No matter how old you are, or how clear your skin normally is, just about everyone has had the humbling experience of waking up to a huge surprise pimple on your face. Of course, it’s always on the day you’ve got a big date or run into someone you haven’t seen in years.
But there’s plenty of reason to remain calm, no matter how much you feel the urge to sweat your spots. For one thing, that bump is probably way more prominent in your own (sometimes overly critical) mind than in anyone else’s. For another, stressing isn’t helping your cause at all. “Freaking out contributes to the inflammation,” warns natural beauty guru and makeup artist Jessa Blades.
The good news: A bit of strategic makeup can totally hide your flare-up. So keep calm—and get your natural makeup on.
Read on for Blades’ no-fail, 5-step big pimple action plan.
Step 1: Calm it down
It’s hard to hide a blemish that’s really angry and inflamed, so you want yours to chill—literally. “A great way to [curb inflammation] is to ice it down,” says Blades. Another kitchen staple that can work wonders? Garlic, Blades says, although you should test it on another part of your skin first to see if you react. “Slice a clove of garlic and let the alliin [the sulfuric and antioxidant-rich chemical it produces] activate, which takes about 10 minutes,” she says. “Then put it on the pimple, or make a paste to put on. It’s very anti-inflammatory.” Oh, and raw, organic honey works, too. It’s antibacterial and super soothing, notes Blades.
Step 2: Moisturize—the right way
Once you’ve spent a few minutes bringing the swelling down, you want to make sure your skin is just the right amount of moisturized to prep it for cover up. Prepare for a Goldilocks moment: “The surface should be lightly hydrated, but not too much, or else the makeup will slip off,” Blades says. “You don’t want your skin to be too slick, but you also don’t want it to be too dry, or the powder will be flakey.”
Because everyone’s skin is so different, it might take a bit of trial and error to find, say, the perfect skin-clearing natural oil for you. In general, Blades advises opting for a less creamy moisturizer, then letting it soak for at least five minutes before you even think about putting on makeup.
Step 3: Conceal like a pro
Blades recommends working with either a creamy foundation or a concealer and using tools (not fingers) for precision. “Use a very clean, small brush—I prefer a lip or eyeliner brush—and dab it directly on the spot,” she says. “Apply in tiny, quick, dabbing strokes, and then let that sink in for about one minute.”
For some rockstar clean options, Blades likes W3ll People’s Narcissist Foundation Stick, Vapour Organic Beauty’s Illusionist Concealer, and Beautycounter’s Touchup Skin Concealer Pen (which you can dab on directly, no brush required).
Step 4: Pat, pat, patty pat
It’s such a simple move to boost your makeup’s longevity, but one people often skip. Once your first coat of cover-up is on, “take your clean ring finger and gently press where you just applied concealer, just barely touching it,” says Blades. This helps set the makeup.
Step 5: Get your powder on
Grab a fluffy brush and either a translucent or foundation powder (Blades likes Jane Iredale’s PurePressed Broad Spectrum Powder, which has SPF 20, and Juice Beauty’s Flawless Finishing Powder). “I like to use an eye shadow blending brush, which is much smaller than a regular powder blending brush,” she says. “This helps you do really detailed work when you’re trying to cover up a specific spot.” If you find that your pimple is not covered enough once you’ve put powder on it, don’t panic: Blades recommends repeating the last three steps once more for an added layer of concealment.
Also, don’t forget the power of distraction. “A makeup artist trick is pulling focus away from what you don’t want people to focus on,” she says. “When you’re dealing with a big pimple, figure maybe today’s the day you do a smokey eye or play with bright lipstick hues.” In other words: Work what you’ve got!