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The Complete Guide to Makeup for Acne-Prone Skin

This is a sponsored feature. All opinions are 100% from Her Campus.

Acne is a skin condition that a huge chunk of the population deals with, so of course there are many treatment and concealment options available. Choosing the best products for you is all about taking the time to uncover what works best for your skin.

You might have an entire medicine cabinet filled with acne-fighting concoctions, but it’s nice to be able to rely upon those few holy grail makeup products that always, always work. That’s why we’ve partnered with bareMinerals, the creators of clean beauty, to bring you this complete guide on everything you need to know about makeup for acne-prone skin – from what causes breakouts to the buildable foundation you should be using ASAP.

Acne, and what causes it 

The first thing you should know is that breakouts aren’t created equal, and there’s actually a difference between the different kinds of acne, acne and your usual spatter of zits, including the ways you treat and conceal them.

Mild and moderate acne – mostly blemishes in the form of whiteheads and blackheads – have to do with hygiene and can result from clogged pores or even wiping your face on a dirty towel. These causes are easy to narrow down and then combat with fixes like exfoliation and spot treatment.

But more severe acne is usually caused by genetics or hormones. We’re talking about the hormonal acne that pops up around your chin and jawline every month, or the angry pimples caused by cystic acne. These are tougher to treat, because even if you’ve gotten rid of one pimple, the breakouts often reoccur in the same place.

Alleviating acne 

Some of the best-known acne-fighting ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which work fast against blackheads, whiteheads and hormonal acne. But these ingredients certainly don’t treat all kinds of breakouts, and in the case of cystic acne, you may even need a prescription option. Ultimately, your dermatologist will be the best source to analyze your skin and help you come up with a regimen that works for you!

There is one thing we know for sure though: Being kind to your skin – choosing nurturing ingredients, maintaining a gentle routine, concealing without congesting – is going to go further.

Love on your skin

“Acne-fighting” can sound so aggressive, as if your skin is something that needs to be subdued and manipulated into perfection. So, instead of resorting to products with harsh chemicals and unnecessary additives to banish your breakouts, it’s important to find skincare and makeup formulas that alleviate acne, while also soothing skin – instead of just declaring war on your face.  

Obviously, breakouts and dry patches put a bump in the road of your daily makeup routine, and the ultimate goal is to find balance between something that conceals without irritating your skin further. Before grabbing a new foundation or concealer, stop and read if the product has essential ingredients like salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, minerals, or sulfur. All of these will combat acne – and then you want to look for soothing botanicals (like chamomile), which are still gentle enough to moisturize and minimize acne issues.

Essential makeup

How the heck do I find makeup that works magic on my zits and makes me feel good? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some of our bareMinerals faves guaranteed to do the trick.

For over 20 years, bareMinerals has been bringing clean, natural minerals and good-from-the-earth ingredients to our beauty routines. Now, they’re here to help us calm, clear and cover breakouts with the first (!!!) clean makeup for treating acne. Introducing Blemish Rescue, a complete set of acne-fighting coverage products that have been clinically shown to clear acne in as little as three weeks*.

This innovative collection focuses on formulas containing soothing ingredients that nourish the skin and maintain moisture, instead of drying out your breakout patches. Finally, there’s a way for us to feel relaxed and comfortable in our own skin, without sacrificing buildable coverage and quality product. This is exactly what’s needed for when you need to cover a breakout for a date or interview, but still improve skin with lasting benefits over time.

Take a look below for all the ways natural mineral makeup will help create fresh, glowing skin, even on those days when you wake up to a breakout.


Looking for an acne treatment and foundation in one? This Blemish Rescue foundation for acne-prone skin is a full-coverage, loose powder foundation formulated with salicylic acid to resolve breakouts, plus oat protein to soothe and nourish skin.

To use, simply swirl the powder onto your application brush, then buff the foundation into your skin in a circular motion, using a little additional powder on any problem areas. The best thing about this makeup is that it’s skin-clearing, which means you’re working towards improved skin texture every time you apply your daily makeup. It honestly sounds too good to be true, but trust us, this is real.


This multi-tasking concealer does more than just clear acne – it also covers redness, optimizes against bacteria, and fades acne scars because of key ingredients like salicylic acid and licorice root extract. Yes, really.

Just apply the concealer to any raised bump areas, patting in with index finger to blend, adding a little more concealer on areas that are particularly red. This can layer under or over foundation, but if you’re going light on the face-makeup, simply use as a spot treatment on areas you want to cover and heal.


This makeup brush is made with special fibers infused with activated charcoal and antibacterial silver ions to keep bacteria away. Unlike other brushes with a charcoal coating that can wash off with use, this one is designed to stay cleaner for longer – which means you’ll spend less time worrying about breakouts and more time loving your skin.

When it comes down to it, true and consistent results happen when you prioritize loving on your skin with natural products and good-for-you ingredients like minerals and skin-soothing botanicals. Another thing to consider: When you shop natural, clean makeup, it makes a wider impact on your community and the world because your makeup choices can actually help the environment.

So, the next time you’re makeup shopping, instead of combatting acne by drying out your face with harsh chemicals or piling on a cakey, heavy foundation until your pores are congested, stick to gentle products that keep your skin nice and comfy. It’s the ultimate way to stay clear, real and love your naturally beautiful skin.

*Based on a 6-week US clinical study of 30 female subjects

Gina was formerly the Beauty & Culture Editor at Her Campus, where she oversaw content and strategy for the site's key verticals. She was also the person behind @HerCampusBeauty, and all those other glowy selfies you faved. She got her start in digital media as a Campus Correspondent at HC Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she graduated in 2017 with degrees in English and Theater. Now, Gina is an LA-based writer and editor, and you can regularly find her wearing a face mask in bed and scrolling through TikTok.