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The Best Foundations to Help You Cover Acne Scars

Those pesky blemishes don’t have to be the focus of your makeup look.
May 15, 2023


For most of us, dealing with acne is an unavoidable reality. And for some, that acne will leave behind scars, hyperpigmentation and other blemishes that can put a damper on your beauty routine, not to mention your confidence. 

But acne scars don’t have to be your future — there are several treatments, peels, face serums and other skin care products that can help you make them vanish. And while you’re waiting for those products to take effect, you can always grab a great full-coverage foundation to hide them. 

If you’re wondering how to hide your acne scars
and where to find the best foundation to cover acne scars, keep reading because we’re sharing our top picks, below.
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What Are Acne Scars?

The term acne scars is often used to describe a plethora of marks left behind by acne, including indentations, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation and red marks. Though, many experts will make the distinction between types of dark spots left on the skin by acne and acne scars (indented and raised lesions). 

In other words, pigmentation changes and dark spots are not acne scars, per se. For the purpose of this story we’re considering all imperfections left on the skin by breakouts, that can be concealed by foundation.

What Are the Types of Acne Scars You May Want to Conceal?

There are different types of acne scars that can leave you feeling less than confident, here’s how to identify them.

1. Atrophic Scars

These types of acne scars leave a deep pit or indentation in the skin; they’re the most common form of acne scarring. Additionally, these types of scars, which look like punctures or perforations, are the most difficult to heal.

2. Hypertrophic Scars

Raised scars, or hypertrophic scars, are often characterized by a dark pink hue and are firm to the touch. They’re also referred to as keloidal scars and are most common in people with darker skin tones.

3. Pigmentation Scars

As we said previously, while red marks, dark marks, hyper and hypopigmentation aren’t acne scars by science standards, these are also imperfections that can be left behind by acne that you may want to cover up. They're characterized by either red discoloration of the skin, a deepening of pigment after a breakout has healed, or a loss of pigment post-blemish where it used to exist.

Can You Cover Acne Scars With Foundation?

The short answer to this question is yes — foundation can help conceal unwanted acne scars and blemishes. But while color corrector, concealer and foundation can help hide your acne scars, there’s more to it than just picking up a magic product. Your specific skin care needs, your finish preferences and level of scarring all come into play when choosing how to hide those blemishes. 

So what you’re trying to cover — texture, hyperpigmentation or indentation scarring — is important. That could be the difference between picking a buildable coverage foundation, liquid foundation over powder, or always opting for something full-coverage.

And remember, different zones of the face even require different needs. Sometimes using two products of a different texture is the best technique. Many makeup artists call this multi-masking your foundation and it holds true for customizing your coverage.  

How to Prep Skin for Acne Foundation

Since a good prep goes a long way in the success of your acne foundation, follow these quick and simple steps to get your face ready for your foundation for acne scars.

Step 1. Cleanse the Skin

The best makeup routine starts with a good skin care routine, and the base for that is always a proper cleanse. Grab a soothing, exfoliating cleanser like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser to help rid your skin of dirt, oil, impurities, and dead skin cells without stripping it and leaving it feeling tight or dry. 

Step 2. Apply Skin Care Products, Don’t Skip SPF

After you’ve cleaned your skin, move on to your toner, serum, moisturizer and whatever other skin care treatments you’ve included as part of your routine. Keep in mind that not wearing SPF daily (that’s right, every single day) can worsen the look of acne scars and deepen dark spots. So always make sunscreen the last step in your skin care routine, whether you’re applying makeup after or not. 

Want a recommendation for a lightweight sunscreen that won’t leave a white cast on any skin tone? Try the L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid, which goes on invisible and is fragrance-free, so even those with sensitive skin (and noses) can use it.

Step 3. Use the Right Primer

Ensuring that you use a primer that can aid in hiding unwanted blemishes is key in not only giving your foundation some staying power, but in adding an extra layer of coverage. L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Redness Eraser is perfect for those with redness or discoloration that leans more sanguine in tone. If you struggle with indentations in your skin, try the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Pore Minimizer, which is formulated with top derm-recommended skin care ingredients and has an instant blurring effect.

Which Foundations Cover Acne Scars the Best?

Everyone’s preferences will be different when it comes to foundation, but when you have a specific skin concern, like acne scarring, there are a few things you need to consider. Not only do you need to know how to pick the right foundation shade, but you also need to know how to pick the right finish for your skin needs between matte, liquid, powder or cream foundation. You also need to take your skin type into account; knowing how to pick the right foundation formula based on your skin concerns for oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin is a must. 

Now that you understand what to focus on when looking for a foundation to hide acne scars, take your pick from any of these multi-coverage foundations that will help you temporarily put the look of those blemishes in your rearview.

L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup

The coverage: Medium

The formula: This vegan liquid foundation is made with hyaluronic acid to offer skin a hydrating feeling and a radiant look. It won’t clog pores so people with acne-prone skin can wear it with confidence. It comes in 47 shades so there's a match for everyone.

The finish: The finish is so natural and radiant that people won’t be able to tell the difference between your skin and your foundation. While it’s a medium-coverage foundation, it’s buildable without looking cakey, so you cover those acne scars without adding texture or appearing overdone.

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L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, Lightweight

The coverage: Medium-to-full

The formula: This lightweight, breathable liquid foundation is formulated with oil absorbers that resist sweat, water and transfer. It’s non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores — key if you are prone to acne — and is derm-tested for all skin types. 

The finish: Acne scars are completely masked and your skin tone looks bright and even. Plus the lightweight texture wears comfortably all day so your skin feels as fresh as it looks.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder

The coverage: Full

The formula: This powder foundation has a lightweight, breathable formula that covers like a liquid and mattifies like a powder. If you have oily skin it’s the perfect option to even out your complexion without adding oil or slickness. It’s waterproof, heatproof, sweatproof, non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types — even acne-prone skin. 

The finish: Just one layer can give you all the cover you need depending on the level of your scars and dark spots. The finish looks natural, so your blemishes are hidden but your skin looks like skin — just a flawless version of it.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation with SPF 50

The coverage: Medium

The formula: This liquid formula made for mature skin is infused with a hydrating serum and vitamin B3, which delivers a radiant finish that won’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles. The lightweight foundation also contains SPF 50 so you get built-in UV protection — key if you don’t want to worsen the look of acne scars. 

The finish: Your skin feels hydrated all day and your complexion looks even and glowing. Acne scars are covered while fine lines and wrinkles are also blurred.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect 4-in-1 Tinted Face Balm Foundation

The coverage: Light-to-medium

The formula: A makeup-skin care hybrid, this balm-in-foundation has a creamy texture that melts into the skin for easy blending. Formulated with fruit extract and a firming serum, it conceals light imperfections and evens skin tone while hydrating the skin, smoothing lines and firming your visage over time. Keep in mind, it won’t 

The finish: The light-to-medium coverage won’t cover typical acne scars but it will hide redness, and blur dark spots, making them less noticeable. This is perfect for the skinimalism-embracing type who doesn’t want blemishes to be the focus of their makeup look, but isn’t striving to look perfect. 

If you do want more coverage, it’s as easy as grabbing one of the above mentioned options, or pairing this tinted balm foundation with a full-coverage concealer.

Next: Why a Skin Care-Inspired Makeup Primer is Exactly What Your Routine Needs

Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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