The best foundations for sensitive skin

25 June 2014
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

1 / 9

The Best Foundations for Sensitive Skin

A foundation is more than just a base when sensitive skin is plaguing your beauty regime. It's a friend; it conceals away those rashes or left-behind pigmentations that you'd rather hide. It protects, to a degree, from the extreme weather which is no doubt making the sensitivity worse. Essentially, it allows you to set foot out of the front door every morning.

Of course, it's also tough to find, and as much of a risk to your reactive skin as your skincare. Foundations are getting smarter - but often that can mean more ingredients that our skin simply isn't man enough to handle. Others, meanwhile, aren't clever enough; we need them to not clog up our pores or be filled with pointless perfumes, or more specifically the ever ambiguous 'parfum'. So how do you choose one that works for sensitive skin, while also delivering everything that a good foundation should? 

"Foundation, like sunscreen, is a complex product to formulate so choosing one if you have sensitive or break-out prone skin can be a real challenge (and doubly so, if you suffer from both)," explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting . "I think that longwear products are best avoided – they can be incredibly difficult to remove and often drive the detrimental practice of aggressive cleansing, which is a no-no for reactive skin.

"I find that non-comedogenic brands like NARS, Armani and Lancome offer great bases for those with breakouts and in general sticking to a base in a light cream or cream-gel formulation works best – in conjunction with a highly pigmented concealing product like Vichy Dermablend Foundation Stick , £15 (so very little product is required); this is very flattering and keeps skin looking like skin, without aggaravating the underying problem. For those with sensitive or reactive skin, I find La Roche Posay Toleriane Teint Corrective Fluide , £15, a really super option."

Whether you wear foundation to even out skin tone, cover up residual redness from reactions or simply have spot-prone skin, there are options out there that won't do your skin more harm than good. Click through the gallery for my pick of the best foundations for sensitive skin, no matter what your beauty hangup…

Struggling with your sensitive skin?  Download my Beginner's Guide to Sensitive Skin  now for 25 pages of expert advice, skin care routines, product recommendations and more

2 / 9

Best for dull or tired skin: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation

£10.99, Buy online

As someone who doesn't like heavy coverage, this foundation is my go-to for my daily makeup routine. Not only does it have an incredible texture which works brilliantly for my dry skin, but it leaves skin looking like real skin only with a healthier, more radiant glow - a cliche I know but there's no other way to describe it.

It does contain fragrance and alcohol, so if you're avoiding either of those in your skincare this isn't for you. I've had nothing but great results with it and recommend to non-sensitive types too.

3 / 9

Best for dry skin: NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

£31, Buy online

Fragrance free and non-comedogenic (so it won't block up your pores), the NARS foundation is a dry, sensitive skin's dream. With a super soft barely-there finish which you can build on for higher coverage, it feels almost like a moisturiser when applying to the skin and leaves a luminous finish. With NARS' classic extent of shades, everyone is catered for too.

4 / 9

Best for oily skin: Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation

£60, Buy online

This little jar of greatness is ideal for oily skin, but my drier skin loved it too. A supremely soft gel texture, it melts onto the skin and feels incredibly soothing, perhaps thanks to the aloe, chamomile and arnica in its formula. It leaves a gorgeous dewy finish and contains natto gum, which is said to help reduce sebum production after seven days of consistent use.

5 / 9

Best pressed powder: Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder

£32, Buy online

A natural-look powder that can be used wet or dry depending on the coverage you're after, this foundation glides onto the skin like silk but doesn't sit in fine lines or pores. A veil which hides away imperfections without looking cakey, the ingredients include shea butter for added hydration. A good call if you prefer pressed powder to liquid formulations.

6 / 9

Best for rosacea: Vichy Dermablend Fluid Corrective Foundation

£17, Buy online

A heavy-duty foundation that feels deliciously soothing on the skin, Dermablend is the one for you if you have a lot to cover. Whether it's rosacea, acne or hyperpigmentation that you want to hide away, this fluid coverage has an airbrush effect on the skin and leaves you with a flawless skin tone. A little goes a long way so build it up slowly and you'll fake problem-free skin in no time.

7 / 9

Best mineral powder: Autograph SPF15 Mineral Loose Powder Foundation

£12, Buy online

This one surprised me - who knew that hiding away in M&S is a mineral foundation with only four ingredients? 100 per cent mineral, this fairly dense powder gives good and buildable coverage while being paraben free and fragrance free, complete with mineral SPF15. It's a little hard to blend so start slowly if you want a light finish, but with no preservatives and cruelty-free credentials it's a no brainer.

8 / 9

Best for sheer coverage: Lancome Miracle Air de Teint SPF15

£29.50, Buy online

I'll admit this product has left me in a quandary; the ingredients do include fragrance and alcohol as well as non-mineral SPF, so if those three are on your hit list it's one to avoid. So why recommend for sensitive skin? Simple: it's as light as air. So gentle that you can't even feel it when it's on, it has a blurring effect on the skin and turns to a powder finish on contact. Their so-called 'miracle particles' allow air to flow freely so that the skin won't become more congested and looks completely bare - but better. Ideal if you don't have much to cover but simply want a more even complexion, it also contains rose oil which can help to calm and soothe troublesome skin.

9 / 9

Best powder for spot-prone skin: Beautiful Movements Vanilla Rose Mineral Foundation

£14, Buy online

This rather unassuming pot may not win in the style stakes but in terms of formula it's going for gold. Free from parabens, synthetic dyes and fragrances, fillers and animal products, best of all this mineral powder is free from bismuth oxychloride which so often causes reactions and yet is included in many 'natural' products. With zinc oxide which has anti-inflammatory properties, it's ideal for helping to rid sensitive skin of blemishes. Clearly, it's what's inside that counts.

Struggling with your sensitive skin?  Download my Beginner's Guide to Sensitive Skin  now for 25 pages of expert advice, skin care routines, product recommendations and more