If you have sensitive skin, you may wear little makeup, especially foundation. But today’s cosmetics market has many formulas designed to protect acne-prone, very dry, and very oily skin. Just take a look at the best foundations for sensitive skin here in this review.
Choose from light, medium, or full coverage, as well as liquid, powder, and airbrush makeup foundations. We selected the top formulas and brands that enhance your beauty without irritating your face.
Before we begin, here’s a little information about the best ingredients and ones to avoid, plus how to choose the best color for your skin tone.
Common ingredients in makeup foundation for sensitive skin
- Liquid foundations for sensitive skin are water-based, so water should be one of the first ingredients in the list
- Dimethicone, a silicon derivative, seals in moisture and hides redness, but could cause a reaction in very sensitive people
- Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and silica hide redness and absorb oil
- Zinc oxide is a mineral that works as a natural sunscreen
- Some matte finishes contain talc, which could irritate very sensitive skin
- Tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) is often includes because it helps heal
- Niacinamide, or Vitamin B3, reduces redness and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier
Avoid products with these ingredients:
- Petroleum derivatives
- SLS, sodium lauryl sulfate, may irritate skin and eyes, cause acne
- Parabens that disrupt hormones and are linked to cancer
- Fragrances, because these mystery chemicals are among the top 5 allergens
- Oils, of course, only make the problem worse—with the exception being Jojoba oil
- Alcohols—not fatty alcohols, but SD denatured and isopropyl, kinds that dry out your skin
We’ll try to point out problem ingredients as we review each product. Some foundations may contain one or two undesirables, but otherwise are good. The farther down the ingredient list the problem appears, the less of it makes up the formula. Now let’s look at tips for picking the best color.
Selecting the best color foundation for your skin
Choosing the best color to blend with your skin tone isn’t too hard if you can test the foundation yourself. It’s best if you can place a small sample along your jawline and look at it in the daylight. See if the foundation disappears against your skin.
Check the undertones to see if they match your coloring. Look at the veins in your wrist. Do they look greenish? Then you have warm-toned skin. Do they appear bluish or purplish? Then you have cool-toned skin. Some people have neutral toned skin because they have a mix of both.
Also take into account that what looks great on you in the winter might not cut it in the summertime. Some beauty experts handle the transition times between seasons by having both lighter and darker foundations on hand, then blending them for a perfect match.
Now let’s begin the reviews of the best foundations for sensitive skin.
The top makeup foundations
We’ll start with one of the most common types of foundation—liquids. Liquids look good on all ages, unlike powders which may not suit older users. Liquids can provide everything from barely-there coverage to a flawless finish for a photoshoot.
LORAC Natural Performance Foundation
LORAC, a cosmetics company started by makeup artist to the stars, Carol Shaw, is known for high quality products made without parabens, sulfates, and other undesirables. In fact, their Natural Performance Foundation doesn’t have synthetic fragrances or dyes or phthalates, either.
What is does have is a formula containing Vitamin A and xyleine—a mix of extracts from olive leaf, papaya fruit, and lemons. LORAC says it has natural cell regenerating qualities. Users say the foundation goes on smooth, feels light, and has good coverage. It’s available in 8 colors.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Teint Mattifying Mousse Matte Foundation for Oily Skin and Sensitive Skin
La Roche-Posay is a brand recommended by dermatologists for their non-comedogenic foundations. The Toleriance Teint Mattifying Mousse is free of oils, parabens, and fragrances that can irritate skin. It comes in 5 shades for light to medium skin.
Its formula hides blemishes and pores, and soaks up oil to provide a matte finish. The oil reducer is a proprietary ingredient called Airlicium that keeps shine under control all day long. The full list includes: Dimethicone, Undecane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Tridecane, Tocopheryl Acetate, Silica Silylate, Perlite, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Retinyl Linoleate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Titanium Dioxide, and Iron Oxides.
Pay attention to the ingredient called Retinyl Linoleate—if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, consider using a different foundation. While Vitamin A derivatives like retinol, etc., can help clear up acne, they can increase your risk of damage from sunlight.
bareEscentuals bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation SPF 20
When you see the brand name bareMinerals, you probably think of powders. In this case, they also sell a Pure Brightening Serum Foundation that’s a liquid. It even has SPF 20 to protect your face from UV rays, and it comes in 20 colors.
Users say it doesn’t even feel like they’re wearing makeup, but they can see the difference on their skin. The foundation serum has a slight shimmer to it and it definitely brightens up skin tone.
The ingredients include titanium dioxide as a sunscreen, Vitamin C for fading dark spots, glycerin for hydration, Vitamin E, Lilac Leaf Cell Culture Extract and Plant Stem Cells, Mica, and other derivatives of natural substances like coconut and jojoba.
Dermablend Cover Foundation Creme SPF 30
Dermablend’s Cover Foundation Crème with SPF 30 is perfect if you need serious coverage that lasts all day and withstands perspiration and even a dip in the pool.
Users who say they have sensitive skin have worn this foundation successfully without irritating their skin. Some say it works very well as a concealer instead of an all-over base.
The ingredient list contains mineral oil and talc, two things that can cause trouble for very sensitive skin. But if you need intense coverage, this could be something to try on a small patch of skin and see how you react. It comes in 18 colors.
Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Fluid Liquid Foundation
Vichy’s Dermafinish comes in 4 colors for light to medium tone skin. It’s a high coverage formula designed to hide flaws like scars, and it does a great job. This foundation lasts up to 16 hours and provides SPF 30 sunscreen against both UVA and UVB rays.
It’s fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, tested against allergies and on sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers.
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation comes in 20 shades, from light with neutral undertones to dark with espresso undertones. It’s going to be hard to not find the exact color you need when you see this collection.
The formula provides good coverage while feeling weightless on skin. It lasts up to 16 hours. Just one note: it contains Retinyl Palmitate, which may actually make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Some makeup wearers avoid Vitamin A derivatives in products they wear outdoors.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
While this may be the most expensive foundation in our lineup today, it’s also one of the best products, at least according to one internationally-known makeup artist. We’re a little doubtful because the formula contains parabens and a mysterious “fragrance.” But we’re reviewing products for sensitive skin, so we’re being picky.
This silky medium coverage foundation hides redness and pores but feels very lightweight and breathable. In fact, one user described the appearance as having a “dewy glow.” While you can apply it with your fingers, Giorgio Armani recommends using a brush for a flawless result.
For your benefit (since they’re a little hard to find), here are the alleged ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Isododecane, Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Phenoxyethanol, Acetylated Glycol Stearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Tristearin, Cellulose Gum, Nylon-12, Limonene, Benzyl Salicylate, Linalool, Diphenyl Dimethicone, Acrylates Copolymer, Fragrance, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Aluminum Hydroxide, Hexyl Cinnamal, and May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, and Mica.
Lancome Teint Miracle Bare Skin Foundation SPF 15 Natural Light Creator
Lancôme’s Teint Miracle Bare Skin Foundation with SPF 15 is a product recommended by some well-known beauty sites and makeup artists as well as dermatologists. It comes in 20 shades so you’re likely to find the perfect color.
The lightweight formula is gentle on sensitive skin, but designed to last up to 12 hours. The foundation actually hydrates skin, too, so your face may feel softer even after you take it off.
Organic ingredients for discerning customers
All this talk of chemical ingredients gets depressing, don’t you think? What about foundations made with organic components? Do they work? Let’s find out.
Bella Mari Moisturizing Foundation
Bella Mari’s Moisturizing Foundation protects your skin up to SPF 30 with the power of all-natural zinc oxide. It doesn’t have parabens, petroleum products, synthetic preservatives or fragrances, gluten, soy, or even talc. It’s non-comedogenic and vegan, packaged in glass for easy recycling.
The main ingredients are purified water, candelilla wax, and a host of organics like olive oil, sweet orange oil, bilberry leaf, burdock root, geranium rose oil, and bergamot oil. All that sounds great. What we want to know is whether it’s decent makeup.
Users say it provides good coverage without feeling greasy or being cakey. It needs to be stirred before use and it feels quite thick so you don’t need much. It has a slight citrus scent. If you want a shine-free appearance, top off with a lightweight powder to set the foundation for all day wear.
The Organic Face 100% All Natural Organic Luminous Liquid Foundation
If you have darker-toned skin and are challenged to find foundations in a matching shade, take a look at The Organic Face Luminous Liquid Foundation. Once again, this is an all-natural organic product with no synthetic dyes, fragrances, or preservatives. It’s vegan and gluten-free. The SPF 15 protection comes from zinc, not chemicals.
The Organic Face says their foundation is buildable, and it brightens tone and makes fine lines disappear without caking or flaking. It contains ingredients like beeswax, jojoba oil, green tea, Vitamin E, thyme, grape seed, golden seal, lavender, and rosemary. If you wish to set the foundation for all day wear or get a matte finish, simply dust powder over the top.
Users say it provides good coverage, but isn’t ideal for use by persons with very dry skin or in very dry climates.
Powder foundations may not work for everyone, but these top two picks are quite popular.
Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Mineral Foundation MATTE SPF15
With 18 colors to choose from, the bareMinerals collection of Mineral Foundation doesn’t disappoint. If you want a matte finish that feels light but hides pores and imperfections, test this foundation on your face. It’s so good it’s won awards from Glamour Magazine.
Users like the fact that it hides freckles but makes their skin look natural. The powder formula keeps oil under control without talc, and provides SPF 15 protection.
VINCENT LONGO Water Canvas Creme-To-Powder Foundation
Take your powder foundation up a level with Vincent Longo’s Water Canvas Crème-to-Powder Foundation. It’s oil-free and very lightweight and breathable, but oddly enough, it actually hydrates skin. It contains an ingredient called microwater as well as seaweed extract. It comes in 16 colors.
Users say it won’t hide scars, but it does smooth over small imperfections and discolorations and it gives a dewy glow to any age skin.
For a flawless finish, airbrush it
Seriously, this is how people on TV look so good in UltraHD resolution. Their makeup is spray-painted on their faces and necks.
SEPHORA COLLECTION Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation
Our last foundation is an airbrush formula from Sephora that doesn’t require an airgun to apply it. It comes in a spray can. Because it’s an airbrush formula that needs to come out very light and thin, it does have some no-no ingredients like butane that aren’t best for sensitive skin. But we couldn’t resist sharing it because you can try it without buying into the whole airbrush setup.
Users say the coverage looks matte and feels very light when applied. It lasts for hours without melting or fading. On the bright side, if you’ve reacted badly to brushes or sponges in the past, you won’t need those tools to apply this foundation.
We hope that our review of the best foundations for sensitive skin helped you find the perfect makeup for your complexion. Visit us again soon for more reviews of the best in personal care products today.