How To Apply Makeup Over Acne Without Feeling Gross

Don't listen to makeup artists. Listen to me!
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Christina
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Don't listen to makeup artists. Listen to me!

Having bad skin sucks. I know all about it. You don’t feel good without makeup, and you don’t feel that much better with it. It’s so hard to find a foundation that blends properly, gives even coverage, and doesn’t feel icky and suffocating.

A lot of makeup artists will just blanket your face with one full-coverage foundation, but I have learned through trial and error and watching more experienced artists that this is NOT the way. Think about it. You could have advanced acne on parts of your skin, and no acne on other parts. Why should you use the same products all over?

I’ve come up with a method that makes my face look great even when my skin isn’t at its best. It takes time, but it’s worth it.

Ah, the dreaded “before” look. Here is my bare skin. Not a stitch of anything.

Do I get something for being so brave? Candy? Flowers? 

Do I get something for being so brave? Candy? Flowers? 

Step 1: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

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PROTECT: Sunscreen is a really important starting step--don’t skip it. I use Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Cream under my game face most days. It doesn’t change the color of my complexion or make me feel greasy.

MOISTURIZE: Next, I use Clinique All About Eyes, which turns powdery in seconds and is thus the best under-your-makeup eye cream I’ve tried. Sometimes I layer on Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer, and on rare occasion I’ll follow up with a primer.

CONCEAL: To finish, I use concealer under my eyes. If you suffer from sinus issues like I do, look into Benefit Fake Up Concealer, which is really easy to work with, super nourishing, and covers dark bags like nothing else.

Step 2: Even Out Your Complexion

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FOUNDATION: Opt for a sheer coverage foundation to let your natural skin tone shine through. You want to even out redness, but you still want to look like you. I’m using Revlon ColorStay Stay Active Foundation, which offers natural coverage for a full day. I highly recommend applying with a damp beauty blender.

A little evened out, but still a little Blemish City.

A little evened out, but still a little Blemish City.

TIPS: Pay attention to your skin. If it’s oily, don’t slather it with a heavily moisturizing, fluid foundation, because it will just sit on top of your face. Opt for a mattifying fluid foundation, stick, or powder. If you have drier skin, look for something that will hydrate, so it won’t flake or look cake-y. Also think about your skin color--do you have cool or warm undertones? Does the foundation you want to buy look more pink or yellow? When you buy a primer, you may choose a green formula to reduce redness, but your foundation needn’t be correcting your color; it needs to be working in harmony with it. Don’t choose a yellow foundation if you have cool undertones and vice versa.

STEP 3: Coverage

Almost there.

Almost there.

COVERING BREAKOUTS: Using a foundation brush (or even a smaller blending brush), apply a medium to full coverage foundation, like my beloved MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15, to only those areas where you tend to break out. For me, that is my forehead and my hairline. You can use a heavier hand where you have more blemishes, being careful to feather out the edges with your into brush.

STEP 4: Finishing Touches

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SPOT COVERAGE: If you have any particularly nasty blemishes or dark spots that are still showing through your foundation, you can now use a concealer on them. I’m using Benefit Boi-ing Concealer on the actual dark spots and around the edges.

FINISHING: Seal the look with a finishing powder. I use a big fluffy powder brush to apply Coverderm Finishing Powder in the areas I worked on most and where I tend to be most oily. Then I powder the rest of my face with a light hand.

It’s like that pesky acne never existed.

It’s like that pesky acne never existed.

And there you have it: you can have the best of both worlds. No need to conceal perfectly pretty skin just because you have some problem areas.