While the term acne covers a range of types and numbers of spots, the desire for them to be gone, stat, is universal.
For some, that means turning to medication, either topical or oral. For others, that means waiting for hormones or a reaction to subside. And for everyone else, it means making changes to diet or skincare.
But there’s another way that’s rather more instant. It’s not 100 per cent foolproof and we can’t guarantee that it’ll make your spots completely disappear from view – but it’ll get them pretty close.
Enter concealer, the magic, skin-mimicking product that is every make-up artist’s best friend. That said, not just any concealer will do the job of successfully hiding spots. Consistency, finish, and coverage levels are key.
We’ve narrowed it down for you, but before we share our edit of the best concealers for acne, here are some tips on how to use them:
Make sure whatever you apply your concealer with is clean. Don’t apply a doe-foot applicator directly to skin and then put it back into the tube. Instead, pop it on the back of your hand and take the concealer from there. If your concealer comes in a pot or palette, wipe or sanitise it after using so that bacteria doesn’t grow in there, prompting more spots to sprout.
You don’t have to cover every single bit of skin on your face with concealer; you might get better results if you just single out areas which need coverage.
Concealer and foundation are interchangeable, but if you’d like natural-looking skin, as a rule of thumb think of your base as a product to unify tone of skin and offer slight coverage but not completely conceal spots. Concealer is there for that bit.
… But equally, if you want to use a brush and buff concealer all over your face and then go in and conceal little patches, that can look great, too. How you use products and how much you apply plays a big role in the finish so, as always with make-up, play around.
Tapping concealer onto a spot and then using a brush to soften the edges is a favourite technique amongst pros for good reason. The trick is to use a little buffing brush, and to press it onto skin where you want the concealer to sit, and stroke gently where you want to reduce the coverage.
If your spot is crusty, make sure you’ve moisturised before applying concealer. If it’s weeping, let it dry down beforehand.
See our favourite concealers for acne-prone skin below.
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
A make-up artist’s favourite, this palette containing two different concealer colours may look tricky to use, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’re likely to be a convert.
Whether using a brush or (clean) fingers, tap it in each colour, then apply to skin until you’ve got the best shade for the area you’re covering and for your skin that day. It’s for this reason that the two shades are handy; skin changes all the time, and this way you can always get it bang on.
The finish itself is very close to the appearance of skin, and it stays put when on – especially if you apply a thin veil of powder on top.
Buy now £28.00, John Lewis
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Concealer
This clever creamy concealer can be applied to bigger sections of acne for a medium finish/in lieu of foundation, or stippled onto spots for fuller coverage.
The ‘self-refreshing’ bit of the name is thanks to its ability to stick around and not become dry, crusty, or shiny over the course of the day courtesy of their trademarked ActiveForce technology.
It also contains antioxidants to help protect skin from aggressors like pollution and UV Rays.
Opt for this if you want a really good all-rounder which you can rely on on a day-to-day basis – and the Synchro Skin foundation is also really good if you want to pair them up.
Buy now £30.00, Space NK
NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer
If shine is your concern, you’ll love this one. Just brush or tap on where needed, and you’re good to know. No need for powder or for primer.
Equally, because of its finish, it performs very well across larger sections of acne as a speedy high-coverage base. In this case, take a brush and sweep it across the portion you want to cov
er, then go back and add a little more to the heads of spots or any especially red bits. Then made sure you wash a little dab across the rest of the face so that the concealed area doesn’t stand out in contrast to the rest of your skin.
Buy now £24.00, Cult Beauty
KVD Beauty Good Apple Lightweight Full Coverage Concealer
The clues are in the name of this concealer. It’s very lightweight, applying like a highly-pigmented fluid that glazes skin – but it really does pack a punch on coverage, offering full and comprehensive concealing wherever it goes. The ‘good apple’ bit refers to the finish: it mimics smooth, healthy skin and looks plump, not parched or tight, despite not being greasy in the slightest.
Once you’ve applied, expect it not to budge for hours, so it’s ideal if you find your concealer disappears or migrates into creases on your face.
We’d recommend either using this right on the red bit of spots and blending delicately – a little goes a long way.
Buy now £23.00, Feel Unique
Bobbi Brown Skin Concealer Stick
Consider yourself a concealer novice? Get this one. The application and blending couldn’t be easier thanks to the stick applicator and the creamy formula which hugs onto skin but can be softened and moved with a brush or fingertips. It comes in loads of shades which all apply true to skin, i.e. don’t look different once dry.
Bobbi Brown claim that it wears for 12 hours without creasing and remains waterproof while resisting humidity. We checked this thoroughly as in a formula this creamy it is a rarity and were delighted that they had clearly done their due diligence in testing: it didn’t budge. Even during a water aerobics class. Impressive.
Buy now £25.00, Lookfantastic
Glossier Stretch Concealer
Concealer can sometimes seem to form a layer on skin, not moving with it but rather enhancing dry patches or texture. Not this one. The stretchiness the name refers to is all down to the micro waxes which run through it, meaning that it is bendy, adjusting to your skin whatever position it’s in. This is good news if you’ve got acne but also dry patches and find texture to be an issue.
This one comes in a pot so you can dip in with your brush or finger, then skim it across skin, returning to bits which need some extra coverage.
Buy now £15.00, Glossier
Anastasia Beverly Hills Magic Touch Concealer
Acne can make skin feel like it’s under assault, each patch being bumpy and red and uncomfortable. This concealer doesn’t only offer very high coverage, but it also adds a bit of a blur and brightening – so that your skin feels better overall, with a soft-focus finish that’ll help spots disappear into clearer patches.
There’s skincare in the mix too: plant-based glycerin for hydration, and liquorice root to calm. Both handy additions for spots and they go some way to keeping skin happy underneath the concealer so that when you remove it at night, hopefully your skin will be less inflamed.
Buy now £27.00, Cult Beauty
Benefit Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer
The boi-ing range has won a legion of fans for the perfect high-coverage but velvet finish of the products, and this new addition is in our view set to amass equally as many admirers.
A liquid formula which quickly locks onto skin and then stays put (for up to 24 hours – we can’t verify this claim as we need our sleep, but we can vouch for it having held firm for 16 hours, which we thought was rather extraordinary), this will be your best friend if your spots tend to be very textured and you need something to hide the colour but not exacerbate crusty areas.
Buy now £21.50, Cult Beauty
Sculpted by Aimee Complete Cover Up Concealer
This brand consistently aces base products, as is evidenced by the cult status of the Second Skin foundation. We were bowled over by this concealer – the mineral and oil-free cream stayed on for hours and conferred an airbrushed, soft focus finish on skin, and it blended perfectly with our foundation, and looked great with a little whizzed across patches which weren’t spotty to give skin a uniform finish, after which we went and added more where redness still came through.
It’s worth noting that the shade range currently sits at 9, but Sculpted by Aimee have announced that more will be added soon, so if yours isn’t currently there, it’s likely to be on the way soon.
Buy now £15.00, Boots
Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer SPF 27
We love to know that our skin is being treated to a bit of a boost while covering acne, and this concealer does just that, camouflaging spots seamlessly and resisting sheen over the course of the day, but also releasing a host of skin-nourishing ingredients while it does its job. Top of our list is the Zingiber Aromaticus extract to soothe and reduce pigmentation, Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate, Argan Oil to moisturise, and Platinum Golden Silk to help boost the barrier function of skin.
In terms of finish, this one is definitely a healthy cream, making skin appear juicy and healthy and even, every time.
Buy now £54.00, Harrods
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is well thought out, with the two colours providing a perfect shade match every time, as well as the formula seamlessly covering spots. The Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Concealer is also well worth investing in for it’s skin-mimicking finish.