The challenge Covering imperfections without piling on too much makeup. “Resist the urge to canvas your face with heavy foundation,” says New York City makeup artist Sara Glick. “Instead, apply a light layer of makeup and then spot-apply an opaque concealer only where you need it—it’ll look much more natural.” Whether you’re dealing with blackheads, raised pimples or deep cysts, the first step to hiding blemishes is not to pick them. “If you play at-home facialist, pimples can seep or get crusty and foundation or concealer won’t look like skin but rather makeup,” explains Glick.
The science Acne is often genetic, but almost everyone experiences a breakout at some point in their lives. Hormonal changes related to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, birth control or your menstrual cycle can all do a number on your sebaceous (oil) glands, along with diet, stress, smoking, oily beauty products and certain medications. It all starts with a clogged pore: Your skin produces too much sebum, which then mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells to form a “plug” like a blackhead or whitehead. A blocked pore can also burst and spread beneath the surface of your skin to cause a tiny infection, also know as a pimple.
Perfect your complexion
1. Prep your skin While you can’t affect how much oil your skin produces topically, using a toner like Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner will soak up oil without stripping the skin. Apply a light, oil-free cream labeled “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic” like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 35 and wait a few minutes to let it absorb.
2. Get even Using your fingers or a concealer brush, spot-apply a creamy concealer like Urban Decay Surreal Skin Creamy Concealer under your eyes and the corners of your nose. Next, apply a light layer of matte foundation like Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse if you like a little more coverage. Or go for a tinted moisturizer like Lorac protect-TINT Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer if you prefer a more natural look. Use your fingers and start at the middle of your face and blend outward. Using a concealer brush, dot a matte concealer that contains salicylic acid like Clinique Acne Solutions Clearing Concealer on any blemishes. Gently blend around the area without touching the pimple. Set makeup with a light dusting of clear powder like Tarte Smooth Operator Micronized Clay Finishing Powder.
3. Warm up Go for a matte powder bronzer like Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzing Powder. Using a large, fluffy brush, dust the bronzer where the sun would naturally kiss your face: your forehead, the bridge of your nose, cheekbones and chin. Sweep what’s left on the brush over your neck so it all blends in.
4. Go rosy Your most natural shade of blush is the color that you, well, blush naturally. (It’ll be in the pink family—nobody blushes tangerine or eggplant, notes Glick.) No matter your skin type, powder is easiest to apply and lasts the longest. Load up a blush brush, shake off the excess and sweep it over the apples of your cheeks. Soften and blend the color with a clean powder brush.
5. Control shine If your face gets shiny after a few hours, lightly dust your T-zone with more powder—or soak up oil without adding another layer of makeup by dabbing your T-zone with Tweezerman Facial Blotting Paper.
MORE: Squeeze-Free Pimple Problem Solvers