It’s no secret that my skin has been acting up recently… but I always try to look at the bright side of life. In this case…my bad skin makes me an ideal test case for acne-covering make-up! I conducted a “scientific experiment” taking before & after pictures of my skin using various acne-covering products – and noted down my thoughts on each. Hope this post may help anyone else out there struggling with the same issues.
Some thoughts before I start the comparison:
-I took before & after pictures each time because the lighting and extent of my acne varies day-to-day. These photos were taken over a couple of weeks as I don’t wear makeup everyday – and I don’t want to stress my skin out!
-I’m wearing this moisturizer under my make-up in all photos
-I prefer using a heavy coverage make-up that I can build up where I need, rather than a concealer + foundation. I find this leads to a more even look (as a separate concealer can sometimes highlight the areas you want to conceal – not good!)
-Your experience with these products may vary depending on the condition of your skin and your application technique
–These pictures are not pretty…AT ALL, but they’re honest. It does get me down when my skin acts up and I can’t explain why. But I know this will pass…and I feel loved no matter how I look (but of course – I always want to look my best!)
I’ve created a “break” in this post so you don’t have to see the pictures unless you want to! Click “Read more” to continue.
1) Product: Dermablend Corrective Foundation (Shades 35 Sand & 55 Bronze) Inspired by Lisa Eldridge’s Acne Covering Makeup Video
Tools & Technique:
-Apply La Roche-Posay Cicaplast as a primer
-Mix 2 shades on the back of my hand and stipple on using this brush
-Blend and stipple some more where necessary
-Set with this powder
-Doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all
-The price is relatively inexpensive plus you only need a small amount to cover your whole face – so this will last you a while
-Stays in place pretty well
-Comes in a very limited shade selection (4 shades) so it’s very hard to get a good match
-Not very buildable – it gets heavy and cakey quite easily. Unless you’re an expert blender, I would save it only for evening wear.
-Doesn’t cover my pigmented purple scarring – those areas look grey
-Despite using a primer, it can still get patchy and flakey over blemished skin
2) Product: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW35 (used as a foundation as per this video)
Tools & Technique:
-Pump concealer on the back of my hand and stipple on to my face using this brush
-Blend – this product is very pigmented and easily covers acne marks.
-Stipple some more where necessary and blend really well or it will look uneven.
-Best coverage of anything I’ve tested – super pigmented and easily buildable yet it doesn’t look heavy or cakey – it just looks like your skin. Success – NO greying over purple areas! Skin looks great other than the bumpy texture (which no makeup can fix!)
-MAC’s amazing color range makes it easy to get the perfect match to your skin – so there’s no mask-like effect (I’m usually a NC35 but the MAC make-up artist recommended NW35 to counteract the purple scarring)
-Beautiful finish – it looks like your skin is in soft focus. Doesn’t need to be set with a powder and it lasts ALL day – doesn’t fade or get patchy over blemishes
-MAC foundations aren’t the best for acne-prone skin, so I only use this on special occasions and I wash it off as soon as I get home. (EDIT: I’ve been using this product around 5 days a week – and it doesn’t aggravate my skin at all. I think SOME MAC foundations can congest my acne-prone skin – but this isn’t one of them).
-As this is meant to be a concealer, it comes in a small bottle. And while you only need very little, this would be used up quickly if used as an everyday foundation.
EDIT: Wanted to update with a picture wearing this foundation – you can’t really notice the acne unless you’re up close and see the bumpy skin:
3) Product: Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Base in Golden Glow
Tools & Technique: (I’ve found 2 ways of using this)
-Moderate coverage – apply powder with flocked sponge on places that need concealing. Use Handi brush to buff foundation over the rest of your face and neck
-Heavy coverage – Use this brush to press/grind the powder over areas that need concealing. Use this brush to buff foundation over the rest of your face and neck
-Can set with POM mist or mineral water spray
-Provides the best acne coverage out of all the mineral foundations I have tried to date. Easily covers mild to moderate acne – red areas completely disappear under the product
-Finely milled powder applies seamlessly. Leaves a silky airbrushed/porcelain finish to my skin – similar to Laura Mercier but with more coverage and no bismuth. Easy to layer – no caking or heaviness.
-Built in UVA/UVB protection with SPF 20. Makes it easy and non-irritating to apply daily sun protection
– Does not cover my dark purple pigmented acne scars – these areas look greyish under foundation (so far, no foundation has been able completely cover the purple – just the MAC concealer used in place of foundation )
–Pricier than most other mineral foundations I’ve tried – however, it will last you a long time, and both the packaging and the product are VERY high quality.
-Shade is slightly too light for me. Mineral make-up is quite forgiving and you can usually use a shade lighter or darker – but since I am layering heavily to conceal acne, the lighter shade becomes more apparent. However, this is not a problem with the foundation itself – Jane Iredale has 24 shades covering warm, cool & neutral tones – and you can get the right match if you try it on in person at a salon. (EDIT: US & Canadian readers can also call this number (877-519-9420) at Jane Iredale to be given some foundation samples to try)
4) Product: Everyday Minerals Pressed Base in Olive Medium (discontinued)
Tools & Technique:
-Use this brush to press/grind the powder over areas that need concealing. Use this brush to buff foundation over the rest of your face and neck. Can set with a spray.
-Doesn’t irritate my skin AT ALL plus it’s easy and quick to apply – perfect for daily wear!
-Pretty good acne coverage (better than the other mineral powders I tested here) though not as good as the Jane Iredale one.
-Very reasonably priced ($12 for the compact) and lasts forever
-Can only order online
-The pressed powder has been discontinued, and the loose powders have been reformulated with an irritating ingredient (details here)
-Finish isn’t as nice as other mineral makeup I’ve tried – doesn’t leave my skin glowing or looking airbrushed like the Jane Iredale and Laura Mercier versions do.
I’m happy to have found a daily foundation that won’t aggravate my acne (Jane Iredale) and special event foundation that completely covers my acne (MAC Concealer). For now I’m giving my skin a break from trying new products, but in the name of research, I would be testing these products next:
(P.S. I’ve also tried the MUFE concealer but found its performance similar to Dermablend – though not as gentle on skin)
DISCLAIMER: I purchased these product myself except for the Jane Iredale products (which were sent to me by the company – but I was on the verge of purchasing them anyway!). As always – when I review a sent item, I consider it as if I paid
the retail price…and evaluate it objectively. Gifted or
not, I blog to share my true feelings and help my readers
What foundation works best for you?
What an awesome/helpful/amazing/did i mention awesome post! I'm trying MAC next as it looks like it did so well in covering up blemishes.
Glad you liked it – I shuddered a bit writing it as the pictures look so yuck LOL! But I soldiered through and posted the pics because it's the only thing that can really show how a product works – sometimes words are not enough 🙂
I agree with you on reviewing items that were sent for free, although if I really dislike an item I have been sent to review I may simply choose not to review it at all.Thank you for being so honest in showing the coverage- this post was very informative!!
Reviewing items can be a tricky balance – but I think the BEST brands appreciate both positive AND negative constructive feedback – at least that's what I tell myself LOL! Glad you liked the post!
thank you for this honest review 🙂 I have been using the VICHY dermablend after seeing it in Lisa Eldridge's video and it has been quite life-changing for me in terms of the coverage I get from it. I find the color too dark (nude) but I put my lighter MAC studio finish concealer over it and then it all blends in beautifully.
Thanks Veronika 🙂 I think Lisa's technique in the video was amazing: using the dermablend as a concealer combined with a Clinique foundation for the rest of her model's face. I wish I had her blending skills!!! So great to hear Dermablend works for you – it's amazing how little you need, huh? One tube will last AGES!
Thanks so much for this review! I also have trouble with concealing acne scars. I have tried Dermablend and agree with you that while coverage is good, it's very cakey and really emphasizes flakes on my skin. I haven't tried it with Cicaplast but sounds like it doesn't make too much of a difference? =/ I was also going to try the MUFE concealer next but since you said it performs similarly to Dermablend I might try the MAC one instead.
Thanks for your comment – it's interesting to see that I'm not the only person who encountered patchiness/flakiness with the Dermablend. I feel like my scarred skin is a different texture, and the Dermablend foundation just doesn't adhere to it. The Cicaplast didn't solve this problem (neither did other primers like Hourglass Mineral Veil)- I would definitely recommend the MAC concealer – especially if they have an expert to match you with the right shade to address your concerns (I would never have thought of choosing NW over NC!).
I agree with you PD the same thing happens to me
The mac make up looks really wonderful! It's a shame you can't use it daily. I recently started breaking out again and went back on minocyclene and it seems to be doing what it's supposed to, lol.My current foundation is Almay Clear Complexion and it is works very well at an affordable price ($5.99 at a local outlet store $11.99 regular price). It is a very lightweight foundation but builds up easily for extra coverage. My skin looks even toned and it last all day. Even in the humid Florida weather, by the end of the day, I still look fresh (quite a feat!).Love and miss you tons!! <3
Sadly, the minocycline doesn't work for me anymore. I'm hoping to discover the underlying cause of my acne – as I feel like that is the key to clearing my skin up (as it was clear for nearly a year and a half before this recent outbreak!).My derm is SO into medicating me LOL – he wants me to go on Accutane – but I only have 2 patches of acne (on each cheek) and it is NOT worth the side effects – I'd rather cover it with make-up when necessary then go on that (especially because it has such bad side effects, but some people STILL get their acne back when they go off the meds!)But it's so good that the mino still works for you 🙂 I've never seen the Almay foundation – will have to go read up on it! I miss you tooooooo – and you always look fresh to me 😛
you are so incredibly brave! I have a nasty bout with cystic acne about a year ago that just would.not.stop. I was going crazy trying to 1) stop it from happening and 2) covering up. I took pictures to from time to time to compare and see if there's a difference, and briefly entertained the thought of talking about it online, but couldn't do it.(turns out it was my detergent/additives that was causing it) I've tried foundations from high end counters and drugstores, and I am now a faithful user of revlon colorstay foundation — it has coverage and can somewhat help prevent me looking like an oil slick at the end of the day. Plus, it doesn't make me break out even further.
I've always read good things about Revlon Colorstay – sounds like a good foundation to have on my to-try list! I'd LOVE to hear more about the detergent/additives that were causing your acne…I'm convinced my acne is dietary or environmental – and I'd love to figure out the source!
for the longest time, i've been mixing bleach with the detergent for my whites without any issues. After mysteriously breaking out (and i mean, break out. like, non-stop. A new (or a few new) BIG puss-filled…yeah…you get the picture) all over my cheeks and forehead for months…i think i ran out of bleach and didn't buy more so washed it with just the detergent…and my face got better. Lightbulb moment.Then recently, i added a little borax (an additive to make things cleaner) just because i had it and didn't want to throw it out without using it (bought it for something else) and started breaking out again — this one has boric acid or something like that in it…once i stopped, things started to calm down againSo i suppose that as my skin gets older, it gets more picky about abrasive stuff, especially since i'm a face-down sleeper, it affects me a whole lot more than those who sleep on their backsHope this helps (slightly??) On another note, when i started using Clinique's toner, it helped a whole bunch during the first breakout before i found out about the detergent. And their acne solutions spot healing gel is fantastic to dry things up very very quickly! so that was so helpful once i found out what was happening and was just trying to clear up what i hadnow, i have to deal with the hyperpigmentation — Korres wild rose moisturizer (And the overnight treatment) is fantastic! (although i just bought a laura mercier lotion that i've heard great things about–so i was curious. The latest batch of korres moisturizer i bought recently seemed like there's a cut back in materials— i feel like perhaps it's getting slightly less effective?)so…that's my story =) (sorry, a whole novel later!)
Thanks for all the information – its truly helpful! We have switched detergents recently, I think I'll switch back to the mild detergent for my face towels and pillowcases. Am also going to keep the Clinique products in mind – I've used the spot treatment in the past with good results. For hyperpigmentation, I found overnight spot treatment with kaolin clay masks can really speed up the fading process 🙂
Thank you BOTH for all the information. I too, suffer with severe cystic acne and these frustrations of finding the cause, treating it, and covering it up. As a result, I tried and purchased numerous foundations and I too loved the Revlon Colorstay. Then I discovered the Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation at Sephora, this foundation covered the red and purple blotches on my cheeks with just one layer of foundation! I have been using both of these foundations the most to deal with the aftermath of my destructive acne. I still haven't figured out what caused my skin to behave this way, I have always had clear skin, I've never wore makeup (until this happened), I've always ate a sensible diet and routinely exercised. It has been about 3 years since this began and I am finally starting to see some improvement. I am hoping my skin will continue to improve and I hope everyone here and anyone else who suffers from cystic acne (or any type of acne) find a remedy or a way to deal with this as it can be extremely painful, both physically and mentally.
Great review Ella! Few months ago I purchased Jane Iredale mineral foundation but the color is not the best match. That's the reason I hate shopping online for makeup, it ends up being waste of money. I use bare minerals every day and have been for years. It doesn't provide the best coverage, but it doesn't irritate my skin. Now I really want to try that Mac foundation. 🙂
I am OBSESSED with finding the best match with foundation – that is why I love sample kits & sephora samples…I will stand by my window in the sunlight with a magnifying mirror swatching different shades on my face to find the best one LOL!I hope Jane Iredale offer a sample kit service – I thought I was Golden Glow because a lot of people with NC 35 skin use that – maybe I should see what suits NW35 skin instead? I should just make the time and go in person to a salon to test it out I guess.You should definitely give the MAC one a try!
Ella, I just discovered your blog and I am SO glad I did! I love love love love Jane Iredale. I have tried a few of their products and love them. Their service is excellent. The only downside is that it is pricey, but worth it so I need to pace myself with my orders. I should really get around to writing some reviews of the stuff I own.
Thanks for your comment – I'd LOVE to read reviews of their other products – there are so many things I'd like to try from their brand!
What an informative and incredibly helpful post Ella, thanks for sharing your experiences!
Glad you liked it 🙂
This is such a good post!Thanks for sharing.
You should consider trying Jane Iredale's Disappear and Circle/Delete together with the powder. They will "erase" everything!
After this post, Jane Iredale offered to let me try the Disappear concealer – I'm so excited to see how it works – will definitely update here!
Hey! Thanks for the review!I have similar skin and I have decided to switch from Shu Uemura fluid foundation to a mineral based foundation. I recently took a month long hiatus from any sort of make up (which actually helped clear up my skin quite a bit– and i have started to think the simpler my beauty routine the clearer my skin is!). I tried Bare Escentuals, but it appeared to clog my pores and irritated my skin (although this maybe because of the Shu Uemura cleansing oil i use to remove make up? any thoughts?).Anyway so my main question is are you using Jane Iredale everyday? Do you think that it has, in anyway, helped alleviate your acne? Thanks again for your reviews!P.S. Stay strong! I wish you the best in your fight against acne! 🙂
Hi GreeneJe – thanks for your comment and your encouragement :-)Shu Uemura oil: I personally don't use any oil on my skin – I know that oil is good at breaking down makeup, but it can also encourage the growth of p.acnes bacteria so I steer clear.Jane Iredale: I don't use it everyday – I probably use it 2-3 times a week, and the MAC 1-2 times a week. I don't think it has helped alleviate my acne – but it definitely hasn't clogged my pores or made it any worse.Alleviating my acne: I think the 3 main things that have helped my acne (and it has improved since this post – thank goodness!) is 1)Overnight spot treatment with the Proactiv mask 2)Daytime treatment with Clean & Clear Popped Pimple paste 3)Avoiding dairy <—this has made the biggest improvement – though I miss cheese so much!I'll be writing an acne update post soon – Good luck with your acne treatment too 🙂
Thanks! I'll definitely be on the look out for any acne related to my use of the cleansing oil And I think I will give Jane Iredale a try! Thanks for acne help- uhhhhhhhh its just not what I want to see when I look in the mirror! 🙁 I'll be on the look out for your update! :))
Kudos on a great post and good before & after pictures! I used to be a paramedical-esthetician and post surgical camouflage makeup artist and following are my few recommendations (especially for oily, breakout prone skin, like mine):(Mineral Makeup with Medium – Full Coverage and calming for Acne: La Bella Donna Loose Minerals (Med-Full with less sparkle than many other lines), Glo Minerals(Full Coverage)and Alima Pure (no Bismuth, No Silicones or Mica). Alima is my go-to for everyday makeup I can work-out in and not break-out from (med coverage). Regarding Coverage (ladies, take note!) Mineral makeup that does not contain Bismuth or Dimethicone tend to be best for acneic and reactive skin, but you wont get the same performance and all day coverage as you would from a mineral product containing Bismuth and Dimethicone. Bismuth is what gives a mineral powder that pearly airbrushed effect that is wonderfully smooth looking and light reflective. Dimethicone makes the powder foundation go on more evenly (less caking or migrating into lines) and give the makeup good staying power and buildable coverage. Bismuth and Mica can irritate and aggravate some cystic and reactive skin types. Dimethicone, while not pore clogging in itself, creates a water resistant "coating" on the skin and "may" in theory trap sebum, contributing to congested pores. It really is trial and error, and the other ingredients in a product will often determine whether Dimethicone is a beneficial ingredient or acne aggravator. Silica and Cyclomethicone, both in the same family as Dimethicone, (in my experience) have been fantastic for acneic skin, and can even help prevent other stuff from clogging pores. I am still trying to determine if Dimethicone is a friend or a foe for my skin – the jury is still out. I hope the above info helps you all when searching for your "ideal" mineral coverage.
Thanks for all the ingredient information and MMU suggestions – will definitely be on the lookout for Alima & Glo Minerals.
That was a very helpful post. I wanted to give you some encouragement too. I used to have horrible cystic acne and I felt like no matter what it wouldn't go away. I wanted to tell you about a great product I tried. After all of my teens and 20s never finding a product that worked (I tried everything) because if it was strong, I would have an allergic reaction due too my sensitive skin and if it was for sensitive skin it didn't fix the acne. I used Proactive and broke out in hives! Anyways … I tired the Clinique acne system before my wedding and it has transformed my skin! I use this three step system and it worked wonders! I must use all three steps 2 times a day or I break out so I know it is working! http://www.clinique.com/product/1670/5615/Skincare/Acne/Clear-Skin-System/Acne-Solutions-Clear-Skin-System-Starter-Kit/index.tmplNow my only issue is I'm looking for a good dark spot reducer for the dark spots that I have from my acne! If you know of one ….
Thanks! I'll definitely keep that in mind for the future – for now, I'm using some products recommended by my facialist – and they're actually working! All drugstore brands too 🙂 I'm working on my dark spots too – my facialist recommended rubbing a lemon every night – so that's what I'm doing. I've also heard good things about the Kiehls dark spot corrector – but the lemon's working for now so I'm sticking with it 🙂 Good luck finding something that works for your dark spots!
Hi Ella….. I just discovered your blog on my search for a mineral makeup and are extremely excited to try the Jane iradale…thanks for the honest reviews…really appreciate it…on another note not sure if you' re still dealing with the breakouts but I wanted to share what is working for me (also started breaking out horribly around the jaw line then everywhere else…emphasis on the horribly!!!!) I tried everything….went to the doctor….she wanted me to start birth control and that clearly wasn't an option for me… anyway I went to a Chinese doctor and naturopath and turns out it was a continuation of bad digestion, other stomach issues and stress (apparently when you breakout on your cheek area its stomach related ) she prescribed a multi-vitamin called perfect skin, omega fish oils, and b-calm (for the stress) so far its been two weeks and its amazing my skin is almost cleared up completely (knock on wood) To cleanse I'm using this antibacterial cleanser called Tristan (I got it to clean my tattoo) and witch hazel and boscia's clearing moisturizer…no picking…weekly extractions at a spa… I wanted to share this with anyone who can benefit from it because I know how crappy acne can make you feel! hope it helps…. Elizabeth
Thanks for sharing what works for you Elizabeth! I found regular extractions with my facialist went a LONG way towards clearing up my acne this time round 🙂
I use the Citrus Clear Grapefruit Spot Treatment for layering under makeup products. Not only does the ph make the salicylic acid effective (and it is a pore clearing agent and is great for sensitive skin) but it contains green tea. The gel formulation means that it can be spread easily – I don't like liquid formulations. And the price is right – only $12!
o so helpful! Thanks for this post it's such a pain in the butt to try and find good acne foundations
Hi there! I've been using Jane Iredale for almost three years now and I buy the golden glow and warm sienna powders together. I contacted JI to see if they would press a blend of the two shades, but they "can't"… so I buy both and just swirl my brush on both and then apply to my face. It's been the best color match and the best coverage too. I also use the Glo Minerals Camouflage…it will take away that ashy color of your hyperpigmentation! I've had acne for 10+ years and my acne scars turn purplish even though I have fair skin (N25 skin color & caucasian). Thanks for writing your review!
We share the same sentiments girl. Uggghh! Sometimes I’m feeling tired covering my face with makeup.xo,~Pauline @ MAC Philippines
Hi Ella! Looks like you're still blogging so I hope you can answer my Q =) Do you have any updated opinions on makeup for acne prone skin. I mostly breakout on my chin so I don't want anything that's too heavy just something I can build coverage where I need. I want to try Jane Iredale. What are the two "heavy coverage" brushes you suggest. Those two links don't work anymore. Thank you! So happy to find your blog there's not many that answer is such helpful detail as you. =)
Hi! Yes – I'm still blogging AND still dealing with acne LOL! Would you believe – I still use the MAC concealer and Jane Iredale mineral makeup as my main foundations? I have tried other formulas over the years, but still believe that these two are the best I've tested. I use the Jane Iredale for most days to generally cover up acne, and the MAC on days when I want to completely hide my acne. Thanks for letting me know the links don't work – I've updated the links you mentioned – the 2 heavy coverage mineral makeup brushes I've recommended – one is the Bare Minerals Buki Brush and the other is the Sephora Mineral Powder brush – both are linked in the post now. Hope that helps!
Hi Ella!Thank you so much for your acne coverage/minersl makeup "experiment". Growing up I had perfect skin that needed no makeup whatsoever, unfortunately in my mid twenties my skin changed and became cystic. It was day and night and I was left powerless and cluelss. After much digging and doctors visits, my obgyn informed me that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which deals hugely with an imbalance in your hormones. I was able to be diagnosed because my AMH levels were tested through bloodwork. I was an unusual patient for PCOS because I didn't have many other main symptoms aside from acne. This could be something to look into concerning your own battle with acne. Some treatments I have been given are: spirnolactone, epiduo, onextone, and the main combatant is diet ( no dairy or sugary food ) . I really appreciate you sharing your story! Im going to be looking into Jane Iredale and the mac concealer! 🙂
Thanks Bianca – I've had a full range of tests and PCOS has never come up – but I definitely have hormonal fluctuations. However – I'll bring it up with my doctor again – thanks for mentioning it. I've also found a huge improvement by cutting out dairy (which is SO hard!). I guess I should try and reduce sugary food too! Hope you like the products I reviewed 🙂