Using Concealer to Hide Pimples

Over-the-Counter Products Everyone Can Use

Verywell / Julie Bang

The next best thing to healing pimples is concealing them. There are numerous products available online, in drugstores, or at department store cosmetic counters designed for this purpose (rather than as concealers makeup for women only).

Whatever your sex or however you identify, such products can tone down redness and camouflage zits without being obvious or looking unnatural. If applied correctly, no one will know you're wearing it but you.


Concealers hide bothersome irregularities on the skin, such as under-eye circles, uneven skin tone, and blemishes. Those intended for acne-prone skin often are medicated or fortified with antioxidants.

Concealers come in a variety of forms. Cream and liquid versions can be dabbed onto individual pimples with a finger or an applicator wand. Stick concealers are applied to pimples like a lip balm and smoothed over with the tip of the finger and often are the best option for isolated breakouts with few blemishes.

Tinted Moisturizers and Creams

For multiple pimples and widespread redness that would be difficult to manage with spot concealers, the options include tinted moisturizers, BB cream, or CC creams.

Tinted moisturizers are hydrating lotions with added skin-toned color. They're an especially good choice to use in conjunction with an acne medication that's drying. By using a tinted moisturizer, you'll blend away the redness and conceal pimples with a quick application. Tinted moisturizers are light, natural-looking, and easy to apply.

BB creams (blemish balms) do triple duty as moisturizer, primer (to even out skin tones), and concealer with a sun protection factor (SPF). BB creams generally give more coverage than tinted moisturizers and often have anti-aging or skin brightening ingredients.

CC creams (color correctors) offer the same benefits as BB creams but are more heavily tinted. CC creams may be more effective than other options for hiding acne scarring, widespread breakouts, and greater skin tone irregularities.

Choosing the Right Shade

Whichever product you choose, you will want it to look natural. Key to that is finding a color that matches your skin tone as closely as possible. This is especially important if you're trying to conceal pimples. The wrong tone can actually enhance their appearance rather than hide them.

To find the best concealer color, test it on your face—not on the back of your hand, as is sometimes suggested. It's also impossible to choose the right shade based on what it's called: Names like "beige," "cappuccino," and "bisque," are made up for marketing purposes.

You can get help from a makeup professional at a department store or dedicated cosmetics store. If you'd rather test a product yourself, dot a small amount on your jawbone and blend gently with a clean makeup sponge. (Most cosmetic counters and stores have disposable makeup sponges for safe testing.)

When you look into a mirror and the product seems to disappear into your skin, it's the right shade for you. If you can see where you applied the cosmetic, it is not a good match.

Even better, step outdoors and check the color in full daylight. Fluorescent lighting can cast a blue-greenish hue and alter how a concealer really looks.

Going Green

While most spot concealers are skin-toned, there are green concealers used specifically to counteract redness. Because the color green is complementary to red, it can effectively diminish inflamed skin tones as you blend it in.

Application Tips

To apply spot concealer, dot a very small amount of product directly onto a blemish and gently tap it with a finger until it blends in. Start with less product than you think you might need; that way you can add a second layer or two if necessary to get the coverage you want.

The exception: When using a green concealer, apply only one light layer followed by a layer of flesh-toned concealer.

To apply a tinted moisturizer, BB cream, or CC cream, place a dab about half the size of a dime into your palm. Dot the product over your face, then use your fingers to lightly massage into the skin.

Pay special attention around eyebrows, hairline, and beard area. Tinted products like to collect in hair, so apply them sparingly. When finished, take a step back and take a final look in the mirror to ensure the product is blended evenly.

Less Is More

With tinted products, the most common mistake is applying too much. Use just enough to tone down redness, so you don't wind up with a "made-up" look.

Products to Consider

There's a concealer for everyone: Many are marketed as gender-neutral products rather than as "makeup," and the array of skin tones is wide enough to work for any ethnicity.

Medicated Products

Some concealers double as acne treatment and contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, both of which are effective in treating mild to moderate acne.

Among the many options are:

Be careful about using medicated concealers and cover-ups if you are already using topical medications with the same ingredients. Doubling up can cause irritation, redness, and dryness, making your condition worse rather than better.

Green Concealers

Green concealers to try include:

Products for Darker Skin

Cosmetics manufacturers have started to roll out products for black skin and they offer a variety of skin shades. Among some of the better options for people with dark skin:

Men's and Gender-Neutral Products

Whether concealers and other skin care products targeted to men are really all that different from those marketed for women is questionable, but there are lots of options. Among them:

Other manufacturers are specifically marketing their products as "gender-neutral" to appeal to millennials. These include the JECCA Correct and Conceal Palette, manufactured by the unisex make-up brand JECCA.

A Word From Verywell

If you have mild to moderate acne, a concealer or cover-up may be just what you need to feel more confident and less self-conscious. Consider these products just another part of your skincare regimen, however. Concealing pimples is a good temporary solution, but, ideally, you'd like your skin to stay clear over the long term.

To that end, if over-the-counter acne products don't work, a dermatologist can prescribe a topical medication or other treatment to help bring your acne under control.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.