When blemishes pop up, it’s almost second nature to apply a thick layer of the highest-covering foundation and concealer you own in hopes of covering them completely. But, like anyone who’s been in the position knows, it could—and usually will—backfire, and end up drawing more attention to the areas you’re trying to hide. Enter makeup artist Desi Perkins’ acne-masking makeup tutorial, filled with tricks of the trade—seriously, you haven’t heard of at least one of these—for making even the most blemish-ridden complexions look completely airbrushed. Here, four tips to dog-ear for when skin is not on your side.
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Apply a thin layer of luminous foundation.
The first step to covering breakouts while making skin look “luminous, healthy and not too cakey,” which Perkins says is the trick to camouflaging well, is sheering down your foundation with a cream-based liquid highlighter. She uses Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64) and dilutes it with MAC Strobe Cream ($33) and instructs us to apply it the same way we would as if we weren’t breaking out (i.e. very lightly). “This is going to make it not as full coverage and give skin luminosity,” says Perkins. Once you apply an even layer with a fluffy brush, follow up with your beautyblender to create a dewy look. As the layer thins, you’ll notice your blemishes start to peek through. Apply another layer of the foundation-highlighter mixture onto your breakouts, lightly tapping it in with your sponge.
Use concealer sparingly.
Next, use a hydrating concealer only on the individual blemishes—Perkins opts for Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Concealer—to cover them without drying out the area and drawing more attention to it. Dab a small amount of concealer onto the blemishes, dust a fluffy brush over each one to blend, then lightly tap around the breakout to feather out the edges and remove any harsh lines. If you find redness is still peeking through, repeat this step, then apply a light dusting of a setting powder on the breakouts, as well as areas that tend to get oily—Perkins uses Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder ($45).
Distract with a flawless highlight.
According to Perkins, a standout highlight is crucial to taking the attention off of your breakouts. She uses a mixture of Marc Jacobs Dew Drops ($44) and Iconic London Limited Edition Illuminator ($43) in Original and applies it to the bridge of her nose, tip of her nose to “lift”, on her chin, on the top of her cheekbones and right above the brows. However, if you’re breaking out in any of these areas, be sure to skip that section or work around the blemish, as it will act like a spotlight to the breakout. If you do accidentally overlap, go over the highlight with the finishing powder to matte it out.
Turn raised blemishes into faux freckles.
The last (and most unique) hack is turning larger bumps and breakouts into beauty marks. Why? This way, when you turn your head and see a bump, it will look like a natural beauty mark instead of a pimple—much more chic. To create the marks, Perkins uses a very fine liner brush and the Rott Eyeshadow Stack in Melt ($17) to lightly mark her skin. Once the dots are created—she adds them sparingly and only on raised areas—apply a thin layer of the setting powder right on top. This will make them look more natural, since the rest of your face also has powder on it. “If it has no makeup over it, it might look a little fake,” she says.
As you can see in her before-and-after shot, following these steps will result in a flawless, airbrushed-looking complexion you would never guess is also housing breakouts right beneath. For a more thorough walk-through, watch the entire video below, and get ready to kiss your breakouts goodbye.