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The Guy’s Guide on How To Hide a Cold Sore

how to hide a cold sore for guys


If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you know how embarrassing those blisters can be. Whether you’re meeting up with friends, going on a date, or just heading to the store, it’s hard not to wonder if everyone is staring at your lip!

So the question is, what’s the best way to hide a cold sore? Women often use makeup, but are there other options for men?

Men have a few options to cover up their cold sores, and yes, makeup is one of them. Explore your choices below to find the best way to hide even your worst cold sores. 

How To Hide a Cold Sore for Guys: the 3 Best Techniques

It’s tempting to cover up your cold sore as soon as it becomes visible, but that may not be the best choice. In their earliest stages, cold sores are open and vulnerable to infection. Applying products to a fresh cold sore may slow the healing process or trigger an infection. It’s important to use the right techniques at the right stages to keep from prolonging your cold sore’s healing.

Cold sores progress through five distinct stages during every outbreak:

  1. An itching and burning feeling develops under the skin, indicating a cold sore is forming.
  2. Fluid-filled cold sore blisters develop on or around the mouth.
  3. The blister bursts or “weeps” and releases its fluids.
  4. The cold sore dries up into a yellow and brown crust or scab.
  5. Cold sore scabs heal and the skin looks healthy again.

Knowing where your cold sore is in this cycle can help you determine which method you should use to reduce or cover up its appearance.


In stages one through three, before a scab forms, try applying ice to your cold sore blister. Though ice can’t work miracles, it can alleviate swelling in order to reduce the appearance of cold sores.

This home remedy works best when done for 20 minutes, three times a day. If you begin applying ice at the first sign of that dreaded cold sore “tingle” (stage one), you may be able to significantly reduce the pain and swelling you experience in the first place. 


Cold Sore Patch Products

Cold sore patches may be used up to stage three of the cold sore cycle, before a scab forms. These patches are slightly opaque and designed to merge your skin tone with the red or yellow color of your cold sore. Many discreet cold sore patches also contain medications like hydrocolloid to accelerate healing. 


Starting in stage four of the cold sore cycle, makeup really is the best option for concealment, even for men. Many men are uncomfortable with the thought of using makeup, but it might be better to think of these products as tools of camouflage. They’re simply helping your cold sore blister blend in with its surroundings.

Fortunately, there are makeup brands formulated specifically for men. While women’s makeup highlights bold colors and trends, men’s makeup remains simple and streamlined. Once your cold sore finishes “weeping” and develops a scab, try one of these brands made specifically for men.

War Paint For Men offers a cream-based concealer that promises to hide under-eye circles, spots, scars and blemishes on the skin. It’s thicker than the foundation women use to cover imperfections, which makes it a good choice to cover up a cold sore.

Stryx is another popular brand for men. Stryx products such as concealer, tinted moisturizer, and bronzing gel are designed to blend seamlessly into the skin while covering blemishes like cold sores. 

Or consider Tom Ford For Men, a trusted brand that offers a concealing stick in three different shades. These allow you to quickly camouflage blemishes like cold sores and look and feel your best. 

how to hide a cold sore for guys

How To Cover Cold Sores With Makeup

Not sure where to begin? Camouflaging a cold sore with makeup isn’t tricky. Follow these simple instructions to conceal your worst cold sores and get back to what matters most with confidence. 

Don’t Pick at Your Cold Sore!

Just like you shouldn’t pick at chickenpox spots, you shouldn’t pick at your cold sore! Every time you touch a cold sore, you risk spreading the virus that causes it to other parts of your body or to other people you contact.

Picking at your cold sore also increases the risk of infection and scarring. If you’re tempted to touch your blister, find a cotton swab and apply an ointment or medication for relief instead. And always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you do touch your blister.


Dry Out Your Cold Sore

If you pay attention to the life cycle of your cold sore, you can strategically dry out your cold sore during the right stages to prevent infection and speed up the healing process. Try the following ways to dry your cold sore during stages one through three and to reach the stage for makeup faster.


According to the Infectious Disease Research Center, the toothpaste ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) suppresses the activity of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores. If you apply toothpaste over your skin at the earliest signs of a cold sore outbreak, your sore may not erupt so aggressively. 

This is as easy as applying a thin layer of white, non-gel toothpaste over your cold sore area. It’s best to do this before bed so that your cold sore can dry out as you sleep. 


Salt helps alleviate cold sore discomfort by drawing out the extra moisture that the herpes virus needs to thrive. Just moisten your index finger and apply salt directly to your cold sore. Gently press the salt against your sore for 30 seconds. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Red Light

Red light therapy is clinically proven to gently, safely and effectively dry out cold sores. Medically optimized light from red light devices like the Luminance RED is absorbed and metabolized by the skin, then converted into cellular energy used to support the healing process. 

Start Applying Makeup

Now that your cold sore is prepped and ready to be concealed, you can begin the camouflaging process. 

First, it may help to apply cold sore medication like Abreva or Orajel. Each medication offers its own perks, such as numbing pain, hydrating dryness, or soothing irritation. Choose the medication that best meets your needs so that you can stay comfortable all day. 

Next, apply a full-coverage foundation until it’s well-blended with your skin. Your layer of foundation should be light and natural, but should provide enough coverage to support the addition of concealer in the next step. 

Finally, use a disposable applicator like a Q-tip or cotton ball to apply concealer over your cold sore. Apply lightly and in layers until your cold sore blends in with the rest of your skin and loses its angry appearance. It may take some experimenting, but you’ll be able to find the right blend of foundation and concealer fairly quickly.

Remember not to touch any makeup containers with your applicator or fingers again once you’ve used it. Instead, use a new applicator each time.

When you’re done, your cold sore will be disguised behind carefully layered makeup that looks as natural as your own skin. Depending on your routine, you may need to reapply concealer once or twice to stop your cold sore from making an uninvited appearance later during the day.

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