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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.
Non-comedogenic is a fancy way of saying the product shouldn't block your pores. Many makeup and skincare ingredients can cause pore blockage, and while this isn't always a problem for some skin types, those prone to breakouts and other skin issues likely need to avoid pore-blocking additives. Avoiding specific oils and pore-blockers while choosing products with skin healing and breakout-preventing ingredients like salicylic acid can help.
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'Oréal Paris 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 likely won't be a struggle to find your match. With a formula that blends into the skin effortlessly withoutclogging 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 helping to treat 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 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 does not contain the contaminants that unrefined petroleum has been known for. While mineral oil is thought to worsen breakouts and is often not recommended for acne-prone skin, one study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that mineral oil in skincare is not considered comedogenic.
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 that may fight blemishes during your wear time.
What to Look For in a Foundation
Avoid Some Oily Formulas
Some oily products can block pores, leading to breakouts and other skin issues. While some oils on their own are acne-friendly, many non-comedogenic products will be oil-free. Oils to avoid include coconut oil, palm, soybean, wheat germ, flaxseed, and ester oils, like myristyl myristate. Oils that are acceptable (or even beneficial) include rosehip oil, squalane, sunflower seed oil, hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil, and jojoba.
Products Without Comedogens
With non-comedogenic products, it's more important to look for what they do not have that might block pores. While there is no standard list, studies have revealed the worst offenders. Some types of ingredients to avoid include isopropyl myristate and its derivatives, lanolins, and D&C red dyes. Choosing a product with minimal, natural ingredients can help reduce the likelihood of it causing your skin to react.
To get the most value from your non-comedogenic foundation, looking for blemish-busting and skin-healing ingredients. Ingredients to look for include salicylic acid, retinol, vitamin E, and squalane.
How Do I Know if My Foundation is Non-Comedogenic
Most non-comedogenic foundations will be labeled as such. When it isn't clearly marked on the product, scanning its ingredients list for pore-clogging ingredients, like the ones listed above, can help. Also, consider bringing any makeup in question to your next dermatologist appointment—your doctor can help identify anything that could be clogging your pores or causing any additional skin issues.
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 caution: much like the term hypoallergenic, there's currently no approved industry regulation of non-comedogenic standards (meaning no official test or checklist a product needs to meet before it can sport the label).
What are comedones?
Comedones are clogged pores that 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.
What are emollients?
Emollients are softening and moisture-locking agents, like butters, oils, esters, lipids, and fatty acids. The word is also used to describe a category of products that contain these ingredients, like lotions, creams, and ointments.