Best Foundation for Rosacea Guide

Latest posts by Crystal Schwanke (see all)

I wish I weren’t so familiar with the topic that I jumped at the chance to talk about the best foundation for rosacea. But I have years of research behind me, prompted by personal experience and loads of desperation. I was a beauty and fashion writer (and before that, a salesperson, working directly with customers) who was embarrassed for people to see her face. Everything I tried seemed to make it worse.

I don’t even want to think about how much time, money, and tears went into finding things that worked for my skin. I was looking into a diet, supplements, skincare, and makeup that wouldn’t make my rosacea worse.

Bottom Line Up Front

If you’re dealing with rosacea, you’re not destined for a foundation-free life. I’ve found several foundations that work well to cover redness and keep it at bay when your skin calms down. 

There are long-wearing options, liquids, powders, and an excellent range of shades. Some options even have ingredients meant to calm the redness, not just avoid irritating it.

My Top Picks at a Glance

  • Best specifically designed for redness: Clinique Redness Solutions
  • Best pressed powder foundation: IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination
  • Best all-day wear/best for the fairest of skin tones: Estee Lauder Double Wear 
  • Best glow: Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation
  • Best drugstore: Neutrogena Healthy Skin
  • Best loose powder foundation: Everyday Minerals Jojoba Loose Powder Foundation
  • Best all-in-one: IT Cosmetics CC Cream
  • Best light coverage for in-between flare-ups: Ilia Skin Tint (IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination is lovely for this too!)

How to Find Your Best Foundation for Rosacea

It’ll ultimately come down to trial and error and personal preference. Once you find your best foundation for rosacea, you’ll feel much better about your morning routine. The right foundation can help bring your confidence back. Finding things that worked for me made a tremendous difference in my mood.

Don’t Assume Natural Is Better

One assumption is that “clean” or “natural” products are better for rosacea. I wish it were true, but those were usually the ones my skin liked the least. 

Look for Niacinamide

This ingredient is often used to treat rosacea. Though it’s not a fool-proof answer, if a foundation contains niacinamide, it could be a good indication that it won’t aggravate rosacea. Of course, other ingredients could trigger a flare-up or cause the rosacea to worsen.

Be Cautious with Silicones

Silicones always made mine worse. Primers- because they usually use silicone to smooth the surface of your skin before applying makeup- were always a nightmare.

Some foundations use these to create a flawless finish, too. I’m not saying none will work (that would severely limit your options), but pay attention to the labels and try new foundations with caution.

Steer Clear of Bismuth Oxychloride

I learned this one the hard way, back when I thought that mineral makeup must be superior to everything else. It caused problems for me even years before the rosacea reared its ugly head. Still, I tried it again anyway in a desperate attempt to find anything that would disguise my extreme redness.

I did a little research the first time around to see what was irritating my skin, and it looked like the culprit was bismuth oxychloride. It was problematic when rosacea was on the scene, too. I see that the Rosacea Reddit community can back me up–it’s not an ingredient to play around with if you’re battling rosacea.

Use a Separate Sunscreen

This won’t apply to everyone, but I found more success with foundations that did not contain sunscreen. Finding a sunscreen that works with your skin may make sense to wear under your foundation. My go-to’s have been Neutrogena Ultra Sheer and Coola Classic Face Sunscreen.

What Is Rosacea and What Causes It?

Simply put, it’s excessive redness of the face. For me, it mainly stayed concentrated on my cheeks, nose, and mid-forehead. I think this is true for most people with rosacea. I looked–and sometimes felt–sunburned all the time, except for a few bright white spots (my natural skin tone). Sometimes, the shade of red-bordered on magenta or purple, especially if I’d just gotten out of the shower.

Mayo Clinic says we don’t know what causes rosacea, but it could be:

  • Overactive immune system
  • Heredity
  • Environmental factors
  • A combination of the above

It’s also most common in females and those over 30. Other risk factors (again, according to Mayo Clinic) are burning easily in the sun, smoking, or having a family history of rosacea. I was under 30 (I still struggled with it after 30, too). A combination of stress and a new scrub seemed to set off my years-long battle.

Mayo Clinic also suggests some common triggers for flare-ups– including, but not limited to–exercise, emotions, temperature extremes, certain foods or drinks, and some beauty products.

Tips for Applying Makeup with Rosacea

Try a Color Corrector

A light green tint can neutralize some of the redness. I have used green moisturizers and Everyday Minerals Mint Jojoba Color Corrector. Of course, I wouldn’t use the Everyday Minerals color corrector under liquid foundation, but it was perfect under my Everyday Minerals powder foundation.

The green works best on me, but I’ve also used yellow color correctors for rosacea. If the green doesn’t look right on you, or you’d like to try something a little less intimidating (green can go wrong fast if you use too much), a sunny yellow corrector might be your best bet.

Get the Right Coverage

Use a BeautyBlender or similar product for the best coverage that still looks natural if you use a liquid foundation. For powders, I like the Everyday Minerals kabuki brush. Dense, soft bristles are key. They need to be firm but not scratchy.

Make Sure Your Skin Care Is Good for Rosacea

Some products I’ve used with good results:

Selection Criteria

In most cases, these are foundations I tried and had success with over my years-long struggle to get my rosacea under control. They have enough coverage to disguise mild to moderate rosacea. They also didn’t make the redness or stinging worse or cause a flare-up on the days my skin had almost seemed to return to normal.

Most of these foundations come in a good range of lighter shades, which is essential since very fair-skinned people are most likely to suffer from rosacea. Many of the best foundations for rosacea are on the pricier end of the spectrum. Still, I included drugstore options and formulas in mini sizes so you can try them out without as much of a financial commitment.

Finally, there are foundations here that can be applied in several ways. If you prefer a wet sponge, brush, or your fingertips, there’s something for you to experiment with here.

The Best Foundations for Rosacea: Guide to Covering Redness Without Aggravating It

I feel like I’ve tried all the foundations that could be good for rosacea (and some that were not). Here are a few I’ve found that didn’t irritate my skin or cause a flare-up, plus one more recommended on the rosacea Reddit. (Even if you’re not interested in the foundation recommendation, I highly recommend checking Reddit out for rosacea management tips!)

Clinique Redness Solutions

This foundation allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. It didn’t irritate my skin. The rosacea didn’t flare-up. I could wear it every day without any issues. If I’d been able to find a better color match, I might have never branched out very much. 

It claims to reduce redness over time as if it’s treating your skin while you wear it. I’m not sure it improved anything, but it didn’t exacerbate the redness or stinging.

Pros

  • Designed with redness in mind and seems to keep my skin calm.
  • Good medium coverage that doesn’t feel heavy (it looked smooth and natural on me, other than the shade being wrong)
  • It has SPF 15, but it didn’t seem to be a problem for me in this case
  • Easy to find at Clinique counters or Ulta

Cons

  • Not the best range of shades. They are all too dark for me.
  • Oxidizes (turns orange) on me
  • A little expensive at $31.00

IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination

I love this one because it’s fast to apply (and I’m lazy most days when putting on makeup). It looks like my own skin as long as I moisturize well and buff it in. I’ve been through at least three compacts of this stuff. Make sure you get the Illumination one in the white compact. There’s a black compact called Full Coverage Powder Foundation. That one may be fine, too, but I can’t vouch for it.

Pros

  • Quick to apply
  • Not too messy since it’s not a loose powder
  • Good color range–something light enough for me that doesn’t turn orange over time!
  • Convenient compact
  • Excellent coverage for a powder foundation (it covers better than some liquid foundations, but it feels like nothing on the skin!)
  • Makes my skin look like it’s glowing
  • I can wear this one daily and never experience any issues with rosacea (with some foundations, my skin needs a break now and then)

Cons

  • It’s on the expensive end of things at about $40.00.
  • Doesn’t last as long (in months) as some other options
  • Doesn’t last as long throughout the day as some other options (but it’s not all gone at the end of the day, and my skin still looks pretty good when I wash it off at night)

Estee Lauder Double Wear

This was one of the first foundations I tried when the rosacea showed up. It wore well, provided enough coverage to cover the redness, and didn’t rub off throughout the day. Sadly, I couldn’t wear it then because the color range didn’t go light enough (story of my life, as you can tell by now, right?).

On paper, it was perfect. On my paper-colored skin, it was orange. Now, the color range has expanded, though you may only have luck finding the lightest shades online. I was shocked that their new lightest shade, Alabaster, was too light for me. I found it (and the one I swapped it for, Porcelain) online, but my local stores didn’t carry it.

Pros

  • It stays on all day.
  • It feels like nothing on the skin but covers redness beautifully.
  • The matte finish looks natural, not dry or cakey. This is a good option for those who don’t like the dewy, illuminated, glowy finishes, which are many of the best foundations for rosacea.
  • Features an extensive color range, from light to dark, for all undertones.

Cons

  • If you want a pump for the bottle, you have to buy it separately.
  • You may have to shop online for your shade match.
  • It was expensive at $46.00.
  • It can make your skin look a little flat if you don’t go back in with bronzer or contour and/or blush.

Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation

Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation is one of the newer ones I’ve tried. I love it, but it’s not at the very top of my list. It can be finicky on top of different moisturizers, when the seasons change, how you apply it (I prefer using the Rare Beauty brush), and whether you wear the matching primer. Still, the finish is glowing and beautiful, and it has never irritated my skin.

I’m so glad I like this one (and tons of other products from Rare Beauty, like the finishing spray, blushes, eyeliner, and lip products) because of the company’s mission.

Pros

  • Gorgeous, illuminating finish (primarily when used with the illuminating primer, which does not irritate my skin for some reason)
  • There’s a fantastic color range, so your perfect match will likely be on the list.
  • It’s incredibly lightweight and spreads easily across the skin. 
  • A little goes a long way.

Cons

  • It can look a little flaky
  • May separate on the skin after a few hours
  • Takes some experimentation to make it work (with or without their primer and what to apply it with were some of the things I had to figure out)
  • Coverage is lighter than some of the others on the list.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin

This is one of the best drugstore foundations I’ve ever tried. It gives a natural finish that makes you look like you’re glowing from within. Still, it provides enough coverage to hide rosacea. I’ve had it in two shades (one to match my sunless tanner and one to match my natural skin tone).

Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive at just over $10.00.
  • Medium, buildable coverage. 
  • Looks natural and glowy but not shiny or greasy. 
  • The SPF 20 in this one didn’t cause any issues.

Cons

  • It can feel a little thick at times, but I’m pretty sensitive–I don’t like feeling makeup on my face at all.
  • I didn’t try it in the winter when my skin was at its driest, so I can’t say whether it’s good for dehydrated skin. It’s recommended for normal skin.

Everyday Minerals Jojoba Loose Powder Foundation

I rarely find a mineral foundation that doesn’t make me itch, so I rarely get far enough into the testing process to see if it’s good for rosacea. The Everyday Minerals Jojoba Loose Powder Foundation, however, has been one of the few that I could go back to time and time again. I can trust that it won’t irritate my skin or cause a flare-up.

If you’re not a fan of dewy complexions, you may want to try the semi-matte or matte formulas. I can’t say whether they’re good for rosacea because I never wore them for an extended period. I think I tried them several years ago, and they weren’t a good match for my dry skin.

Pros

  • I was able to find a shade light enough for me.
  • It gives my skin a dewy finish but doesn’t make me look oily.
  • Not cakey
  • Doesn’t oxidize
  • Works well with the green color-corrector from the same line to neutralize redness
  • Feels lightweight but gives medium coverage when used with a kabuki brush.
  • Inexpensive
  • Didn’t make me itch

Cons

  • It’s messy, as mineral foundations tend to be.
  • You can’t get it in stores; you’ll have to shop online for it.
  • It might be too shiny for some people.

IT Cosmetics CC Cream

Rosacea Reddit posters seem to love the IT Cosmetics CC Cream. I haven’t had the best luck with this one for a few reasons (they’re all too dark for me, and the texture doesn’t work as well on my skin as I hoped it would). It always looked too thick and cakey on me. Their application tips make me want to self-tan my body and try again.

Pros

  • It’s an all-in-one product (though I wouldn’t use it without moisturizer) with coverage, treatment, and moisture.
  • You can apply it with your fingers.
  • The tube is sanitary and doesn’t let air or germs in–and just a couple of pumps will do the trick.
  • Medium coverage 
  • Mini size is available for under $20.00, so you can try it out without spending a lot.

Cons

  • It can look cakey if you use too much. I had this problem a lot. It can also feel heavy if you use it too much.
  • The color range isn’t great. It always looked orange on me.
  • There’s SPF 50, which may or may not cause issues. I couldn’t decide if it was becoming an issue or not, but I didn’t commit to wearing it often enough to gauge the effects. I was more distracted by how dark and warm it was for my skin tone.
  • It was expensive at $42.00.

Ilia Skin Tint

The Reddit community mentioned above likes the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint, too, but I’ve never tried it. Now I’m curious about it and think I’ll try it next.

Pros

  • There’s a good color range–especially on the lighter end of the spectrum, which will cover the skin tones most likely to be affected by rosacea (those who burn easily).
  • Speaking of burning, there’s SPF 40. I can’t say whether it’s irritating, but I’ll trust the Reddit group’s feedback. I think it’s worth a try.
  • It’s lightweight and easy to apply.
  • It has hyaluronic acid, an ingredient I’ve always had excellent results with, even though, to my knowledge, it’s not used for rosacea treatment or relief. I always look for it in my daily moisturizers and night creams.
  • It has the “clean” rating at Sephora.

Cons

  • It’s a light coverage option, so it may not be the best for the worst flare-ups. That leads me to believe this one is best for maintaining happy skin once your skin care regimen is down and flare-ups are infrequent.

FAQs

Question: What kind of foundation is best for rosacea?

Answer: Unfortunately, there will be a lot of trial and error unless you just happen to get lucky and find something that works right away.
I’ve had the best results with Clinique Redness Solutions, IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination (a powder), Everyday Minerals Jojoba Loose Powder Foundation, and Estee Lauder Double Wear.

Question: Does foundation make rosacea worse?

Answer: Not across the board, but some foundations can make rosacea worse. Others will be neutral. I have yet to find a foundation that makes it remarkably better, but I’m happy if they aren’t causing more harm.
I’m always a fan of going without foundation when possible, just to avoid the possibility that it’ll make it worse. That’s not always doable, so it’s good to have a foundation in your arsenal that’ll cover the rosacea and not make it worse.

Question: What should you not use on your face if you have rosacea?

Answer: Fragrance in your skincare products is a big problem when dealing with rosacea. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding alcohol, fragrance, camphor, glycolic acid, lactic acid, menthol, sodium laurel sulfate, and urea.

Question: Does foundation cause rosacea?

Answer: It doesn’t cause the rosacea but can trigger a flare-up.

Question: How do you cover up rosacea with makeup?

Answer: Start with a green-tinted moisturizer or primer, if you can. A color-correcting liquid (like the NYX green concealer) could work, too. Just be sure not to go overboard with it. Then choose a medium-full coverage liquid foundation to apply with a damp BeautyBlender or powder foundation to apply with a kabuki brush (look for densely-packed soft bristles).

Question: How do you wear makeup with rosacea?

Answer: Avoid it on the days you can, but you can wear makeup with rosacea. It may take some trial and error to find the ones that don’t aggravate it and make the redness and/or burning worse.

Conclusion: The Starting Point

If you’re not extremely fair, I recommend starting with the Clinique Redness Solutions. Try one of the newer Estee Lauder Double Wear shades if you are. Prefer a powder? IT Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination has you covered without a mess. Just be sure you have the right brush and that it’s not scratchy.

If you like an all-in-one product and aren’t especially fair-skinned, give a light layer of the IT Cosmetics CC cream a try.

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