9 Expert Makeup Tips for Anyone with Acne-Prone Skin
Learn how to get a finish you'll love.
Even though having acne-prone skin isn't always ideal, using makeup doesn’t have to be a hassle.
Whether you have chronic acne or suffer from those annoying lurkers that pop up every once in a while, those frustrating mornings spent trying to camouflage the combo of redness, volume, shine, and straight-up tenderness are not exactly a walk in the park.
That's why we reached out to a few celebrity makeup artists to share their expert techniques and tricks to help minimize the appearance of acne on your face.
So without further ado, here’s your guide for flawless-looking skin.
“Always start with a clean face,” says Jenna Kristina, celebrity makeup artist and Maybelline New York Brand Ambassador. “Then use a gentle chemical exfoliant, because a granulated formulation can spread bacteria with acne. I love Elemis Daily Exfoliating Pads — I swear by this product. It’s glycolic and hyaluronic acid and using these kinds of products help remove any dry dead skin [before makeup application.]”
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Do Double the Prep
Everyone has to prep before applying makeup, but those with acne-prone skin need to be a little more diligent.
“When your skin is hydrated, it's more plump," says celebrity makeup artist Delina Medhin, who typically spends about thirty minutes just on pre-makeup skincare. "Plus it’s always easier to mattify later than to add in moisture or dewiness."
“For acne prone skin in particular, you want to make sure you have as smooth of a canvas as possible,” says Charlie Riddle, Stila Cosmetics Editorial Director of Artistry. The makeup artist shares that he always has a bottle of the Victoria Beckham Priming Moisturizer in his kit to reduce the appearance of pores and blur minor imperfections to even out skin tone. Clutch move.
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Foundation Goes First
Overdoing it with a single heavy layer of foundation is a common mistake for people with acne.
Riddle’s workaround is to apply the base coverage first, whether it’s a tinted moisturizer or a foundation like Stila’s Hide and Chic. "[This] will determine how much more you need to cover after with a concealer,” he explains
Medhin uses a similar strategy. "If you’re using a medium full coverage foundation, it’s a lot less likely that you need the concealer, and only putting it where you really need it keeps your skin looking more fresh,” she adds.
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Tap on Your Concealer
The goal with applying concealer, says Kristina, is “to be as gentle as possible.” She recommends using a tapping technique and never a swiping motion, which can irritate the skin.
When it comes to finding your perfect concealer, it needs to match your skin tone as closely as possible, says Riddle. Never use concealers that brighten or highlight, as “they will draw attention versus covering."
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Don't Be Afraid to Layer
To achieve a fully blended, cake-free appearance, a slow and steady layered approach works best, especially with pimples that are shiny.
“First, tap the concealer over the blemish and keep tapping until the product blends out," says Riddle. "Then I like to use an eyeshadow blending brush and take a translucent powder and set it.”
You’ll repeat this sequence one more time, says Riddle. “Go back in and add another layer of concealer using the same motion,” he says. Then add one final layer or powder to “set the look and lock it in place.”
Blur Out Acne Scars
Another inevitable fact of living an acne-prone life is the scarring and indentations blemishes can leave behind, depending on the severity of the outbreak.
“If it’s just discolored, cover it the same way you would cover dark circles — use a brightener on the spot, powder it, then go over it with the concealer that matches your skin tone," she adds.
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Skip the Shimmer
“With makeup, sometimes we go with a full force, ‘let's cover everything and wear everything’ kind of attitude,” says Medhin. “And there are areas of your skin that are going to not need that coverage. With acne, I think it is really, really important to wear little as you can in the areas that you can, and using products that are reflective are going to show more texture that is probably uneven.”
Skip the Touch-Ups
When the post-lunch skin shine starts to peek through, it can be really tempting to reach for more concealer, but do not scratch that itch, says Medhin.
“Reintroducing a pressed powder or more concealer late in the day doesn’t really mattify your skin most of the time, it will only contribute to cakiness,” the artist explains.
When Medhin works with actress Issa Rae, it usually demands a 16-hour day on set with about 50 touch-ups throughout and zero time for a re-do. “We just got to keep it rocking,” she says. “So I’ll use a blotting sheet, which are great because it’s just one and done, and a bit more translucent powder, which is built to last all day.”
Don’t Forget the Finishing Spray
“If I have to cover a lot and use a lot of powder but I want the skin to look like skin, I will take a bronzing mist or a sunscreen spray to give an instant glow,” says Riddle. “The spray brings the skin back to looking as natural as possible.”
This is Skin Deep, where we’re looking beyond the surface. Here, you’ll find all the tools you need to get your beauty routines back on track.