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Acne is one of the most frustrating and perplexing skin conditions out there. “Although acne is a completely normal aspect of having human skin, we can choose to embrace it or cover it up,” says celebrity esthetician Cassandra Bankson. “Especially if you have the right products and techniques.” Enter: the best concealers for acne.
What is Acne?
When it comes to acne, some people only struggle with the occasional flare up every now and then, while others suffer in a more chronic capacity. “It most commonly has to do with genetics and hormones, which means that if your parents were susceptible to acne breakouts, then you are also more likely, since you have inherited the same type of skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee, MD, FAACS, FAA — aka Dr. Pimple Popper.
Also remember that acne typically peaks during puberty when our hormones are all over the place. “More women than men experience acne breakouts throughout most of their lives, but many notice that it is not as severe and is cyclical, triggered by the rise and fall of hormone levels monthly,” adds Dr. Lee.
The takeaway: even if you’re doing all the right things, like washing your face and drinking your water, acne is difficult to control. Thankfully, we have concealers that were specifically developed to both cover even the worst acne blemishes while ensuring that it won’t clog our pores to make our breakout worse.
What is Concealer?
Unlike foundation — even if it is designed for oily or even all skin types — concealer is a little bit more opaque. “It comes in a variety of shades for all skin tones, and also camouflaging colors like green to hide red tones and yellow to hide purple tones,” explains Lee of the best concealers for acne. They also mask imperfections, like hyperpigmentation, under eye circles, and of course, pimples.
Top Concealers for Acne in 2022
- Nyx Cosmetics Photogenic Concealer Wand
- Neutrogena SkinClearing Blemish Concealer
- Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer
- Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer
- Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Concealer
- BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Spot Concealer
- Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Full Coverage Concealer
- Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer
- Lawless Conseal the Deal Concealer
- Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
- Beautyblender Bounce Airbrush Concealer
- Dior Forever Skin Correct Concealer
What to Look for in the Best Concealer for Acne
There are a lot of concealers out there with specific formulations for skin types, like dry or oily skin, or for getting the most out of your application, including those that are best for contouring, and it can get confusing. Below are a few guidelines to keep in mind during your search for the best concealer for acne.
Look for Non-Comedogenic Formulas
Be very careful to avoid really heavy products. You should try to find both a concealer and a foundation that’s formulated to not clog pores, “especially if you have a pretty oily complexion,” says Dr. Lee, who adds that heavy cream-based or petroleum-based products can easily promote more breakouts. Most importantly, occlusion is often one of the first steps in the development of a pimple, so preventing it from happening in the first place is key.
Find the Right Color
“For concealers, the idea is that you want to go a little bit lighter than your skin tone because you’re covering a darker area,” explains Dr. Lee. By taking this route, your final look will appear more even toned. “However, if you’ve got a really red pimple, you can start with a green camouflage concealer,” she says, which will neutralize the redness before you apply the rest of your makeup.
Use the Right Tools
“When it comes to concealing pimples, it’s a precision game,” says Dr. Lee. You can always use your fingertips or a Beautyblender, but the best tool to use is a tiny lip or eyeliner brush to “dab around the edge of the pimple and feather outwards to blend, so you’re not creating that “bullseye” look,” she says.
Use in Tandem with Other Acne Products
To heal breakouts fast, Dr. Lee’s top recommendation is to use spot treatment, like her BP Spot Treatment, especially at night, to keep them from spreading or scarring. It’s also important to integrate other pimple-busting products into your routine, including one of the best face masks for acne-prone skin, and even a pillowcase for acne to reduce zits and future breakouts. And for those with recurring pimples, there are plenty of solid skin care products for hormonal acne to get it under control.
Now that you know what to look for, keep scrolling to shop the 12 best concealers for acne.
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Nyx Cosmetics Photogenic Concealer Wand
- Size: 0.11 oz
- Shades available: 23
- Pros: Multiple shades to treat specific concerns, lightweight, non-comedogenic
- Key Ingredients: Glycerin, coconut oil, candelilla
Don’t be fooled by its crazy affordable price tag — Nyx Cosmetics’ Photogenic Concealer Wand receives high marks across the board. The creamy formula is described as not too watery, but not thick either, and is effective enough to wear on its own. “When using this concealer, I don’t feel the need to wear additional foundation. Just a little powder on top to set, and I’m good to go,” says one reviewer. The color-correcting green shade from the collection neutralizes redness and discoloration, making it one of the most popular shades. “I use it mostly on my cheeks and in the forehead area because it covers up any blemishes and rosacea,” says one buyer, who applies it before foundation.
Neutrogena SkinClearing Blemish Concealer
- Size: .05 oz
- Shades available: 5
- Pros: Oil-free, 2 in 1 blemish concealer to treat and hide blemishes
- Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid
Consider Neutrogena’s concealer to be your cover-up and breakout savior, all-in-one handy pen. The medicated formula has a small dose of salicylic acid that hones in on pimples without over-drying or irritating your skin. “This concealer not only covers up my acne, but when I wipe off my makeup at the end of the day, it’s either reduced or gone,” says one happy customer. Bonus: The convenience click pen dispenser is topped with a sponge applicator for easy blending.
Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer
- Size: 0.33 fl oz
- Shades available: 35
- Pros: Full coverage, 16 hour crease-proof formula
- Key Ingredients: Shea butter and mango butters, licorice root
Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer has long topped the lists of best concealers — and for good reason. It provides strong coverage with just one swipe and lasts all day long without smearing or melting. Its popularity is twofold: it covers acne completely and it stays put. “This concealer works better on blemishes than any I have ever used; It stays put until washed off,” says one reviewer.
Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer
- Size: 0.203 oz
- Shades available: 24
- Pros: Satin finish, lightweight, crease-proof formula
- Key Ingredients: Rose flower water
Bankson confirms that if you’re looking for something budget friendly, the Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer is worth 20 times the price. “This drugstore find is inexpensive, but glides onto oily and combination skin like a dream,” describes the pro, adding that it can be used alone or under foundation to spot treat for hormonal and period related breakouts. “Because it is so great at color correcting, you can also use it for dark under eye circles,” she says.
Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Concealer
- Size: 1.7 oz
- Shades available: 23
- Pros: Ultra-blendable, liquid texture
- Key ingredients: Glycerin, caffeine, vitamin E
This best-selling concealer from Armani Beauty is made with the same technology as their iconic Luminous Silk Foundation. It’s most notable for its blendable liquid texture. “This concealer is amazing at covering blemishes and it blends better than others I have tried,” raves one buyer. It’s a top pick if you know you’re going to be taking pictures. “It blends out seamlessly and creates a gorgeous, even, natural finish that kind of reflects light as it hits your face,” describes one user.
BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Spot Concealer
- Size: 0.06 oz
- Shades available: 9
- Pros: Non-drying, targeted spot concealer
- Key Ingredients: Zinc, sulfur, and kaolin clay
”If you are someone that hates the feeling of thick products on your face, the BareMinerals Rescue Skin Clearing Spot Concealer is silky and lightweight in texture, but is a heavier color corrector in appearance,” notes Bankson. You can use this concealer alone or under foundation. It has salicylic acid and licorice, which can help to prevent breakouts as well as the dark spots that pimples can leave behind.
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Full Coverage Concealer
- Size: Size 0.43 oz
- Shades available: 20
- Pros: Full coverage, matte finish, best for dry, combo or normal skin
- Key ingredients: Moringa seed, rose and water lily extracts
If a heavier concealer doesn’t play nicely with your skin, a lightweight option, like this concealer from Lancôme, could be for you. “It’s more liquidy which I love because it looks more skin-like,” writes one reviewer. “I use this when I need a bit more coverage and look great applied with a Beautyblender.” Another shopper likens it to a serum, saying “it gives me that effortless, clean girl look.”
Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer
- Size: Size 0.5 oz
- Shades available: 10
- Pros: Long-lasting, oil-free, waterproof
- Key ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose powder to control oil
Make Up For Ever’s concealer is the real deal. “The consistency is nice and the ‘full coverage’ claim is pretty accurate,” confirms one reviewer. The thick, tacky texture is best for oily or normal skin, and also been known to be so effective that it can even cover tattoos. “To is my GO-TO for anything I want to cover… darkness around the eyes, and any scar or blemish,” says another fan.
Lawless Conseal the Deal Concealer
- Size: 0.17 oz
- Shades available: 20
- Pros: Clean formulation, long-wear and self-setting
- Key Ingredients: Antioxidant complex, caffeine, nasturtium flower extract
Our love for Lawless’s Conseal the Deal is well documented, and you’re all about a clean beauty buy, their recently launched concealer will no doubt impress you. It covers blemishes and dark circles very well without settling into fine lines or creases. “I will purchase it again,” is a recurring theme among buyers. “It is perfect for my combination/oily skin and doesn’t feel heavy or cakey,” confirms another. Just note that the formula is a true matte, so if you like a more radiant finish, this might not be your best bet.
Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
- Size: 0.22 oz
- Shades available: 30
- Pros: Brightens and color-corrects for up to 16 hours, radiant finish
- Key ingredients: Mineral powder, multi-active botanical blend of vitamin E and magnolia bark and grape seed extracts
The best part about the Radiant Creamy Concealer is how buildable and lightweight it is. “I use it under my eyes as well as on top of blemishes or areas where there is pigmentation,” says one reviewer. The weightless formula also leaves a dewy, radiant finish, thanks to the addition of the hydration superhero, hyaluronic acid. “This does the job, it conceals all my spots and doubles as a color corrector — I totally recommend,” writes another.
Beautyblender Bounce Airbrush Concealer
- Size: 0.27 oz
- Shades available: 40
- Pros: Weightless, full-coverage, undetectable finish
- Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, peptides, HD effect pigments
This formula is lauded for its ability to leave a seamless finish, even on uneven skin riddled with blemishes. Its powdery whipped formula blurs right into skin, with one reviewer writing: “This concealer is super full coverage! It’s pretty thick that it can conceal anything.” Another described how easily blendable the formula is and that “a little goes a very long way,” which seems to be the general consensus among the reviews.
Dior Forever Skin Correct Concealer
- Size: 0.37 oz
- Shades available: 28
- Pros: 24-hour-wear, full-coverage
- Key ingredients: Wild pansy
When it comes to long wearing formulations, the Forever Skin Correct Concealer from Dior takes the cake, lasting a full 24-hours without budging. “Wears all day and I don’t sweat it off in the Texas heat,” shares one buyer. “It melts into skin and sits beautifully all day,” says another. The creamy formula contains wild pansy, which is known to visibly smooth and moisturize skin, so you’ll get the coverage without the caking. One buyer recommends skipping the setting powder, as it tends to make the texture look odd. “I just finish with a setting spray over it and it stays perfect all day,” they say.
The Best Way to Apply Concealer
Dr. Lee breaks it down for us, step by step.
- Cleanse and do your skin care routine.
- Apply your base first. “Start with a foundation that matches your skin tone,” she says.
- After foundation is applied, take “a tiny — and clean — lip or eyeliner brush and dab concealer around the inside perimeter of the pimple,” she instructs.
- For those who have a very red or cystic pimple, use a neutralizing green concealer before a traditional one. Take a conservative amount of the green mixture and gently apply it to the pimple head only with a precision brush. The idea is not to create an opaque green pimple, but to reduce the intense redness.
- Avoid touching any of the healthy skin around the blemish, and you should also steer clear of the very center.
- “Blend in light strokes toward the center and feather it out as well to blend,” she explains.
- If needed, add a tiny bit more concealer on the underside of the pimple to minimize the appearance of a dark shadow.
- Take a look at yourself near a window or in natural lighting to make sure the concealer is blended thoroughly.
- “As a last step, dust lightly with loose powder that matches your skin tone to set the concealer in place,” says Dr. Lee.
Meet the Experts
- Dr. Sandra Lee, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, is a leading acne expert. She is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, founder of SLMD skincare and you can catch her Dr. Pimple Popper show on TLC.
- Cassandra Bankson is an aesthetician and YouTuber who focuses on acne and skin issues. She’s a former model that tells you what no one else will tell you about skincare brands and what happens behind the scenes.
Meet the Author
Taylor Jean Stephan previously held the beauty and style editor title at E! News for 5 years where she oversaw the shopping vertical and appeared as an on-air correspondent. Her writing can be found in The Zoe Report, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Oprah, Shape, Women’s Health, and more.