan.

The primary causes of acne are

  • Excess oil production
  • Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells
  • Bacteria
  • Excess activity of a type of hormone (androgens)

So most likely, your foundation is not the only reason you have acne, but some foundation ingredients can make your skin breakout worse. Everyone’s skin is different. A foundation that works great for one person may break someone else out, so keep this in mind when testing out my recommended foundations. The list of ingredients to be careful using is below. I hope this blog helps! I wish you all clear skin. 🙂

High- higher chance of clogging pores. Medium- medium chance of clogging pores. Mainly be aware of the top five ingredients in your foundation.

High Acetylated Lanolin
High Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
High Algae Extract
High Algin
Medium Almond Oil
Medium Apricot Kernel Oil
Medium Arachidic Acid
Medium Ascorbyl Palmitate
Medium Avocado Oil
Medium Azulene
Medium Behenic acid
Medium Benzaldehyde
Medium Benzoic Acid
Medium BHA
High Bismuth oxychloride may cause cystic acne
High Butyl Stearate
Medium Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Medium Cajeput Oil
Medium Camphor
Medium Capric Acid
Medium Caprylic acid
High Carrageenans
Medium Cetearyl Alcohol
High Cetearyl Alcohol + Ceteareth 20
Medium Cetyl Alcohol
Medium Chamomile
High Coal tar
High Cocoa Butter
High Coconut Butter
High Coconut Oil
High Colloidal Sulfur
High Corn Oil
High Cotton Aws Oil
High Cotton Seed Oil
High Crisco
High D & C Red # 17
Medium D & C Red # 19
High D & C Red # 21
High D & C Red # 3
High D & C Red # 30
High D & C Red # 36
Medium D & C Red #27
Medium D & C Red #40
High Decyl Oleate
High Dioctyl Succinate
High Disodium Monooleamido PEG 2-Sulfosuccinate
High Ethoxylated Lanolin
High Ethylhexyl Palmitate
Medium Evening Primrose Oil
High Glyceryl Stearate SE -MUST have SE after the stearate
High Glyceryl-3-Disostearate-(MUST have a “3” with it)
Medium Grape Seed Oil (extract is OK)
High Hexadecyl Alcohol
Medium Hexylene Glycol
High Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
High Isocetyl Stearate
High Isodecyl Oleate
High isoproply linoleate
High Isopropyl Isosterate
High Isopropyl lanolate
High Isopropyl Myristate
High Isopropyl Palmitate
High isostearic acid
High isostearyl acid
High Isostearyl Isostearate
High Isostearyl Neopentanoate
High lanolic acid
High Laureth 23
High Laureth 4
High Lauric Acid
High Linseed oil
High Mink Oil
High Myreth 3 myrstate
High Myristic Acid
High Myristyl Lactate
High Myristyl Myristate
High Octyl Palmitate
High Octyl Stearate
Medium Octyldodecanol
High Oleic Acid
Medium Oleth-10
High Oleth-3
High Oleyl Alcohol
Medium Olive Oil (but Olive Oil Extract is OK)
Medium Palmitic Acid
Medium Peach Kernel Oil
Medium Peanut Oil
Medium PEG 100 Distearate
Medium PEG 150 Distearate
High PEG 16 Lanolin
High PEG 200 Dilaurate
Medium Peg 75 lanolin
High PEG 8 Stearate
Medium Pentarythrital Tetra Isostearate
Medium PG Dipelargonate
Medium PG Dipelargonate
High PG Monostearate
High Polyglyceryl-3-Disostearate (the “3” must be present)
High Potassium Chloride
High PPG 2 Myristyl Propionate
High Propylene Glycol Monostearate
High Red Algae
Medium Sandalwood Seed Oil
Medium Sesame Oil
High Shark Liver Oil
High Salt – Table Salt or Sodium Chloride
High Sodium Laureth Sulfate
High Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-leaves a film on skin-clogs pores
High Solulan 16
High Sorbitan Oleate
High Sorbitan Sesquinoleate
High Soybean Oil
High Steareth 10
Medium Steareth 2
Medium Steareth 20
Medium Stearic Acid
High Stearic Acid Tea
Medium Stearyl Alcohol
High Stearyl Heptanoate
High Sulfated Castor Oil
High Sulfated Jojoba Oil (Jojoba beads are OK)
High Syearyl Heptanoate
Medium Tocopherol (Tocopherol Acetate is OK)
Medium Triethanolamine
Medium Vitamin A Palmitate-(ONLY this form of Vitamin A)
High Wheat Germ Glyceride
High Wheat Germ Oil
High Xylene


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