How to use makeup to cover scars: expert tips and high-cover products

Our guide to the best makeup to cover scars plus pro tricks for a seamless finish

A woman using makeup to cover scars, with three swatches of foundation on her cheeks on a peach backdrop
(Image credit: Future/Getty images)

There's no rule that says you have to use makeup to cover scars. Facial scarring is commonplace, often as the result of acne or perhaps a skin condition or injury, and nobody should ever feel like they have to hide or disguise their scars unless they actually want to. 

With that said, if you have scars or marks on your face that do bother you, makeup can absolutely help. "Patients with scarring can experience low confidence and self-esteem,” agrees Genevieve Knodel, aesthetic practitioner at Stratum Dermatology Clinic. “The good news is there are ways to improve the appearance of scars.” You're probably already au fait with the best foundation for a full-coverage finish, and how to apply concealer to mask an uneven tone, but as with most things in beauty, it pays to listen to the experts.

Handy, then, we've secured some of the best tips and tricks from top makeup artists on using makeup to cover scars. These pros know exactly how to enhance your skin's best assets and make anything you don't like as much disappear. Plus our beauty team has the product recommendations you need for lasting skin confidence. 

Makeup to cover scars—your complete guide

How to cover scars with makeup

There are two elements to learning how to use makeup to cover scars—texture and color. Begin by tackling uneven texture with one of the best primers for smoothness. “Work in layers”, advises Rachel Hardie, NARS Lead Artist. “I would always layer the product to cover scars and texture. Start by applying a primer to the skin to smooth the surface and prepare it for foundation or concealer."

Next comes color-correcting, and bear in mind that not all scars are the same. “Scars can be flat or raised, and you can conceal any discoloration with makeup," says Chanel make-up artist Kay Montano. "If the scar is red, you’ll need a yellow or olive-toned concealer; if the scar is grey-black, you’ll need richer apricot or terracotta," This is also true as a temporary hyperpigmentation treatment for black skin.

"Indent scars tend to be lighter than the rest of your skin, so opt for a slightly darker concealer when covering them. This will help to balance out the tones in your skin. Acne scars are the opposite and tend to be darker, so blend over these with a slightly lighter shade," continues Montano. 

“Always use good light to apply your make-up and paint directly onto the scar with a small concealer (or lip) brush.” The skin on scars is often shiny, so once you’ve finished layering color, “set the make-up in place with a translucent powder." The best setting powders for this are loose, rather than compact, advises Montano, "I find that pressed powders can be too heavy.”  

Our beauty editor recommends...

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NARS Smooth and Protect Primer SPF50 | RRP: $36/£29
With a grippy feel that clings onto makeup and film-forming polymers in the formula, this is a perfect primer to smooth out uneven skin texture. Plus, the SPF50 helps prevent the worsening of any post-inflammatory pigmentation.

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Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre natural finish loose powder | RRP: $52/£43

Very finely milled and silky-soft in texture, this is the ideal product to seal in your high coverage foundation or concealer without looking cakey or obvious. It comes in eight shades, which are adaptable enough to cover off most skin tones. 


What products are best for covering scars?

Before you select your makeup to cover scars, think about the ingredients. "Look for specific treatment foundations," advises Knodel. "Opting for mineral-based versions with antioxidant-rich ingredients such as polyhydroxy acids. These will help smooth the appearance of the skin and address inflammation to help encourage the healing process. Avoid comedogenic ingredients that cause skin congestion and look for the best facial sunscreen that will help protect your skin from further damage."

Our beauty editor recommends...

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Vichy Dermablend SOS cover stick  | RRP: $28/£15

If you ask anyone in the know what the best drugstore concealer (opens in new tab) is for covering scars, this would be it. Made by skincare giants Vichy, it not only blends away imperfections but also keeps the skin moisturized and doesn’t irritate sensitive complexions. 

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EX1 Cosmetics Delete Fluide concealer | RRP: $15/£10.50

The pigments of these shades somehow manage to mimic the natural tones in our skin like no other concealer we’ve tried. The formulation also contains vitamins and antioxidants to protect the skin while it covers. 

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Huda Beauty Overachiever Concealer |  $28.80/£24

Makeup to cover scars doesn't come much more user-friendly than this highly blendable texture. It's a full-coverage concealer that doesn’t crease or smudge on the skin. Plus, it also contains titanium dioxide, which helps with redness and inflammation.  

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Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation | RRP: £6.95 (UK only)

A purse-friendly option that proves you can get excellent coverage on a budget. Leaving the skin with a matte finish, it covers scars without looking caked. 

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Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage | RRP: $32/£28

Blend the two creamy colors to find your perfect shade. Smoothing it onto the skin leaves you with a soft-looking skin texture but a full amount of coverage. 

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MAC Pro longwear nourishing waterproof foundation | RRP: $34/£27

Whether you're enjoying a humid holiday or enduring a hot flush, this foundation has your back. It has serious staying power even through sweat, which also makes it an ideal choice of makeup to cover scars without creasing or caking. 

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Oxygenetix Oxygenating Breathable Foundation |  RRP: $76/£55

Made specifically to care for the skin after cosmetic procedures, this is the best option for those wanting to cover new scars. The formula helps oxygenate the skin cells and uses ingredients like hyaluronic acid to keep the skin moisturized and healthy. 

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Kryolan Dermacolor camouflage crème  | RRP:  $27/£11.50

Made for professional make-up artists, this highly pigmented cream is designed to correct and cover whatever it encounters. Tip: the shades in the range purposely lack dimension (in order for make-up artists to create bespoke tones from their kit). This means that it might be wise to buy a few colors to create a more natural result.   


woman&home thanks Genevieve Knodel of Stratum Dermatology Clinic (opens in new tab), Rachel Hardie (opens in new tab) and Kay Montano (opens in new tab) for their time and expertise

All about beauty, Lydia House has been writing about creams and complexions for over a decade. Contributing to titles such as Women’s Health, Grazia, Stylist and The Evening Standard, Lydia also uses her vast knowledge of the industry to consult leading health and beauty brands like Rituals, Tisserand and The Inkey List. Spending her working life obsessing over ingredients and formulas, Lydia believes that feeding your skin from within is just, if not more important, than the lotions you slather on. And even with a busy life and work schedule, she will always find the time to fit in a pampering session (or two).

With contributions from