Cover Acne With Makeup: All 5 Types

Zit happens. When it does, you might try to cover acne with makeup, whether it's just one huge pimple or a whole acne breakout.
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cover acne with makeup
If your acne is dark, pink, or red, you might want to use a concealer that can change the color.

Many people cover acne with makeup. Just remember that makeup can help hide acne, but it can’t cure it. And some dermatologists, like Jeffrey Hsu, MD, FAAD, Founder of Oak Dermatology, say that makeup, depending on what you use and how you use it, could make acne worse. Read on to find out how to cover acne with makeup the right way.

If you want to cover acne with makeup, you’ll need a few key items:

  • primer
  • concealer
  • foundation
  • setting powder

But before you run to the beauty counter, keep in mind that if you tend to break out, you should stay away from certain ingredients.

“I tell my patients with acne-prone skin to stay away from foundations and makeup that might have comedogenic ingredients.” These ingredients can make acne worse or cause new breakouts, says Hsu.

Hsu says to avoid choosing makeup with these ingredients.

Silicone. Hsu says that primers and skin care products often have silicone in them to help make the skin smooth. Silicone does this by getting into your pores and filling them, which makes your foundation look smoother. What’s wrong? Hsu says that silicone can stay in your pores even after you wash and exfoliate. This can cause your pores to get clogged.

Any oil at all? “Natural oils like avocado or coconut oil are part of this. “You can’t change the fact that oil is oil, and oil blocks pores,” says Hsu.

lanolin. Hsu says that lanolin, or oil from sheep skin, is very comedogenic and something you should stay away from.

Talc, a cheap powder filler that is often used in makeup, isn’t just a comedogen. “People with more sensitive skin could get dry skin and irritation from it,” says Hsu.

Hsu says that it can be hard to find silicone and other ingredients on labels. They might show up with a different chemical name or a slight change.

In this case, what’s your best bet? Mineral makeup is made from minerals that can be found in the ground.

Hsu says that mineral makeup, including foundation, is usually better for your skin because it doesn’t cause acne and is gentler than other options. Since it lets the skin breathe and doesn’t clog pores, it can be a good way to hide spots that have broken out or are red.

Before Starting To Cover Acne With Makeup

Hsu says that before you put on makeup, you should wash your skin gently. He goes on to say that any over-the-counter or prescription treatments for acne should also be put on before sunscreen or makeup.

Make sure to also clean any spots that are red or irritated. Just be extra careful when you wash to keep those spots from getting worse. Don’t rub your skin too hard, especially with a washcloth, and don’t use cleansers with ingredients like alcohol that could irritate or dry out your skin.

Want some help picking a cleanser? Check out what we think are the best face washes for acne.

Speaking of clean, you should always use clean fingers or a clean sponge to apply makeup so you don’t get bacteria into your pimples or pores.

1. Blackheads

Blackheads are those little black dots that tend to show up on your nose and chin. Excess oil, dead skin, and other gunk that gets stuck in your pores cause them. When this gunk is exposed to air, it turns dark.

To use make-up to cover blackheads:

  1. Start by putting a light, water-based primer on a face that has been washed and moisturized. This helps keep your makeup from getting into your clogged pores. 
  2. Put a small amount of liquid foundation with a medium amount of coverage on the back of your hand. 
  3. Use a setting brush to press small amounts of foundation into your skin in a downward, circular motion. 
  4. If you need more coverage, put a small amount of concealer in a similar shade on the spot. 
  5. Dust on some powder foundation to finish.

2. Whiteheads

These annoying zits have a white bump in the middle and a reddish or discolored edge. When oil and dead skin get stuck in a pore or hair follicle, it can cause a whitehead.

To use make-up to hide whiteheads:

  1. Put a small amount of a spot treatment on the pimple. The best products are those that have salicylic acid in them. 
  2. Use a green color corrector on the pimple to make the redness or discoloration look less obvious. 
  3. Use a small brush to apply concealer on and around the pimple. 
  4. Use a buffing brush to put on a medium-coverage liquid foundation. 
  5. Dust it with powder foundation to finish it off.

PSA about popping: We know it’s tempting as hell, but don’t pop that pimple! Playing Dr. Pimple Popper can make your skin red and irritated, which can make you more likely to get an infection or irritation.

3. Cystic acne

Behemoths like these behemoths are red or dirty, swollen, headless, and often painful. Cystic acne is the worst kind of acne because it forms deep under the skin. They can also be hard to treat.

To use makeup to cover up cystic acne:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. This will help you put on your makeup smoothly as you build up your coverage. 
  2. Use a primer to make sure your makeup stays put. 
  3. Use a green color corrector on the pimple and the area around it to make it look less red or discolored. If your acne looks purple, use a yellow color corrector. 
  4. In the spirit of “less is more,” use a small amount of full-coverage foundation and apply it with a makeup sponge. This will let you decide if you need more protection. 
  5. Put a little bit of liquid concealer on top of the foundation if you can still see your acne. 
  6. Finish by applying a powder foundation to the area with a light touch.

4. Hormonal acne

Hormones can change in people of all ages, not just teenagers. Any age can have hormonal acne. It happens when your hormones change in a way that makes your skin produce more oil. As a result, you get a mix of blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne. Ugh.

To use makeup to hide acne caused by hormones:

  1. Use a primer that is made of water all over your face. 
  2. Use a green color corrector to get rid of spots or redness. 
  3. Put some concealer on the spot and around it. 
  4. Medium-coverage liquid foundation should be applied with a buffing brush in downward, circular motions.
  5. Wait a few minutes for the base to set. 
  6. If you need more coverage, put a small amount of concealer on the area that needs it. 
  7. Dust it with powder foundation to finish it off.

5. Acne scars that are bumpy or dark

Even though they can look different, acne scars are usually discolored depressions on the skin. They are caused by repeated inflammation and breakouts. They can make your face look rough, uneven, or a different color.

To use makeup to hide acne scars or rough skin:

  1. To get rid of extra oil, use a toner or witch hazel. 
  2. Use a primer that is made of water on the damaged areas. 
  3. Use a crisscross pattern to put concealer right on your face. Use cotton pads or clean fingers to gently pat it on your skin. 
  4. Use a tissue to gently wipe away any extra makeup on your face. This will help you get a smooth look when you’re done. 
  5. Use a stippling brush to put on liquid foundation that covers everything. But be careful—if you rub too hard, it can move your concealer. 
  6. Give the base a few minutes to set. 
  7. Use a light dusting of foundation powder to help the makeup stay in place. 
  8. Use a finishing spray to mist your face and finish off the look.

In Conclusion

No matter what kind of acne you have, makeup can help you hide it. Just remember that there are different products and methods that will work best for your skin problems.

When you have acne, your skin can be very sensitive. So, try to be gentle when taking care of your skin and putting on makeup. Make sure your tools are clean and that your products don’t have any ingredients that will cause your acne to flare up or make it worse. Oh, and if you think a product might be making your acne worse, get rid of it.


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