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The Surprising Way To Apply Concealer On Acne Scars Without Appearing Caky

Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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March 26, 2021

Acne scars come in all shapes and sizes, with some more difficult to treat than others. Case in point: atrophic scars, or scars that are indented rather than raised—think ice-pick and boxcar-type scars. While a number of skin care treatments can help these marks heal (which you can read all about here), it can take a while for you to see full results—sometimes up to two years. 

And sometimes? You may want to erase those marks for the time being. Which is where makeup comes into play: It's not a long-term fix, of course, but a little concealer can surely cover up their appearance if it bothers you. 

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Although, given their pitted nature, concealing indented acne scars is a bit of a trickier (and sometimes frustrating) task. It's a delicate dance: You want a full-coverage formula, but too much product can sink into the indents and read caky.

Turns out, though, it doesn't take much to reach the middle ground. Behold, a practical tip from celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin.

How to apply concealer on indented acne scars. 

According to Irwin, it's all about the prep: "A primer will make a difference, as will putting a little powder down on the scar before you put concealer on," she explains. Essentially, you want to create some grip. 

That way, you can apply a breathable (read: non-caky) amount of concealer and trust that it won't sink or budge during the day. Take a small brush and press a bit of setting powder onto the spot, letting it sit for a beat before applying thin layers of concealer. "Putting a tiny layer of powder gives the concealer something to stick to, or use an oil-free primer that gives 'grip' to the product," she adds. Or you can always use both if you're really looking for a super-strong grip. 

You can also let the concealer sit for a few seconds to help the formula oxidize and thicken—some find that helpful for covering up discoloration. After blending, Irwin suggests tapping the spot again with a pressed powder for extra-long wear. Imagine a concealer sandwich—a bit of powder to help the product stick, then your favorite concealer, then more powder to set. 

And speaking of your concealer of choice: You might want a highly pigmented, full-coverage concealer for this venture. As Irwin notes, "A sheer product isn't going to give you the same result." (Try this velvety, full-coverage option from Beauty Bakerie.) 

The takeaway.

Covering up acne scars is a bit of a battle, especially if they're indented or pitted. According to Irwin, using powder before and after the concealer can help give the formula some grip so you don't have to apply globs of product. It's a common theme for covering up other types of spots and delicate fine lines: A little precision tends to provide the most efficient results. 

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Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.