make-up for acne

Make-up for acne and blemish-prone skin

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Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t wear make-up if you have acne, blemish-prone or combination skin

The right make-up, well applied, can help you to cover blemishes and give you the confidence you need to get on with your life. What’s more, some people find that, once they’ve applied their make-up, they fiddle with their face less as they don’t want to smudge their cover. This is potentially good news for those with acne as there’s nothing worse for your skin than picking your spots.

There are also products that can have a positive effect on your skin: Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cover Stick helps to reduce pimples at the same time as concealing them, so you get both care and coverage in one.

This article gives advice on what to look for, and what to avoid, when choosing your make-up, and we shave some tips on how to apply make-up to acne-prone skin so pimples are covered and you look and feel great.


Choose the right make-up products for acne

Preparation is everything, and it’s important to cleanse and moisturise acne-prone skin thoroughly before applying make-up.

Foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick….. The list goes on. The fact that you have acne or blemish-prone skin shouldn’t stop you from being able to use any of these types of make-up. But there are things you should look out for, and things you should steer clear of, if you are prone to pimples:

1: Quality matters
Use high-quality products. Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, but ‘less is more’ tends to be a good test of quality when it comes to make-up for acne-prone skin. Look out for tried and tested products that are free-from too many additives.

cleaning hands before applying make-up
Choose make-up that is tried, tested and proven to be compatible with acne-prone skin

2: Non-comedogenic
A non-comedogenic product is something that’s been specially formulated not to block your pores (because blocked pores can lead to blemishes and acne). Make sure you choose products that declare they are ‘non-comedogenic’ (or something that means the same) on pack. They’re the most suitable for your skin and are safe to use if you are undergoing medical acne treatment too. You can find out more about how blemishes develop in What causes blemishes?

3: Proven active ingredients
Ideally the products you choose should also contain active ingredients that have been proven to improve blemish-prone skin. The proof you’re looking for is clinical and/or dermatological research, and the actives that can have a positive impact on blemishes include Salicylic Acid, which breaks down pimples and has an anti-bacterial effect.

Did you know that many dermatologists can advise on make-up too? They’ll examine the individual character of your skin and carry out allergy tests if necessary. They will then be able to recommend the best make-up products for your skin and advice on the ingredients that you should avoid.

Face cleansing routine


woman cleansing skin
Cleanse skin thoroughly before applying make-up

Cleansing is the first essential step in caring for acne-prone skin. Dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells can all block pores and promote new blemishes, so adding make-up on top of those is only going to make matters worse.

Cleanser your face thoroughly, but gently, using products that are specially formulated for blemish-prone skin such as Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cleansing Gel and Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Micellar Water. Take a look at the ideal skincare products and routine for blemish-prone skin for tips on how best to cleanse your skin.

“The pigment in make-up can block pores and prevent sebum flow, so daily cleansing is the first important step in caring for blemish- and acne-prone skin.” Dr med. Markus Reinholz, Dermatologist


woman applying moisturiser
Apply a mattifying moisturiser specially formulated for blemish-prone skin

Choose a moisturiser that soothes acne-prone skin while providing the perfect base for foundation. Because your skin is oily, you’ll want to choose a product with a mattifying effect − this means one that prevents a visibly oily sheen from building up on your skin. You might like to try Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Mattifying Fluid which makes an ideal base for foundation.

If you like, you can follow your moisturiser with a primer (don’t use a primer instead of a moisturiser) but be sure to choose one that is non-comedogenic.

Allow your moisturiser and primer to absorb for a few minutes before you apply your foundation.

If you are undergoing topical medical acne treatment, apply the appropriate cream or ointment before your moisturiser and allow time for your skin to absorb it. Eucerin Adjunctive Soothing Cream has been specially formulated as a moisturiser to use during medical acne treatment so you may to prefer to use that as a make-up base instead of Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Mattifying Fluid until your medical treatment is over.

Make-up routine for acne-prone skin

Step 1: Apply concealer

woman applying concealer
Choose a concealer that both covers and reduces blemishes

Some people prefer to start their make-up routine with a thin layer of foundation, others find that applying concealer first works better. You might want to try both approaches and see what works best for you. Our general rule with skincare is to use the most important product first.

So, if you have a concealer that is proven to reduce as well as cover blemishes, it’s a good idea to apply it directly to your cleansed and moisturised skin, without a layer of foundation in-between. One such concealer is the DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cover Stick. It’s a two-in-one spot treatment, with Salicylic Acid, which is proven to even out skin tone and both cover and help reduce blemishes.

A dedicated concealer product can be used to cover large areas as well as individual blemishes. For a natural look, try applying your concealer in an X-formation across each blemish. This will ensure it is covered from all sides. Then gently tap (rather than rub) to blend the product and ensure the blemish is well covered. 

You can also experiment with using an eye shadow brush to apply concealer as some people find this helps them to create natural, blotch-free coverage. Blotchy cover up can make blemishes stand out even more - not the result you’re looking for!

Step 2: Foundation

When it comes to choosing a foundation:

  • Texture: choose a light product
  • Finish: opt for a matt rather than a shimmery finish. A shimmery foundation can make your pores look larger
  • Colour: try to match your skin tone. It’s better to go one shade lighter than one shade darker for natural coverage
woman applying make-up to acne-prone skin
Clean finger tips are the most hygienic way to apply your foundation
When it comes to applying foundation:
  • Ideally, use your fingers. You can wash them just before to ensure that you’re not introducing any bacteria to your easily-irritated skin.
  • Germs love to accumulate on make-up applicators. If you prefer to use brushes and sponges make sure you wash them thoroughly at least once a week with a mild detergent or your Eucerin DermoPurifyer Oil Control Cleansing Gel.
  • Don’t apply too much: it’s tempting to keep on going until everything is covered, but it’s unlikely to end up looking very natural when you step out of your bathroom. Go easy on the foundation and use your concealer again for an extra top-up where it’s needed.

    After applying your foundation you can brighten dark areas under the eyes with an under-eye concealer.

Step 3: Powder and blusher

woman applying powder to face
Powder absorbs oil so make-up looks its best for longer

Apply your blusher and then a loose face powder. Powder absorbs excess oil, prevents the development of oily areas on your skin and helps your make-up to last longer.

Use gentle brushes to apply both, and make sure you wash them at least once a week.

When you need to freshen up your complexion during the day use your powder and/or blotting papers and your concealer. If you use powder on the go, you can apply it with a cotton pad and throw it away afterwards so you don’t have to carry a brush around with you (which will gather germs in your bag).

Instant matt on-the-go: Blotting papers help to reduce the build-up of oil on your face. Simply blot, reapply your powder and concealer, and get back to what really matters.

Step 4: Eyes and lips

Drawing attention to your eyes or lips can help to steer it away from any small flaws in your complexion.

Make-up removal for acne-prone skin

woman removing make-up
Don’t forget to take off your make-up before you go to bed
it’s easy to fall into bed after a night out, but if your skin is prone to acne it’s especially important that you make time to remove your make-up.

Skin regenerates itself over night and it does this best when it is clean and able to breathe. Gentle but thorough cleansing before you go to bed will remove make-up and any other traces of dirt so your skin can get on with healing itself. Sleeping in make-up, even the non-comedogenic type, may exacerbate blemishes and cause new ones to form.

If you’re worried about how your partner will react when they see your skin − close-up and without cover-up − then talk to them about how you feel. Chances are they will have had some blemishes of their own too at some point. The right partner will understand how you feel and support you with or without make-up.

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