Blackheads and whiteheads and cysts, oh my! No matter what type of acne you have, pimples are the pits. But don’t worry, gorgeous! With a little makeup magic, you can make your zits disappear. Well, almost.

Here’s everything you need to know about covering up acne with makeup.

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Ángela Rober/Stocksy United

Before we dive into customized coverage tips, here’s a rundown of the basics.

  1. Clean and moisturize your face. Follow your regular skin care routine to remove any impurities.
  2. Apply the base. Apply a primer all over to lock in your makeup and prevent your skin from absorbing it.
  3. Use a color corrector for zits. Using a color-correcting concealer can cover your pimples. This is usually a green concealer, which is opposite the color of your zit on the color wheel.
  4. Conceal the spots. Dab your skin tone concealer on your color-corrected blemishes to diminish their appearance.
  5. Apply liquid foundation. After pumping foundation onto the back of your hand, lightly dip a foundation brush or makeup sponge into the foundation. Apply to the center of the face, moving and blending outward.
  6. Set your makeup. Wait a few minutes after applying the liquid foundation for it to set. Finally, brush a loose or pressed powder on your face to ensure your makeup holds in place for the day.
  7. Check it out. Make sure the coverage is even and admire your ✨ drop-dead-gorgeous ✨ face in the mirror.

Some types of acne need more TLC than others. Here’s a breakdown of how to cover different types of acne with makeup, depending on your unique skin sitch.


Blackheads are those little black dots that tend to crop up on your nose and chin. They’re caused by excess oils, dead skin, and other crud that gets stuck in your pores. This gunk gets dark when exposed to oxygen.

To cover blackheads with makeup:

  1. Start your prep by applying a light, water-based primer to your cleansed and moisturized face. This helps create a barrier between your clogged pores and the makeup.
  2. Dab a pea-sized amount of medium-coverage liquid foundation onto the back of your hand.
  3. Use a setting brush to press small amounts of foundation onto your skin in a downward, circular motion.
  4. If you need extra coverage, dab a small amount of a similar shade of concealer on the affected area.
  5. Finish with a dusting of powder foundation.


These pesky pimples have a signature white bump and reddish or discolored border. Whiteheads occur when oil and dead skin clog a pore or hair follicle.

To cover whiteheads with makeup:

  1. Dab a spot treatment product onto the pimple. Psst. Products that contain salicylic acid are top-tier choices.
  2. Apply a green color corrector to the pimple to reduce the appearance of redness or discoloration.
  3. Using a precision brush, dab concealer on and around the zit.
  4. Apply a medium-coverage liquid foundation with a buffing brush.
  5. Finish it off with a dusting of powder foundation.

Popping PSA: We know it’s tempting AF, but do not pop that zit! Playing Dr. Pimple Popper can inflame the skin and can increase your chance of irritation or infection.

Cystic acne

Red or discolored, swollen, headless, and usually painful, these behemoths are beasts. Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne because it forms deep under the skin. They can be tricky to treat, too.

To cover cystic acne with makeup:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. This will support a smooth makeup application process as you build your coverage.
  2. Apply a primer to hold your makeup on your skin.
  3. Use a green color corrector on top of and around the pimple to diminish the appearance of redness or discoloration. Opt for a yellow color corrector if your acne has a purple tint.
  4. In the spirit of less is more, use a tiny amount of full coverage foundation and apply with a makeup sponge. This will allow you to evaluate if you need more coverage.
  5. If you still notice your acne, dab a bit of liquid concealer on top of the foundation.
  6. Finish it off by gently pressing a powder foundation onto the area.

Hormonal acne

Teenagers aren’t the only ones who experience hormone changes. Hormonal acne can happen at any age. It occurs when the hormone changes ramp up the amount of oil your skin produces. As a result, you end up with a mix of blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne. Ugh.

To cover hormonal acne with makeup:

  1. Apply a water-based primer all over your face.
  2. Use a green color corrector to reduce redness or discoloration.
  3. Dab concealer on and around the breakout.
  4. Apply a medium coverage liquid foundation with a buffing brush in downward circular motions.
  5. Let the foundation set for a few minutes.
  6. Dab a small amount of concealer on the affected area if you need extra coverage.
  7. Finish it off with a dusting of powder foundation.

Textured or dark acne scars

While the exact appearance may vary, acne scars tend to be discolored depressions on the skin caused by repeated inflammation and breakouts. They can make your face look textured, discolored, or uneven. Rude.

To cover acne scars or textured skin with makeup:

  1. Use a toner or witch hazel to remove any excess oils.
  2. Apply a water-based primer to the affected areas.
  3. Apply concealer directly to your face in a crisscross pattern. Gently pat it onto your skin using cotton pads or clean fingers.
  4. Use a tissue to lightly dab any excess makeup from your face. This will support your smooth finished look later on.
  5. Use a stippling brush to apply full coverage liquid foundation. But be careful — if you rub too hard, it can unsettle your concealer.
  6. Let the foundation set a few minutes.
  7. Apply a dusting of powder foundation to help the makeup set.
  8. Complete the look by misting your face with a finishing spray.

Lots of people think wearing makeup can cause breakouts or make acne symptoms worse. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you can wear makeup to mask acne. But there are some things to keep in mind before you give yourself a full face of foundation.

  • Be picky with products. Comedogenic makeup can clog pores and cause breakouts. More on that in a minute.
  • Give your skin a break. Try not to use makeup for a couple of weeks. If your acne clears up, there’s a chance the products are to blame.
  • Do a test trial. Only use new products on a small area of your face. If you don’t notice any major breakouts after a week or so, you may be good to go.
  • Treat acne at the start. Makeup is great if you want to hide your pimple probs, but it’s not a long-term solution. So, show those pimples who’s boss with a top-notch skin care regime.

Not all makeup is created equally. If you have acne prone skin, stick to products labeled:

  • oil-free
  • sensitive skin
  • hypoallergenic
  • fragrance
  • noncomedogenic

Additionally, research found that cosmetics with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredients can help speed up acne recovery.

Now, moving on to the stuff you can avoid. Steer clear of comedogenic ingredients that can congest pores. These include:

  • parabens
  • cocoa butter
  • acetylated lanolin
  • isopropyl myristate
  • ethylhexyl palmitate
  • coconut, almond, or avocado oils

P.S. Make sure you apply your makeup with clean brushes and sponges so the oil and bacteria do not contribute to your skin ailments.

No matter what type of acne you have, makeup can help cover it up. Just keep in mind that there are different types of products and techniques that will work best for your unique skin concerns.

Skin prone to acne can be super sensitive. So, try to be gentle during your skin care routine and when applying makeup. Make sure your application tools are clean, and your products don’t contain any ingredients that will trigger or irritate your acne. Oh, and if you suspect a product may be causing your breakout, chuck it.