How To Cover Cystic Acne While You're Waiting For Treatments To Work

I'm a huge fan of Vichy's Dermablend foundation and powder to help hide breakout inflammation until it calms down.
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Mary Ellen
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I'm a huge fan of Vichy's Dermablend foundation and powder to help hide breakout inflammation until it calms down.

The bitch about treating cystic or any kind of acne is that it takes a freakin’ age to actually show signs of improvement. So while you’re waiting for the situation to become clearer, there’s no harm in using some skin-friendly cosmetics to cover up and just help you face this crazy world.

Vichy’s Dermablend range was a total revelation to me. I randomly picked up a tube of their Fluid Corrective Foundation four years ago and never looked back. The Dermablend line is corrective/camouflage makeup intended to cover uneven pigmentation, thread veins, tattoos, scarring, birthmarks and acne.

Their range of shades isn’t huge or niche, but it covers all bases. The total-coverage highly pigmented formula means it acts as a veil for any sort of skin imperfection: check out what one very lazy, sloppily applied swatch across my wrist did to my regrettable tattoo!

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Lisa Eldridge did a lovely tutorial on using Dermablend products, where she noted that often, if you ask someone with acne what percentage of their face/back/chest is affected, they're likely to say 50, 60 or 70 percent. In reality, it's often a much lower area of skin that's affected. For this reason, I mix a little La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume with Dermablend Fluid, the second lightest shade, and use it as a light base before concealing targeted areas with a lighter shade, so that I don’t feel like I’m wearing an unnecessary mask of foundation.

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Before blending.

Before blending.

I use clean fingertips to apply the lighter shade on the acne-affected areas. I use a q-tip on areas that are cystic or angry-looking. Then I blend lightly, ensuring I avoid layering the lighter shade near my eyes or in the centre of my cheeks, as this can make it look mask-like and heavy.

I’m all for applying with fingertips for the simple reason that they can be washed really thoroughly before and after, unlike, a foundation brush. Foundation brushes are a source of contention for me because they are left soggy and makeup-covered and I consider them a breeding ground for germs.

Foundation will rub off from oily/acne-prone skin, and you’ll often find yourself leaving a beige smear on your phone, your collar or the clothes of another person, should you give them a hug. Powder combats this, but I hate the feeling of having a face full of it and tend to just brush the forehead, nose, chin and outer cheeks very lightly.

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The Dermablend line has a nice Translucent Loose Setting Powder, which reinforces the hold of the foundation for up to 16 hours. Pat it on loosely with the back of a powder brush (it comes with a little puff applicator so you could pat with that too), wait a minute, and dust off the excess for a smooth, matte and natural finish.

Then you can add in all the fun stuff: bronzer, blush, monkey blood and what have you. The only proviso is that you ensure these things are hypoallergenic/noncomedogenic.

Makeup done but I still have a little Differin burn under my nostril. Seriously, keep that stuff *away* from mucous membranes. The difference in the look and feel of my skin is still pretty crazy, though: no filters, no weird stuff, just plain daylight from my bedroom window.

Makeup done but I still have a little Differin burn under my nostril. Seriously, keep that stuff *away* from mucous membranes. The difference in the look and feel of my skin is still pretty crazy, though: no filters, no weird stuff, just plain daylight from my bedroom window.

While treating acne is an infuriating case of trial-and-error/wait-and-see, treating your skin with kindness and staying calm about the situation is certainly never going to make it worse. The steps and products I’ve outlined above work well for me, and because they’re pretty common-sense-based and simple, I’m hoping they’ll do something good for you, too.

If your acne is making you upset, don’t attack it; be your skin’s best pal and treat it with the gentle care it deserves. And if you need to let out some anger about it, I highly advise sticking a sewing needle in a load of balloons: cathartic, fun and it won’t scar your face.

Or, drop me a line and I’ll cheer you up with a story about how I drank litres and litres of water one day to “flush” the junk out of my skin and slightly wet myself on a long car journey.