Our Step-by-Step Guide to Concealing Breakouts Like a *Pro*
We’ve all been there. Waking up with a surprise spot (or spots) that’s not only sore but can leave you feeling super insecure.
Unfortunately, the battle with acne is one that many of us are all too familiar with. Whether it’s a pesky pimple that emerges just before an important work meeting or a chronic condition that’s been a lifelong companion, battling with acne can make you feel like EVERYONE is staring at your skin (they’re not, btw!)
And to make matters worse, loads of us find it really difficult to conceal our blemishes without looking too cakey or drawing attention to the thing we are actually trying to conceal. Piling on the products can sometimes make pimples appear worse.
Manifesting as spots, pustules, whiteheads and blackheads on our faces and bodies, acne can be caused by a multitude of factors including hormones, particularly oily skin, medications, or genetics. And even if you get more sleep, drink more water and cut out dairy, you may still wake up with a large spot on your forehead much like myself this morning *sigh*.
How to conceal an acne breakout step-by-step
If this problem is also a familiar reality to you and you need to conceal your acne quickly – without finding it sweating off your face or separating underneath excessive layers of products – follow these 5 super-simple steps to ensure your makeup stays put and your blemishes remain hidden.
1. Cleanse your face
Firstly, I recommend wiping your face with warm water and a flannel before applying any makeup to minimise the size of your pores. I like to do this as an alternative to using an expensive primer.
You should use a flannel or loofah (a natural sponge) on your body acne to attend to the affected area, rather than just washing in the shower. This will help to unclog the bacteria in your oil glands and prevent more breakouts from branching out across your skin.
I like to begin by cleaning my spots with the STARFACE Spot Purifying Wands (£8.99 on the Starface UK website/$8.00 on the Revolve website) because they contain a cleansing solution that removes bacteria from the surface layer of the skin. Tea tree oil or makeup remover can also achieve the same result, and they are great spot treatments for your face and body.
Please, please, PLEASE apply a moisturiser after cleansing your skin! Sometimes this can feel counterintuitive if you suffer from oily skin, but if you fail to prep you prep to fail.
You only need a small amount to hydrate the whole of your face, a pea-sized amount is perfect. Note that if your skin feels greasy, you have most likely applied too much product – but don’t worry. This won’t build up oils in your skin’s glands, it will simply hydrate your skin’s surface, help your product to stick, and prevent it from flaking around your blemish.
I think moisturiser offers a 2-in-1 effect as the hydrating factor will prevent your skin from drying out in the cold weather while also making the texture of your skin slightly stickier; securing the makeup onto your acne or blemish. This also guarantees that your makeup is not affected by temperature changes from sweating, eating and drinking.
I use The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturising Factors + HA moisturiser (£9.90/$9.90 on The Ordinary website), which I also use on any acne breakouts on my body.
3. Apply your concealer
Now the prep is done, it’s time to apply your concealer. You can use your fingers as they are a more hygienic tool over brushes (unless you have time to wash your brushes on the regular) but you can also be more precise with a brush. Precision is important when concealing acne as you don’t want excess makeup inflaming your oil glands, causing breakouts elsewhere.
I pick up my concealer with the MORPHE M421 brush (£8.00/$9.00 on the MORPHE website) and tap it around and onto my spot. Be delicate with your larger spots and leave the concealer to set for 10 to 15 seconds before blending.
Make sure to use a concealer shade that is as close as possible to your skin tone – if you struggle with this, we’ve got you covered (pun intended) – check out our guide on picking the *perfect* concealer to make sure you’re not actually drawing attention to your blemishes.
I’m using Maybelline’s Instant Eraser Multi-Use Concealer (£8.99 on the Boots website/$8.99 on the Target website), a seriously effective product that loads of MUAs swear by. It conveniently has a sponge applicator so you can slather on as much as you desire, however, it’s best to aim for a thin layer as too much product will additionally clog your oil glands.
I use a larger brush for my chin, as there are several spots scattered around this area so it saves me time, but I still apply a thin layer and tap in the product. A good thing to remember is that you can always add more product in layers, but removing it is a bit trickier and may mean you have to start all over again!
4. Blend, blend, blend!
Next, you’ll want to really blend out your concealer, I would recommend using a beauty blender/sponge for this. The natural heat from your fingertips can make the product separate whereas a sponge applicator will blend the concealer out more smoothly and seamlessly.
I use the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (£6.99 on Look Fantastic/$6.59 on Ulta Beauty) and lightly bounce it on and off my skin in a dabbing motion. You can also buy this sponge in a larger size for your body – bonus!
5. Set with powder
Finally, apply powder to your skin to seal the deal. I consider this step to be vitally important when concealing acne as it blots out any excess oil left on your skin and ensures your makeup will not sweat or slide off.
I press the sponge into the powder and firmly press it onto my skin, targeting the areas that feel the most greasy. I leave it on for about 30 seconds then use a fluffy brush to swipe off the powder. Unlike a brush, a sponge prevents the powder from falling all over your desk.
I use the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder (£37.00/$43.00 on the Laura Mercier website), but if you’re on a budget, the Makeup Revolution Translucent Powder (£5.95/$8.00 on BEAUTY BAY) is also a great alternative, and significantly cheaper.
Even if you are applying powder to dry skin, the product shouldn’t exacerbate its dry texture if you apply it as I have demonstrated in these steps. However, be sure not to leave the powder on for too long and, if you like, you can use a setting spray to make your skin feel EXTRA hydrated.
And here’s the outcome! The bumpy texture on my chin is no longer noticeable, and the redness and size of my pimples have largely reduced.
This process is quick and easy and will guarantee that your acne will remain concealed throughout the day – giving you one less thing to worry about.
Blemishes, spots, blackheads and acne needn’t be a cause for panic and, although it really can feel a *bit* like the end of the world, these quick steps will make sure they’re covered.
A good base, using a moisturiser that suits your skin type, choosing the correct concealer and sealing it all in with a setting powder are the key steps to hiding those unwanted breakouts.
If you’re really struggling with sore, inflamed skin due to acne, a solid skincare routine can significantly improve your skin and enlarged pores.
However huge your blemishes and spots feel, remember, they’re never as noticeable to everyone else as they are to you! But, if you’re suffering from particularly bad breakouts and spots that are akin to boils, we advise switching your products or taking a visit to the dermatologist to discuss your treatment options.