No-breakout makeup: drugstore foundation

The best affordable foundations of 2019

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Nov 20, 2019 · 4 min read

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Using makeup to cover up acne can be tricky — even if you’re a pro at finding your perfect shade match. Foundation can be expensive, and choosing the one that’s right for your unique skin can be ultra confusing. If you’re acne-prone or have sensitive skin, finding a non-comedogenic drugstore foundation is the most budget-friendly way to cover up blemishes without making your breakout worse.

The best drugstore foundations, reviewed

There are plenty of non-comedogenic foundations at the drugstore. I looked at all of them (with generous research assistance from Vicky Kriv — thanks, cupcake ❤) to see what’s currently available in terms of the best cheap foundation. Then, I analyzed each to find ideal matches for common skin concerns based on the product’s formulation and finish. Without further ado, here are my picks for the best drugstore foundations of 2019.

The best full-coverage foundation

Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation

  • 2-in-1 foundation and concealer makes this super-duper full-coverage

  • Semi-matte finish that softens the appearance of skin

  • Works well with all skin types

  • 18 shades from Alabaster to Truffle

$8.99 via Target

The best foundation for mature skin

CoverGirl + Olay Simply Ageless Foundation

  • Light, buildable coverage

  • Natural, glowy finish

  • Cream formula with moisturizing ingredients like niacinamide smooths and fills in skin texture

  • 11 shades from Ivory to Classic Tan; skews pale. For deeper skin tones, check out Black Radiance’s mousse foundation, which is non-comedogenic and creamy, too!

$13.49 via Walgreens

The best foundation for dry skin

Pixi H20 Skintint Foundation

  • Hydrating formula with moisturizing ingredients creates a glowy finish

  • Easy to apply (just use your fingers!)

  • Light, buildable coverage (for full coverage, check out Neutrogena Hydro Boost foundation)

  • 6 shades from Cream to Espresso

$24.00 via Pixi Beauty

The best foundation for combination skin

e.l.f. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation

  • Satin finish flexes with your face to stay matte in oily parts but not cake onto dry parts

  • Full-coverage — a little goes a long way

  • Maintains skin hydration with dimethicone and glycerin

  • 41 shades from Lily to Ebony

$6.00 via Target

The best foundation for oily skin

LA Girl Pro.Matte Foundation

  • Matte finish keeps your face from getting shiny

  • Medium, buildable coverage

  • Minimal blotting necessary with long-lasting wear — especially if you set your makeup!

  • 24 shades from Ivory to Ebony

$8.99 via CVS

The best foundation for acne-prone skin

Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup

$14.59 via Neutrogena

The best foundation for large pores

Sleek Makeup Lifeproof Foundation

  • Medium, buildable coverage with a pore-minimizing blur finish

  • Moisturizing ingredients make this great for dry skin

  • Combine it with a talc-free setting powder to achieve a more matte, long-lasting look

  • 24 shades from fair to deep

$10.99 via Walgreens

The best foundation cushion

Wet n’ Wild MegaCushion Foundation

  • Medium, buildable coverage

  • Liquid formula with moisturizing ingredients leaves a dewy finish

  • Works well with all skin types

  • 4 shades from Buff Beige to Tawny

$8.99 via Ulta

The best powder foundation

L’Oreal Paris True Match Loose Powder Mineral Foundation

  • Works best for oily skin types — if you’re dry, use a moisturizing primer

  • Mineral powder with kaolin clay makes this gentle on sensitive skin

  • Light coverage with a matte finish

  • 9 shades ranging from Natural Buff to Natural Beige

$14.99 via Walgreens

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Ingredients to avoid

One of the downfalls of using just about any cosmetic product is that a lot of common ingredients can be pore-clogging or irritating. If you have sensitive skin, here are the skincare villains most commonly found in drugstore foundations:

  • Chondrus Crispus (pore-clogging)

  • Denatured Alcohol (irritating)

  • Ethylhexyl Palmitate (pore-clogging)

  • Glyceryl Stearate SE (pore-clogging)

  • Glycine Soja Oil (pore-clogging)

  • Isopropyl Palmitate (pore-clogging)

  • Isostearyl Neopentanoate (pore-clogging, irritating)

  • Laureth-4 (pore-clogging, irritating)

  • Octyl Palmitate (pore-clogging)

  • Polyglyceryl-3-Diisostearate (pore-clogging)

If you suspect your current foundation is breaking you out, use the CosDNA test to see if it contains pore-clogging ingredients. But if your skin tolerates a foundation that contains some of these ingredients, it’s probably fine to keep using it. Keep in mind that the lower an ingredient appears on an ingredient list, the smaller the amount contained in the product.

The trick to happy skin

Common skin woes like acne and signs of aging got you down? Sign up for a free trial of Curology (just pay $4.95 plus tax for shipping and handling), and a dermatology provider will prescribe you a custom cream to treat your unique skin needs. For no additional cost, we’ll throw in your complete non-comedogenic skin routine, with a cleanser and your choice of moisturizer. You don’t have to ride the struggle bus alone — get a free month of Curology and start getting happier, healthier skin today.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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