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Here’s Exactly How to Cover Acne With Makeup for a Skin-Like Look

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Photo by Igor Ustynskyy/Getty Images

Everyone experiences a pimple every now and then, and whether it’s newly sprouted or on the mend, you might be looking to conceal it for everyday outings or a special event. The good news is, concealing breakouts (or even just a single pimple) is extremely easy with makeup. It requires the right products which you likely already have in your makeup bag and a little knowledge about color correcting.

For step by step tips on how to cover acne, we consulted makeup artist Alex Levy. Read on for the best makeup products for acne prone skin and all you need to know when it comes to covering those pesky blemishes.


About the Expert:

Alex Levy is a New York–based makeup artist and beauty marketing consultant.

How to Cover Acne With Makeup

1. Start With a Clean, Primed Complexion

If you haven’t already figured it out, pimples respond much better to TLC than using harsh, skin-stripping products used at any step of your skincare routine. While you never have to cover your acne with makeup if you don’t want to, making sure you’re taking care of your skin first is important.

When experiencing a breakout, thoroughly wash your face with a deep pore cleanser to release clogged pores and slough off dead skin before your makeup application. Follow up with a hydrating moisturizer to soothe and protect your skin barrier. “If the breakout is dry, don’t skimp out on exfoliation or hydration in that area,” says Levy. Your breakout will be clean, calm, and protected before makeup comes in contact with it.

Next you’ll want to use a primer, it will create a nice barrier between your breakout and the foundation that you lay down. Plus, your makeup will adhere to your skin much more smoothly. Choose a gripping primer for best results like the MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer.

2. Choose Your Concealer (Preferably Matte)

Concealers are meant to cover up any imperfections, like under-eye circles, dark marks, acne scars, redness, and zits. You use them before your foundation, almost like a spot treatment for areas that require a little extra coverage. Here are our top full-coverage concealers that are perfect for covering acne.

“Reach for concealers with a dryer consistency so they adhere to the breakouts and don’t slip and slide on the skin. For breakouts that are red, it’s always helpful to color correct with a green color corrector to cancel out the look of irritated skin. This will also help you use less product in the long run,” says Levy.

3. Use a Concealer Brush and Let It Dry

TikTok influencer and makeup artist Mikayla Nogueira is famous for sharing her methods on how to conceal acne. Her secret weapon? Using a concealer brush to dab on the concealer instead of a beauty blender. She calls this The Sticky Method. You’ll notice she doesn’t blend the concealer in right away. Instead, she moves fast and covers everything she needs to before letting it dry and going in with her base (more on that below). 

4. Apply Your Foundation With a Makeup Sponge

Once you’ve let your concealer dry (remember, no blending yet!) go in with your liquid foundation of choice—medium- and full-coverage foundations work best. It’s important to use a makeup sponge for application, so you don’t disrupt all of the spots you concealed beforehand. You can follow up with a powder foundation, mineral powder, or setting spray to keep everything from separating.

5. If You Have Texture, Use a Blurring Powder

Everyone experiences different types of acne. Sometimes, our breakouts are true bumps (cystic acne or whiteheads) which have quite a bit of texture. To hide pimples like these, repeat the above steps but keep those areas from creasing. “It’s always helpful to use a blurring powder to soften. The PAT McGRATH Sublime Perfection Blurring Under-Eye Powder is really nice to soften texture in areas that crease and diffuse light away from patchiness,” recommends Alex.

Ready to level up your makeup game? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated January 24, 2023 12:00 AM