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A Makeup Tip For Covering Zits, From A Beauty Editor Who Had Acne For 15 Years

Portrait Of A Young Woman With Natural Makeup
Image by Yelizaveta Vlasenko / Stocksy
September 24, 2020

As someone who has dealt with acne from her preteens well into adulthood, let me just say: I am very good at covering up zits. And this is coming from a gal whose day-to-day aesthetic typically defaults to Is-she-or-isn't-she wearing makeup? Essentially: I've nailed how to cover up breakouts without looking like there was anything there to begin with.

If you, too, accumulate the occasional pimple (and would like to use makeup to lessen its appearance), there's a simple, classic makeup trick you may not know about. It's one of those tips that seems obvious once you hear it, but unless you've been specifically told about it, you may not think of it on your own.

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But after years of listening to various makeup artists about all the ways to apply products, I'm here to share my favorite classic pimple-concealing trick. 

The best way to cover up a pimple.

Now, if your breakout is of the blackhead variety (or is not super raised or inflamed), you'll likely be able to cover 'em up with a simple wash of foundation or tinted moisturizer. However, people typically have problems covering up the larger, angry mounds: Those require just a touch more skill. 

First, take your concealer du jour—ideally one that's thicker and heavily pigmented. The idea is that you want to use as little of the product as possible, so a concealer that's too transparent is sort of defeating the purpose: See, when you have to load up on the formula just to get the color payoff you're looking for, that's when you get the "caky" affect.

With freshly washed fingers (because, duh, oil and bacteria) gently dab said concealer to the top of the zit and tap until it's pressed into and fully blended on the skin. Be precise with these movements: Start directly over the zit and spread the formula out in a circular motion as needed to cover up the surrounding red area. Let this set (read: dry down fully). 

Now, take a small clean eye-shadow brush and a powder foundation (this can be loose or pressed, whatever you have). Swirl your eye-shadow brush until you pick up a medium amount of powder and the tap that over your pimple. This step is crucial for a few reasons: First, you're setting the concealer so it stays longer. Second, you're mattifying the area so you're absorbing any excess oil or shine. Finally, and most importantly, you're blurring the area with the powder so you're less likely to see the raised zit. See, with inflamed acne, even if you cover up the pimple, you may still notice it because of texture changes. However, by burying the area, these don't seem as harsh.

The final step? Go about your merry way. 

The takeaway.

Covering up zits (if you chose to do so) doesn't need to be a full-blown morning routine. In fact, you can touch up pimples effortlessly without looking like you did a full face—it just takes a little precision and a dab of product. 

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.