I’m a beauty editor with acne, and these are the 7 best concealers for spots

From blemishes to scars, these formulas cover it all

Best Concealer for Acne
(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

In an ideal world we’d all embrace the skin that we’re in and celebrate our complexions exactly as they are, spots and all, but as a beauty editor that’s been dealing with acne for over two decades now I understand the desire to want to disguise a breakout fast. And that’s where my desert island make-up product comes in—concealer

Even on my most minimal of make-up days, I rarely skip concealer thanks to its almost magic ability to camouflage dark circles (my other top skin concern), reduce the appearance of red, angry spots and to disguise any scarring or discolouration left behind by old breakouts. But, having tried a lot of different concealers over the years, it’s clear to me that some just aren’t cut out for the job of concealing acne. For instance, my beloved Glossier Stretch concealer that I swear by for my under-eyes just isn’t heavy-duty enough to make an impact on spots.

Best concealer for acne

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

To understand the level of acne that I'm talking about, this is my skin on a fairly standard day—I tend to get hormonal breakouts around my jawline and chin when my period is due, and these can last a few days before calming down and leaving behind some redness. I also have some scarring and texture on my cheeks and chin from old breakouts.

Best concealer for acne

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

Luckily, though, there are some real gems on the market that make light work of reducing the appearance of acne—and I’m sharing my favourites ahead. But before getting into the full list, I caught up with pro make-up artist Lisa Caldognetto to get her expert advice on the best way to conceal acne.

The best application techniques for concealing acne

Before we get to the concealer, let’s focus on treating the breakout if it’s currently active. Lisa suggests popping on a pimple patch (I really rate the Hero Mighty Patches) for as long as possible before you start your make-up routine. If it’s a particularly juicy blemish, then she also rates the Fenty Skin Blemish Defeat’r BHA Spot-Targeting Gel, a salicylic acid spot treatment, which layers really well beneath make-up. 

The key to really covering up a blemish lies in the application technique, though. “Avoid any circular or brushing motions, you want to be dabbing and pushing the product directly onto the spot,” says Lisa. “If it’s an active blemish then you could actually apply the concealer and leave it to set for a few minutes and then come back to it. You then want to use a soft blending brush and just blend out the edges of the concealer so it looks seamless.” 

Finally, Lisa is adamant that there is one product you must not forget after concealing—powder. “When a spot is active there can be a bit more sebum and oil production which will break down the concealer,” Lisa explains. A good setting powder (I recommend Milk Makeup Pore Eclipse Setting Powder) will help to increase the longevity of the product you’ve applied.

The best textures for acne concealers

When you’re dealing with a spot, there’s often a couple of factors at play—the oil causing the spot itself and dryness around the spot where you may have been trying to treat it using active skincare ingredients. “You want to therefore have a mixture of hydration, but also longevity in the product,” says Lisa. “A liquid with a doe foot wand is a good choice or a cream pot one, as you don’t want anything that’s going to be highlighting any flaky patches around the blemish.” 

It’s also important to keep your products as hygienic as possible when you’re concealing acne. “Decant the concealer onto the back of your hand, rather than putting it straight onto your skin with the applicator, to avoid cross-contamination and prevent bacteria from getting into the product,” advises Lisa.

Ahead, the seven best concealers for acne.

1. MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

Best Concealer for Acne MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

(Image credit: MAC)

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

Best all-rounder

Reasons to buy

+
Really long-wearing
+
Covers active breakouts and scars

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be hard to dispense right amount of product with the pump

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. MAC’s Pro Longwear Concealer is a make-up-artist favourite that I come back to time and time again thanks to the fact that it does a bit of everything. First impressions are that it’s quite a lightweight, liquidy texture that doesn’t feel like it would conceal much, but don’t be fooled. It has a really full-coverage finish that can be layered up easily for bigger spots but never looks cakey on the skin. I love that it has pump dispenser which minimises the risk of bacteria getting into the product (but admittedly can be slightly messy to use), and I find that it works just as well applied with fingers as it does with a brush or make-up sponge. Whether you’re covering scarring or raised blemishes, it does the job.

2. NARS Soft Matte Concealer 

Best concealers for acne: NARS Soft Matte Concealer

(Image credit: NARS)

NARS Soft Matte Concealer

Best for second-day spots

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile matte finish
+
Easy to blend

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get slightly cakey on active breakouts

Not only is this concealer one of my personal favourites for covering second- or third-day spots, but Lisa rated it as one of her favourite concealers for acne, too. It has an oil-free formulation with an extremely long-wear finish. Plus, it’s matte so it doesn’t draw any extra attention to your skin by trying to look glowy. I find that it works best when almost painted onto the spot with a make-up brush and then blended out at the edges with your fingers. This technique means that the blemish is almost imperceptible on the skin. However, I would say that the very matte finish means that it can get a bit cakey if it’s a fresh spot that is particularly raised or has a whitehead on it. I tend to leave this for spots that are a bit flatter on the skin. 

3. Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer

Best Concealers for Acne Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer

(Image credit: Rare Beauty)

Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer

Best for active breakouts

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating formula melts into skin
+
Doesn't cling to dry patches

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite luminous—opt for a deeper tone to reduce brightness

Although I would typically avoid any concealers that claim to be brightening or radiant when it comes to spots, this one from Rare Beauty is really impressive and has fast become the concealer that I reach for on mornings that I wake up to an unexpected breakout. The liquid formulation is wonderfully blendable, but impressively high coverage. I swipe it onto the back of my hand and then press it directly onto spots. The hydrating formula means that it doesn’t cling to any dry patches or highlight texture, instead it almost meshes with the spot itself and helps to camouflage it with the rest of your skin. I go for a tone down from the shade that I use under my eyes, though, just to minimise that brightening effect.

4. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

Best Concealer for Acne Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

(Image credit: Fenty Beauty)

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer

Best for shade range

Reasons to buy

+
50 versatile shades
+
Multipurpose formula— works for spots and pigmentation 

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs layering for ultra-full coverage

We still have a long way to go when it comes to brands providing consistent and adequate shade ranges with their products, and concealers still tend to have a reduced selection of tones compared with their foundation products. Fenty Beauty, however, continues to prove that there is no excuse for it with a full 50-shade offering of their liquid concealer. This is a really versatile concealer with a long-wear liquid formula that feels featherlight on the skin but can be layered for full to medium coverage. It covers spots, dark circles and pigmentation with absolute ease, and it has an almost velvety finish that makes your skin look more even in tone and texture.

5. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer

Best Concealer for Acne Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer

(Image credit: Laura Mercier)

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer

Best for personalisation

Reasons to buy

+
Can create perfect skin tone for you
+
Creamy texture with a natural finish

Reasons to avoid

-
More time-consuming to apply than others

So many make-up artists swear by this concealer kit and it’s easy to see why—it contains two concealer shades in the portable palette which can be mixed depending on where you’re applying the product. Lisa suggests that opting for a concealer shade that’s lighter than your under-eye one is the way to go when you’re concealing blemishes, and this palette allows you to mix exactly the right tone for you. Personally, I like to have a couple of brushes on hand when using this product—one for applying the concealer to the back of my hand and mixing and another for patting onto the blemish itself. It’s not one to use when you’re in a huge rush, but the extra time is definitely worth it as it truly provides an almost invisible finish on the skin when applied properly.

6. Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer

Best Concealer for Acne Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer

(Image credit: Tarte Cosmetics)

Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer

Best for longevity

Reasons to buy

+
Lasts all day
+
Hydrating and comfortable on the skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Don't love the large doe foot applicator—prefer applying with fingers

A few years back this was one of the most viral concealers around, and while the hype around Tarte as a brand seems to have died down, I think that this remains one of the very best concealers for acne. Firstly, it has bold claims when it comes to longevity, promising up to 16 hours of wear time. And, honestly, I don’t think it’s far off—when paired with a powder I can apply this before work at around 8am and trust that everything will still be covered up by the end of the day. 

7. Kosas Revealer Super Creamy Concealer

Best Concealer for Acne Kosas Revealer Super Creamy Concealer

(Image credit: Kosas)

Kosas Revealer Super Creamy Concealer

Best for scarring and pigmentation

Reasons to buy

+
Boosts radiance and evens skin tone
+
Minimises texture

Reasons to avoid

-
Very lightweight—not for huge breakouts

This is probably the most brightening concealer of the bunch and, as such, I also love this concealer for dark circles—but it’s a really brilliant formulation if you’re looking to camouflage any discolouration or scarring caused by acne. I have lots of texture on my skin from old spots and also have pigmentation and redness that lingers for a long time once an active breakout has been reduced. In those areas, this liquid concealer is amazing at melting into your skin and minimising the appearance of uneven texture by almost plumping and hydrating the skin’s surface. Plus, it has a great range of shades to minimise any discolouration for smoother, brighter skin.