Tricks of the Trade: How to deal with oily, breakout-prone skin

Alexander Wang (3)

Hi, Kelly! I’m really bad at putting makeup on and I want to learn to properly apply it. I have combination-blemished skin. But my problem area is my T-zone; my forehead is the most problematic part since it breaks out a lot.

I also have a few whiteheads on my right jawline. The pores on my cheeks are kind of noticeable. My makeup tends to cake and slip off during hot weather and it’s driving me nuts!I’m really bad at putting makeup on and I want to learn to properly apply it. I have combination-blemished skin. But my problem area is my T-zone; my forehead is the most problematic part since it breaks out a lot.

How do I properly put makeup on? And what type of makeup is best for my skin? How do I make the makeup last longer, and how do I properly cover up blemishes? I honestly want to achieve a natural look. By the way, I have fair complexion. —Astrid

We have a few things to consider here. First is how to take care of your specific skin type, and second, how to expertly camouflage your blemishes while making sure makeup adheres to your skin and stays on for a good amount of hours. Let’s tackle skincare first. Your skin, as you described it, seems to be on the oily side. Your T-zone tends to break out a lot, the pores on your cheeks are noticeable, and there are whiteheads on your jawline. These are all telltale signs of oily skin, and the most likely reason you are getting breakouts is because some of your pores get clogged. Oil that’s supposed to pass through pores gets trapped, which makes oil and bacteria gather underneath the skin, forming blemishes like blackheads and pimples. Pores get clogged for one reason or the other; makeup can sometimes cause this, as well as changes in the weather, or it can also be your skincare regimen.

I suggest that you switch to a facial wash that specifically targets blemishes and prevents pimples from forming. Look for a facial wash that contains active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which have been known to effectively fight acne and pimples. If, however, your skin is on the sensitive side, opt for a facial wash with natural ingredients like tea tree oil or lavender oil. These are just as effective, as they kill bacteria and help skin heal faster. Of course, if you are experiencing a bad breakout, you may want to see your dermatologist. He or she can help you identify the cause of your blemishes and prescribe the right skincare products.

Another way to prevent pimples is to use an oil-free moisturizer that’s formulated for oily skin. I know it seems weird to be recommending moisturizer when your skin already produces too much oil. But, yes, oily skin still needs a good dose of moisture. As much as you want to lessen your skin’s oil production, you also want to be sure it doesn’t get too dry, as oil glands may take this as a signal to produce even more oil, thus making skin super-oily. Other things you can do to help prevent blemishes: Use a gentle facial scrub once or twice a week to slough away dead skin cells and prevent pores from getting clogged; eat healthy, meaning lots of fruits and veggies, to promote healthy skin; and also drink lots of water.

Now, on to makeup. What you want to achieve is a fresh face, which means you don’t want your makeup melting by lunchtime. There are a few tools and tricks you can use to do this. These seem to work for me, especially when I need to wear makeup the entire day.

Use a makeup primer. I’ve been recommending this for some time now, and I am a firm believer of it. I’ve tried wearing foundation and powder alone, but with primer or base underneath my makeup, it really makes a world of difference. First off, skin instantly becomes matte, and it stays that way for hours. I don’t see any traces of oil forming throughout the day when I have primer on. Second, it really allows your foundation to glide on smoother. It’s as if uneven skin, pronounced pores and little bumps or blemishes go away, and are better camouflaged underneath the makeup. Lastly, with primer, makeup really adheres to skin, which means you look fresh for a longer period of time, and don’t really need to do touch-ups. I strongly recommend this if you want to wear makeup with oily skin.

Go for face powder. As you know, powder soaks up oil. And if your primer isn’t enough, you may need to pat on face powder (it can be loose or pressed) every once in a while, just to make sure your makeup stays on longer. This is very important, though: When choosing a powder, use one that is non-comedogenic, which means it’s formulated so as not to block pores.

Stay away from creamy makeup. As pretty as some creamy makeup may look, these are not for your skin type so you should steer clear of them. These may come in many forms, including crème eyeshadow, blusher, highlighter or lipstick. For oily skin, it’s best to stick to matte to natural finishes.

Go easy on the shimmer. Highlighters and shimmery shadows or powders can help prevent your makeup from looking flat or too matte. This is all well and good, until you end up using too much, which then translates to an oily look. Usually, shimmer is applied on the brow bone, along the bridge of the nose, on cheekbones and the chin area—but very sparingly. I think, in your case, it may be better to avoid it altogether, as you don’t really need that extra shine on your face. Or, if you have to use shimmer, look for those that are ultra-fine and natural, as opposed to glittery and sparkly.

This article was published in the Lifestyle Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on November 8, 2013.

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