6 Makeup Tricks for When You're Having a Bad Skin Day

A model with her hand raised over her face, eyes peeking out

As everyone knows, bad skin days are a nuisance. Sure, a bad hair day is never welcome, but at least you can try styling your way out of it or, worst-case scenario, just wear a hat. But when it’s your whole entire face that’s freaking out? Well, that's trickier to manage.

While we're all for loving the skin you’re in, sometimes it's just good to know that you have the skills to subtly boost your confidence, should you ever need it. Like on a bad skin day, for example, when you really need to look your best self.

That's why we've decided to compile the best makeup tricks we've learned over the years for combating those moments when your complexion isn't playing ball. Breakouts and blackheads? Dark circles? Dry patches or redness? Keep scrolling for the makeup tricks that’ll see you through it all.

1. Cover Dark Circles

When it comes to beating dark circles, we all know concealer is queen. But even if you’ve got the application technique down (the secret is to blend and build over your discoloration in thin layers to avoid creasing and caking) and the best concealer in the business, there’s still one thing that could make or break your result: eye cream.

Prepping with a brightening, de-puffing eye cream will help to make your cover-up job a lot easier while making sure the area is properly hydrated also helps to prevent creasing. However, opting for the wrong texture might actually sabotage your results, as creams that are too rich or oily may leave your makeup sliding off long before it’s home time.

A light cream or gel texture is best for covering dark circles. Just make sure to always give it time to sink into your skin before you apply makeup. You could also layer a color-correcting primer or concealer between your eye cream and foundation. Peach, orange and terracotta shades are best for neutralizing the blue, grey and brown pigmentation of under-eye circles.

2. Minimize Redness

Whether it's rosacea, a touch of sunburn or a complexion that just likes to flush bright red on occasion, the road to minimizing redness leads one way: color corrector. This is the time to break out the green concealer, which works to neutralize red and pink hues in your skin tone.

Since redness often has inflammation at the root, it's worth prepping with a skin-friendly primer to create a barrier between sensitive or easily irritated skin and your makeup (there’s less chance you'll end up itching or rubbing it all off this way). After moisturizing, buff in your primer, and then apply green concealer sparingly over any redness.

Once you've neutralized the red patches, go over with your foundation to cover up any green tinge. It's best to use a damp Beautyblender for this, and go for dabbing rather than pulling motions as you blend to avoid displacing all your hard color-correcting work.

3. Get a Grip on Breakouts

If acne or blackheads have popped up, it’s tempting to plaster on a full-coverage formula, but that could actually end up encouraging your breakout to stick around longer. For spots that are red and angry, color-correcting with a dab of green concealer and then smoothing over with a breathable foundation.

Blackheads, meanwhile, are best tackled with light, noncomedogenic formulas (think advanced BB creams) that contain pore-clearing ingredients such as salicylic acid, zinc and tea tree. Blend it all over to blur the appearance of blackheads, and top up with a concealer packing the same anti-blemish ingredients only where you really it.

4. Hide Dry Patches

When it comes to dealing with dry patches or flaky conditions like eczema and psoriasis, moisture is key. Creamy formulas that leave a dewiness on your skin are going to be successful at staying put as opposed to flaking away within minutes. Packing your skin with moisture before you apply makeup is essential, so begin with a good serum (look for hyaluronic acid to keep moisture levels up), follow with moisturizer, and then go in with a hydrating primer to lock things in.

For coverage, look to a BB cream that's geared toward sensitive skin, or mix your foundation with a small blob of serum to give it some extra hydrating power. Work in thin layers to build up the coverage you need and skip finishing powders—they contain talcs that'll soak up your much-needed moisture. Instead, finish with a cream blusher to keep that hydrating dewiness going.

5. Manage OTT Shine

See everything we said above about dealing with dry patches? If you're tackling serious shine, the plan is to flip and reverse all of that. Prep with oil-regulating skincare and a balancing serum for oily skin, then begin your makeup with an oil-free primer that's been specially formulated to combat shine. That'll give you the mattifying base you need to stop your makeup sliding straight off.

Next, go in with an oil-free foundation that has either a matte or velvet finish. Unfortunately, a super-dewy formula likely won't do you any favors here. The crucial part of the whole shine-control makeup process, however, is to finish with a good powder. Look for lightweight finishing powders that'll help to absorb excess oil without leaving your skin looking or feeling cakey. An oil-free setting spray could help boost the staying power, too.

6. Disguise Large Pores

Pores are tricky things and can appear largest when they're either clogged or your skin is dehydrated. That means prep is key to making your makeup look its best. If you have time, apply a clay face mask to draw out impurities, and then follow with an oil-regulating serum to hydrate your skin without leaving it greasy.

When it comes to makeup, a good primer will do most of the heavy lifting. Look for an oil-free, mattifying formula focused on smoothing and refining to help blur the appearance of your pores—Benefit's Porefessional Face Primer ($32) is a classic for a good reason. Primers that contain silicone will also stop your foundation from "sitting" in your pores by effectively "filling in" dents and ridges for a smoother canvas (just make sure you cleanse well afterward to avoid clogging).

The final trick for blurring your pores is all in the way you apply your foundation. Instead of blending it via long strokes (which can encourage product to sit or get caught in your pores), opt for buffing in circular motions using a fluffy brush and use light tapping motions to apply concealer if you need it. Finish with a light powder to keep things locked in.

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Have a spot that is beyond the help of makeup? Here are 12 spot creams you can rely on to beat blemishes fast.

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