Beauty 911: Help Me Find A Summer Foundation For My Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin!

“How about a summer foundation recommendation for a girl with super sensitive and acne-prone skin? I’ve even tried Garnier BB Cream. Breaks me out like crazy — even if I use my Clarisonic afterwards. Ick!” – Nikki via Facebook

Hi, Nikki! I know — it’s hard out here for a sensitive, acne-prone girl, especially this season. I have the same type of skin, and being that I’m always in search of the latest, greatest products for it, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Follow me…

First things first: you’ve got to be sure you’re taking care of your skin the right way! When you say you use a Clarisonic, I’m worried that you could be, as Jess puts it, sand-blasting your skin. A common misconception about oily or acne-prone skin is that oil is its worst enemy, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Zapping your skin of its natural oils only irritates it and makes it produce more oil, and loading up on products to “treat” the problem can end up doing more harm than good. Limit your Clarisonic use to only once every few days, preferably at night, or after you’ve had an occasion that you’ve really loaded up on the makeup for.

The fabled “three step system” of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer is one that you should be following. Rather than using a cleanser for acne-prone skin, use one for sensitive skin. I highly recommend First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser, $18, as an affordable choice, but if you’re looking to go all-out on something super-effective (hey, it happens to the best of us), you’ll love Fresh’s new Rose Cleansing Foam, $48, which comes out in July. As for toner, the traditional drugstore offerings won’t do — they all contain high levels of alcohol, which is the worst thing anyone can use on their skin. A great reasonably-priced option is this Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner from Kiehl’s. As far as moisturizers go, I find Josie Maran’s Argan Oil to be life-changing (and at $14 for the smallest size, it won’t break the bank, either). The only type of oil you should be afraid of is mineral — plant and seed oils like argan, coconut, and jojoba are actually incredibly beneficial to acne-prone skin.

Now that we’ve gotten that brief skincare lesson out of the way, on to the foundations. I wouldn’t advise using the Garnier BB cream you mentioned to anybody! It’s full of chemicals and weird ingredients that can make even normal, non-sensitive skin go nuts. I’m assuming when you say “summer foundation,” you mean something lighter with light to medium coverage and SPF, something that you won’t even notice you’re wearing. I don’t know what your skin tone is, but I can 100% recommend two formulas: Dr. Jart Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25 PA++, $34, and Tarte Smooth Operator SPF 20, $36. Dr. Jart’s BB creams are wonderful, and I like this one in particular because it’s incredibly light and sheer, but it somehow manages to magically conceal all red spots and blemishes. It only comes in one color, which looks a bit grey when you first apply it, but it blends to suit light-to-medium complexions. The one thing I would caution against from experience is that it tends to oxidize a bit orange on me, but unless you share my whitest-white skin tone, it isn’t likely to be a problem. Tarte’s offering, which is a tinted moisturizer, comes in nine shades, and it’s my personal choice for perfect skin. I like to apply it sparingly in layers to build up coverage — it’s impossible to make this stuff look cakey or overdone. Neither of these “foundations” will break you out, clog your pores, or cause irritation to your sensitive skin.

I hope this helps, Nikki! Please contact me if you have any further questions, and I’d love to know how these tips work for you. If you have an urgent beauty inquiry you need answered or just need a little bit of guidance, feel free to go ahead and contact me at [email protected]