Concealers are undoubtedly one of the most important products in our beauty arsenal. They can magically hide anything—from sunspots to a night of partying—in an instant, helping the skin in a way that few other makeup products can. But when it comes to covering things like acne, there’s a lot we expect from a concealer. Not only does it need to have full enough coverage to mask the redness and bumpiness that come with a breakout, but its formula also can’t be overly drying or so oily that it clogs pores and triggers new breakouts.
Thankfully, there are plenty of products that can cover even the worst of breakouts that you can conveniently snag at the drugstore, meaning they’re just as wallet-friendly as they are effective. However, it can be quite the feat to know what actually works and what will leave you dry or cakey—or, even worse, cause more zits to crop up—that’s why we went and did the homework for you.
Below, your guide to the best drugstore concealers for acne.
Best Overall: NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Concealer
Hard to apply
Who else recommends it? BuzzFeed also picked the NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Concealer.
What do buyers say? 82% of 24,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
If an affordable concealer that’ll mask acne is what you’re looking for, the top-rated Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Concealer from NYX Professional Makeup checks all the boxes. Its lightweight, transfer-free formula applies creamy, blending seamlessly over acne and acne scars, and dries down with a full-coverage matte finish. It also offers a whopping 24 hours of coverage, so you’ll never have to worry about a midday zit touchup.
This liquid wonder is not only compatible with all skin types, but it’s offered in 24 different shades and a variety of undertones, meaning there’s something for everybody. Oh, and if you thought this one couldn’t get any better, we can’t fail to mention that the formula is also vegan and cruelty-free, so you can feel good about wearing it, too.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, cyclohexasiloxane | Size: 0.11 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Wet N Wild Photo Focus Concealer
Results not drastic to some
There’s a reason this budget-friendly concealer has such high ratings—not only will it cost you less than a fiver, but its light-reflecting abilities guarantee a flashback-free selfie every time. Available in 14 different shades, this heavily pigmented liquid formula is buildable, creating a blurring effect that masks acne and other blemishes while boosting your overall complexion. Plus, its lightweight, fragrance-free formula won’t irritate existing breakouts, and it’s paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.
Finish: Luminous | Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, glycerin, propylene glycol | Size: 0.29 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Uncertain | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Fair Skin: J.Cat Beauty Staysurance Water-Sealed Zero Smudge Concealer
Over 15 shades
Infused with aloe vera
May crease a bit
J.Cat Beauty’s Staysurance Water-Sealed Zero-Smudge Concealer has got you covered—quite literally. This medium-to-full buildable coverage concealer expertly masks redness from blemishes and other skin concerns, and its long-lasting, zero-smudge, and waterproof formula is essentially indestructible, lasting you throughout the day, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
It’s is suitable for all skin types, but its blemish-fighting abilities make it ideal for someone with acne-prone skin. Infused with tea tree leaf extract, peach leaf extract, and aloe vera leaf extract, this concealer promises to help treat those pesky zits as it hides them, protect and repair the skin, and moisturize and prevent dark spots. It’s available in 16 shades that span a full spectrum of skin tones, but it offers quite a few lighter varieties which makes this one a great choice for fairer complexions.
Finish: Flawless | Active Ingredients: Tea tree leaf extract, aloe vera leaf extract | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Medium Skin: NYX Professional Makeup HD Photo Concealer Wand
Over 20 shades available
Could be more long-lasting
This fan-favorite concealer is considered one of NYX Professional Makeup’s best-sellers, and for good reason. The medium-to-full coverage formula is lightweight in feel, but packs in some serious pigment due to its high concentration. The emollient-rich liquid applies luscious and creamy and blends in seamlessly to cover up any signs of acne and blemishes. Available in 22 different shades that cater to multiple undertones (including a green color corrector for extra-red zits), it’s an excellent choice for those with medium skin tones. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, cruelty-free and PETA certified.
Finish: Natural | Active Ingredients: Trimethylsiloxysilicate, trimethylsiloxyphenyl dimethicone | Size: 0.11 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Olive Skin: Juvia’s Place I Am Magic Concealer
Tailored to various darker skin tones
Feels drying to some
The name of this Juvia’s Place concealer doesn’t lie—this product, truly, is magic. Formulated with amino acid-treated pigments, this full-coverage concealer expertly camouflages acne and other blemishes, yet it’s lightweight, blendable, waterproof, and sweat-proof, keeping your skin looking great all day long without ever being cakey or dry.
Offered in 24 unique shades with plenty of undertone options, this concealer is a great choice for those who fall into the olive range of skin tones.
Finish: Natural | Active Ingredients: Cetearyl ethylhexanoate, silica | Size: 0.34 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dark Skin: BLK/OPL Total Coverage Face & Body Concealer
Even covers tattoos
Possibly weaker on mature skin
A bestseller from BLK/OPL, the dermatologist-developed Total Coverage Face & Body Concealer is the real deal. This maximum coverage, natural matte finish formula will last all day, masking blemishes and other spots while never clogging your pores. The smudge-resistant formula can be used on the body, too, camouflaging acne on the chest and back—and even tattoos!—without ever transferring onto your clothing.
It’s formulated in seven different shades that cater to darker skin tones, making this one ideal for those with melanin-rich skin.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone | Size: 0.50 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Shade Range: Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Full Coverage Concealer
Very wide color range
Feels heavy to some
We have to applaud Makeup Revolution for not only ensuring its products are skin tone-inclusive but also for offering this concealer in an epic 60 different shades—ensuring that no one is left out. The long-wear formula keeps blemishes covered for up to 16 hours and is formulated to be multifunctional, making it great for spot treatments, full face-concealing, and even for contouring and highlighting.
Bonus? Its infused with niacinamide, offering soothing, anti-inflammatory benefits to acne-prone skin.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane | Size: 0.11 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Skin: ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Creamy Concealer
Smells like paint to some
Let’s face it, concealers powerful enough to cover acne and blemishes can sometimes end up cakey and drying, and if your skin is already on the drier side, that’s just not gonna fly. We love that this creamy oil-free concealer from ColourPop is infused with both hyaluronic acid and coconut water, and it deeply hydrates the skin without ever feeling greasy, ensuring you'll look great with the coverage you’ll need all day long. Available in 27 different shades, it’s technically formulated to work with all skin types. However, those with drier complexions will totally drink this up.
Finish: Natural | Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, coconut water | Size: 0.30 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Combination Skin: Maybelline Fit Me Liquid Concealer
Matches skin color very well
Could blend easier
If you’re working with combination skin on top of battling acne, consider this buildable coverage concealer from Maybelline a godsend. The Fit Me Liquid Concealer expertly masks acne blemishes, redness, and other spots, and its natural finish—never too matte or too dewy—gets the job done on dry cheeks and oily T-zones alike. Plus, it’s both non-comedogenic and oil-free, ensuring that it won’t clog your pores and contribute to more breakouts.
Its 18 shades match skin tones from fair to deep, making it a great choice for all—plus, it’s phthalate-free.
Finish: Natural | Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, hydrogenated polyisobutene | Size: 0.23 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Oily Skin: Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Concealer
Feels comfortable all day
Dries too quickly during application
If your complexion is on the oilier side, then you know the struggle is real when it comes to combating shininess. Thankfully, Rimmel’s Stay Matte Liquid Concealer is here to keep oil and shine at bay, its humidity-, sweat-, and heat-proof formula offering comfortable matte wear for an impressive 24 hours.
It’s formulated in a total of 20 shades which, according to the brand, matches 99% of U.S. skin tones.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone | Size: 0.23 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Multitasker: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Concealer
Gentle enough for sensitive skin
Adds radiance to eye area
Easy sponge-tip applicator
Results not drastic to some
For those of us that want a concealer to target multiple skin concerns at once, consider this fan favorite from Maybelline. Not only does it offer 18 shades of full enough coverage to blend away blemishes and bumps, but its color-correcting qualities make it an excellent choice to banish dark circles, too. Plus, it’s infused with goji berry and Haloxyl, and it promises to boost blood circulation, making tired, puffy eyes a thing of the past—truly, a blessing. It’s clear this concealer is rated #1 in America for good reason.
Finish: Radiant | Active Ingredients: Goji berry, haloxyl | Size: 0.20 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Treatment: Almay Clear Complexion Concealer
Infused with salicylic acid
Smells bad to some
When our acne is acting up, we need a product that does more than just cover it up—that’s why we’re major fans of Almay’s Clear Complexion Concealer. This multitasking liquid concealer not only covers up bothersome acne blemishes and redness but thanks to the zit-zapping powers of salicylic acid, it also helps treat them, too. It’s also made with aloe, ensuring that this potent product won’t dry you out. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, so you can count on it not irritating your breakout, either.
Still, we can’t leave out the fact that it’s only available in six different shades, meaning not everyone may be able to find their match. For such a highly rated product, we hope to see a more inclusive shade range from the brand soon.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, aloe | Size: 0.18 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Waterproof: L’Oréal Infallible Full Wear Waterproof Concealer
Feels drying to some
Whether you’re heading to a HIIT class or hitting the beach, you can depend on this waterproof concealer from L’Oréal to keep even the most persistent of zits and spots covered. The highest coverage and longest wear (24 hours!) concealer formula to come from the drugstore-favorite brand, this non-greasy formula offers a powerful matte finish that won’t fade, smudge, or transfer—even in H2O-heavy situations. Available in 25 different shades, it also can be used to contour and highlight the face.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Glycerin, dimenthicone | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Vegan: e.l.f. 16HR Camo Concealer
Moisturizes yet controls shine
Hard to apply
Amazing coverage for acne blemishes and doing good by animals—what more can we ask for out of concealer? e.l.f.’s 16HR Camo Concealer does just what its name implies, completely camouflaging blemishes, dark circles, and other spots for an impressive 16 hours. Its lightweight formula is highly pigmented and dries down to a lightweight matte finish that’ll never settle into fine lines or creases, and its 20+ shades are compatible with all skin types, offering vegan and cruelty-free goodness for all.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Avocado oil, kaolin clay | Size: 0.20 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Stick: Almay Skin Perfecting Comfort Concealer
Faint glitter is off-putting to some
Not into liquid concealers? This pigment-packed stick from Almay offers unbeatable medium-to-full coverage that lasts up to 12 hours. It has a soft, luminous finish but won’t ever crease or settle into fine lines and wrinkles, and its pointed tip allows for precise spot application. Plus, it’s clean, oil-free, fragrance-free, and dermatologist-tested, making it an ideal non-irritating and non-clogging option for those with acne-prone skin.
The formula is also super blendable, which explains why it’s currently only available in eight shades that span from light to dark. Even so, we hope to see them expand their offering to cover a wider, more inclusive range of skin colors and undertones in the future.
Finish: Matte | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, hyaluronic acid, kaolin clay | Size: 0.08 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What to Look for in a Drugstore Concealer for Acne
A concealer for covering up acne is slightly different than the one used to cover dark circles. Most people opt for a color that's the same shade as their foundation, but you can pick a lighter shade if you plan to use it for covering dark circles and highlighting, as well. Also, consider a green concealer. Green shades will cancel out any redness you may have from pimples or hyperpigmentation.
When looking for a drugstore concealer for acne, pay attention to the finish and your skin type. Matte concealers are great for those with oilier skin, as they can help keep oil at bay, which in turn will help prevent your breakouts from spreading and allow your application to last longer. Meanwhile, drier skin types may want to look for a concealer with a more natural to glowy finish to prevent the concealer from emphasizing any dry, flaky skin.
Trying new products when you have acne can be daunting. A great way to minimize exacerbating your acne with a new concealer is to check and see if it's non-comedogenic. This label means that it is specifically designed not to clog your pores, so it's less likely to break you out.
Does concealer go on before or after foundation?
For the most part, you can apply your concealer after foundation. Since foundation provides an even base for you to work on, applying concealer afterward will prevent you from using too much—which can make your pimple look cakey and more noticeable—and wasting too much product. However, there is an exception. Color correcting concealers (think the green shades we mentioned above) are meant to be applied before foundation to neutralize any colors that may peek through.
Can you put makeup over a popped pimple?
You can, but err on the side of caution. It's best to clean and treat the area first with a spot treatment followed by moisturizer. Once you've treated it, apply a thin layer of your concealer with a clean brush to help keep bacteria away. You could also use an acne patch before applying the concealer to really ensure it's protected.
14 Drugstore Concealers You'll Wish You Tried BeforeSpending Tons On High-End Brands. BuzzFeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/brittany_gibson/best-drugstore-concealers
Bains P, Kaur M, Kaur J, Sharma S. Nicotinamide: Mechanism of action and indications in dermatology. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2018;84(2):234-237. doi:10.4103/ijdvl.IJDVL_286_17
Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:455-461. doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765
Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.