The Most Perfect, Natural-Looking Makeup If You Have Melasma (and Even If You Don’t)
You're beautiful no matter what, but if it makes you feel good to camouflage age spots, scars, breakouts, or whatever bugs you, than I highly recommend you try this approach. Whether you have melasma or not, this makeup will provide amazing coverage and a beautiful, silky finish.
I was on the phone with my gorgeous sister-in-law Kandi the other night, and (not for the first time) we landed on a subject near to both our hearts: the best makeup strategy to camouflage melasma.
If you’re not familiar with melasma, it’s a skin condition that causes a stubborn, unforgiving pattern of hyperpigmentation on the face, usually across the cheeks, forehead, and chin. It’s most common in Asian, Hispanic, and African-American women, although it occurs in women of all descents.
Genetics, hormones, and environmental factors can all trigger melasma, and it often appears first with pregnancy. Sometimes it fades after the baby is born, but not always. If you’re like Kandi and me, you see it develop over time and wrestle with it while it lingers...and lingers.
Here’s what made Kandi’s and my conversation different from the dozens of others we’ve already had on this topic: this time I was able to say that I’ve found a makeup approach that works to cover melasma better than anything I’ve ever tried.
Ok. Let's talk shop.
I like to dream of the time when I walk around with nothing but sunscreen, lipgloss and mascara, but until I convince my melasma to calm down, I'm more comfortable in a little more coverage. So my mission is this: achieve that elusive, natural, “this is just my skin” look while truly evening out an unbalanced skin tone.
It's a tough challenge: melasma + makeup. Concealers turn the hyperpigmented areas odd shades of grey or brown, even with color corrector underneath them. Liquid and cream foundations slide off the melasma in just a few hours. Brushes and sponges swipe the makeup you’ve painstakingly applied right off the spots you’re trying to cover. And after it’s all said and done, walking around with sunscreen, color corrector, concealer, heavy foundation, and setting powder on your face feels like the opposite of a “this is just my skin” experience.
I’ve tried every product you can imagine to cover my melasma, from prestige brands, to super clean products, to cult drugstore favorites. I’ve consulted with dozens of professional makeup artists, watched countless YouTube videos at 3AM, and invested hours experimenting with various and random techniques on myself. Seriously, I've earned expert status in this particular arena.
A few months ago during a late-night deep dive on the internet, I stumbled across this video from a brand I’d never heard of, called YoungBlood Mineral Cosmetics. They make an uber-clean mineral makeup that has the added benefit of some natural, physical SPF. (This is huge for those of us with melasma, as chemicals - whether in makeup or sunscreen - are known to make melasma worse. BTW, you still have to wear your daily sunscreen underneath this.)
If you have melasma or anything else you want to cover on your face, you have to check this out:
Frankly, knowing what I know, I thought the results in this video looked too easy and too good to be true. Mineral-based powder foundations often beat liquid or cream counterparts for coverage and staying power on melasma-prone skin. They’re also easier to apply in a targeted fashion over trouble areas that require layering. Still, I’d never found one that didn’t get cakey or make my face look dry over time. They also tend to oxidize to an entirely different color on my skin after a few hours.
Even so, I couldn't help but feel inspired and hopeful watching this video, so I ordered this starter kit, which makes it really easy to try a few shades of the mineral foundation. The kit comes with a blush to complement the foundation shades, rice setting powder, and a nice high-quality kabuki brush, which is my preferred tool for targeted spot application as well as general application and blending of mineral makeup.
You guys, I am not kidding you when I say I was stunned at the coverage, finish, and longevity of this makeup.
Seriously, I almost cried the first day I applied and wore it. It requires way fewer layers of makeup, and feels like nothing on your face. After years of near-misses, I truly believe I’ve found the best products, tools, and techniques for covering melasma.
I’ve been using YoungBlood (in combination with a few other favorite key items) for two months now, and the results just keep improving with experimentation and practice. If you’re interested in trying it, here are the products and tools I use for each step. It seems like a lot, I know; but the steps go really fast, and you just get quicker the more you do it. (I included the full product list with links at the end of this post, too.)
It’s important to note that technique is every bit as important as product when you’re camouflaging melasma or any other dark spots or unevenness on your face.
Here’s exactly how I do it:
I've used True Botanicals Clear Radiance Face Oil for two years straight and can't recommend it highly enough. It's the most incredible way to moisturize morning and night. I pat 6 or so drops into damp, clean skin and give it a minute to absorb.
We know this...you can't do anything until you apply your sunscreen. I've tried a million physical sunscreens and this one from Colorescience is my current favorite. It's SPF 50, super light, non-greasy, and does a better job of disappearing than any others I've tried. It protects you from blue light, too.
Here's a secret to achieve a beautiful, long-lasting finish from your mineral foundation: prep your face first with a light dusting of the YoungBlood Cosmetics Rice Setting Powder. This creates a smooth canvas and provides a bonus layer to absorb oil over the day, before it hits your foundation. It works! I like the YB setting powder even better than the other great brands known for their setting powders.
I use this It Cosmetics Wand Ball Powder Brush to apply the powder, but any large, fluffy brush will do the job for you. You only need a light layer; don't pack it on.
4. Even Out
Next, tip some YoungBlood Loose Mineral Foundation into its lid, and use the kabuki brush to blend an even layer over your face. I apply a fair amount of pressure and press and swirl the foundation into my skin. You will be amazed at the coverage — it's almost like you're taking an eraser to your face and buffing out imperfections! Buff and swirl in a light layer; you can always layer more if you need. Apply and buff until you have a beautiful, even canvas. **If you're new to YoungBlood, I highly suggest you order this kit to get started. It's a great deal!
5. Spot Correct/Conceal
If you have darker melasma areas or other spots still peeking through, you can do what I do: take a concealer brush (I love this one from Tom Ford), lightly dip it into your foundation, and spot treat any areas that could use a little perfecting. Try tapping with the brush, not swiping or rubbing. The whole idea is to apply an additional layer of coverage right where it belongs, not to disturb the foundational layer underneath. After you've concealed to your satisfaction, you can lightly revisit the area with your kabuki brush to blend out any edges, if you think you need it. Just remember, press don't rub, at this point.
In addition, you can dip your foundation brush in mineral foundation one shade lighter than what you've used on the rest of your face, and use it to conceal undereye circles, and highlight above your brow area and down the bridge of your nose. Again, I think you'll be blown away by how easy it is to camouflage any shadowy or dark areas of your face with this makeup. I couldn't believe how well it covered my undereye area the first time I tried this technique. (If you order the Purely the Basics Kit, it comes with 2 foundation shades, so you'll have lighter and darker shades to try this technique.)
Optional: If I'm headed out for an event, or having a morning where I feel like I want even more undereye/spot coverage, I bust out my tried and true Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. Many makeup artists I love and trust advise NOT to apply wet product over dry, but I'm telling you this method works for me in this case! Tap a little Nars concealer on the back of your hand, then use your ring finger to very lightly tap it onto the area under your eyes, or any small spot where you want a bit move coverage. It will sink into the mineral foundation. I use a shade two levels up from my foundation for my under/inner eye area.
6. Add Some Color to Your Cheeks
I've been committed to Nars Blush for years, but I'm finding that the YoungBlood Cosmetics Mineral Blush is easier to apply without disturbing the foundation covering my melasma, because it's loose and so fine. I make sure to use a soft, fluffy brush that won't scrape the mineral foundation off my cheeks, and lightly tap the blush right where I want it. (I use the Sephora Brush in this collection.)
If you like a little contouring and highlight, now's the time to add it. I use this beautiful duo from Charlotte Tilbury to add a little depth at my hairline and jawline, and some highlight on the tops of my cheeks/temples and down the bridge of my nose. For this step, I use the contouring and highlighting brushes from this Morphe Brush collection.
8. Accentuate Eyes and Lips
Apply your lip and eye makeup. I normally don't do a lot, but almost always shape my brows with Charlotte Tilbury's brow gel, and curl my lashes with this MAC lash curler. If I do liner and mascara, it's usually MAC eyeliner in Teddy as well as MAC False Lashes waterproof mascara. For an easy, no-fail approach for your lips, try Charlotte Tilbury's lipstick in Pillow Talk, and finish with a swipe of Sephora's clear lip plumper. I have found that the Sephora brand costs a third as much as high-end plumpers, but works twice as well.
Now, set your perfect skin with another light dusting of YoungBlood Cosmetics Rice Setting Powder and your fluffy powder brush. Remember to use a really light touch, gently tapping the finishing powder so as not to disrupt your foundation coverage.
Here's the final, magical key to all of this: Tatcha The Satin Skin Mist setting spray. This stuff turns the makeup you've just applied into a seamless, satiny dream that lasts all day. I've found that my makeup doesn't have the same longevity when I skip this spray, so I recommend that you don't skip it either.
I really hope this helps some of you find a way to feel like your most beautiful version of you, whether you have melasma or not. At the end of the day, we all just want to know the best ways to let our natural beauty shine, and that comes from the inside. Sometimes, though, it really helps to feel like your best self on the outside, too. Melasma can be challenging and downright depressing, I know. This makeup has eased my struggle with it. I can’t guarantee it will do the same for you, but I hope so!
If you’ve tried YoungBlood cosmetics, or have any other recommendations for makeup for melasma, we’d all love to know. Please do share with us in the comments below.
Full Product List
True Botanicals Clear Radiance Face Oil
YoungBlood Purely the Basics Starter Kit
YoungBlood Cosmetics Rice Setting Powder + It Cosmetics Wand Ball Powder Brush
YoungBlood Cosmetics Mineral Foundation + Kabuki Brush
YoungBlood Cosmetics Mineral Foundation + Tom Ford Concealer Brush
YoungBlood Cosmetics Mineral Blush + Sephora Pro Brush
Charlotte Tilbury Highlighter and Bronzer + Morphe Brushes
LashFood Primer + MAC False Lashes Waterproof Mascara
Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in Pillow Talk
Sephora Clear Gloss Lip Plumper