Despite the impression we were given by all those infomercials we saw as kids, acne in real life isn’t too easily discouraged. They persist, long after our teenage years. And even when they do eventually leave, they don’t do so silently: they leave a discernible mark that haunts us every time we stand in front of the bathroom mirror—the ghost of pimple past, so to speak. While most dermatologists recommend going easy on makeup when you’re battling breakouts, there are times when covering them up is inevitable. The trick, according to April M. Chaney, Hollywood makeup artist, licensed esthetician and spokesperson for Dermaflage, is to do so properly.
Whether you are going to a wedding or have a big date coming up, here’s a quick tutorial on how to make your blemishes disappear, at least for a few hours.
According to Chaney, the best way to make sure your makeup glides smoothly on your skin is to start with a clean, even surface. “As an artist, I like to work with a clean canvas,” she says. “Exfoliating is key, but don’t overdo it. You want to have a smooth surface to work with, and over-exfoliating or over-drying can cause peeling.”
Another step most people with acne-prone skin skip? Moisturizers—which is a no-no, according to her. “Even if you have oily skin, it is important to use a moisturizer,” she says. “The trick is to pick a moisturizer that’s right for you. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, always go with oil-free and non-comedogenic. I prefer lighter creams and gels.”
According to Chaney, this is the most important step to covering acne. Primers have many uses: they even out your skin’s surface, prep your skin for makeup, control excess oil, hold makeup in place and some even fill in acne scars. “If you have indented scarring like acne pock marks or icepick or boxcar scars, I love using Dermaflage Topical Filler,” says Chaney. “It fills in the indented area to eliminate the shadowing caused by uneven skin. Dermaflage creates a thin covering that is completely smudge-proof and friendly to sensitive skin.”
To correct redness and uneven skin tone, Chaney suggests using a color corrector instead of your typical single-tone concealer. “If you have discoloration from your acne marks, it is a good idea to do some color correction to neutralize the scar. Green neutralizes redness while yellow corrects purple scars,” she says. Some concealers also feature other colors: Purple neutralizes sallow complexions while pink corrects bluish hues like dark circles and bruises.
Here’s the greatest irony we all face: The more blemishes we have, the more inclined we feel to add layer upon layer of foundation. But here’s why Chaney thinks this is counterproductive. “After you have done your color correction you will find that you will need less foundation. Sometimes less is more. If you have uneven skin and you really cake on a heavy wax-based foundation, it can often highlight the imperfections. Try using a lighter hand with a medium-coverage foundation or a mineral powder foundation,” she suggests.
Another thing to keep in mind? Keeping your makeup brushes clean. “Since I am working on multiple clients with my brushes, I am a bit fanatical about keeping them clean,” shares Chaney. “Most brush cleansers are alcohol-based but many have additives that can be irritating so read the ingredients and be careful with the fragrances. Under normal conditions, you don’t have to wash a brush every time you use it, but it is a good idea to wash anything that touches your skin at least once a week.”