Makeup Routine for Acne Prone Skin

As someone who has struggled with acne my whole life, and I do mean my whole life! Started with baby ance and continued on.  I am now 26 and still have not had a single day with completely clear skin. I wanted to share a few helpful tips that have helped me control and cover (when needed) makeup tips!  If you’re struggling with this problem don’t worry because you are not alone.  


  1. Cleanse

The first and most important tip I could give you is to be using the proper cleansers. Now it’s great that we have a choice to use makeup, however wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have any acne at all to clear up?

Now I was buying all these expensive cleaners and toners and everything you could possibly imagine from Sephora.  It advertised being good for acne prone skin so hey ya I should give that a try… well no not always, and none of them seemed to be working for me, and I was spending way more than what I thought necessary.

So I switched to Proactiv about 3 months ago, and I haven’t looked back.  In comparison to the high end Sephora products that were not showing any results, you do get a good quantity for your money and my face may not be entirely cleared up but my breakouts are much fewer, the acne itself doesn’t get as big and heals faster than any other product I have tried.  So if like myself you have struggled for a long time to control your acne and haven’t tried Proactiv yet I would suggest giving it a go.

I will say though that I do feel dry from this product from time to time so I will either take a break one night from it all together and use a regular cleanser, or I add a bit or argan oil in with the moisturizer to balance out the effects.  Always listen to your skin!

If you would like to try Proactiv I have attached the website here for you.  I have also attached a youtube Video below with a full tutorial on full face coverage for acne prone skin using the Proactiv skin care line if you would like to see more.

* If pregnant please consult doctor before using Proactiv.


By this I mean when you go to dry your face after you cleanse, and you have that towel ready do not push hard on your skin, do not scrub at it like you are trying to rub your face off.  This will create skin follicles to rise and cause uneven skin patches when you go to apply makeup later.  Very softly pat your face dry with your towel.

This goes for when apply your moisturizer as well.  Small gently circular motions is all that is needed.  No need to be abrasive!


  1. Moisturize

This may just be common sense for some people, but others feel their skin is to oily and like to avoid this part of their beauty routine.  DON’T.  Moisturizing will be one of the most important steps in your everyday beauty routine.  It will keep your skin looking smooth under your foundation if you have any dry flaky areas, or if you have oily skin it will help control the oil so your makeup will stay on longer!

If you have oily skin, select moisturizers that are oil free.  Watch this though, many will stripe your face entirely of oil causing your body to produce an excess and the effect will be the complete opposite of what you’re looking to achieve. Try to stick with ones that say “oil-free’ rather than “oil-control” and if you are noticing that you are getting too dry throughout the day or even oilier than before I would suggest trying something else.  May take a while to find that perfect one!

You should also try to select a moisturizer with SPF as most of use with acne do have sensitive skin, better safe than sorry!


  1. Primer

Primer is really a preference.  If you normally like to use primer, and it is already part of your makeup routine by all means continue.  On an average day to day I do not use primers myself. I feel that it is just putting an extra layer over my pores not allowing them to breath and causing me even more problems.

That being said I do use a primer if I have a special event and I know that I need my makeup to last all day. But for my everyday routine I do leave this part out and that is up to your own discretion. They are many primers specifically for acne prone skin that will help cover.  Specially those with green undertones to counterbalance any redness.  This you need to be watchful of because you don’t want to put green concealer on a purple under eye so just be careful with placement.

Hairspray and Highheels has a great outline for color correcting I have attached here for you to check out!


  1. Concealer

Before going in with foundation start with some concealer.  Whether it be color correcting or regular concealer it will save you from having to “cake” on your foundation.  By apply your concealer on your red marks you are taking away that need to layer your foundation.  Hence saving you time and in the long run probably some money to.  

Keep in mind that you will need to add foundation on top so don’t go to heavy with your concealer and blend into your skin very gently.

Ashley Brooke Nicholas has a great break down of some full coverage concealers I have attached here for you, with additional information of how to set them for best results and which skin types they would work best on.

  1. Foundation

Now it’s time to apply your foundation, try to choose a full coverage foundation.  Most people will already have a foundation that they have been using for years and love.  But ask yourself is it right for my skin type?  Is it lasting all day?  Am I getting the full coverage I’m looking for to cover anything I may want covered?  If yes than great continue using it! If not here is a short list of some drugstore full coverage foundations you may like to try from Meg o. On the Go!

Going back to point #4 DO NOT SCRUB, I know we all have those foundations brushes, but for acne prone skin I would suggest a beauty slender / makeup sponge.  The video I am attaching below says to keep your beauty blender dry and I would have to agree. Once wet that water in the sponge will mix with your foundation and thin it out a bit, and we just picked out a full coverage foundation for a reason.

Go in with a dry beauty blender, and a small amount of foundation.  You can always add more, it’s a lot harder to take it off once it’s there.  Very gently dab or pat on your foundation to your whole face in a  fine layer.  Do not drag or rub the beauty blender to apply the foundation, again this will cause skin follicles to stand up and give your skin an uneven appearance, it will also move all that concealer you just meticulously applied underneath your foundation.

If you feel like after the first thin layer that you need more coverage go back in with a second thin layer.  Continue this until you are happy with the outcome.

  1. Set with Powder

Most people with acne have oily skin, which will actually break down our makeup.  So to stay looking fresh all day we need to set our foundation with a powder. I like to use a translucent powder myself, as I can never find one with pigment that matches my foundation perfectly. But really any powder you like is probably fine.

Powder will give you a more mattifying look, which will cause the uneven bumps from acne to seem smaller as well. Again we want to apply this very gently and not rub into skin.  You just spent all this time applying concealer and foundation, you don’t want to move it around and uncover those red marks when you are so close to being done.

Maybelline has a nice “Fit Me” translucent powder you can get at any drugstore for a good cost.  NYX has an HD Translucent finishing powder.  Elf which is now available at Walmart as well has a very nice soft translucent finishing powder.  Just a couple of drugstore suggestions for you.

  1. Finish the Look

Time to finish off your look any way that you like.  I personally like to keep it quick and simple on my everyday look.  I’ll go in with blush and a bit of bronzer (because I am always pale!) mascara and done!

On days where I am dressing up, I tend to do my eyeshadow before I start my foundation routine because of excess eyeshadow dropping down under the eye.  It’s easier to clean up if I don’t already have my foundation done.


  1. Clean your Brushes

This is especially important for acne prone skin.  Our brushes hold the bacteria it picks up from our skin and not cleaning them on a regular basis can cause you to just be moving it back and forth from your skin, to the brush and back to your skin again in an endless cycle!

Stop the cycle and give your brushes the cleaning they deserve.  Here is a good DIY brush cleaner By Anna Grace!

I hope this breakdown really helped someone out there.  I know I have struggled for years with acne and hated going anywhere or taking a picture because of a huge zit on my face.  The small things help, they really do.  If there are any questions I can answer for you please leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them for you.  

In the meantime I have attached a video from Stephanie Lange’s channel on Youtube for full coverage makeup for acne prone skin that I found very informative.  She also uses Proactiv so you get the step by step breakdown of that as well which is awesome! If you have time scroll through some of her video’s she has some great content and makeup tips!


xo – Stephanie

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