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How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Acne coverage makeup tutorial

How to cover up acne without making it worse

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 4 min read
Woman in peach colored top looking in round mirror and applying makeup to face with a pink sponge
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 4 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

If you have acne, you’re not alone — as many as 80% of teens and half of all adults suffer from acne. Feeling anxiety because of your skin’s appearance is totally normal. That’s why we’re here to cover up acne with this makeup tutorial for beginners. This no-makeup makeup look will help your complexion look its best — without making your breakouts worse.

To get the perfect no-makeup makeup look, we checked in with Los Angeles-based hair and makeup artist, Joslyn Soliman, whose work you may have seen on the stage and screen, from Good Morning America to New York Fashion Week. Follow her on Instagram to see what she’s up to next!

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Skin Prep

  1. Cleanse with the best face wash for your unique skin. You can also remove dead skin cells with exfoliation if you need to — read our guide on physical exfoliation for tips.

  2. Moisturize. To avoid flaky makeup, make sure your skin isn’t overly dry.

  3. Use a primer. A good primer will create a strong barrier between your skin and your makeup.

A note on primers: if you have big patches of acne on your cheeks or forehead, a green primer (like IPKN’s) can help cancel out the red parts of your face. This color-correcting technique will help neutralize the red tones, better concealing acne. If you only have a few pimples, a regular primer will do.

Looking for product recs? Check out our posts on the best acne face wash, moisturizer for dry skin, and primer for acne-prone skin.

How to apply foundation

Woman in peach colored top looking in round mirror and applying makeup to face with a pink sponge

When it comes to the best foundation to cover acne, choose a liquid foundation that’s 1) lightweight, and, 2) high in pigment. To get the best acne coverage, you’ll be layering several different products — use as little as possible of each so that you don’t accidentally add more texture to your face (instead of evening it out).

For this tutorial, Joslyn used the Cover FX Power Play Foundation, but any non-comedogenic foundation will work. Once you’ve got your foundation of choice:

  1. Dampen a beauty blender (or your egg-shaped makeup sponge of choice). Make sure to squeeze the excess water out!

  2. Apply one light layer of foundation all over with the damp sponge. The goal is not to completely cover your blemishes, but to show which areas of your face need extra concealing.

  3. Check for creasing. Dab your damp beauty blender anywhere your foundation looks creased or overly cakey — it will soak up the excess product! (The less product you use, the less cakey your final look will be.)

How to apply concealer

Woman adding foundation closeup

After you are finished applying your foundation and primer, your blemishes may not yet be concealed. If you are covering a little acne or aren’t currently having a breakout, you can skip using concealer altogether and apply a second thin layer of foundation where you need more coverage.

If pimples, acne scars, or hyperpigmentation are still standing out, Joslyn recommends using an orange color-correcting concealer. Orange color-correctors cancel out any purple/grayish tones on your skin. Joslyn used Jane Iredale Circle/Delete Concealer for this look — any no-breakout concealer with a creamy formulation and the right tint should work.

  1. Apply cream concealer directly to your blemishes with your finger. Dab it on so that the concealer sits on top of your foundation without rubbing it off.

  2. Blend out your concealer with a fluffy brush with short bristles like the MAC 217 until there are no harsh edges.

  3. Optional: If you’re using a color-correcting concealer, dab on a little more foundation on top to make it match the rest of your skin. Whatever is still left on your beauty blender should be enough.

Last but not least: set.

Closeup of woman applying makeup to cheek with metallic brush against a light peach tile background
  1. Dab your damp beauty blender over any creases to soak up the excess product.

  2. Optional: if you need to add more coverage, top off your look with a pressed powder foundation. Joslyn recommends using PUR Cosmetic’s 4-in-1 pressed mineral powder.

  3. Apply a setting powder with a big, fluffy brush. Be sure that your setting powder of choice doesn’t have talc, which can separate makeup! BareMinerals makes a talc-free no-breakout setting powder.

  4. Refresh with a hydrating spray to keep skin moisturized and looking dewy throughout the day. For an alcohol-free setting spray, check out PUR Cosmetic’s Miracle Mist.

Confidence in a bottle

Whether you prefer a no-makeup makeup look or doing your best pancake impression, loving your skin shouldn’t be a hassle. If you have acne, Curology can help you keep it simple. Our dermatology providers will prescribe you custom skincare that can address issues such as blackheads, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and more. Start your free trial of Curology today and just pay $4.95 to cover shipping and handling on your first bottle or custom skincare set.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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