"I find that when it comes to people that have acne and wear makeup, there are two kinds of patients—those that wear makeup to cover up their acne and those that seem to get acne from their makeup," says Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in Pennsylvania. While she acknowledges that the concept of wearing makeup to cover breakouts is not unreasonable, she says it can be hard to pull off, especially if the acne is severe.
"Concealers will often mask the redness associated with a pimple but accentuate the scabbing or crusting associated with it and, if it's a particularly inflamed pimple, it will be tough to get the makeup to stay on it!" she warns. Your best plan of action? Prioritizing a treatment game plan first for the underlying acne and then considering proper forms of coverage that won't make things worse.
Here are eight all-too-common mistakes we all make when trying to cover up blemishes and breakouts.
Image via Imaxtree
Mistake 1: Using dirty makeup brushes
You most likely wash your shower towels at least once a week (if not, you certainly should!) so why should your makeup brushes be any different? They harbor tons of dirt, oil, grease, grime and all sorts of bacteria that you inevitably reapply on your skin with each use. According to Hadley King, MD, dermatologist at Skinney Med Spa and clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, this will increase your risk for more pimples and skin irritations. For this reason, she recommends washing your brushes at least once per week with warm water and a gentle cleanser or using the BeautyBlender Liquid Blendercleanser, $18, which easily does the cleansing for you.
Mistake 2: Popping the pimple before trying to conceal it
When you have a huge, inflamed pimple staring back at you in the mirror, you might be tempted to pop it so that, at the very least, it's smaller in size and, therefore, easier to cover up. Don't be fooled by this methodology: popping or picking at your pimples will only make the situation worse. "You're likely to cause more inflammation and increase the risk of infection, all of which will make your pimple take longer to heal, and increase the chances for discoloration and scarring," King says. "Plus, if you pop a pimple and then apply makeup on top of the raw area, this will make the makeup look worse and make the pimple take longer to heal."
Image via PeopleImages/Getty
Mistake 3: Applying too much makeup
While concealer and foundation are both wonderful makeup creations, they're not meant to be spackled across your face, especially if you're battling a bout of breakouts. "Not only can too much makeup make breakouts appear worse, but it can also keep the blemish from healing properly," celebrity esthetician Shani Darden says.
In addition to not using too much makeup, make sure you're using a shade that matches your skin tone. Ilyas often sees patients who have tried to overthink the concealer options and go lighter or darker to mask the red inflammation that comes with a pimple. "Ideally, if your concealer matches your skin tone, it will not look like spackle on your skin." She recommends opting for a green-tinted concealer, as this can often camouflage the red.
Try: Smashbox Color Correcting Stick, $25
Mistake 4: Skipping sunscreen
While it is certainly important not to pile on too many products when you're breaking out, this rule does not apply to sunscreen. "Many people shy away from sunscreen when they're breaking out for fear that it will make things worse, but this is a big mistake," Darden says. "It's even more so important that you continue wearing sunscreen during a breakout, because sun exposure can make it harder for it to heal and can lead to more prominent scarring."
Try: EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40, $26.50