How to Cover a Cold Sore

by Kay Ireland ; Updated August 14, 2017

Yes, a chapped and red cold sore on your face can dampen your personal style in an instant. In fact, it's hard to put your best face forward when you're trying to hide an unsightly fever blister that appears suddenly on your mouth or near your nose. Thankfully, you can cover this beauty emergency with a few expert makeup tips and tricks. Before you try to cover a cold sore, however, make sure to apply a topical treatment so that the makeup doesn't make your cold sore even more noticeable.

Apply a thin layer of topical ointment to your cold sore. PaulasChoice.com recommends an over-the-counter ointment containing docosanol such as Abreva, or your doctor may prescribe an oral medication containing acyclovir or valacyclovir. Make sure you apply the cold sore treatment first to speed up the healing process while you conceal the blemish with makeup.

Add a thin layer of petroleum jelly, suggests "Cosmopolitan" magazine. Any makeup you apply directly on the sore will become flaky and highlight the blemish, instead of covering it. A layer of petroleum jelly protects your cold sore from further damage, while creating a smooth surface for makeup application.

Dab a thin, liquid-based concealer over the cold sore with your ring finger. Your ring finger uses a lighter touch so you don't add too much makeup with your index finger. If possible, choose a minty-green colored concealer. Because green is opposite red on the color wheel, they effectively cancel each other out for better coverage and more neutral coloring.

Fix the rest of your makeup as usual, concentrating on adding foundation around the cold sore to blend the greenish tint with the rest of your skin. Apply foundation sparingly around the mouth; makeup on the mouth can be a dead giveaway that you've put on too much makeup and can make the site of your cold sore more obvious.

Add a light dusting of translucent powder with a cotton ball to set the look. To keep the makeup from flaking and falling off the blemish, do not overpower the cold sore with powder. Dab a few cotton swabs in concealer and foundation and place them in a small plastic bag. When you need to touch up your makeup, you'll have the ideal amount on hand without having to take your entire makeup bag.


  • To cover and smooth the area around the perimeter of the cold sore completely, use a small makeup brush or a makeup sponge -- instead of your fingertips -- to apply the concealer.

Photo Credits

  • Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.