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8 makeup products that won't make you break out, according to experts

"When it comes to makeup, less is more."
TODAY Illustration / Sephora / Ulta / Kosas
/ Source: TODAY

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We certainly love makeup, but sometimes, our skin doesn't exactly see eye to eye with us. Over the years, we've fallen for plenty of products that eventually turned our skin into a blotchy mess, but this year we're determined to treat our complexion with a little extra TLC.

We called up some top dermatologists to find out what makeup ingredients are most likely to cause acne and breakouts and asked them for some of their go-to product recommendations. Here are some of their faves!

How to shop for makeup for acne-prone skin

Before we get down to the nitty gritty and list some "must avoid" ingredients, it's important to learn some keywords to help you spot makeup products that won't send your skin into a tizzy.

"The first thing to look for when shopping for makeup is that the product is non-comedogenic. This term means that makeup won’t cause or aggravate acne. If you're especially oily, you may also want to look for products that are labeled as oil-free," Dr. Alan Parks, founder of DermWarehouse, explained. Hypoallergenic is another interchangeable keyword to seek out.

It might sound obvious, but a short ingredients list is also a good sign that a product doesn't have any potentially irritating ingredients. "When it comes to makeup, less is more," Jasmine Barrow, esthetician for The LA Facialist, said.

Makeup ingredients to avoid if you have acne breakouts

Looking for a one-stop shop cheat sheet to help you avoid unwanted breakouts? Keep your eye out for these ingredients the pros say can cause acne.

  • Oils: "Oils like coconut, almond and avocado can clog pores and cause breakouts," dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling said.
  • Acrylics: "Acrylics help ingredients stick together, but it’s the same as putting plastic on your skin. Anything underneath will get trapped and clog your pores," Dr. Stacy Chimento, board-certified dermatologist of Miami's Riverchase Dermatology, said.
  • Silicone:"Silicones make products like primers and foundations feel silky and smooth (and can have the same effect on the skin). However, because of silicones’ occlusive properties, they may be dehydrating and clog pores on certain skin types," Chimento told us.
  • Alcohol: "Alcohol can be drying and irritating. If you have existing breakouts, alcohol may inflame pimples or make them temporarily worse," Chimento said.
  • Talc: "That might sound like some new social media app, but really it's just waiting to clog up your pores," Barrow said.

Makeup for acne-prone skin to try, recommended by experts

Maybelline Fit Me Liquid Concealer

Most of us use concealer to cover up blemishes and redness, but if you use a heavy formula, it can sometimes continue the cycle of irritated skin. Luckily, Chimento let us know about this gentle concealer that won't aggravate your complexion. "It's lightweight, breathable, oil-free and non-comedogenic," she noted.

The budget-friendly find from Maybelline tackles redness, pimples and dark circles with ease. It also matches your skin tone to provide clean, natural coverage.

Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Foundation

Once upon a time, skin-friendly makeup wasn't exactly commonplace, but board-certified dermatologist Mary Lupo told us that the industry has made great strides in recent years. "Most cosmetic companies are doing a good job making the final makeup less comedogenic," she said.

The skin care savant recommended this oil-free, hypoallergenic foundation for acne-prone skin from Neutrogena that's formulated with acne-fighting salicylic acid. The bestseller (with 3,100+ five-star ratings on Amazon) helps conceal, treat and prevent new breakouts, but Lupo said it's essential that you remove it before bed so it doesn't cause future skin care conundrums.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer

Love tinted moisturizer because it's a lot lighter than heavier foundations? Some formulas can still upset sensitive skin, but Chimento said this one is a pretty safe bet. "Not only is it lightweight and oil-free, but this tinted moisturizer is also filled with antioxidants that help nourish the skin," she told us.

The broad spectrum SPF 20 BB cream offers light coverage that looks ultra natural. And while it evens out skin tone, the multitasker also improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and protects skin against free radical damage with the help of antioxidants like vitamin E.

Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer and Daytime Eye Cream

One of Barrow's favorite concealers also happens to be great for your skin. "The unique formula actually helps improve the appearance of your complexion to reveal better skin, and it has a brightening dewy finish that I just love," she said.

The three-in-one concealer, eye cream and spot treatment from Kosas comes in 28 shades and has "buildable coverage" and a "smooth finish" according to the skin care maven. It's also vegan and cruelty-free and has several powerhouse ingredients like caffeine (a de-puffer), hyaluronic acid (a hydrator) and arnica (for calming blemishes).

Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup

"For someone who is particularly oily, it can help to incorporate a makeup with a small amount of salicylic acid to help reduce oil and unclog the pores, such as this one," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick advised.

Available in 16 shades, the skin-clearing solution works as both a makeup must-have and a skin care staple. "It provides coverage for blemishes and helps to reduce redness, which is particularly helpful for those with acne or acne marks," the derm said.

bareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin Clearing Powder Foundation

This isn't your average mineral foundation! For starters, it's chock-full of ingredients that make skin pretty darn happy. "It contains zinc, sulfur, kaolin clay and salicylic acid, so it not only helps to mattify the appearance of the skin, but it also works to reduce the appearance of pores and improve breakouts," Garshick revealed.

When using a makeup product with salicylic acid, the derm advises against using multiple other skin-clearing products. "It is important to ensure you are not using too many active ingredients on your skin as this can increase the potential for dryness and irritation," she said.

Dermablend Flawless Creator Foundation Drops

Anyone with sensitive skin knows that heavy foundations can spell disaster for your complexion, but these lightweight foundation drops even out skin tone and offer full coverage without clogging pores, according to Chimento. "The water-free and oil-free formula was developed with only 10 ingredients to suit all skin types, skin tones and skin conditions," she explained.

The bestseller (with 2,400+ five-star ratings on Amazon!) comes in 21 shades and is both non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. The vegan formula is also made without parabens, which is a major plus in our humble opinion.

Noto Botanics Multi-Bene Stick

This two-in-one product is one of Barrow's makeup must-haves and we can see why. "It provides color and glow and is amazing for on-the-go touchups," she revealed.

The hard worker can be used on lips or cheeks and has buildable color that comes from safe vegan ingredients. "Personally, I always look for clean, natural and organic. If you suffer from oily or acne-prone skin, keep an eye out for labels that cater to you," Barrow advised.

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