Dr. Pimple Popper's Guide to Covering Up a Pimple

Let’s get one thing out of the way: we’re all for showing off natural skin — acne and all. But sometimes, we prefer to let our breakouts take a back seat, so to speak.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional makeup artist to master the art of camouflage: all you need are the right tools — and a few tips from an expert. Stay tuned to learn Dr. Pimple Popper’s step-by-step advice for covering up a pimple.

A woman covering up a pimple with concealer makeup

3 minute read

How to cover up a pimple with makeup

Step 1: Skincare

Wash your face with a gentle, exfoliating cleanser that has salicylic acid in it to deep-clean pores without stripping skin. Next, apply spot treatment to your pimple: salicylic acid for blackheads and whiteheads, benzoyl peroxide for inflammatory pimples. Finish with a non-comedogenic moisturizer to help smooth skin and prep for makeup — and don’t forget sunscreen during the day.

Try: SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment, BP Spot Treatment, Dual Defender SPF 30, Facial Moisturizer.

Step 2: Color corrector

Though not a requirement, starting with a product to neutralize a pimple’s redness prior to applying foundation and concealer will help camouflage it. Green is the best choice for red pimples, as the two are opposites on the color wheel. Apply sparingly with a small concealer brush — you can always add more layers.

Step 3: Foundation

This step isn’t essential for covering up pimples — but if you’re used to wearing foundation, apply it after a color corrector and prior to your concealer. Make sure to use a product formulated not to clog pores that matches your skin tone well. If you’re having a major acne flare you want to hide, use an opaque foundation like Dermablend. If you’ve only got a pimple or two, you can go with a product that features more natural coverage. Apply as you normally would, with a foundation brush or sponge, taking care not to overwork the pimple.

Step 4: Concealer

Look for a non-comedogenic, fairly opaque (not sheer or “highlighter” style) product and apply it with a soft, flat concealer brush. A tiny, fine point brush may also come in handy. When covering up pimples, choose a shade that’s close to your natural skin tone, especially if you’re using color corrector — though the shade depends to a certain extent on the type of pimple you’re covering (more on that later). Apply in thin layers, feathering out gently to blend.

Step 5: Lighting check

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to cover up pimples is not checking their handiwork in natural lighting. What looks like an MUA masterpiece in your windowless, badly-lit bathroom might in fact be a disaster in full sunlight. If you can’t access natural daylight (or it’s already nighttime), use a lighted makeup mirror, or your phone flashlight to illuminate your look from different angles.

Step 6: Powder

Go easy with this step, since too much powder can easily make a pimple look cakey, only drawing more attention to the bump. Choose either a shade matching your skin tone or a translucent setting powder that's not too shimmery. Dust very lightly with a small amount of product, taking care not to scrape away the concealer.

One more quick lighting check, and you’re good to go.

SLMD Spot Treatments

Spot treat your pimple before you cover it up.

Dr. Lee’s last word

When you get a pimple, the best thing to do is keep it clean, apply a little spot treatment, and definitely don’t pick it. But I get it: sometimes, you really just want to cover it up. Make sure your face, hands and brushes are clean, and of course remove any makeup before going to bed!

—Dr. Sandra Lee

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