First of all, don’t pick or squeeze (but you already knew that). I’ve learned the hard way: it’s much easier to conceal a smooth bump than an irritated, crusty, flaky one. You may even want to lay off the topical treatments if you get the cystic kind of pimples, because they’ll only dry out your skin without treating the underlying inflammation.
So pimples are red, yes? A lot of people swear by colour correctors—so, the green ones would counteract the red— this may be an unnecessary step. What works for me is to first cover the area (along with the rest of my face) as per my usual routine with a liquid foundation.
Then I’m ready to go in and do the detail work with actual concealer. You want one with an opaque, creamy texture that will stay put and not cake or smear. The ones in a pot, like TheBalm TimeBalm Concealer, are great…
Now, here is the trick…use a LIP BRUSH to cover your pimple! Unlike concealer brushes, which have a larger, flat head, lip brushes are small and pointy—and therefore perfect for dabbing the tiniest, most precise amount of concealer on to the target. I’ll say that again: you want to DAB, not rub, and concentrate the concealer just on the discolouration of the pimple itself, not the surrounding area. This is really the key to a natural look.
Next I recommend setting your work with a pressed powder to make sure it stays put all day. My favorite is Cover Girl Clean in warm beige. I have been using this on myself since I was in high school. To this day, I haven’t found a better pressed powder!
For the pimple, don’t use the sponge applicator. I actually take a bit of powder on my finger and press it into the pimple by hand, since dusting with a brush can rub off some of the concealer. I let it sit for maybe a minute or two before I take a small fluffy eyeshadow brush and blend the powder out. (You’ll want to use the powder everywhere you get shiny, not just where the pimple is—otherwise your skin will look weirdly matte in one spot.)
The last step is a spritz of facial mist: