How to properly and completely conceal a cold sore with makeup.

Don’t worry, I don’t really want to look at pictures of me with a cold sore either.

But! If it helps women who are fed up with having their face hijacked by these vile offenders to look and feel better, then it’s obviously worth it. Now please excuse me while I adjust my halo.


Ensure you have destroyed your cold sore thoroughly, using the artillery and techniques listed here.

Obviously the best case scenario is that you avoid events and outings until your cold sore has hit the dry, flaky healed stage (and remember: you must wear those Compeed patches until then, if you stop using them too early, it will scab and then every dingus and his dog will notice your big, red cold sore. The patches stop the scab from occurring, that is their magic), but this isn’t always viable because often we have jobs and a life and need to buy groceries or attend birthday parties or pan flute class.

So, here’s what to do in the meantime, here is a tried and tested, friends-have-done-it-too-and-swear-by-it way to completely conceal your cold sore, which I sincerely hope works for you.

NOTE: Some people prefer to just apply a paw paw cream to the cold sore and a lot of shiny nude lip gloss when they go out, and look, in the past I have recommend playing up the eyes and leaving the lips nude so as not to draw attention to them/that area/the sore, but over the past few years I have much favoured the technique below, which is a dark long-last lipstick with bronzer and fresh, wide-awake eyes. I feel more confident, and I feel like the cold sore is far less visible. To the point of invisible, in fact. Try it out anyway, and see if it suits you.


photo 1

Remove your patch and allow the sore to dry off. Apply some nail polish remover to some tissue and press on the sore for 10-20 seconds. Yes, really. This will further dry it out, which is what you want before applying this kind of concealing sorcery (and going without your patches for several hours.)

Apply a pure lip balm to your lips to hydrate them – crucial when you wear a long-last lipstick as they’re generally pretty drying. Apply foundation all over the face.

photo 3

Grab some creamy concealer – I used Maybelline NY Fit Me concealer- and apply a small amount to your index finger. 

photo 8

Gently press the concealer onto the cold sore. Do a few layers if required. 

photo 7

Once it’s completely covered, go on and press concealer over the lips.

photo 7x2

IF you prefer to play up your eyes, or are not one for bright lipstick, you could realistically stop here. Keep in mind though that the lips will crack and flake soon, (they will likely already be dry and cracked because lips that harbour cold sores are always fucking dry and cracked  for some reason) and will need more balm and concealer.

photo 10

The magic product! Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato. Is a lovely warm red lipstick that DOES NOT MOVE FOR HOURS AND HOURS and is fantastic as a stand alone product, but since it has saved my arse many times in cold sore situations (I never travel without it for just this reason) I have come to fondly think of it as my Cold Sore Wizard.
Revlon must be so proud.

photo 12

Apply using a cotton tip, a disposable lip brush or the applicator if you are CONVINCED the cold sore is dead/you need a new tube and this will be its last use as in my case. We all know about cold sores and spreading them via lip products, toothbrushes, etc…

photo 15

Be sure to take the colour right into the corners and do the entire outline of the lips. This is acting as camouflage, remember: it needs to be thorough. Spend time ensuring you cover any portion of the cold sore on the lips properly and neatly, and work fast cos it sets quick. I do two layers.

photo 15x2

Now take a waxy, long-last hard concealer – I use Revlon’s PhotoReady Concealer – and apply a small amount to your index finger.

photo 16 

Gently press the concealer over the site of cold sore with your finger to set it, and ensure it is thoroughly concealed. Do this around the entire mouth so it is uniform, ensuring you still have a fetching sharp red lipstick line. if you like, you can set with a touch of loose powder too, although I find powder can sometimes exacerbate any of the flakes/bumps.

photo 17

What cold sore?  NO cold sore. Well done, you clever bastard. You have completely concealed that thing.

photo 18

As perfect as it looks now, and as steadfast as that lipstick and concealer is, it will need maintenance and for you to keep your eye on things. So, after eating, drinking (not a problem if you use a straw) or just a couple of hours,
I would lightly conceal and lipstick again.


…. And there you have it! How to make your own baked ricotta cheesecake using only your microwave and a pair of dice.

Responses to this drivel: 47 Comments
Responses to this drivel ( 47 )
  • Nat

    Great post Zoe, love you work! On a completely unrelated note, I’m loving the neckline of your top, where’d you get it? I’m grey tee obsessed!

  • caity

    Wow what a great trick!
    Is it only good for the end stages of a cold sore or can you use this at any stage ?

  • kirsty

    thanks for that …my problem is that the buggers ususally take over the middle of my lower lip as well!!!!..does the same concealing approach still apply…?? ta

  • Sinead

    Do you have any advice for a good balm? Every time I try and put colour on dry, cracked lips they get all flaky and disgusting.

  • Sally Albright

    What is a “pure lip balm” for the purposes of lipstick stickability? I use Blistex and Lanolips for their nourishing properties, but these don’t seem to make a great base for a colourful and stickable lip.

  • Caroline cocker

    The Revlon lipstick’s making my heart beat a little faster. Only twelve bazillion years until it comes to the uk…YAY!

  • jess

    Hi Zoe, great post, however question: if you use the lipstick on a cold sore, won’t the virus still be on the lipstick next time you use it?? =(

    • JR

      “Apply using a cotton tip, a disposable lip brush or the applicator if you are CONVINCED the cold sore is dead/you need a new tube and this will be its last use as in my case. We all know about cold sores and spreading them via lip products, toothbrushes, etc..”

    • emma

      I’m pretty sure that the cold sore is only contagious during the tingly coming up stage and whole there is fluid inside. Once it has scabbed over it isn’t anymore…However, use your finger to apply all cosmetics until it has gone and with each application a new finger or wipe in between.

  • caitie

    Love this.. if only I got cold sores on my lip! I get them under my left nostril, ain’t no hiding that bad boy. Like a pustulous lava flow from within my brain has decided to dribble down my nostril into a molten coldsore. Solution: Paperbag.

  • Sarah

    Hi Zoe – This may be the wrong post to ask this question…but im in URGENT help of fixing my congested skin! Just recently ive woken up with a whole new face it seems..and I was wondering if you could recommend either a Spa that has a good facial that may help or some products to buy? Thank you!

  • Joyce

    you, my friend are a heaven sent genius. all hail the great zoe

  • Nelly

    Hi Zoe, I have followed your blog for some time and have recommended it to many people… but the last few months it hasn’t been doing much for me. Either it’s the review of a single product (which reads like a sponsored ad) or just ho-hum blogs (12 comments on herpes backs me up.) Where have the mamamia days gone where there was a fun post where I would feel like I’d got an insider’s special secrets, and got me enthused about make-up, and made me rush out to buy products, and where I read trhough the comments to get everyone else’s tips?? Sorry for the negative feedback but I’m disappointed as I have always loved your blog.

    • etal

      hey nelly…i opened ‘fruity beauty’ looking for another inspirational, funny, informative blog and unfortuenately nothing new posted…read your comment and much to my sadness, parts of me agree with you…posts of late have appeared like add’s for products or even ‘repeats’of past/similar posts…anyway, am a huge fan and like you, have recommended it to many..so will continue to look and keep ‘fruity beauty’ in in my ‘favourites’

  • Kiss & Make-up

    I can’t tell at all, awesome! In my post of today I had to show pictures of my lips, and I actually had a cold sore at the time I took them. It shows though.

  • Katerina K

    Well, I absolutely loved this post. I used to get little harmless cold sores ALL the time. Now, I only get one per year but they are damn naaaaasty ones. I don’t know what I would prefer. But this post is definitely being bookmarked for next time a cold sore attacks. I’m not one for bright lip colours but I do use a Sephora “Colour Reveal” lip balm that gradually gets pinker and is oh so moisturising. Can’t wait to try it with your tips!

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  • Natalie

    Hey, I recently move to PA from an island, which was summer all the time and apparently the cold sores here, like to come out a lot. I usually get them, but not this bad. It keeps spreading all over my lips but I’ve had them for three days already. Where was you blog there days ago?!?!? Point is that I have class tomorrow and its horrible the way they look, sadly I don’t have any concealer here because I usually don’t wear makeup. This is horrible every time I go out I think people are staring at the monstrous thing I have on my lip, I haven’t seen go to class in two days, but I have to go tomorrow. Any tips? Any advice? Please HELP! I’m kind of desperate here. 

    • Tamara Hartles

      I wouldn’t care what people think I used to be worried to about peoples reactions about my cold sores, I get them very bad aswell mine kinda spread around my lip too. I normaly use cold sore creams or instead of using cream if it may look abit weird you can use these plaster things which are transparent. . they help by trapping away germs and bacteria on you face so the sore doesn’t get any worse ( I think hahah ). hope this helps.

      also if you have the time please check out my blog. its called Tamara Hartles . thankyou x.

  • Carla

    Great post. If nothing else, it gave me a laugh when i woke up with a cold sore on my wedding day last weekend. Not enough time to follow this guide then but certainly one i will be using in future.

  • tamara hartles

    hey I get cold sores does anyone have any tips or tricks they use to get rid of a cold sore? x

    • Tillie

      I highly recommend some thing you can get from the chemist called FAMVIR. It was prescription medication, but here in Australia they have made it over the counter now, thank Gawd! It is a 3 tablet pack of anti viral and it needs to be taken as soon as symptoms appear tingles, swelling, itching or redness you know the signs! I find if I take it early enough it will stop it in its tracks if I’m a bit late it will reduce the size and length of healing. I always keep a spare pack at home for emergencies. 

  • Marie-Claire

    I can not overstate how much I love you for posting this. I had a wedding to go to that was going to be full of people I hadn’t seen in 10 years. I was nervous, so naturally my face decided to erupt in to the Mother of All Cold Sores. After throwing a (huge) tantrum, I followed your tips to the letter, and it was invisible on the night. Thank you xxx

  • Becky

    I am in kind of an emergency right now. My cold sore is flaring up and I have to appear in a video tomorrow!! I am in the blistering/tingling/swollen stage. I’ve spent half of day popping them suckers and applying alcohol and lysine gel.  Its still tingling and throbbing. I care less about the redness than the swollen factor..do you have any suggestions on reducing the bump? I have taken 1000mg lysine pills and vit C. Should I cancel my gig? :'(

  • amy

    Thanks for the idea ill have to try though my cold sore is not as healed as yours. Im at the stage where the scab is off and it is all red so im not sure if i should keep it moist or dry.I wish these suckers didnt exist.

  • James

    I am a male and I want to Thank you. I have no prior experience with makeup but this tutorial is simple and precise. I have no trouble following it. I never knew how good the conceal can work and it can last all day, very impressive. 

  • Kristin

    How do you recommend taking the lipstick off the cold sore? 

  • Lisa

    Oh boy, this is EXACTLY the steps I needed. I woke up with not one, not two but THREE f-off cold sores and have passed through the ‘puffer fish’ look and am ready to enter society again. I’m not so savvy with makeup but this has made me confident enough to enter the world during the current ‘scab’ stage. ugh. but thank you.

  • How To Properly Put On Makeup In Stages | Divine Cheryl

    […] How to properly and completely conceal a cold sore … – Don’t worry, I don’t really want to look at pictures of me with a cold sore either. But! If it helps women who are fed up with having their face hijacked by these … […]

  • Martha Harper

    Hi Zoe,

    Thank you so much for this, its really bene a lifesaver since I got my FIRST cold sore last week :(. I have noticed the possibility of a second cold sore appearing this week too :(. I have followed your advice in your previous post, however I really want to cover it with makeup but my friends have sad DO NOT under any circumstances put makeup on it. Do you find that putting makeup on the sore on the3rd/4th day makes it worse? Or if I have the patch/NPR on most of them time and am taking lysine, I can take it off for a night out and put makeup on it?

    Please let me know I am so confused!



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  • Liza Taylor

    Thank you, Zoe.

  • Linda Begy

    Has anyone else read Samantha Rollins new book on How to Stop Cold Sore Outbreaks and HSV-1 While Getting Youthful Skin. I loved the fact that I did not have to have an outbreak ever. The “how” is in the protocol.

  • Kitty

    Just FYI. Cold sore virus can live seconds outside the body so no need to burn the house down or get rid of everything after you use it. I’d be wary of lipsticks because if you put the applicator inside the tube it certainly is an environment full of moisture, but apart from that… Great tips btw! 🙂 I used Compeed in the past because I get one on the top of my lip. Will try this when it’s dry ❤️

  • Jules

    Hi Zoe, do you have any tips for when my lips are really swollen due to the sore?
    I have tried icing them but that didn’t work:(
    I woke up with 3 cold sores this morning. Yes! 3! so bad :((( HELP please! thank you

  • best lipstick

    Interesting post. Those tips are helpful considering that it is one of the common concerns. Thanks for this.

  • Jade

    Thanks for this Zoe!
    I hate cold sores
    I’m always in the public eye due to my job and it makes me feel self conscious and ugly and just like I can’t perform my best for fear of people thinking I’m some scabby scum job!!! 
    I know 1 in 3 people have cold sores so they’re common AF. Still doesn’t make me feel better. 

    But this does! Thank you so much!

  • Tina

    you helped me out with my lips problem.
    love that make up 🙂
    tina wimpernverlängerung

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