I can't tell you how many times I've woken up with an uninvited friend on my chin and yearned for the professional makeup-artist fairy to swoop down, wave her magic wand, and bestow upon me a professional solution to my surprise pimple. That scenario has yet to play out, and I'm not counting on it.
So whenever I'm in the presence of such knowledgeable professionals, I always make a point to press them for their tips and tricks. Unsurprisingly, I've heard the same one several times over (if you haven't guessed it, you'll find out below). Which is good—always have a standby. And then, every now and again, I'll hear some new tricks that work like magic. Whether the zit in question is red and swollen or dry and flaky, these experts know how to take it down in no time.
Scroll through for the fast pimple-clearing solutions celeb makeup artists swear by!
You've probably heard this tip before, but makeup artists repeat it because it works. "When a client has a breakout, the first thing I will do is try to reduce any swelling that has occurred. A quick way to reduce the swelling is to wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and apply it to the pimple," makeup artist Desirae Cherman says. "To prep it before makeup, I like to either wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and hold it on top of the blemish to help bring down the swelling or use a few drops of Visine ($13 for three bottles) on a cotton swab and dab onto the pimple to help reduce redness and swelling as it constricts blood vessels to the area," makeup artist Kristee Liu says.
Next, the pros recommend applying the appropriate acne-fighting treatment. "I like to treat the area with MediK8 Red Alert ($68) if the breakout is red or flaring," makeup artist Andre Sarmiento says. "If a client has a breakout, I use Kate Somerville's pre-treated swabs with 10% sulfur that will help to clear the skin of bacteria. AHAs reduce the look of enlarged pores. The trick is not to pick the skin resulting in further irritation," makeup artist Nicole Walmsley says. Liu then likes to apply a green color corrector to neutralize redness before moving on to concealer.
"If the area is dry, I love to treat it with a small amount of repair balm from Epicuren. It melts flakiness away," Sarmiento says. Liu also like to moisturize dry, flaky spots with cream. Once properly hydrated, "I use my trusty Tweezerman Tweezers ($8) to gently remove the flaky skin around it," she says.
And then it comes time to cover the breakout—and there's only so much you can do without makeup when a surprise blemish rears its nasty head. What's the answer? Powder.
"Sometimes in order to completely cover a bad breakout, you end up with a cakey, over-applied look. This is in part because the texture of the breakout doesn't grab product the same way as the rest of the face. I find using a thin layer of foundation all over the face, leaving skin showing through where coverage isn't needed, will help the makeup look less heavy or overdone, allowing you to use more coverage where needed. Also, if you apply your foundation, then lightly powder the area before concealing the powder with the concealer stick, you will be able to cover it will less product," says makeup artist Adam Breuchaud.
Liu agrees on the powder (and moisturizer) tips. "If it has been picked on, it might have an open wound or scab, which can be hard for makeup to adhere to. I like to use a cotton swab to apply a little moisturizer and then dust a light layer of powder over it (I like the above option by Smashbox). This creates a drier surface for the concealer to hold onto. Cream concealer works best at this stage, as the liquid ones tend to move around too easily, making an even coverage tricky," she says.
And if you want to know the cream concealer all makeup artist swear by, check out which product the pros always stock in their kits.
If moisturizer and powder aren't going to cut it, break out the big guns. "Sometimes you can also find that makeup won't stick to a pimple and stay on. You can actually use a little liquid bandage over the pimple to create a barrier between it and the makeup, which then almost acts as a bonding agent holding the makeup on top of the blemish," Cherman says. And there you have it: Stubborn breakouts are no match for liquid bandages. Go stock your medicine cabinet.
Do you have any 60-second tricks for taking down pimples? Share them below!
This post was originally published on July 28, 2016.