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How To Apply Makeup For Acne Prone Skin

For women with acne-prone skin, applying makeup can both be a necessity and a nightmare. Makeup makes your acne less noticeable and conceals its scars. But if you don’t apply it the right way, instead of providing a solution, it may end up giving you more problems.

How Does Makeup Cause Acne?

Does makeup cause acne? The answer is “Yes”. Not only that, but if you buy the wrong products, it will make your acne worse.

Normal skin sheds one layer per day. But acne-prone skin can shed up to five layers per day. As the dead skin cells accumulate in the hair follicle, it becomes sticky and plugs up your pore’s opening. The trapped oil starts to nurture bacteria called P. Acnes which causes the infection that produces acne.

Makeup affects your skin the same way; it blocks your pores’ opening and creates the ideal conditions for the face to produce acne. “Acne cosmetica” is the condition where pimples are produced by the regular application of makeup and other cosmetics. It can trigger a vicious cycle whereby women incorrectly cover acne with makeup which leads to more breakouts.

Even women with normal, healthy skin can develop acne cosmetica. It just doesn’t seem as apparent as those with acne-prone skin because breakouts happen over a longer period of time.

Best Type Of Makeup For Acne Prone Skin

If you are prone to having acne, should you stop applying makeup? The answer is a “No” provided you buy the right makeup for acne prone skin.

The cosmetics market is loaded with different types of makeup. The manufacturers know there are many women dealing with acne- prone skin. They’ve developed types of makeup that supposedly will not lead to breakouts.

Some of these manufacturers label their products as “Acne Fighting”; but only because it contains salicylic acid which is an anti-bacterial but hardly does anything for pimples.

The best approach is the simple approach. Acne-prone skin tends to be oily so you should look for makeup for oily sensitive skin. Also look for products that are labelled “fragrance free” and “non comedogenic” which mean it won’t clog up your facial pores.

Finally, read the label and avoid products with these ingredients:

  • Isopropyl isostearate
  • Isopropyl myristate
  • Myristyl myristate
  • Laureth-4
  • Oleth-3
  • Coconut butter
  • Acetylated lanolin
  • Acetylated lanolin alcohol
  • Lauric acid
  • Isopropyl palmitate
  • Isostearyl isostearate
  • Myristyl lactate
  • Stearyl heptanoate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Cetearyl alcohol + ceteareth 20

How To Apply Makeup For Acne Prone Skin

The biggest challenge for women who are prone to acne is limiting excess oil. If you tend to wear makeup for eight hours or more in a day, you could have an “oily sheen” on your face without ever knowing it.  The best way to apply makeup to acne- prone or oily skin is to do it in stages.

Stage 1 – Preparing Your Skin

One of the most important makeup tips for oily skin is to pre-cleanse and cleanse your face.

  • Use warm water to remove dirt and oils from the surface of your face.
  • Apply a gentle cleanser to clean your face.
  • Rinse away the cleanser and pat your face dry with a clean towel.

It may feel oily throughout the day but resist the urge of cleaning your face several times per day. Frequent washing will strip your skin of its natural moisture and force your skin to produce more oil.

Stage 2 – Apply Toner

Toners are used to remove excess dirt, oil and makeup from the face. You should only buy oil-free and alcohol-free skin toner.

  • Saturate a cotton ball with toner solution.
  • Wipe your face with the cotton ball; avoid contact with your eyes.
  • Allow the toner solution on your face to air dry.

How often should you use skin toner? Applying toner to your skin once a day will be good enough. If you want to use natural toner, choose rosewater or witch hazel.

Stage 3 – Moisturize Your Skin

When your skin is dehydrated, it overcompensates for the situation by producing more oil. Thus, another one of our best makeup tips for oily skin is to moisturize your face.

  • Select a moisturizer that is oil-free, mattifying and reduces shine.
  • For extra protection, choose an SPF moisturizer.

You only need to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your face to get good results.

Stage 4 – Use A Matte Primer To Your Face And Eyelids

A matte primer gives your face a nice, shine-free and smooth base for your makeup. Applying primer is important because if your skin is oily, on a particularly hot and humid day, your makeup could run. It will seem like the cosmetics are melting off your face.

  • Choose a primer that is mattifying and oil free.
  • Primer is available in gel or powder form.
  • There are primers that are specifically used for eyelid.

Stage 5 – Conceal Blemishes

Oily skin is highly susceptible to breakouts. Light layers of liquid matte concealer can hide your skin’s blemishes.

  • For better results, first apply a layer of liquid concealer. Then apply a layer of powder foundation before using another application of liquid concealer. Seal the makeup in with one final application of powder foundation.
  • Do not buy cream- based concealers as these tend to clog up the pores.

Choose a good foundation for oily skin. It will give your face an even complexion and can reduce oil build-up on your face. When shopping for powder foundations, always choose brands that are non-comedogenic, oil-free and mattifying.

Stage 6 – Use A Loose Finishing Powder

Translucent matte powder can add another layer of protection against oily skin. This is advisable for women with extremely oily skin.

When applying translucent matte powder over your foundation, move the brush applicator in big circles starting from the inside of your face and moving toward the outside.

Stage 7 – Add Flush To Your Cheeks

Mattifying blush will give your face a radiant glow while fighting off excess oil. You can use the traditional brush blush or a powder blush to apply powder matte blush to your cheeks. Move the brush in a circular pattern starting from the apple of your cheeks going up to your upper ear.

Stage 8 – Use Waterproof Eye Makeup

A lot of cosmetics in the market use oil as the base material. These products easily run or melt away from your face.

Always choose waterproof eye makeup which will reduce the incidence of running or smudging. Of course, select brands that have makeup for oily sensitive skin.


At some point during the day, you face’s natural oils will penetrate through your matte makeup. The best solution would be to buy blotting paper which is available in skin care stores as well as drug stores.

Simply pull out a sheet of blotting paper and lightly dab on your face to soak up excess oil. Blotting paper will not remove your makeup as long as you don’t wipe it across your face.

Eight stages might seem like a lot, but at the very least you can be assured that the way you apply makeup will help cover blemishes and prevent more breakouts on acne-prone skin.

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