#AskCharlotte: What is the Best Foundation for Sensitive Skin With Acne?

Charlotte’s Book is a trusted place to find and share information on the best in skincare, anti-aging, aesthetics, and wellness. Ask Charlotte your beauty or wellness question, and we’ll call upon one of the experts in The Book to provide you with the most up-to-date information.

Recently, a Charlotte’s Book reader reached out for advice about finding a good foundation for sensitive skin with acne and lingering scars:
“Would you please provide some information for a creamy foundation for sensitive dry skin and also covers some old acne scars?”

Isn’t it ironic that the most troublesome skin types that need makeup the most are also the trickiest ones to find foundations for that don’t exacerbate issues, like redness, breakouts and inflammation? To answer this #AskCharlotte question, we tapped two experts for their best recommendations.

First, here’s what New York City celebrity makeup artist Brian Duprey suggested:
“Of course, I have an answer for everything, so I definitely have something to say here. I love Nars Sheer Glow Foundation ($45) for dry sensitive skin. Unlike the name implies, I don’t find it to be sheer, but rather more full coverage. Because of that, it has the perfect coverage factor. You may still need concealer in certain spots, but on its own, it covers perfectly and the shades are skin tone real. I prefer to apply it with a brush because it keeps my hands clean and allows me to build more where needed, and apply less where I want less. I’m also a big fan of Nars Sheer Matte Foundation. It’s not a typically dry matte, but does keep glow to a minimum—I’ve never found it too dry for dry skin.”

We also reached out to New York City cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Here’s his answer:
“I usually recommend mineral based makeup or powder foundations for acne-prone skin because the makeup particles tend to sit on the surface of the skin rather than getting into and blocking your pores. If you do prefer a liquid foundation, choose one that contains a low concentration of salicylic acid, which helps open clogged pores. They can be effective, but be careful about causing skin irritation, especially if you are using other acne treatments that can dry out your skin.”

Charlotte Knows….
A moisturizing, calming spritz of rose water before applying any foundation will simultaneously soothe sensitive skin and help your makeup go on flawlessly. A good powder mineral foundation is Bare Minerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15, $28, and a liquid mineral foundation we like is MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF15 Foundation, $35.  If you need even heavier coverage to conceal a lot of red or brown spots from acne scars, CoverFX Natural Finish Oil Free Foundation, $40, builds up to full coverage. Also, Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup, $12, contains .5% salicylic acid and recommended by several of our experts.

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  • Arianna Kasabian

    Very interested in the rose water to soothe sensitive skin, I wonder if there are any products that include rose water to simultaneously calm skin while providing coverage?

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