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When it comes to keeping acne, breakouts, and large pores at bay during the day, a non-comedogenic foundation is the way to go. Why? Because new formulas have been developed to avoid clogging your pores and preventing the cyclical drama of covering up your blemishes only to create new ones.
Keep scrolling for the Byrdie edit of the best non-comedogenic foundations.
Best Overall: Bare Minerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15
This award-winning mineral foundation has a legion of loyal fans for a reason. bareMinerals' no-nasties formula is light on your skin, but it can be built up for coverage, while the ingredients are so pure you can sleep in it without waking up to zits galore. (We always recommend washing your face before bed, though.)
Best Budget: L'Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Liquid Foundation
For a velvety finish, this lightweight L'Oreal foundation is a winner. With 23 shades in the range, it won't be a struggle to find your match. With a formula that blends into the skin effortlessly without clogging pores, it's not hard to see why this foundation is a long-time favorite.
Best Splurge: Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation
Thanks to its patented formula, breathable coverage is the main aim of this cosmeceutical foundation. The ingredients all support regenerating cell production and boosting the healing process, meaning you'll be treating your breakouts while camouflaging. Who doesn't love a multitasker?
Best Luminous Finish: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
Long-wear foundations are often the main culprits for clogging skin, but that doesn't seem to be the case with this 16-hour foundation from NARS. The formula may be lightweight, but the pigment payoff is vast, meaning great coverage without any pore-clogging or caking.
Best Natural Finish: Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation
Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless petrolatum derivative; when used in cosmetics, it's highly refined and purified and therefore does not contain the contaminants that unrefined petroleum has been known for. Because it sits on top of the skin, it's quite comedogenic (pore-clogging).
A two-in-one concealer and foundation, this formula makes light work of covering redness, dark circles, uneven skin tone, and even tattoos. As is the Cover FX way, it's also free from parabens, fragrance, mineral oil, and talc, and it comes in an impressive shade range.
Best Longwear Formula: Becca Cosmetics Ultimate Coverage 24 Hour Foundation
If you love a creamy consistency, this full-coverage foundation from Becca is for you. With its breathable formula, this Complexion Créme covers redness and imperfections without suffocating pores.
What Our Testers Say
"It covered my hyperpigmentation well and blended seamlessly with my neck and chest." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation
Engineered to cling to oily skin without suffocating or clogging your pores, this oil-free foundation also contains antibacterial salicylic acid to fight blemishes during your wear time.
What is non-comedogenic makeup?
Non-comedogenic makeup swaps traditional makeup ingredients for lighter, less oily alternatives that’ll be less likely to sit in your pores and cause blockages.
However, one word of warning: much like the term hypoallergenic, there's currently no approved industry regulation of non-comedogenic standards. In other words, there's no official test or checklist a product needs to meet before it can sport the label. That's why it's super important to do your research. Now, what might clog the pores of one face may not necessarily affect another in the same way (which is why regulation is so tricky). Still, it's a good idea to check the ingredients list for heavy or thick oils and emollients.
What are comedones?
So the medical term for a clogged pore (pores, by the way, are just hair follicles) is a comedone. Comedones can be either open—aka a blackhead—when the oil and bacteria clogging the pore has become oxidized by the air and changes color, or closed—aka a whitehead—which is buried just underneath the skin. If you tend to have larger, more open pores on your face, then slathering on heavy makeup every day is going to congest your skin, which may result in more comedones, no matter how thoroughly you cleanse and exfoliate. So it's a good idea to look for non-comedogenic formulas.
What are emollients?
Emollients serve as softening and moisture-locking agents, like butters, oils, esters, lipids, and fatty acids. It can also be used to describe a category of products that contain these ingredients, like lotions, creams, and ointments.