THIS Is How You Actually Cover Acne

Photographed by Winnie Au.
I got my first pimple in seventh grade — long before most of my friends started experiencing their own delightful acne bouts. What started as a single bulbous zit spread like wildfire across my cheeks, chin, and forehead. It wasn't long before nearly every inch of my face was covered with tiny whiteheads. Needless to say, my confidence was wrecked. From then on, I waged a war against acne that didn't subside until my senior year of high school: when I finally bit the bullet, and saw a dermatologist who prescribed me the miracle that is Retin-A.

Before discovering Retin-A, I tried just about every conventional and unconventional acne remedy (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, toothpaste) with little success. Because I couldn't get rid of my acne, I set my sights on covering it up. Where did I go for advice? YouTube, of course.

On YouTube, I saw people like me baring their blemished faces in the service of sharing cover-up techniques and tricks to help the rest of us restore our confidence. Today, YouTube is inundated with millions of acne-themed videos: The word "acne" brings up over 2 million results, and "acne foundation routine" brings up around 260K. Sifting through all of them to find the best of the best is a task you're likely not up for. That's why we've tapped seven of our favorite YouTubers for their best acne-coverage tips. Check 'em out, ahead.

The grown-up guide to dealing with acne. Read more from The Acne Diaries here.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Jaleesa Moses
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.)
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Maryam Maquillage
"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.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Wayne Goss
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.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Cassandra Bankson
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.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Christen Dominique
"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.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Tess Christine
Throughout middle and high school, Tess Christine was blessed with relatively clear skin. "It wasn't until almost the end of college when I really started to break out," she says. Because she'd never experienced severe acne, she didn't know how to deal with it. "Being almost a college graduate, it made me feel like I took a step backwards," she says.

So in her 20s, she began experimenting with acne-concealing methods. Tess Christine stays away from heavy, oil-based foundations in favor of lightweight, blendable formulas like Armani's Luminous Silk and Make Up For Ever Ultra HD. She also swears by the Beautyblender. "I apply primer first, then use a Beautyblender to evenly blend and build up product on the spots where I need to," she says. "It gives you an airbrushed look."

According to Tess Christine, the secret to a natural-looking base is all about that building up. "You never want to go too crazy and apply too much at once, because it can get cakey," she says. "I put foundation on the back of my hand and work from the center to the outside of my face, blending as I go." Then, she spot-conceals with a patting motion, not a wipe or rub, which can disturb the makeup she's already applied.
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Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Denise Sanchez
Denise Sanchez, a.k.a. Makeup by Denise, has struggled with acne on and off throughout her teen and adult years, but it's the dark marks left behind that cause her the most trouble today.

That's why Sanchez is a huge fan of color-correcting. "For dark spots, I reach for a salmon concealer," she says. "And for active acne, green correctors, such as the one by Smashbox, neutralize the area, which makes it easier to cover with foundation." However, if you're a fan of full-coverage foundation, Sanchez suggests avoiding color-correctors and concealers as the combo can feel heavy on the skin. A full-coverage foundation often conceals and corrects on its own, she says.

Sanchez also recommends investing in a good brush for concealing problem areas. "The denser the brush, the more concentrated the product will be," she says. Some of her favorites include Tarte's Airbuki Brush and MAC's Short Duo Fiber Brush. Sponges, she adds, "are also a great tool for blending and tapping out product without disturbing the makeup underneath." But if you're not looking to shell out for a slew of new makeup brushes and sponges, fingers are always a great way to mask imperfections, too. "The warmth of your fingers helps melt the product into your skin, giving the appearance of natural application," she says. Just wash your hands first to avoid any bacteria transfer.

Today, Sanchez has learned to embrace her imperfections. "It's just makeup, and it's just acne: two factors that do not define us," she says.
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