Beauty + How Tos

How to Get Flawless Foundation, Even with Acne

When you’ve had acne for 20 years, you become an expert at covering it up.  On Friday, I put together a series on Instagram videos (available in my highlights) detailing how to conceal your breakouts.  Since then, several people have asked me to share the products and tips from the video here.

Prepping Your Skin. Before you apply your makeup, you have to wash your face.  And if you struggle with uneven texture, you need to exfoliate.  I wrote yesterday about the Sonya Dakar Flash Facial, and it is the perfect pre-makeup treatment.  You’ll also need to apply a light moisturize like this Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation moisturizer.

Prime Your Skin. I like to use two primers — one for brightening, and one for smoothing.  I mix the Becca Backlight Primer with their Everlight Poreless Primer.  Mixing the primers gives you a slightly dewy finish.

Apply Your Base Layer. Let’s talk about tools.  You can use a brush to apply your foundation (I like this one best), but I prefer to buy the faux Beauty Blenders from Amazon.  I tear the sponges in half because the bumpy sponge surface helps the foundation get into pores and fine lines.

I like medium coverage foundation with a natural finish.  Why?  If you want a lighter product, you can thin it out with primer or moisturizer.  If you want it heavier, you can apply a bit more.  And the natural finish gives the look of real skin in a way matte foundation doesn’t.

My favorite foundations are Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation.  If you need a drugstore dupe, a friend swears by L’Oreal True Match.

To apply the foundation, you want to use the textured part of the sponge and dab on the product.  Remember 90s sponge painting?  It’s like that.  Then, use the non-textured side to blend.

Cover Your Under-eye Circles. I’ve never found a concealer that does a perfect job of covering my dark circles.  The best pricey product is this Ultra HD Concealer.  The best drugstore product is this NYX HD Concealer.

Cover Your Spots. Here comes the real trick.  You need to apply your acne like a laser, focusing on each spot and applying only as much product as necessary.  This brush from Laura Mercier is the best thing ever for covering acne.

I use Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage concealer.  I lightly dab each spot with a bit of concealer and blend out from the center.  If you have a magnifying mirror, use it.  This $15 one attaches to your mirror.  Once the spots a covered, I use this angled brush to cover any other redness or unevenness.  You’re just evening everything out and creating a flawless look.

Set It in Place. Now that everything is applied, you need to set it with powder.  I use Glossier’s Wowder because it’s neither white nor flesh toned.  It has a slight tint to it so it blends easily.

Using a narrow fluffy brush, apply it under your eyes to set your concealer.  Then, use a fluffier powder brush to set the rest of your face.  To get even coverage, you puff your cheeks out like a fish.  I don’t know why it works, but it does.  You look foolish, but your makeup looks great.

If you need a little extra hold, maybe it’s humid or you have a long day, try a makeup setting spray.  This Urban Decay De-Slick holds makeup in place and prevents excess oil from forming.

Final Thoughts. Once you get in the habit, this whole process will take about 10 minutes.  So don’t get discouraged if it takes more time in the beginning.  It’s worth it.

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  1. Lindsey says:

    really appreciated your tutorial on instastories the other day on this!! super helpful.

    January 24, 2018/Reply
  2. IRMCK says:

    Really appreciated your insta story tutorial on this. Plus, it was cool to hear your voice!

    January 24, 2018/Reply
  3. MOrgan says:

    Please think about saving your Instastory content somewhere for those of us who miss it!

    January 24, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It’s saved in the new Instagram story highlights. It’s right above the photos, in the app. It says cover acne.

      January 24, 2018/Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the advice about the cortisone/neosporin combo on InstaStories. I actually started using it as an overnight treatment (with some spot treatment if needed) to bring down redness for “fresh” or red zits. So far it’s worked wonders.

    January 25, 2018/Reply