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How To: Apply Foundation To Acne-Prone Skin

Jan 16, 2018

It’s like the chicken and the egg: You have acne so you wear foundation to cover it, and then the foundation makes you breakout more. Do you stop applying foundation and hope – *pray* – that your skin clears up, stat… or do you continue with the cover-up to fake a decent complexion, and then just keep breaking out on top of breakouts, hence needing even more foundation.

It’s exhausting. And, yes, foundation can lead to further breakouts. F*^%!!! But, rest assured, there is a clearer complexion at the end of this pimple-laden tunnel. Today we’re teaching you the tips and tricks for how to apply foundation to acne-prone skin — and not breakout. Take notes.

1. Make sure skin is completely clean prior to application. This sounds like common knowledge – duh! – but you’d be surprised how many people apply foundation on-the-go, hence their skin isn’t newly washed, dried, and moisturized. And makeup plus dirty skin equals disaster. Plain and simple.

2. If you’re using a makeup brush or sponge to apply foundation, make sure that, too, is clean. And if using fingers, wash them immediately before applying – with soap and water, not just a quick rinse! Cleanliness is key to tackling breakouts. So, of course, your application tools must be clean and free of dirt as well. Rule of thumb: clean makeup brushes every week to avoid buildup, or swipe brushes and/or sponge with a gentle, yet antibacterial, cleansing wipe like Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes directly after each use.

3. Steer clear of tinted moisturizers, BB Creams, CC Creams, and any foundations with skincare benefits. When it comes to acne-prone skin, it’s imperative to separate your skincare steps from your makeup steps. Normal, dry, and anti-aging skin types can multitask with a two-for-oner – a tinted moisturizer that also tackles wrinkles. Or a BB Cream with antioxidants and vitamin C to brighten the complexion. But acne-prone skin can’t handle these double duty products. In fact, they’ll likely make your skin go haywire and freak out into a brand new breakout. Our advice is opt out of the skincare/foundation hybrids and keep it simple with an oil-free foundation that provides coverage, sans any skin benefits.

4. Skip the primer. Even if it’s oil-free. Although, great for the staying powder of foundation, primer is terrible for acne-prone skin. It seeps into pores and traps its bad ingredients into the epidermis. Then it layers pigment on top. Yuck!

5. Don’t use a Beauty Blender to apply foundation. Instead, use a dome-shaped brush with synthetic bristles, like this one (Bare Minerals Smoothing Foundation Brush one of our favorites). Why, you ask? Because the Beauty Blender locks in too much foundation, passing massive amounts of product into the skin and pores (and overloading on foundation will make you break out!). But a foundation brush applies a thin layer of foundation to the skin, that you can build slowly and methodically. Make sure to apply in strokes or circular motion, not pressing into the skin (this, too, will overload the foundation application process). You can use a Beauty Blender to lightly tap and buff out any streaks once it’s applied, but again, make sure to be gentle so that the sponge doesn’t soak up the product and transfer it to other areas of the face.

6. Wait until skincare products – serum, moisturizer, acne treatment, SPF – are completely dry before applying foundation. Again, you want your skincare and makeup steps to be clearly defined as two steps, so it’s important to wait a beat — or three — before moving from serum/moisturizer/SPF to pigment. If you apply both at the same time — or before the skincare product has had the time to completely soak into the skin — you’re going to clog your pores. Mixing your makeup and skincare is a surefire way to cause a breakout. Brush your teeth, apply eye makeup, or meditate in between the two steps. You’re complexion will thank you.

7. Avoid applying foundation to open wounds… this includes just-popped zits! You will infect the area and likely cause additional breakouts. How to avoid this? Keep your hands off of your face and STOP PICKING YOUR PIMPLES! You’re welcome.