Clinique Acne Solutions foundation review: is the cult foundation for acne-prone skin worth the hype?

Clinique Acne Solutions foundation, tried and tested. Know exactly what to expect from this bestselling foundation for acne-prone skin

An image of Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation appears on a colorful background
(Image credit: Clinique)
My Imperfect Life Verdict

Easy to apply and blend, this salicylic-infused formula is kind to skin and has skin-clearing benefits.

Reasons to buy
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    Formulated with salicylic acid to treat spots and blemishes

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    Oil-free formula

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    Has a natural, matte finish

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    Medium, buildable coverage

Reasons to avoid
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    Limited shade range

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    Dries down quite quickly

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    An afternoon touch up to keep oiliness at bay might be needed for some

Clinique’s Acne Solutions foundation is one of our favorite foundations for acne prone skin. It's part of the bestselling Acne Solutions range, and other products under the same umbrella include Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel and Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam. The whole range is targeted towards acne-prone, oily, and combination skin types, and it has rave reviews and cult status in the skincare world.

The foundation is the only make-up product in the range, and it’s formulated with salicylic acid—a BHA that works to flush out pores and kill acne-causing bacteria—and it claims to help cover, clear, and prevent blemishes. On top of that, it’s an oil-free formula which is great news for acne sufferers, and it’s also a lightweight formula and is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores, and neither will it feel heavy on the skin. 

Additionally, it’s also able to neutralize the appearance of redness while providing a decent level of coverage that has a matte, but still natural-looking, finish rather than being a flat matte, which can be a problem with a lot of similar foundations. 

It's currently available in 8 shades, it does help absorb oil but some people might find it needs touching up with powder throughout the day to really keep oiliness at bay as much as possible. 

What are the ingredients?

The main talking point in terms of ingredients here is salicylic acid. All acne sufferers and oily skin types already know what a hero that is in terms of tackling spots and the fact it’s got a place in a foundation is a brilliant addition to the formulation. That means that it can work its magic throughout the day, targeting spots and fighting the acne-causing bacteria. Other ingredients include caffeine, which is excellent for reducing inflammation caused by spots, as well as glycerin—a type of humectant that works to help hydrate and moisturize skin. It’s also worth noting that this foundation is oil-free, too, which is good as it means you’re not adding extra oil onto already-oil skin, and that also helps ensure the skin is balanced.

How much does it cost?

At full price, Clinique’s Clinique Acne Solutions foundation (or Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up) costs $31 (£29) for 30ml of product. It’s available from Clinique's official website, but other retailers often offer discounts.

The shade range of Clnique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup Foundation

(Image credit: Clinique)

How many shades are there in the range?

This is the only thing that lets this foundation down. Despite the fact there has been a big push from consumers in terms of holding brands accountable when it comes to the range of foundation shades available, this one sadly only comes in eight shades. Out of those shades, the majority of them come under the ‘very fair’ and ‘fair’ categories, and at the time of writing this, there are only three shades in the ‘medium’ categories. Given the lack of options for people with medium to dark skin, we are hopeful that the shade range will be expanded to match the diverse shades that are available in other Clinique foundations in the near future.

What about the coverage and finish?

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up has natural-looking, medium coverage that can easily be layered and built up depending on the desired finish and what your own personal preference is. The product itself has a satisfyingly silky, liquid texture that’s on the runnier side but isn’t too watery. Our tester found it applied best using a damp make-up sponge, but it can also be buffed in with a buffing brush. It dries down to a demi-matte finish, and it’s fine to apply powder on top if you want to set it in place.

Clinique Acne solutions liquid makeup foundation is one of the best foundation for acne prone skin

(Image credit: Clinique)

How easy is it to use?

There’s no denying that this foundation does dry down quite quickly, but it is easy to apply and if you use a damp make-up sponge to apply it, you get a slightly longer play time to ensure it’s blended properly. The bottle that the foundation comes in is easy to hold and grip, and even though there isn’t a pump, the thin nozzle means that it can be poured out in a controlled way so you won’t end up wasting product. We also found that a little bit went a long way, so even though this foundation is on the more expensive side, one bottle should last a while.

Overall results

All in all, we were incredibly impressed with Clinique’s foundation, from the added skincare benefits to the natural-looking finish. With continued use, we are sure this will be a positive addition to any make-up bag in terms of how effective it is at treating spots.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Make-Up summary

In summary, we are huge fans of this foundation and would happily, and confidently, recommend it to anybody who suffers with spots, breakouts or acne, or who has oily or combination skin. The oil-free formula helps balance skin, and the added salicylic acid will help treat unwanted spots throughout the day while also working to flush out pores. 

While you should still be using a targeted skincare routine specifically for acne-prone skin, this will definitely help to enhance the results. The foundation itself is lovely to use, blends well and leaves a nice, natural-looking finish rather than being chalky, thick, and heavy. 

The only complaint is the lack of shades on offer, but Clinique’s other foundations all mostly have an impressive range of shades so we are hopeful that this one will follow suit. There’s a very good reason that this is a real cult product for acne skin types, and we can see why—if you invest, you won’t regret it. We promise.

Lucy Partington has been a beauty journalist for eight years, writing for titles including Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She’s a true skincare nerd who’s on a lifelong quest for a glowing complexion and loves nothing more than learning about new ingredients and products. She’s obsessed with having perfect eyebrows and collecting eyeshadow palettes she’ll probably never use.