How to Cover a Cold Sore


I mean does it get any more glamorous than the herpes simplex virus?! Yes, it does, but this is real life and as someone who’s been blessed with cold sores since I was little, I’m here to help a sista out. I want to be your cold sore savior when you feel that horrifying first tingle. Seems just thinking about them causes one. So I better stop talking and start telling you how to cover them!


So, in these photos, do you see how I’ve overlined my top lip on the left side of the photo? If you have a cold sore that extends above your lip line, with the over-lining trend lately, you’re in luck!

Normally, I don’t advocate over-lining but in this case? Go crazy. Use a lip liner or lip crayon to enclose your cold sore within your lip shape. I am wearing Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Provocateur here.

If you like this look, its from this Divine Caroline piece.


If your cold sore is inside your lip’s shape, that’s even easier. Just make sure to use a matte lipstick to minimize any textural differences and darker colors will be your friend here, helping to recede rather than bring forward. Try Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Sultry.

If your cold sore extends beyond your lip entirely, you’ll want to follow the multi-step process below:

If your cold sore is still in the blister stage, oh man-we are getting real-here’s what to do:

  1. You’ll want to apply a dab of powder first for the concealer to adhere to.
  2. Take a clean fingertip and very lightly pat on a cream concealer. Revlon PhotoReady Concealer would be a good texture for this. I recommend drawing the concealer onto your finger first rather than applying the stick directly to the cold sore. No need to contaminate your makeup if you don’t have to!
  3. Lightly press loose powder on top with a disposable sponge.
  4. If needed, add another thin layer of concealer then powder.

Now if your cold sore is past a blister and now a scab, there will likely be much more surface redness. So here’s the plan:

  1. First, dab a green or yellow-toned concealer onto your cold sore. This will knock out the initial redness by neutralizing it. Try the Maybelline Stick Concealer in either yellow or green. I vote green for more intense redness, yellow for more pinkness.
  2. Now, using a cream concealer, dab a tiny amount onto the scab, with a Q-tip or fingertip, careful not to extend past the perimeter.
  3. Now pat a loose powder onto your cold sore and go with God.


When I was getting frequent cold sores, I took the vitamin L-Lysine daily and didn’t get a cold sore the entire 2 years I took it. It certainly can’t hurt to try! I have also had good luck using Campho Phenique to speed drying.

I suggested mostly drugstore products since you’ll probably want to throw them out once your cold sore has healed or chop off the contaminated end of the concealer stick and discard. If you must use brushes vs. disposable applicators, for the love of all things holy, sanitize with alcohol.

I hope this has helped someone and that I haven’t lost everyone’s interest because I went there and talked about cold sores. Don’t worry-I’ll be back tomorrow with a perfectly virus-free makeup tutorial!


  1. Amanda Amaya

    01/13/2015 at 1:28 PM

    These are really good tips! You look lovely, by the way.

    1. Ivy Boyd

      01/13/2015 at 7:44 PM

      Thank you and thank you for reading! And you’re right–lipstick IS a life! 🙂

  2. Marie Martin

    01/13/2015 at 8:48 PM

    Ivy- I admire you for “covering” this topic! I’m sure it will help lots of people. And, remember, no kissing with a cold sore!

    1. Ivy Boyd

      01/13/2015 at 10:50 PM

      Hey, it’s real life! And yes-no smoochin!

  3. Lori Boyd

    01/15/2015 at 7:51 AM

    Thanks Ivy, great advice!!!!

    1. Ivy Boyd

      01/15/2015 at 11:20 AM

      Thanks Lori! I know we’ve commiserated about cold sores together!

  4. lush4blush

    01/15/2015 at 7:52 AM

    Great tips! I just got my first cold sore last year (and have had 3 since then) and I was so embarrassed and clueless on what to do! But I actually found a crazy thing that really worked in a YouTube video. I’ll link it below and When you watch it, it sounds absolutely insane, but all I can say is it works. I did it at night and the next morning it was practically gone. Also my brother (he gets them often) told me to take l-lysine too and I think it works wonders! watch I’ll probably jinx myself and get one now haha…. But anyway, here’s the link:

    Ps- I didn’t use a pin cause I’m not cray. But just used pressure and alcohol on a cotton pad. You’ll get it once you watch the video.

    1. Ivy Boyd

      01/15/2015 at 11:20 AM

      Ok, so weird because I had a full paragraph at the end, describing how I carefully drain the blister with a sanitized needle or pin and then immediately apply alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. I deleted it because I thought it was probably too gross, or people would think it caused blisters to multiply. It works for me though and at least speeds up healing to the more manageable scab stage. Thanks for reading and the video!

      1. lush4blush

        01/15/2015 at 11:25 AM

        I totally know what you mean and almost didn’t comment cause I thought you might be like “NO NEVER POP THE BLISTER THATS SO BAD.” Haha But I totally agree it’s much more manageable in the scab or healing stage. After I pop it I used the deodorant and Carmex overnight and it was gone. No scabbing at all. It was wonderful. Thank YOU for posting about this! Some people (me included) are too afraid to talk about the subject.

        1. Ivy Boyd

          01/15/2015 at 12:36 PM

          The deodorant part is interesting! And yes, I think I’m getting pretty good about talking about unattractive subjects. I’ve talked about arm hair, cold sores, hmm, what’s next?!

  5. Marianne

    11/30/2015 at 2:39 PM

    Great idea with the lip liner! Just suffered a cold sore. Found a great product you put over like a bandage. It’s clear and round, and takes a bit to get used to, but I was able to put my Maybleine 24 hour lipstick over it and you couldn’t see the bandage. I used clean q-tips to apply so as not to contaminate. Luckily my sore was on my lip, but if it has been hanging over, the lipstick would have looked weird! So remembering this just in case!

    1. Ivy Boyd

      11/30/2015 at 2:41 PM

      I’ve seen those little patches and wondered if they worked! Thanks so much for sharing that! I hope that neither one of us need that tip any time soon but so good to know! Thanks for reading!

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