Can I Wear Makeup If I Have Pimples?

How to choose the right beauty products to cover up acne

Woman putting on foundation
Stone / Getty

When I was a teenager struggling with pimple problems, I worried that makeup might collect in my pores, exacerbating my breakouts. But, it turns out, you can wear makeup when you have acne.

As makeup artist Bobbi Brown said in her book, Bobbi Brown Beauty, "The dermatologists who recommend not wearing makeup are usually men."

The right makeup can help make your skin look flawless. And so much of how we look is a result of how we feel on the inside.

I firmly believe if you feel confident your acne is pretty well hidden under concealer and foundation, your confidence will radiate to your outside appearance.

Here, I present some tips on makeup application when you have blemishes.

The Correct Foundation is Key

The best foundation for women with acne is oil-free. You can use a tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier is my favorite) or a creamy foundation of any kind, just make sure that on the packaging it states very clearly "oil free." Foundations that contain oil will only turn your already oily skin into a mess.

Learn more about oil-free foundation in What is Matte (Also Known as "Oil-free") Foundation?

The Scoop on Concealer

Some beauty experts (Bobbi Brown included) insist you need only foundation that matches your skin to cover up pimples, while others suggest using a concealer that exactly matches your skin tone to cover blemishes. I say it's up to you.

If you don't want to buy both, try the foundation trick first. If it's not enough coverage, double up with concealer.

Just make sure to use products that match your skin tone exactly otherwise the dot on your pimple will be like a bulls-eye.

See my list of the best concealers to find one that is known for covering up pimples well.

How to Cover Up a Pimple

Concealer alone won't cover up your pimple. Concealer tends to wear off pretty quickly. So what will work? Find out in my article, How to Cover Up a Pimple.

Don't Forget Moisturizer (or Foundation Primer)

I know, I know, it seems counter-intuitive to use moisturizer when you have acne. But acne products and treatments can overdry skin leading to surface dryness and flaky skin does not look good.

I recommend using a moisturizer with SPF before you apply foundation. Or at least use a foundation primer. Both help the foundation glide on more smoothly.

See my lists of foundation primers and facial moisturizers.

Never, Ever Skip Cleansing Your Skin of Makeup at Night

If you have pimple problems and wear makeup, you must never skip cleansing your skin of that makeup at night.

For tips, check out How to Wash Your Face Properly.

Wash Brushes and Sponges Often

To keep acne bacteria at bay, it's very important to clean your brushes and makeup sponges often.

See How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes.

More on Acne:

  • 8 Adult Acne Facts (Plus, How to Treat it)
  • Acne & Teens: How to Treat Pimples (& Cover Them Up)
  • Aspirin & Lemon Juice Mask for Acne
  • Why Do I Get ‘Back Acne’?
  • 5 Reasons Your Acne Isn't Going Away
  • Best Facial Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin