A woman with makeup applied on her acne prone skin - Eucerin

Acne And Make-Up - How Should I Choose And Apply Make-Up To My Blemish-Prone Skin?

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Appropriate make-up, well applied, will help to cover blemishes so you look and feel great.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t wear make-up if you have acne or blemish-prone skin. 

This article gives advice on what to look for, and what to avoid when choosing your make-up, and we have some tips on how to apply make-up to acne-prone skin, so pimples are covered and you look and feel great. 

Choose the right make-up products for acne

A woman testing makeup on acne-prone skin for compatibility - Eucerin
Choose make-up that is tried, tested and proven to be compatible with acne-prone skin

Preparation is everything, and it’s important to cleanse and moisturize acne-prone skin thoroughly before applying make-up.

Foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick…. The list goes on. The fact that you have acne or blemish-prone skin shouldn’t stop you from being able to use any of these types of make-up. But there are things you should look out for, and things you should steer clear of, if you are prone to pimples:

1. Quality matters

Use high-quality products. Price isn’t always an indicator of quality, but ‘less is more tends to be a good test of quality when it comes to make-up for acne-prone skin. Look out for tried and tested products that are free from too many additives

2. Non-comedogenic

A non-comedogenic product is something that’s been specially formulated not to block your pores (because blocked pores can lead to blemishes and acne). Make sure you choose products that declare they are ‘non-comedogenic’ (or something that means the same) on the pack. They’re the most suitable for your skin and are safe to use if you are undergoing medical acne treatment too. You can find out more about how blemishes develop in What causes blemishes.

3. Proven active ingredients

Ideally the products you choose should also contain active ingredients that have been proven to improve blemish-prone skin. The proof you’re looking for is clinical and/or dermatological research, and the actives that can have a positive impact on blemishes include Salicylic Acid, which breaks down pimples and has an anti-bacterial effect.

Did you know that many dermatologists can advise on make-up too? 

They’ll examine the individual character of your skin and carry out allergy tests if necessary. They will then be able to recommend the best make-up products for your skin and advice on the ingredients that you should avoid.

Face Cleansing Routine


A woman cleansing her face before applying make-up on acne prone skin - Eucerin
Cleanse skin thoroughly before applying make-up

Cleansing is the first essential step in caring for acne-prone skin. Dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells can all block pores and promote new blemishes, so adding make-up on top of those is only going to make matters worse.

Cleanser your face thoroughly, but gently, using products that are specially formulated for blemish-prone skin such as Eucerin DermoPurifyer Cleansing Gel and Eucerin Micellar Water.


A woman applying DermoPurifyer Oil Control Mattifying Fluid as a moisturiser on acne prone skin - Eucerin
Apply a mattifying moisturiser specially formulated for blemish-prone skin

Choose a moisturiser that soothes acne-prone skin while providing the perfect base for foundation. Because your skin is oily, you’ll want to choose a product with a mattifying effect − this means one that prevents a visibly oily sheen from building up on your skin. You might like to try Eucerin DermoPurifyer Mattifying Fluid which makes an ideal base for a foundation.

If you like, you can follow your moisturizer with a primer (don’t use a primer instead of a moisturizer) but be sure to choose one that is non-comedogenic.


Allow your moisturizer and primer to absorb for a few minutes before you apply your foundation.

If you are undergoing topical medical acne treatment, apply the appropriate cream or ointment before your moisturiser and allow time for your skin to absorb it. Eucerin DermoPurifyer Adjunctive Soothing Cream has been specially formulated as a moisturiser to use during medical acne treatment so you may to prefer to use that as a make-up base instead of Eucerin DermoPurifyer Mattifying Fluid until your medical treatment is over.

Step 1: Concealer

Some people prefer to start their make-up routine with a thin layer of foundation, others find that applying for concealer first works better. You might want to try both approaches and see what works best for you.

Our general rule with skin care is to use the most important product first. 

A dedicated concealer product can be used to cover large areas as well as individual blemishes. For a natural look, try applying your concealer in an X-formation across each blemish. This will ensure it is covered from all sides. Then gently tap (rather than rub) to blend the product and ensure the blemish is well covered. 

You can also experiment with using an eye shadow brush to apply concealer as some people find this helps them to create natural, blotch-free coverage. Blotchy cover-up can make blemishes stand out even more - not the result you’re looking for!


Step 2: Foundation

Cleaning the makeup applicators to reduce bacteria - Eucerin
Clean your make-up applicators regularly to reduce bacteria

When it comes to choosing a foundation:

  • Texture: choose a light product
  • Finish: opt for a matt rather than a shimmery finish. A shimmery foundation can make your pores look larger
  • Colour: try to match your skin tone. It’s better to go one shade lighter than one shade darker for natural coverage
Applying foundation makeup with clean finger tips to keep it hygienic - Eucerin
Clean fingertips are the most hygienic way to apply your foundation

  • Ideally, use your fingers. You can wash them just before to ensure that you’re not introducing any bacteria to your easily-irritated skin. 
  • Germs love to accumulate on make-up applicators. If you prefer to use brushes and sponges make sure you wash them thoroughly at least once a week with a mild detergent or your Eucerin DermoPurifyer Cleansing Gel
  • Don’t apply too much: it’s tempting to keep on going until everything is covered, but it’s unlikely to end up looking very natural when you step out of your bathroom. Go easy on the foundation and use your concealer again for an extra top-up where it’s needed.

After applying your foundation you can brighten dark areas under the eyes with an under-eye concealer.

Step 3: Powder and blusher

Applying the powder for makeup to last longer and to absorb oil on acne prone skin - Eucerin
The powder absorbs oil, so make-up looks its best for longer

Apply your blusher and then a loose face powder. The powder absorbs excess oil, prevents the development of oily areas on your skin, and helps your make-up to last longer. Use gentle brushes to apply both, and make sure you wash them at least once a week.

Apply your blusher and then a loose face powder. The powder absorbs excess oil, prevents the development of oily areas on your skin, and helps your make-up to last longer. Use gentle brushes to apply both, and make sure you wash them at least once a week.

When you need to freshen up your complexion during the day use your powder and/or blotting papers and your concealer. If you use powder on the go, you can apply it with a cotton pad and throw it away afterward so you don’t have to carry a brush around with you (which will gather germs in your bag).

Instant matt on-the-go 
Blotting papers help to reduce the build-up of oil on your face. Simply blot, reapply your powder and concealer, and get back to what really matters.

Step 4: Eyes and lips

A woman applying makeup on lips to cover small skin flaws - Eucerin
Beautiful lips can detract attention away from small skin flaws

Drawing attention to your eyes or lips can help to steer it away from any small flaws in your complexion.

A woman taking off make-up before going to bed - Eucerin
Don’t forget to take off your make-up before you go to bed

It’s easy to fall into bed after a night out, but if your skin is prone to acne it’s especially important that you make time to remove your make-up.

Skin regenerates itself overnight and it does this best when it is clean and able to breathe. Gentle but thorough cleansing before you go to bed will remove make-up and any other traces of dirt so your skin can get on with healing itself. Sleeping in make-up, even the non-comedogenic type, may exacerbate blemishes and cause new ones to form.

If you’re worried about how your partner will react when they see your skin − close-up and without cover-up − then talk to them about how you feel. Chances are they will have had some blemishes of their own too at some point. The right partner will understand how you feel and support you with or without make-up.

“The pigment in make-up can block pores and prevent sebum flow, so daily cleansing is the first important step in caring for blemish- and acne-prone skin.” Dr med. Markus Reinholz, Dermatologist