What Are The Best Foundations For Sensitive Skin?

The first thing to remember is that everyone's sensitivities are different. Some of us react poorly to chemical sunscreens, others have allergies to essential oils, preservatives can break people out, etc. Which means that there's no one "this definitely won't irritate you" product out in the universe. However, there are several formulations known to be gentle, and if you try a few of them, there's a high likelihood you'll find one that works.

It's only recently become available in the US, but we've been hearing rave reviews about Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation for years now. It's light, non-comedogenic, and the finish is beautiful. If you prefer compact foundation to bottled, Vincent Longo Water Canvas is a creme-to-powder formula that is legendarily friendly to acne-prone skin and anyone else who needs foundation that "breathes." Some skin types also react poorly to brushes or sponges, which is one of the reasons (besides its mild formula) that the Diorskin Airflash foundation spray gets rave reviews.

Have you discovered a foundation that's perfect for sensitive skin? Let us know in the comments—we'd love to hear about what works for you and why it's so great!

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  • Babou

    Bare Minerals original fondation !
    Does not feel cakey, so easy to apply, spf 15, does not give me a mask like look, very natural and has never given me an itch. Plus the color options are really good.
    Word from an eczema girl

    But it is light coverage which I like but does not suit everyone...

  • k8

    i'm super sensitive, dry, and acne-prone so I really can't do foundation at all :/ bobbi brown's tinted moisturizer and stila's tinted moisturizer have both worked really well for me, though! I use a light powder on top for a little extra coverage.

    • Emma

      I have the same skin issues! Makes makeup difficult because most acne fighting products are for OILY skin, which is definitely NOT my problem. Do you know of any drugstore foundations/tinted moisturizers that do the job?

  • Josef Šlaich

    I totally agree with this! Vichy does great make-up for sensitive skin and Clinique CC has a great coverage and on the top of that contains high SPF.

  • book of pretty

    In general, I think mineral based foundations work really well on sensitive skins. They usually have more yellow than pink in them which will help correct redness. Also, if your sensitivity involves acne, mineral foundations have healing agents, like zinc, which can help calm inflammation.

    As for liquid foundations, yes Bourjois Healthy Mix really is as amazing as the internet says it is.

  • Lea

    Maybe the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation, no scent and parabens and have a similar texture and it's not heavy coverage but just enough.

    • Tormented Nostrils

      Oh thanks, will give this one a look.

  • Gina Nicoletta

    I currently have a serious rash on my face from a reaction to a moisturizer (from a brand that specifically caters to sensitive skin too!) and I love the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick and Touch Up Stick, as well as the Tarte BB Tinted Moisturizer. The Bobbi Brown Foundation covers pretty much everything without being cakey and doesn't dry my skin out the way mineral foundation does. The Tarte tinted moisturizer gives decent coverage and the finish is wonderful. Bonus--they come light enough for my super-pale skin!

  • Luisa

    Koh Gen Doh for the win!, no irritations and such perfecting yet natural finish. My skin is dry, thin and easily reddened and irritated by most foundations, even by brushing it with rough brushes.
    If you have a lot of sensitized redness, they have a green primer, which allows you to wear very little foundation on top.

    Lush's fresh pharmacy as a twice a week ( is a bit drying) face wash treatment reduces my skin irritation/redness/bumpiness quite a bit.

    For powder type (when wanting a matte finish or in the hellish asian summer/tropic visit, when skin suddenly switches to oily+ sensitive), 24H cosme premium foundation is super mild,incredibly long lasting, medium high cover, softly matte and photographs very well. Although you must use it within 6 months as is very low on the preservatives.

  • Acacia

    MAC face and body!

  • Chelsea

    Jane Iredale Pressed Powder!

  • Katie Stratico

    To be clear, though, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua works wonders on my extremely sensitive SKIN. It's sheer but buildable, and the touch of sunscreen makes me feel guarded. I'd love it without a fragrance, too, but the fragrance itself does not irritate my skin. With many other skincare products, fragrance has been known to turn my face and scalp into a war-zone.

    • Tormented Nostrils

      Interesting, I love the way it looks, love the texture and application also, but it definitely makes me a little itchy. I always feel the fragrance could be the culprit, but I may have simply jumped to that conclusion because of its assault on my nose.

      • Katie Stratico

        Haha, could be ... do you have any issue with chemical sunscreens, too? I think this foundation works for me because there's more physical blocker (titanium dioxide) than chemical. If I use a strictly chemical sunscreen on my face, I break out like cuh-razy.

        • Tormented Nostrils

          Yes it could be the sunscreen, or fragrance, or something else entirely I suppose. It's almost impossible to know isn't it, wish it wasn't the case :'(

    • Daisy

      I wanted to love this stuff bc it made my skin look great and glow-y.. until it made me break out terribly :( may have been the fragrance that did it for me

  • heather adair

    After doing the "prestige brand dance" and trying everything from Armani to Tom Ford to Chanel to La Prairie (always with frustrated results), I went back to the drugstore. Bought L'Oreal "Infallible" and haven't looked back. It doesn't irritate my skin (which is sensitive to Zinc, and Titanium Dioxide, specifically). No fragrance, lasts ALL day, doesn't tend to oxidize too badly after hours of costs all of $12 and for the first time in 5 years I've re-purchased 3 bottles in a row. That's saying something.

    I DO love Airflash, as well -- but the shades are a tough match for me, unfortunately. Even the newer, lighter shades tend to land on the "too peach" side of the color spectrum.

  • Julia

    bareMinerals foundation is the best. Have super sensitive skin and the compact/loose powered both did wonders for my skin!

  • beeswaxnoneofyour

    I use Prestige mineral powder foundation, it's been very good to my skin over the years. Before that, I love Prescriptives Traceless and Real Skin foundations (R.I.P.).

  • Alissa

    Another Alissa here ;) I like Makeup For Ever duo mat powder foundation, as well as their Full Cover concealer...neither break me out, but of course ymmv!

  • Mandi

    NARS sheer glow or their tinted moisturizer! I have very picky skin with a hint of rosacea and I find this works best and looks natural.

  • xenia

    Clinique anti- blemish solutions, as I have sensitive oily skin.

  • grumblemama

    Alright, maybe you ladies can help me out here. This thread seems like a good place to ask: I need a nice, medium-coverage, non-greasy, lightweight Skin Thing (BB cream, CC cream, tinted moisturizer, anything really) for summer that is SILICONE-FREE. I mean, I've been looking and looking online and I'm starting to think silicone-free is the makeup equivalent of a unicorn. I tried Bare Minerals for awhile, but I started reacting to it. Any suggestions?

    • Byega

      I use Une Natural Beauty; i don't know if it's available in US but you can find it in Europe (France, United Kingdom, Belgium and other country)

    • ScienceTeacher

      I just posted my favorite -- Kiehl's BB cream... 50 SPF and silicone-free. Love this stuff and they will give you a healthy sample to try!

  • Jess

    Neutrogena Healthy Skin all the way!

  • Nicole

    My skin reacted to the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation unfortunately. My skin reacts badly to artificial fragrance (sometimes shows as parfum), and this one has tons of it. I do a lot better with Tarte, Bobbi Brown, Revlon, and mineral powders (Jane Iredale, Tarte, Bare Minerals). I'm also very pale, so finding a foundation that suits both of those needs is a challenge. I can always fall back on Bobbi Brown's foundations is Alabaster...

  • Anne

    Excellent question! I like YSL touch eclat and Missha Perfect Cover BB cream but at the moment, I just developed rosacea, I am really loving RMS uncover up, that I use generously in the centre of my face to cover up redness, undereye circles and to even my skin out. And here's my question: can you guys please please please do something like dossiers on some common skin concerns like rosacea? Or even ask this same question but with rosacea? I'm new to this and still trying to figure out what I can and can't use. For instance my beloved anthelios does not really go well with my rosacea at all, even though my skin really liked it before.

    • Em

      As a fellow rosacea sufferer I can relate. Discovering you have it is like the skincare version of a food allergy, you have no idea what you can use and are terrified to try anything incase it results in a dreaded 'flare-up'.

      In my experience, the more natural and basic the better. Weleda's Almond line is a good starting point (unless you have a nut allergy), and most carrier oils are good i.e. jojoba, argan, almond, etc. I'd suggest checking out your local health food store or closest Whole Foods, and a good SPF option is Coola Suncare (ITG reviewed the chemical version a few months back, I prefer the mineral but I would think both are equally gentle.) Stress and diet are also huge factors when it comes to rosacea, regardless of what skincare you are using, so be sure to look in to that element as well.

      Sorry to go on, and I am in no way an authority, but it's taken me 3 years to get my skin back so I know how frustrating the process is.

      Good luck!

  • Adele

    Bourjois Healthy Mix. Talc-free, mineral oil-free, bismuth-free = non-comedogenic = happy skin.

  • Paola

    the body shop oil free foundation <3

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    Surprisingly I find NARS Tinted Moisturizer the best for me. I have all the skin problems you can imagine and it never causes any fare ups of any kind. It's sunscreen is actually pretty good too. I've worn it to unplanned events and outdoor lunches without ever getting burned on my face and neck. The coverage and look are also pretty perfect!

  • Katherine Li Johnson

    Use BB Cream by Dr. Jart instead!

  • Bel Rowley

    I have the sort of sensitive skin that breaks out in response to anything short of a stiff breeze, and I found that I didn't actually really need a foundation: just a quality concealer for under the eyes and spots.
    Lancome's concealer is incredible for that. Looks 100% natural no-makeup and no breakouts.

  • Olivia Dello Buono

    Not quite a foundation, but Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is one of the only products that hasn't caused a breakout or subsequent rash on my disobedient epidermis. I like applying it with a Beauty Blender to make it even more sheer. It's like my skin, only better. Call it pseudoscience, but I actually feel that my skin looks better when I apply this in the a.m. It's like a barrier against the grime and smog of city air. If I'm looking for a bit more coverage or a photo-finish, I dust a light layer of Bare Minerals Perfect Light Mineral Veil on top.

  • Sarah

    Laura Mercier Silk Creme foundation & Hydrating Primer.

    I'm prone to eczema and have super sensitive skin. This has been my best foundation yet. The 30ml bottle has lasted me nearly 6 months with everyday use. A little goes a very long way. I use this with Bioderma sensibio cleanser & moisturiser as they are very gentle.

  • bryananthonys

    Mac face and body for me!

  • nataliehere

    I have seriously sensitive skin (I can't even use chemical sunscreen on my face) and I've had no problems with Origins Stay Tuned foundation, which I've been using for years. I also swear by Physicians Formula Talc-Free Mineral Loose Powder - leaves a beautiful foundation and it's not crazy expensive!

  • Yumi Rae

    I'm very sensitive too and the best I've found is Kjaer Weis, Studio 78 Paris and KIDE. They are all non toxic, give natural coverage and do not break me out!

  • Katie

    I've used the MISSHA Perfect Cover BB Cream for the past week. It has great coverage, easily blends into my skin, and thus far hasn't irritated my skin whatsoever (no redness at the end of the day, no puffiness post-application, no increase in blemishes). Compared to Bobby Brown's liquid foundation, which I used previously, it has better coverage and a creamier texture. Compared to BareMinerals and other mineral powders, it sits better on dry skin and over trouble areas like dark circles, dry patches and blemishes. For the occasional full coverage day, I use SmashBox's mineral powder over the BB cream and Bobby Brown concealer. I highly recommend it thus far.

  • Sasha

    For high coverage : Vichy Dermablend (also the old formula of EL Doublewear was a dream)
    Dr. Jart BB is a must for me to cover up any redness and give me SPF if I have 2 minutes to get ready.
    I also love, love the finish of La Roche-Posay Unifiance Fluide Mat foundation which works so well on my oily, sensitive skin. Sadly, the shade range is shocking small and weirdly orange-toned but I can get away with it if tanned.

  • Katie

    love chantecailles just skin!

  • ScienceTeacher

    My favorite, through two re-purchases, is Kiehl's BB cream. I get pretty good coverage from it and my skin has become consistently clearer as I've used it. I the beginning, I mixed it with a little Laura Mercier concealer where I needed more coverage, but now I can usually skip the concealer. It is SPF 50 and silicone-free. With a little powder, it stays all day, doesn't hug flakes or creep into lines. I have very reactive skin that hates the 'cones, most chemical sunscreens, many botanicals, mineral powders, SLS, talc, and gluten (I'm celiac). As I've experimented over the years and cut out the problem ingredients, I've discovered that I have really good skin -- which was a surprise to me!

  • Celeste

    Finding a decent foundation that doesn't wreck my skin has always been a major challenge. I'm allergic to certain plants (so herbal extracts and barks can result in a lot of pain), chemical sunscreens (octinoxate and avobenzone give me blisters), and to top it all off my skin is just plain finicky. Too much alcohol in a formulation or a Ph that's a little off can throw my skin off for weeks. The only foundations that I've found to be innocuous, even after sleeping in them, are MUFE - Face & Body, Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum, Aveda Inner Light powder foundation, and Bare Minerals. A lot of 'sensitive skin people' seem to swear by Dr Hauschka's foundation but it left me with blisters and sores for whatever reason (herbal extracts? alcohol?)
    I wear glasses tho, so to avoid makeup marks and smears I'll typically just wear concealer where I need it over a primer. Foundation is more of a special occasion thing for me.

    • anonymous

      I'm also allergic to conventional sunscreen, anything with an Spf is not my friend. I opt for a parasol and hats instead of organic sunscreen, but it basically makes a quality foundation impossible. Hopefully the trend will end soon and I can try more brands.

      • Celeste

        Yeah, the sunscreen in EVERYTHING trend is extremely aggravating. I live way up north so I never wear sunscreen anyway... there's not enough sunlight >.<

  • Dani

    GloMinerals Satin Liquid Foundation - just as good as Chanel's Vitalumiere in my opinion. No fragrance or parabens.

  • heather

    All their foundations were just on sale for $5!

  • sinnerinthecity

    Bare Minerals of course. I don't use it all the time but when I need lightweight, natural coverage then I reach for my Bare Minerals. I have sensitive, dry skin.

  • Glamour Kat

    The one that works best for my sensitive skin is Benefit Cosmetics!

  • Glamour Kat

    I love Benefit Cosmetics! My skin can breathe and it wont clog pores! I'm a satisfied customer for two years! <3

  • B_Kim

    same here, works wonder for my acne prone- super sensitive skin! wanted to love Chanel vitalumiere aqua, but brought me whitehead-bumps.. armani luminous silk did same. But this Sisley! looks so natural on your skin, good coverage, and most of all, no breakout no pimples! great foundation!

  • Vi

    My skin is sensitive in the sense that even a dirty look can cause it to erupt in painful adult acne. I orginally balked at the pricetag on Hourglass' Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation but am now p happy I splurged. It's been a workhorse at keeping my oil slicks at bay, hasn't broken my psychotic skin out, and has actually been helping to fade old scarring. For those looking for medium to full coverage, a matte finish for acne-prone skin, and some extra skin benefits, I would highly recommend this.

  • Justine

    YSL Touche Eclat is amazing for my sensitive skin.

  • jnolicious

    derma e BB Creme is the best. Coverage, peptides, active stem cells, skin brighteners and SPF 25 all in one. I use it every day and people always tell me my skin looks amazing! Yay! :-)

  • AA

    I have the same type of skin - have you ever tried Clinque Redness solutions?

  • Satarra

    Anything by cover fx! I use their mineral foundation powder and it's so gentle and anti inflammatory!

  • deadwood

    NARS' crème teintée

  • Taylor

    Eve Lom Tined Moisturizer

  • Anna Pompilio

    Nice post

  • Alison Bramham

    I love EccoBella Flower foundation. It is fragrance free, natural, and has a wonderful medium coverage. It also has a physical SPF from titanium dioxide.Their shades run neutral and the lightest shade bisque is perfect for my fair/light complexion.

  • Sophie

    I agree with Jessica. RMS Uncoverup is the absolute best for sensitive skin. Not to mention it's completely 100% organic with a coconut butter base so you don't have to feel guilty about smothering your face in toxins/parabens. It leaves a perfectly natural, dewy finish without ever irritating my very sensitive skin.

  • Lys

    For me it's the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation (not the Serum version)! My skin hasn't had any bad reactions to this foundation in the year that I've been using it

  • Randi

    I have really sensitive skin and I've been happy with Clinique and Bare Minerals in the past.

  • Jasmine

    Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation (liquid). Super light weight but still gives great coverage. I like to make it into a tinted moisturizer by mixing 2 pumps foundation with a pump of Aveeno Positively Radiant.

  • Sam

    I have really bad eczema and bad acne and if I try to help one, the other gets worse. I have tried Bare Minerals makeup but my dermatologist said that I was wearing too much but I want to cover all of my acne. I have also tried Lancôme but I don't like the coverage level. Both of these products that I have tried do not stay on for a long time. After about an hour my face is shiny. I'm sick of going to the bathroom every hour and dabbing my face with toilet paper. I need help trying to figure the perfect makeup that will work for me.
    Thank you