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The Ipsy stylist and YouTuber suffered from hormonal acne as a teen. "It made me self-conscious, and I started to explore makeup more so that I could cover it up," she says.
Through trial and error, Moses discovered that full-coverage concealers that have a drier consistency (think stick concealers, not creams or liquids) are the key to long-wearing coverage. "Green correctors are [also] great for masking redness," she says. Moses reaches for Smashbox's Color Correcting pencils, which "aren't too creamy and stay put all day." When applying, Moses suggests a stippling motion instead of a buffing or swiping one. (The later tend to remove more makeup than they leave behind.)
"I never had severe or cystic acne," says the creator of the blog and YouTube channel Maryam Maquillage. "But it was enough for me to refuse going to school or beg my mom to let me stay home 'sick.'"
As she got older, Maryam realized that acne insecurity was self-perpetuating. "The more you pay attention and obsess over it, the worse it becomes and the more it reveals itself." Now, Maryam has no problem revealing her adult acne to her hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Today, Maryam's acne-coverage routine starts with controlling oil and minimizing pores, then continues to concealing pimples. For a really smooth canvas, she begins with a mattifying primer that contains zit-fighting salicylic acid (she loves this one from Cover FX). Then, like Moses, she moves on to color-correcting (if necessary) before applying foundation and concealer. Finally, to even textured or bumpy patches, she tops it all off with a pore-minimizing powder from It Cosmetics.
Professional makeup artist and YouTuber Wayne Goss has a slightly different approach to covering up stubborn acne, one that's born out of a desire for self-preservation rather than precise concealing. "I remember vividly that, for months, I would wash my face in the bathroom with the light off so I couldn't see my reflection in the mirror," he says of his severe adult acne.
"[If you] have more than seven or so breakouts on [your] skin that need covering, never ever spot-cover because it's so disheartening [to] go in with a small brush on every single blemish," he says. Instead, Goss recommends applying a couple layers of a full-coverage foundation, such as Make Up For Ever Ultra HD or RCMA, so that your entire face can be done in one fell swoop.
Once your foundation is done, Goss suggests setting your work with a matte foundation or powder. "Anything matte absorbs the light, so you won't be drawing attention to it," he says. Then add a little highlight to keep things natural. The key is strategically placing product on clear zones, rather than on problem areas. "If you have acne on your forehead, highlight your cheeks [and vice versa]," says Goss.
Bankson has struggled with severe acne long before her YouTube channel launched in 2010. "Makeup was a mask, but it was a shield that gave me the protection to go out," she says. "[Eventually] wearing makeup gave me the confidence that I needed to love myself without makeup."
Although she loves her skin with or without makeup, Bankson has road-tested some tried-and-true concealing methods. "[My friend] who's a makeup artist in L.A. taught me about applying makeup in layers," she says. "That's when I started learning about primer, foundation, concealer, and powder to cover uneven texture."
Rather than glopping product over your breakouts, Bankson recommends working in light layers, which look the most natural and disguise uneven texture.
"I've always had a love for makeup and creating different looks," says Ipsy stylist and YouTuber Christen Dominique. "But [when I had acne], I felt that no matter what look I did no one would appreciate my work... [I thought] they were just staring at my acne." She soon realized that by emphasizing her eye makeup or wearing bold, dramatic colors, she drew people's eyes away from her pimples.
When it comes to actually concealing, though, Dominique reaches for silicone-based primers (like Murad's Invisiblur) to fill in pores and create a smooth canvas for makeup. Once she's done priming, she reaches for Tarte's Amazonian Clay Foundation. "It has a primer-like feel, which smooths out [my] skin, and it's also full coverage for acne scarring or blemishes," she says. Then, she dots a concealer in the same shade as her foundation (she loves Urban Decay's Naked Skin Concealer) over visible pimples.