These Are the 8 Best Foundations for Sensitive Skin, According to Dermatologists

These liquid and powder foundations are formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients to hydrate skin without clogging pores.

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If you've ever dealt with sensitive skin, you know how reactive it can be whenever you attempt to put anything on it, and foundations are no exception. While the makeup offers a base for other products and coverage for blemishes and dark spots, with sensitive skin, the wrong one "can lead to irritation or even acne breakouts," Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Health.

But not all foundations are bad—just the ones that can trigger an inflammatory reaction. Because people with sensitive skin can be more prone to itching, dryness, and irritation from wearing makeup, Atlanta-based board-certified dermatologist Tiffany L. Clay, MD recommends steering clear of foundations with fragrances, which could lead to an itch or a rash. She also recommends avoiding alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids because they "can cause dryness, burning, and redness whereas mineral oil can worsen clogged pores and acne."

These are the best foundations for sensitive skin:

What should you look for in a foundation for sensitive skin?

The best foundations for sensitive skin provide ample coverage without causing redness or breakouts. When it comes to choosing the right foundation, Clay says to look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, a humectant that draws in and retains moisture to minimize dryness, and niacinamide (or vitamin B3), which helps reduce inflammation and the appearance of pores.

At the same time, Clay suggests avoiding certain oils, like wheat germ, avocado, and coconut. However, grapeseed, hemp seed, jojoba, tea tree, and sunflower oils are considered non-comedogenic, which means they won't clog pores and cause acne.

Zeichner recommends that oily, sensitive skin types stick to powder or mineral-based foundations. Because they are made from tiny particles and are oil-free, they "are less likely to block the pores and cause breakouts," he says.

There are a variety of foundations to choose from, so we asked Clay and Zeichner for their input on how to find the best ones for sensitive skin. Below, see their recommendations for sensitive skin-friendly foundations that won't irritate or cause a flareup—and read what customers have to say about them, too.

Best Overall: Dermablend Flawless Creator Liquid Foundation Drops

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Ulta

Because it ticks all of the boxes, Clay claims this foundation from Dermablend is "best overall." It's formulated without oils, fragrances, and phthalates, so it shouldn't cause breakouts. But it does contain iron oxides, which block out high-energy light that contributes to hyperpigmentation and signs of aging, says Clay. The non-comedogenic foundation has been tested by dermatologists and is suitable for all skin types––oily, combination, sensitive, and acne-prone—and promises 16 hours of smudge- and transfer-resistant coverage when applied with a setting powder. Plus, it "comes in several different shades, only has 10 ingredients, and can be used to create light or full coverage," she adds.

Shoppers laud this foundation for its lightweight formula, blendability, and easy application. "I absolutely love this foundation and switched from Kat Von D's line to this," said an Ulta reviewer. "It's a better color match, blends well, doesn't cause breakouts, [is] sensitive enough to go over existing breakouts, dries matte, and does not [show] pores when a powder is baked on. Hands down the best and will continue to purchase."

Best Budget: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint Foundation

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Target

This customer-favorite foundation from Neutrogena is a drugstore mainstay. It's enriched with humectants, such as glycerin and glycol, that penetrate the skin and trap moisture, and hyaluronic acid to "prevent sensitive skin from getting dry," Clay says. Formulated without fragrances, phthalates, and oil, the tint won't clog your pores or irritate sensitive skin. Plus, the water-gel-based foundation is under $20. To apply, gently dab it onto your face and blend in using upward and outward motions.

An Amazon shopper wrote: "I do not wear makeup often because my skin is sensitive and I typically get a few breakouts after wearing makeup for a day. There are some brands I've found that don't irritate my skin badly but they're fairly expensive. I use several Neutrogena products, so I was hopeful this foundation would work for me… It's been a full 24 hours since I've worn the foundation and I've had no skin reactions to it. I'm so excited to find a reasonably priced foundation that feels good and doesn't cause a breakout.

Best Powder: BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation SPF 15

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Sephora

This powder mineral foundation comes highly recommended by Zeichner for people with oily skin. Its mineral particles are small enough so as not to clog pores, and "it offers effective coverage without causing breakouts," says Zeichner. While lightweight, the formula offers buildable coverage––from sheer all the way to full––and is best applied using circular motions, which activates the minerals. It's available in 30 shades, suiting a variety of skin tones.

"I will never buy another foundation, other than this one! I used liquid for a few years, it was too heavy and too much effort for everyday use," said a Sephora customer. "Clogged my pores. I have combo skin––my TZone gets very oily. This foundation can go on light-medium coverage with a brush or full coverage with a sponge. Covers up any imperfections perfectly. Stays on my skin for 10+ hours! I have noticed my skin not break out as much either. If you are contemplating getting this, just get it."

Best Stick: Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer SPF 25

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Macy's

Winter is no match for this hydrating stick. While it's technically a concealer, the hydration and coverage it provides has Zeichner recommending its off-label use as a foundation; it provides buildable coverage for blemishes, spots, dark circles, and uneven skin tone. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, theanine, and antioxidant-filled Japanese pearl extract to hydrate parched skin and green tea to hunt down free radicals caused by environmental stressors like UV rays, the formula is non-irritating, according to Zeichner. The dewiness and silk-like feel are just luxurious cherries on top.

"I am very sensitive in the undereye area. I have tried every product no matter the cost. This concealer adds moisture yet stays on, and it is non irritating," wrote a Macy's reviewer. "This concealer was made for me. It is long wear, too. I use it every day even when going boating or to the beach. It protects and stays on. It has improved the look of fine lines around my eyes."

Best Cream: Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Amazon

This product also does double-duty as a foundation and concealer, and it can provide full coverage with just one layer. Along with vitamins C and E, the formula also contains the lesser-seen vitamin F, which contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps maintain hydration levels, thus soothing irritated skin. And it's enriched with squalane, a fatty molecule that has been clinically shown to reduce redness and swelling. Free of talc, fragrance, parabens, mineral oil, and sulfates, the foundation likely won't upset delicate skin. Another perk? It "comes in a variety of shades to suit all skin tones," Zeichner says.

One Amazon shopper said the Cover FX cream foundation has been their "holy grail foundation for years." They continued: "I use [shade] G70 and it's a perfect match for my skin tone. I suffer from eczema pretty bad on my face, and it occasionally gets red and splotchy on bad days. This covers it right up without feeling heavy or drying, or tight. I find that if my skin is having a good day, I don't need as much, and it makes my face look flawless. My skin is on the drier side, so if you have oilier skin, it might move on the skin quite a bit, I'd recommend a good setting powder."

Best Unscented: Colorescience Natural Finish Pressed Foundation SPF 20

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Dermstore

If you're looking for an unscented foundation, look no further than Colorsciences Natural Finish Pressed Foundation. The powder formula is filled with vitamin E and squalane, which, when applied topically, tact as a barrier, softening the skin and sealing in moisture. Mica, a silicate mineral, gives the foundation its shiny and pearl-like appearance. "This mineral foundation gives cosmetic coverage and sun protection, is parabe-n and phthalate-free and has no synthetic fragrances," Zeichner says. Clay adds that the formula "is very lightweight and also contains antioxidants to aid in anti-aging and defending against UV damage." Apply using a kabuki brush for best results.

"I absolutely adore this powder. I was forced to look elsewhere because my usual face powder is constantly sold out, and now I'm glad I was. I was looking for a powder that helped with shine and had SPF and this one is AWESOME," wrote a Dermstore reviewer. "I have really severe allergies (to formaldehyde and thimerosal) and I love that this is compliant with clean ingredients."

Best for Eczema: Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Foundation

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Sephora

Clay calls out Ilia's serum as a great option because it "contains hyaluronic acid to help hydrate dry skin, which is essential for someone with eczema-prone skin as their skin has trouble maintaining moisture." With the help of hydrating emollients like squalane, niacinamide, and lecithin, the tint draws water to the skin while smoothing lines. It's free of silicones, oil, fragrances, and chemical sunscreen, and there are 30 shades available to accommodate different skin tones.

"I am 60 years old, and have very dry, sensitive skin, with random patches of eczema at times," said an Ilia shopper, who continued, "When I try to go full coverage, it invariably ends up cakey and ugly after a few hours on all the dry areas. My first thought when I opened the bottle was that it was way too dark for my complexion, but surprisingly it blended in beautifully. It begins with a thick, almost oily finish, but after a few minutes it absorbed into my skin nicely, while still leaving a dewy finish… Overall, I'm very happy with it and have worn it every day since it came in, with no irritation so that's a big plus. Oh, and I love the mineral SPF, since chemical sunscreens cause burning and breakouts on my skin."

Best for Psoriasis: MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation

Best foundations for sensitive skin
Ulta

Psoriasis produces red, scaly, and dry skin and can be triggered by cold weather, stress, an infection, and certain medications. One way to cover up scaly patches (without the irritation) is by using this foundation from MAC, formulated without oil, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, coal tar, and formaldehyde. "MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 is great for psoriasis because the liquid is best to avoid accentuating dryness or peeling that might occur," says Clay. It's lightweight yet buildable, so you can cover up redness and discoloration without that cakey texture. Bonus? It's long-wearing, lasting for up to 24 hours.

"I have sensitive skin. Like, wash my face with bottled water sensitive. I've been having such a hard time finding the right foundation but I have not had ANY redness or breakouts with this and I now have the glowing skin of an infant," raved one happy customer. "10/10, slayed. Make sure to hydrate your skin before. Skincare is so important under water-based makeup especially but honey the finish this gives is divine."

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