How to cover a spot, according to the experts

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Becci Vallis
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Dermatologists, facialists and make-up artists all weigh in on the best way to cover a spot…

You went to bed with clear skin but woken up with a spot that’s red, raging and angry. What would a dermatologist do? How would a make-up artist conceal a last minute eruption? Well think of this as your blemish 101 because we asked the questions so you know exactly what to do in such a complexion crisis. Seriously, no-one will be able to detect a hint of a spot by the end of it.

Dr Anita Sturnham, GP, Dermatologist and Founder of Nuriss Skincare & Wellness Clinics 

Before you even get to concealer, are there any skincare products you reach for first?

Anti-inflammatory agents can work wonders. Dabbing a bentonite clay or zinc and sulphur based treatment over blemishes for 5-10 minutes can instantly calm things down. Bentonite clay draws impurities out of your pores, whilst zinc and sulphur have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Follow with simple cryotherapy aka an ice cube. Rub it over any areas of inflammation for 60 seconds – this will constrict the blood vessels, reducing redness and swelling.

There’s the red shiny swollen type of spot and the dry, post-squeeze spot with the potential to turn crusty. Should you treat them the same way?

Don’t pick is the number one rule but for either scenario I’d advise medical grade products such as salicylic acid 2% or over the counter benzylperoxide gel (Quinoderm). Use them before bed to dry up spots. Integrate BHAs like salicylic acid into your night time cleanse too as it will seep into your pores and unblock them, reduce bacteria, regulate oil production and calm inflammation - I especially like Murad’s Clarifying Cleanser, £20 or Nuriss Alpha Beta Cleanser, £25.50.

Are there any products or ingredients you wouldn’t apply on a spot?

Foams can damage your epidermal barrier health and allow trans epidermal moisture loss if they contain a lot of chemicals. This forces your skin to make more of its own sebum which can clog pores. Also avoid products with alcohol, parabens and artificial fragrance or colours. Comedogenic SPFs should be swapped for mineral based options containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the particles are so fine they won’t clog pores.

In the unlikely event you had a spot, how would you cover it?

Make-up can make the congestion worse but I would always use a liquid concealer dabbed on gently using a Beauty Blender as it always gives good coverage.

Michaella Bolder, celebrity facialist 

Before you even get to concealer, are there any skincare products you reach for first?

I’d avoid anything with salicylic acid in first thing as it will begin the drying out stage and cause your make-up to break up and look untidy. It can also unbalance the skin’s pH causing a further breakout of excess sebum. If you’ve got a bit of time, use a charcoal or bentonite clay mask like Glamglow’s SuperMud, £42 or Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, £6.32 mixed with some apple cider vinegar to draw out the congestion and rebalance the skin. You still need to moisturise but choose an oil free one like La Roche Pasay Effaclar Mat, £16. 

There’s the red shiny swollen type of spot and the dry, post-squeeze spot with the potential to turn crusty. Should you treat them the same way?

Unfortunately the red swollen type spots are hidden underneath the skin and the only way to treat them is to draw any toxins out so I’d choose Salicylic or Glycolic Acids in the evening or a spot relieving cream like Acnecide. If the spot has a head and is ready to turn over causing a dry crusty shell it’s actually much easier to treat. A good old buff using a gritty exfoliator followed by a glycolic acid will lift away the dead cells leaving a smoother surface.

What about if you’ve squeezed the spot?

Apply a little moisturiser to help heal the skin before following on with your concealer. If you’re concerned about the skin appearing dry, mix a tiny amount of facial oil into your concealer on the back of your hand to help disguise the dry and redness area.

What concealers do you recommend?

The best concealer must be what’s best for you, not your friend or a celebrity. I struggle with dry skin, so I tend to mix my concealer with a drop of foundation and a drop of facial oil then apply. My preferred option is a liquid and I think IT Cosmetics offer a very good range. I also love YSL Touch Eclat, £25.50 and Bobbi Brown Corrector, £19.50.

Do you have any clever blending tips?

I start with a concealer brush - right now I’m using IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Dual Airbrush Concealer Brush, £21, followed by my finger to smooth it out a bit, another dash with the concealer brush and then I finish with my amazing Rodial Airbrush Foundation Brush, £50.

Harriet Hadfield, Make-up Artist 

Before you even get to concealer, are there any skincare products you reach for first?

The spot in question and surrounding areas need to be well hydrated and as smooth as possible so I use Bobbi Browns’s Vitamin Enriched Face Base, £43 to calm and sooth the skin.

What concealers do you recommend?

To help product adhere to a spot, you need longwearing formulas. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, £27.50 has a waxy texture that grips to the spots but if the spot hasn’t broken the skin yet I prefer something like Vichy Dermablend SOS Cover Stick, £11.25 to cover as it’s completely budge proof and waterproof.

Is it better to apply with your fingers or a brush?

I like fine point paint brushes to cover a spot with precision which you can buy very cheaply from an art shop. Then use a softer fluffy brush like a MAC 127, £28 to buff the surrounding edges of a spot and hide the redness. Start with less and work in thin layers as it lasts longer.

Foundation or concealer first?

I like to apply a thin layer of foundation, something lightweight, to even out the surrounding skin before concealer. Clinique’s Redness Solutions Makeup, £28 is great at taking down redness.

Can you stop your handiwork rubbing off or drying out in the day?

I always finish with a powder to lock the concealer in place. You can’t beat Laura Mercier’s Translucent Setting Powder, £29 because it’s so finely milled it’s practically undetectable on the skin. For touch ups I carry the same concealer and just tap some on with my finger (just make sure you have clean hands).

Any other secret insider spot tips?

If there’s too much product you could draw more attention to it so build up your coverage lightly. You also want the concealer as close to your skin tone as possible.

Danielle Peazer, model and dancer

Stick, cream or liquid concealer?

I mix and match depending on what I’ve got as I seem to have a quite a big collection of concealers! I look for the best colour match and after that I want longevity. At the moment I’m using the Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer, £8.99, but Rimmel’s Wake Me Up Concealer, £6.49 is also a great one.

Do you apply with your fingers or a brush?

I try to not use my fingers as I don’t to add any dirt to the area so I use a clean Beauty Blender, £17 or makeup sponge.

Foundation or concealer first?

I tend to add concealer first if it’s an obvious blemish that I want to cover up just to give it a bit of extra coverage. Adding too much make up will tend to just draw more attention to the area and make it look cakey.

How do you deal with a spot when you’re working out?

I usually like to use my workout for a bit of time to let my skin breathe but if I do wear makeup when I’m exercising I use the CliniqueFIT range that has been specifically designed for that.

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