4 Makeup Tips for Acne-Prone Skin

Makeup Tips for Acne-Prone Skin

Learning how to apply makeup is a journey. You probably started with clumpy mascara and eyeliner that can only be described as raccoon-like. From there, you likely ventured out to a foundation that didn’t match your neck. And then came the far too orange bronzer that was haphazardly applied all over your face.

It’s been a trial and error process from the beginning, and you’ve figured out what works and what definitely doesn’t. But when you’re dealing with breakouts, makeup comes with a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few tips that can help you love the way your makeup looks without creating more acne.

1. Avoid Pore-Clogging Ingredients

Before you get ready to apply makeup, it’s important to start with a solid skin care routine. This can fight active breakouts and prevent future ones from popping up. So, begin with an acne-focused routine featuring products like salicylic acid for acne prevention and niacinamide to control oil. If you find topical over-the-counter options aren’t working, try acne medication instead.

Once your skin care routine is set, you’ll want to take a look at the ingredients of your makeup products. Some of them may contain pore-clogging ingredients, also called comedogenic. These can work against your skin care to clog pores and cause breakouts. 

The list of pore-clogging ingredients is quite long. However, there are convenient labels on some non-comedogenic products, which is a good place to start. If you don’t see one, check for natural oils like coconut, avocado, or olive since they’re all pore-clogging. Many alcohols and acids are pore-clogging, too. Avoid products that have these acne-causing ingredients and begin the hunt for alternatives.

You don’t have to ditch every product with these ingredients immediately, though. Slowly phasing them out of your daily routine and swapping them for products with better ingredients will likely yield positive results. Creating a completely non-comedogenic routine may be the best option for acne-prone skin, but it can take time. With these efforts, you’ll know that your skin care and makeup products are working together to create clearer skin.

2. Prime and Set Your Face

A concern you may have with acne-prone skin is how well your makeup will last. After all, you spent time applying it, so you don’t want it to run off your face midday. Primer and setting powder are products specifically designed to help ensure the longevity of your makeup.

It’s important to look at the ingredients of your favorite makeup products to determine the primers that will work best. The chemical nature of beauty products means that not all of them go together, specifically water and silicone. Those are two common foundation and primer main ingredients, so you’ll need to pair like with like. 

That means, if you have a water-based foundation, your primer should be water-based, too. You can check if your product is water or silicone-based on the ingredients list. If water is in the first three listed ingredients, it’s a water-based product. So, you’ll need to pair it with a primer that also has water in its first few ingredients, too. The same goes for silicone.

After you’ve found a primer you love, it’s time to explore setting powders. Many people with acne-prone skin deal with a lot of oil. That’s why setting powder is applied on top of your concealer and foundation. It prevents your makeup from moving around too much and can soak up oil throughout the day. When used properly, your primer, foundation, concealer, and setting powder all work together so your makeup lasts.

3. Blend, Blend, Blend

The goal of face makeup, like concealer and foundation, is often to look like your skin but better. It gives the appearance of an even skin tone and can help conceal dark circles, acne, and scarring that you may not love. But it can be tricky to use multiple products and keep a skin-like look.

That’s why blending should be your new favorite makeup application technique. When covering blemishes, you may be scared to blend products out. Naturally, doing so reduces some of the coverage you’ll get. However, it becomes easier to build up your coverage instead of creating a cakey look.

Using a brush or sponge, work the product into your skin so it covers evenly. This helps avoid the look of makeup simply sitting on the skin’s surface. It also avoids clumps of product sitting and settling into fine lines or pores, which can make your makeup more noticeable.

Wanting to cover blemishes or acne scarring from previous breakouts is totally normal. But it can’t be solved by slapping face makeup onto it in large quantities. You’ll likely draw more attention to your acne than if you blended it out and opted for light layers instead.

4. Clean Makeup Brushes and Sponges

How you apply your makeup and the brands you use aren’t the only factors that could cause breakouts. The makeup tools you know and love are likely playing a crucial role in your skin’s appearance. After all, regardless of the look you’re creating, you’re probably using the same brushes and sponges to achieve it.

Plus, your tools travel with you wherever you go and are likely placed on hotel vanities and in carrying cases. Not to mention that many people are applying both powder and liquid products, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. So, it’s incredibly important to prioritize keeping your makeup tools clean to prevent acne.

Grab your used brushes and sponges and rinse them under lukewarm water. Then, apply a gentle shampoo or brush cleaner, working the product in to remove any leftover makeup. Repeat this process until you’re left with tools that are as close to their original color as possible. Leave them to dry completely on a drying rack or clean towel before placing them back in your makeup bag.

You should be doing a full cleanse of your tools every 7-10 days, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. You can probably get away with more time between washes if you’re only using powder products. But it’s a good idea to make this a normal activity. Your skin will thank you for it.

Flawless Makeup Application

You survived years of bad makeup and came out the other side with more skills and knowledge to boot. The same will happen as you navigate applying makeup on your acne-prone skin. It will take time and likely a few failures, but the result will be worthwhile.


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