Whether it's wrinkles, acne scars, or enlarged pores, everyone has a bit of texture on their skin—and (despite what Instagram filters may have you believe) no amount of makeup can make it disappear. But with proper application, you can make sure you're not making the texture more apparent, explains Emily Amick, a makeup artist in New York City.
"I'm really passionate about having a realistic approach to what makeup can do for you and what you're comparing yourself to because the images that we see on a flat glossy magazine or iPhones are edited beyond belief," says Amick. In other words, if you saw the same skin in person, its texture would be far more visible. "It's just keeping that in mind and having a realistic expectation of what you can achieve at home and what a makeup artist can do for you is important. People are like, 'How do I keep all this concealer from falling into my under-eye lines?' I'm like, 'You can't. Nobody can. It will do that.'"
While you can't camouflage your texture (which is fine! because skin texture is totally normal and natural), if it's something that bothers you, you can make sure you're not accentuating it with your makeup. To do that, Amick has three golden rules for applying makeup to textured skin.
How to apply makeup to textured skin
1) Prioritize prep
"Skin prep is really important, so make sure that you wash your face every night, moisturize well, and use actives that are right for you—serums...are going to improve your skin over time," says Amick. Retinoids and exfoliants (like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids) are your best bet for smoothing out the texture of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. When it comes to pores, you can't actually make them smaller (it's genetics!), but keeping them clean and gunk-free with these actives can make a difference in how they look.
This gel is a great retinoid to start with, as it’s one of the most potent OTC options (and, bonus! It’s available at the drugstore). Retinoids are vitamin-A derivatives that speed up cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, which helps smooth out pre-existing texture and prevent new lines and wrinkles from forming.
Slough off dead skin cells and keep your pores clear with this gentle exfoliating liquid from Paula’s Choice. It’s a great product, and at $32 for the largest size, you’re getting a good bang for your buck.
2. Use a makeup primer
"I'm not a big primer person, but if someone has a lot of texture, really noticeable pores, and things like that, there are primers that you can use for that that are a short-term fix just for the day," says Amick.
"Primers have a very silky consistency that can blur the appearance of lines and pores," makeup artist Jenny Patinkin previously told Well+Good. Makeup artists agree that these formulas can help smooth out the appearance of textured skin because they prevent foundation from settling into pores.
Amick loves this texture-smoothing primer from Tatcha. “It’s almost like a balm… it’s really good for pores,” she says. Living up to its name, this primer uses thin layers of silk to keep skin smooth. It’s also got antioxidants to fight off environmental stressors and a complex of three anti-aging nutrients to reveal soft, mirror-finish skin over time.
If you have really oily skin, a mattifying primer is your best friend. “I am loving this one,” says Amick. Its blurring technology minimizes the appearance of pores and helps curb oil production, giving you a smooth, clear canvas on which you can apply the rest of your routine.
3. Remember: Less is more
"Using less of anything will look better than putting a lot of something on your face that will then move and sink and make [texture] more noticeable," says Amick. "If you have a lot of wrinkles or a lot of scarring or whatever the case may be, you want to find a product that you can use very little of and still enhance. If you've got a lot of wrinkles under your eyes, you don't want to be using the amount of concealer that you see the girls on TikTok using. That will just enhance it because it will settle."
Instead of layering on concealer, just use a dab. And if you also want to camouflage discoloration, use a bit of color corrector first.
"You only want to use a little bit of color corrector and a tiny bit of concealer where the problem is and stop there," she says. "I like a really high coverage foundation that you only have to use the tiniest bit. Danessa Myricks Vision Cream Cover ($28) is a good example of that. Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer ($34) is a great example of that, but you have to be in the practice of using very little."
This color corrector comes in six different shades so you can pick the best one for your skin tone and your skin concern. Red, peach, pink, and orange all work to counterbalance purple tones in your skin (think: undereye bags and acne scars), while green and yellow camouflage redness.
This full-coverage foundation is designed to enhance and disappear into the skin, as long as you don’t cake it on. Apply with a sponge (for light coverage), your fingers (for medium coverage), or a brush (for full coverage) depending on what look you’re trying to achieve.
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