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Can Makeup Cover Scars?

This week’s post is a Reader Q & A from Amie ( love her name spelling)

Typically, with a scar, we’re dealing with 2 issues that makeup may help with. The first is color, which makeup can absolutely help cover. If the scar has discoloration, like redness, bruising, or, if it’s whiter, or lighter, than the skin around it, counter coloring, or correcting, is the way to go. Followed by covering with a well matched, skin tone foundation, as long as it is full coverage.

The second issue, is texture, whether it is depressed or raised, and even if it is smooth or rough texture, This is much harder to cover, and takes practice to become proficient. As often happens, you can have combinations of all of these issues.

I am going to give you a VERY basic, overview of what to do with each problem, but if your scarring is significant, or you have multiple issues with texture and color, seeing a well trained pro, is always a great investment.

Please understand that good quality, professional makeup, can cover color very well, but texture, only minimally. There are few corrective makeup application techniques that can further help with textural issues. But nothing is going to completely smooth, raise, or flatten them. Several of these techniques actually fall into advanced, corrective makeup, skill-wise, so take a lot of patience and practice   (often years for many of us pros).

Clearly, the smaller, less raised, or depressed, and closest to skin color scars, are going to be the easiest to cover. Something like this.

fairly easy to cover scar

fairly easy to cover scar

You can see it’s not super red, there is a bit of texture that differs from the surrounding skin, and it has slight depressions in a few areas. For this type of scar a good quality, full coverage foundation may be enough. You want to look for something that is exactly your skin tone, and long wearing. In fact, For ALL of these, I am going to highly recommend pro quality products. Consumer grade stuff is rarely going to cut it for most of this. If this were much whiter than the surrounding skin, you may need a concealer or foundation 1-2 shades deeper than your natural skintone.

For a scar that is still mostly flat, not very wide, and just with extra redness, a small amount of corrector placed JUST on the RED Area, then lightly covered with a skin matching foundation, will visibly reduce the scar’s appearance. Some people swear by green correctors for red. I do not. I like a fleshy, yellow toned corrector, as I feel it is more effective, and frankly just easier to work with. Because yellow is a predominant pigment color in skin anyway,  it tends to blend in, and often times on warmer skin tones it can even stand alone.


For a scar that has a deeper depression, like below, I find getting a lighter corrector or concealer, since this one isn’t very red, a flesh toned concealer may just work), 1-2 shades lighter than skin tone.  Stipple or pat, a full coverage foundation over, and blend to feather out the edges. Take a slim, synthetic brush and very gently, place the lighter corrector/concealer just on the depressed areas. Set with translucent powder. The slightly lighter color IN the depression, visibly raises the depressed area.

more depressed scar

A more depressed scar



raised scar, smooth center, darker edges.

For this scar above, there are a few more factors. 1 being it is raised, which is known as hypertrophic or keloid. Like I said earlier, you cannot flatten the scar. It also has darker edges, which almost outline the scar, and draw the eye to the difference in texture and color. Thirdly, I can see that the  raised skin is very shiny and smooth, which means it will have a hard time grabbing and holding makeup. ( the damaged  skin no longer has pores, and makeup clings to pores; it’s how it stays on your face) So, we need to lighten the darkest area, tone the redness on the raised portion, then go over all of the skin with a matching flesh-colored foundation. Cream makeup is going to be best for the hard to grab areas, like the smooth keloid.  I would go around the browner outline with a salmon pink shade 1 to 2 shades lighter than the color that’s there now, and then cover all with the correct foundation. If the center area needs more correcting to tone the redness, then a deep flesh yellow shade would work under foundation. By lightening the dark, flat area around the scar, you are not just correcting the color but also visually raising it closer to the raised surface as well, since in makeup, light colors make things come forward visually, and dark colors make things appear to recede. This is a VERY important concept to remember in corrective makeup. In fact, I’m bolding it so you can remember.

Here’s a similar style keloid scar, but without the outline, and a cool undertone. Because this looks more purple, you can try the yellow first, since it is opposite purple on the color wheel, and, therefore, it’s natural corrector.  BUT, I often find, that with a deeper skin tone, and a cooler undertoned scar, a  yellow/peach (I often mix) works better. If it were more brown, then a pinker shade would be used. A little experimentation is often called for in most cases, so don’t be afraid to mix products together. Hypertrophic-scar-leg-300x225


Another, deeper pigmented keloid

Another, deeper pigmented keloid

The further away from your own skin tone a scar is, and the more raised or depressed, the more challenging it will be to create a huge change. These deep red keloids need correction and lightening, so a yellow, a shade lighter than complexion, then an exact match, full coverage foundation.

If you have a lot of small scars, such as acne pitting scars, the same techniques apply, but you have to individually treat each one. Though, I find, Usually just the reddest, or most noticeable need all the steps, and then a good full coverage foundation can usually take care of the rest. Also, adding a texture reducing, silicone based primer to any of these methods can also help smooth some of the texture, and help makeup adhere.

Ok, So I am going to show you one of MY injury correction/coverage pics. She was  hit in the face with a large, thick tube while at school. She had a small scabbed area with very rough texture, as well as an area of very smooth skin,  (which you can see in the 3rd pic in a different lighting angle that still reflected “shiny” as very taut skin will do), as well as redness. She has swelling to the area which actually maximized her pores, but no very raised, or depressed areas. I did no other makeup on her than corrector and foundation, and I used Fortunate Face Minerals for everything. I used Prep Step 1 as her corrector, as well as her foundation color, which is Neutral 3. I was able to use them in powder form (though I do have my uncolored cream base if I wanted cream) over clean, moisturized skin.

before makeup

before makeup

After correction and foundation

After correction and foundation

lighting angle shows reflection of swollen taut skin

lighting angle shows reflection of swollen taut skin

Now, clearly, my products have worked successfully for some cases, as they did here. However, there are MANY products on the market that work wonderfully. One of my favorites, and I carry it myself in my kit, is Cover FX. It was developed by a Candian corrective makeup specialist, specifically for this purpose. It covers well, lasts, and a little goes a long way. The silicone in it even further helps with textural issues, and they have 40 complexion shades to choose from. They can also now be found at Sephora.

Dermablend is another brand designed Just for this purpose. I will say, that every time I have come across someone using this foundation, it has been poorly matched to their skin tone. So please make sure it truly disappears on your skin, as that’s how you know it is the right color for you.

Here’s a different type of product; it’s not actually a foundation, or corrector/concealer, but a filler. It’s called Dermaflage, and it’s a 2 part silicone, that comes in a dispensing pen. It self mixes just as you are dispensing, making it more user friendly. (2 part silicones are common for special effects makeup and creating prosthetics, etc in the pro makeup world. ) you can use this to fill a deeply recessed area whether a wrinkle or a scar.

Most of this information will work on mild to moderate scarring. Anything more than that, is really going to move into the area of medical intervention. You can still use these techniques, and improve the appearance, but it simply won’t be a drastic difference.

The last thing I’m going to add is, everyone has scars. They are a normal part of life. I have many, including one about 5 inches long on my knee, from repeated surgeries. Don’t beat yourself up over them, and know that most people aren’t judging. I totally get using makeup to make you feel more confident, after all that’s what it’s for. Just don’t think that you are any less beautiful because of your scars!

This week’s sample, included in any full sized order, is Black Cherry blush.


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