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Everything You Need to Know About Makeup and Acne

Whether you experience the occasional pimple or persistent breakouts, you likely turn to makeup to keep acne under wraps. From concealer for spot-coverage to foundation for full-face complexion perfection, there’s no denying that makeup can help cover active acne and healing blemishes. But choosing the proper makeup for acne-prone skin is key for minimizing further breakouts, and as the #1 dermatologist recommended coverage brand, Dermablend has you covered.

Before diving into the myriad makeup options, it’s important to know that all acne is not created equal. “There are several different types of acne blemishes, which is why it’s best to seek the advice of a dermatologist if you can’t seem to keep breakouts under control,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified New York City dermatologist, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai and author of the book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. With the proper skincare and treatments, you can minimize acne, prevent scarring and enjoy a clear, healthy-looking complexion.

Blackheads

“A mild form of acne, blackheads appear when a hair follicle becomes clogged with grime and sebum, the natural oily secretion of the sebaceous glands that keeps the skin moisturized,” Dr. Jaliman explains. Any hair follicle (or pore) that becomes clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria is called a comedone. Blackheads are “open comedones,” which means the pore is open at the surface of the skin. Most common on and around the nose, cheeks and chin, the color of blackheads is not caused by dirt. Their dark appearance develops when oil and debris within the pores are exposed to oxygen in the air.1

1https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/comedonal-acne#symptoms

Everything You Need to Know About Makeup and Acne

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are another kind of comedone. According to Dr. Jaliman, “Unlike blackheads, whiteheads are ‘closed comedones’ that occur when oil, dead skin cells and bacteria fill the pore.” In the case of whiteheads—which can appear on the face, back, shoulders and beyond—this debris clogging the pore is shielded from air exposure so it does not darken. Though it may be tempting to pop whiteheads, it’s best to keep your hands off to prevent spreading bacteria and potentially damaging the skin,2 which can lead to scarring.

2https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/blackheads-vs-whiteheads#treatment

Papules

“This type of acne blemish is a tiny, raised bump filled with excess oil,” says Dr. Jaliman. Dead skin cells become trapped inside these clogged pores as well, however there is no visible pus so papules do not have a “head.”

Pustules

When you think of a stereotypical pimple, you’re probably imagining a pustule. Dr. Jaliman explains, “Papules become pustules once pus is visible,” which occurs when the body sends white blood cells to the affected area to fight infection.3

3https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/pustules-facts

Everything You Need to Know About Makeup and Acne

Nodules

One of the more severe types acne blemish, “Nodules are hard, painful bumps that form under the skin,” says Dr. Jaliman. Some nodules may cause red bumps on the skin’s surface while others remain the same color as the surrounding skin, but all nodules are caused by bacteria that become trapped and cause infection. Nodules are more likely to leave scars because the associated inflammation can damage surrounding skin cells, and since nodules don’t have a “head,” trying to pop them is likely to leave a dark spot as well.4

4https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/nodular-acne#nodular-vs-cystic-acne

Cysts

According to Dr. Jaliman, “Cysts are another type of more severe acne associated with inflammation, redness and infection.” These deep, painful bumps are like nodules but they are filled with pus. Similar to nodules, cysts are more likely to leave acne scars.5

5https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/nodular-acne#general-skin-care-tips

Must-know info about makeup for acne-prone skin

In addition to acne-fighting skincare, makeup can help make it easier to deal with blemishes. The best makeup for acne should tick a few key boxes, and Dr. Jaliman says the most important are that the products you use are oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means they will not contribute to clogged pores.

Other meaningful skin-safety indicators include the terms “dermatologist-tested,” “sensitive skin tested,” “allergy tested” and “fragrance-free.” For peace of mind, look for products that incorporate broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and are free of phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate or animal-derived ingredients. The ideal makeup for acne, each and every one of Dermablend’s products meet these criteria and are developed to be suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.

What is the best makeup for acne?

It’s a common misconception that foundation can make acne worse. In fact, Dr. Jaliman says an oil-free, non-comedogenic foundation is one way to help prevent the clogged pores that lead to breakouts. Although all of Dermablend’s products are suitable for acne-prone skin, Flawless Creator™ Liquid Foundation Drops are one of our bestsellers thanks to its oil-free formula, natural finish, weightless texture and customizable coverage that never appears cakey. (A great foundation for oily skin, it can also be mattified with the Loose Setting Powder or pressed Compact Setting Powder). If excess oil and mid-day shine are major concerns, Intense Powder Camo® Mattifying Foundation provides a long-lasting matte finish. And for those who need extra hydration due to dryness associated with acne treatments, Smooth Liquid Camo Hydrating Foundation provides moisture and buildable coverage to create a smooth, healthy-looking complexion. The best concealer for acne is one that minimizes the visibility of blemishes as they heal, and our Quick-Fix® Concealer stick offers high-performance pigments that never look cakey.

Everything You Need to Know About Makeup and Acne
Everything You Need to Know About Makeup and Acne

Makeup application tips for acne

There are a few special considerations when using makeup to minimize the visibility of acne. From proper skin-prep to applying products in the right order, here are the best makeup for acne basics.

  • If you want makeup to glide on smoothly and stay in place, don’t skip the primer! Our Insta-Grip™ Jelly Makeup Primer smoothes the skin, helps alleviate any dryness caused by acne treatments, prepares the skin for foundation and/or concealer and can help extend wear for up to 24 hours. For those with oily skin prone to mid-day shine, the new limited-ingredient Poresaver™ Matte Makeup Primer helps minimize the appearance of pores and absorb excess oil while helping to extend makeup wear for up to 24 hours.
  • Apply non-comedogenic foundation first, and then use concealer on areas where you need a little extra coverage. (Applying concealer first can lead to using too much, which could result in a cakey end-result.) For optimal blemish-blurring, gently tap foundation and concealer into the skin with a blending sponge to ensure complete blemish coverage (and avoid wiping away product you’ve already applied).
  • Picking pimples is never a good idea. However, a stick-based concealer that helps repair the skin’s barrier like Quick-Fix® Concealer can help make it easier to more precisely cover scabs while giving them a chance to heal. The best way to apply concealer to healing blemishes is to gently tap it on with a brush and fan it out into surrounding skin.
  • The secret for makeup that lasts all day without smudging or transferring is finishing with our Loose Setting Powder. To prevent disturbing foundation and concealer that have already been applied, pat generously over makeup, allow powder to sit for at least two minutes, then gently buff away excess with a fluffy brush.
  • For touch-ups throughout the day or before leaving your desk to go to dinner, our Compact Setting Powder can help absorb oil and refresh foundation without having to reapply.

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