Best Products for Sensitive, Oily, Acne-Prone Skin. (And what ingredients can break you out)

Holy grail for sensitive skin TITLE

It almost seems like almost everything I try breaks me out… which is unfortunate because I host a beauty blog (and I’m constantly trying out new things). Below are the list of things that break me out without fail… and might be common culprits for you too!

  • Silicones:
    Dimethicone. Trimethicone. Cyclopentasiloxane…. The bane of my existence. They’re in moisturizers, foundations, primers… and almost everything. I wrote about the science behind why this might break you out in My Silicone Free List, check it out!
  • Chemical sunscreens: (Things like: Octylcrylen, Avobenzone and Octinoxate) Not all of these chemical ingredients break me out… I think it depends on whether I’m also on birth control (as they are speculated to mess with your hormones), but they often do.
    The alternative is physical SPF! Memorize it: “Zinc oxide and Titanium oxide are my best friends!”
  • Oils (when used during the day):
    Utilizing oils at night is a great idea for those of particularly dry skin types… or those combo-dry who get oily in the T zone mostly! You’ll need to utilize certain types of non comedogenic oils so it doesn’t break you out, and for the love of make up, don’t use it during the day if you have oily skin. Night time only!
  • Talc (mostly in powders):
    You know I’m not 100% sure why I’m sensitive to talc… but the internet says that talc can have rough edges which can cause irritation and redness when used.

So enough of the education… here are the list of products I’ve found to work for my super sensitive, super oily, super acne-prone skin.

Micellar water

Micellar water

Drugstore: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
High end: Son & Park Beauty water
(Also available at Sephora)

For my grease ball skin, nothing feels better than taking a cotton pad when I get home from work…. saturating it with some micellar water and just feel the refreshing clean. I want something to get all the grease OFF, and these 2 options are also awesome make up removers. The Son & Park can be used more like a toner with its good for your skin ingredients… but the garnier is one I turn to over and over (its affordable and comfortable). I do also wash my face before I go to bed, but this is a nice refreshing step for my oil-slick face that doesn’t over-dry my skin, and never breaks me out.



Drugstore: Garnier SkinActiv Moisture Rescue Face Moisturizer
High end: Korres Pomegranate Gel Cream Moisturiser
(Also available at Sephora

I’ve gone through so many moisturizers… and these are the only ones that don’t break me out. They’re both silicone free, and intended for more normal to oily skin. The Garnier especially sinks right into the skin…  in the winter I need 2 layers just to feel extra moisturized! It comes in a GIANT tub (which I kinda hate dunking my fingers into… unsanitary!) But great value. The Korres is a little more creamy so I prefer to use it at night, but in the winter it is a great day cream for me as well! Korres is another brand to look into that mostly avoids silicones if you’re sensitive to them.


BareMinerals Prep Step Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion
(Also available at Sephora)

I have a confession… I hate most primers. A lot of oil controlling primers are great if you are SLIGHTLY oily… I think I produce so much oil that it saturates the primer, and then it goes through the foundation and separates it. So if you’re looking for an oily controling primer… I’m not the best person to turn to since I’m TOO OILY for most of those primers. That being said, the BareMinerals Prep Step is a great primer because it has spf 50 (sun can cause inflammation and lead to acne, people!) and it helps mineral foundation STICK to your skin… seriously, amazing coverage. The spf is all physical… no chemical… awwwe yeaaaa




Tarte amazonian clay powder foundation
ULTA mineral powder foundation


On special occasions I will wear liquid foundations… but 99% of the time they either have silicones, or are too moisturizing for my oily skin. So for everyday, I turn to mineral foundations. Mineral foundations don’t have as much coverage, but with a well primed skin… it really STICKS to your face (Up to a high-medium coverage). The ULTA brand actually has better coverage than the Tarte, but it doesn’t look as flattering on dry patches (which I do have because of harsh acne medications) and it emphasizes pores more. Tarte is hard to mess up, and comes with a nifty sifter. It has about a medium coverage… definitely won’t cover up acne but my skin loves this stuff! the Ulta foundation can dry out your skin a little if you use it everyday (which is fine for a grease ball like me! But if you have any dryness use a dewy setting spray and moisturize well!)

…. As a bonus! My favorite affordable brush to use with these powder foundations is the ELF Ultimate blending brush

Elf brush

Skin “Treatments”

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution
CosRx Acne master pimple patch 

If you have acne prone, oily skin… I need to introduce you to these products. The CosRx is a self-adhesive hydrocolloid patch that you can stick on dry clean skin on top of acne. Hydrocolloid is actually a type of wound dressing that I learned about in school for wound care known for its SUPER ABSORBANT properties. I have put this on pimples that REFUSE to come up to the surface (those deep cystic owwies) and also on pimples that have popped accidentally (that happens to me a lot when I wash my face… I know… I’m gross). BUT it prevents pimples from becoming re-infected and just SUCKS OUT ALL OF THE PUS…. that was a gross sentence, again, sorry.

The Paula’s Choice exfoliating solution is great for balancing out your skin and preventing acne. Salicylic acid is the main ingredient which works great to help get those closed comedones come up to the surface and be PURGED from your skin. (If you’ve never used an acid… beware of the skin purging!) My skin has been doing great lately… but I also noticed that my scars have not been fading as quickly when I stopped using this! I’ll continue to hoard this (using mostly at night now, but I used it during the day as well)  to fade my acne scarring.


Those are all of my everyday products for my super picky skin.

Do you have things that work for you?

Is there something that I should try?


Stay happy and healthy!


PSTT! Still having trouble with acne? Check out my other acne related posts!


1. Before break out
Beauty Guru goes to the dermatologist? Worth it? Accutane? 
Silicone free blushes, bronzers, and powders


******FULL DISCLOSURE: This are my personal experiences and thoughts. I am not being paid by the brand or the company to review this product or talk about any claims. This product was not sent to me. Links in this post are a part of the amazon affiliates program.*******





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wen says:

    Hi Rica, thank you so much for your post . I have very similar skin type with you, oily acne prone and sensitive to silicone. The primer you mentioned is discontinued, do you have any other recommendations ? Thank you!


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