Concealer to cover acne?
October 16, 2010 7:10 PM   Subscribe

What type of concealer can I use to cover my acne that will a) look natural, and b) not make my blemishes any worse?

I have moderate acne that seems to be diminishing due to some new products that I've been using. However, in the mean time, I would like some better options for covering the blemishes I do have. My skin tends towards the oily side, with my acne mostly appearing around my chin and mouth area. Because I have very pale skin, my pimples look quite red, and would thus like to cover them with something that will diminish their obviousness. Currently, I use a loose powder that matches my skin tone in lieu of a liquid foundation (I've found that most liquid foundations worsen the oiliness of my skin, and I'm concerned they will clog my pores and worsen my acne, despite the statements to the contrary that usually appear on the bottles).

The powder I like to use doesn't do a great job covering my acne or making it appear less red. What product(s) are available that will effectively conceal my blemishes (i.e., not make them appear a strange purple-ish color, or as though I've painted my face an unnatural beige) and that will not actually worsen my problem?

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by wansac to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried mineral makeup? Many women I know swear by Bare Minerals or its equivalents. They also tend to dry the skin out, which might help you to balance out your skin's oiliness. I recommend seeking out your nearest Sephora, where they sell a huge variety of this sort of thing and will let you try stuff out.
posted by decathecting at 7:12 PM on October 16, 2010

I've got similarly pale skin with similarly acne-prone tendencies. When I was on TV a while back, my friend/stylist recommended MAC Studio Fix. It's really great because you can use it as both a concealer (dab it on a little more heavily, right on the spot) and then swipe it over like more of a foundation.

Of course, I don't use it every day -- more for special occasions. It IS a little more solid, but it doesn't look fakey and flat, especially if you use a little bronzer or blush. But I've been really pleased with it. And then you can use powder or whatever, and I like the matching MAC powder as well.

I actually like Clinique's Almost Makeup. It's probably not as heavy as you'd like for a concealer (because it's somewhere between a foundation and a tinted moisturizer) but I've been really pleased at how it evens out my skin tone and seems to help the overall condition of my skin. Sometimes I'll put that on under the Studio Fix (same layer as the concealer version), just to moisturize.

(So your acne's getting better, eh? What are you using?)
posted by Madamina at 7:24 PM on October 16, 2010

I came to suggest Bare Minerals/Bare Escentuals as well. I am extremely pale (like so pale that most brands don't make a foundation or powder light enough), but the fairest Bare Escentuals color works well for me as long as it's very well blended in. Even though it's a powder, it blends in differently and better than regular loose powder, and has great coverage.

Sephora sometimes has samples of this stuff too so you can try it before shelling out for it.
posted by dayintoday at 7:27 PM on October 16, 2010

Have you considered using a green-tinted concealer, which cancels out the red? Shiseido makes a nice one.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I suffered with cystic acne for years. I can't stand having my blemishes show, but I also can't stand the look of heavy makeup. My absolute favorite concealer is Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage. Each compact comes with two colors that you can blend according to what shade you need. Yes, you need a concealer brush as you will be applying this highly pigmented oil free concealer only on the areas you need it. It is a miracle product for me. And one compact lasts at least a year of every day use. I recommend going to a department store and asking one of the artists to demonstrate how to use it. Also, I am a makeup artist and have access (and used) almost every concealer on the market. Laura Mercier wins hands down.
posted by cescadarling at 7:56 PM on October 16, 2010 [9 favorites]

I also have oily skin with occasional breakouts. What I like to do is use a liquid concealer on any blemishes (I use a cheapo one from Maybelline that's really good, plus it has salicylic acid which helps clear up the acne) and then set it with a powder foundation (also cheapo from Maybelline). The liquid concealer provides most of the coverage and the powder foundation helps give it a more natural finish. This combo lasts all day and doesn't exacerbate my breakouts or look terrible! Note that I only do this on areas that are broken out or scarred from past breakouts; I don't wear foundation on the rest of my face.
posted by tetralix at 7:58 PM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

nthing mineral makeup, though you should avoid bare escentuals (though that's what I have) - a lot of people find it can exacerbate acne. There's one specific ingredient, I don't remember what (worry, so not helpful), that can be comodegenic.

Check out the makeup forum at - the people there know of what they speak.

Also, I use cream concealer sometimes. I use the anti-acne one with salicylic acid from mark (Avon's younger brand).
posted by R a c h e l at 8:29 PM on October 16, 2010

Best answer: I SWEAR by this stuff. It is amazing. It will change your life.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:32 PM on October 16, 2010

Hi there. Very pale, naturally oily acne-prone skin here.

For foundation I use the Body Shop's All In One Face Base. It's a powder foundation with excellent coverage and comes in a very light shade. You can use it wet or dry. I use it dry over an oil-free moisurizer.

I've long been a fan of Clinique's Advanced Concealer (in the palest shade) because the coverage is fantastic, but it can be tricky to work with. A little goes a long long way and should also be used over a moisturizer.

I also like MakeUp Forever's Total Cover Extreme Camoflage Cream.

Use concealers sparingly and blend well before putting any foundation over them.

And just let me say: Retin A changed my life. It's harsh at first, but wow has it helped. I've been using it for 15 years and it's the only thing that ever controlled my acne.
posted by apis mellifera at 8:38 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Adding on to my advice earlier... Laura Mercier's concealers are yellow based (which will counteract the redness) and also keep you from that purplish hue you talk about in your original post. The concealer can be used alone or on top of a liquid foundation if you choose to use one. Always apply concealer after foundation (if you use it) as concealer's job is to cover what foundation can't. If you apply foundation on top of concealer, you end up removing the concealer. Then, to set your make up, use a powder puff and press powder onto the skin (I recommend translucent as it is the most natural). Good luck!
posted by cescadarling at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I rarely wear makeup, but I too have pale-ish skin and moderate acne. For me, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer is the only liquid foundation that does a good job of covering up blemishes without looking heavy and caked on. It's also the only makeup that doesn't cause me to break out even more. I'm kinda sweaty, so I use a bit of loose powder on top (also Neutrogena) to give me a nice matte finish/avoid that "wet porcelain" look you get from sweated-through liquid foundation.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:32 PM on October 16, 2010

Also recommending Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage.

For extreme red spots, I like to use a greenish oil-free product like the one by Lorac.

Finally, Kiehl's makes a great concealing stick in a pale flesh color that contains zinc oxide and kaolin clay, which fights the spot as it covers it up. It's not one of their most popular products, but for me it's a must-have.
posted by misformargaret at 10:07 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use mineral makeup from -- great quality, quite reasonable in cost, and there are more colors than you thought possible to match your skin tone. She also has a greenish highlighter that is perfect for red spots. A little dab on the spot, and then I find I don't even need concealer, just a little powder.
posted by freshwater at 10:30 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote here for Laura Mercier's Secret Camoflauge. I use it with her oil-free tinted moisturiser and it works great to cover up my acne spots.
posted by ukdanae at 3:42 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bare Minerals makes my face itch, and as I recall it has a slightly pearlescent quality that to me makes it look cakey.

I've been using Pur Minerals 4-in-1 foundation and I love it. I have a lot of redness and some blemishes in my jaw area, and this evens my skin tone out nicely. Also, my skin is very pale and even the lightest shades of most makeups and powders look vaguely orange on me. Pur makes a shade called Porcelain that is very, very light... it's actually a bit too light for me. That has never happened before! So I use the Light shade and it is perfect.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:02 AM on October 17, 2010

I have the same kind of skin. Seriously, I'm so pale that one time I was getting a picture for a photo ID, and the only thing that showed up was my hair, eyes and lips.

I'm currently using Bare Minerals, which does a really good job. It does a really good job of reducing redness. And I also get Oil Absorbing sheets from the drug store. It soaks up the oil from my nose and chin and means I don't have to re-apply any makeup...clog pores...get new zits.

But before that I really loved MAC makeup. The Studio Fix powder gives you amazingly good coverage.
posted by Caravantea at 5:36 AM on October 17, 2010

I've struggled with some very bad cystic acne on and off for my whole life (i considered accutane twice though I never went through with it - nightly use of tazorac has kept it under control for the last year).

I absolutely love the look and coverage of bare minerals, but it gives me cystic acne after a few weeks. Tried it twice with the same results - sadness.

The best foundation I've found is revlon colorstay for oily/combo skin - a lot of people compare it to the coverage and consistency or mac studio fix liquid. colors tend toward the yellow end of the spectrum which is great for redness (from acne or just irritation from acne treatment) and the coverage is buildable so you can put a few layers over trouble areas. I've found that if my acne isn't too bad, I don't even need a concealer in addition to this. I use it with their colorstay powder and it's the only makeup duo I've found that is still largely on my face at the end of the day. It also does not make my acne worse, which I can't say is true for many products on the market.

The best concealer I've found - and this is sort of nuts - is a cheapo jane concealer:

It can be a challenge to find because jane isn't very popular anymore, but this stuff was a godsend to me when my skin was at it's worse. It was the only thing that really covered my zits without looking cakey and horrible. I probably would have left the house far less if I hadn't found this stuff at a certain stage of my life. At about 4 bucks a tube, I'd highly recommend giving it a shot. I've had the best luck locating it at rite aid. The almay concealer recommended above is my second choice when I can't find the jane version.

Lastly, check out It's a community that reviews all types of cosmetics and is very useful for acne prone ladies. I always check up on what people with acne prone skin have to say about a product there before I buy it. It's led me to some great items.

Good luck and congratulations on finding a good skin regimen!
posted by amycup at 9:30 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have oily, sensitive skin and only use concealer when I break out, but my absolute favorite is Kat Von D's tattoo coverup. I don't know anyone that actually uses it for tattoo covering up, but it's amazing for general acne cover up and I've never had any issue with my normally-sensitive skin. It's expensive but worth it!
posted by kro at 7:35 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have used Revlon Colorstay Blemish Concealer for a number of years and really like the coverage and the fact it is formulated to help fight blemishes too.

Multiple friends have also sworn by the coverage of MAC's concealer.

For what it's worth - I started taking Diane-35 (Cyproterone) about four months ago and this post made me realize it's the first time in a while that my face is all clear.
posted by MuckWeh at 12:10 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the great responses. I'm going to give a few of these options a try.

I've started using Acne Free Severe Acne Treatment System, and its actually working for me, unlike many other kits that I've tried. I think it may be the Retinol or the "24-Hour-Release" benzoil peroxide that is making the difference. I actually don't have severe acne, just severely persistent moderate acne, but this seems to really be improving my skin.
posted by wansac at 4:10 PM on October 20, 2010

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