Covering a Black Eye with Makeup

Updated on January 20, 2013

There are loads of articles, videos, blog posts out there about covering black eyes/bruises; problem is none of them really work. Oh the tips floating about might help for a slight bruise or an almost healed shiner but there isn’t much about covering that huge dark purple/red black eye. Likewise most of the people who do have the answer obviously don’t have that under eye wrinkle that powders just love to settle into. So here’s my take on covering that mega blemish when you really don’t want it noticed.

Just to clear my conscience, if your injury was caused by an abusive partner (not just women, many men suffer too and they’re not even ‘allowed’ to defend themselves) then please talk to someone about it; a therapist, family, a friend, a helpline… anyone. Nobody should have to go through that kind of physical and mental torment. To everyone else, be more careful! Obviously certain medication can facilitate bruising and I suppose boxers etc. can’t really help it but the easiest way to cover a black eye is not to get one! (Mine was caused in a bar fight; naughty naughty yes I know).

Step One

Anyhow, I’ll begin with the basics. First wash your whole face with warm water, use a scrub if you like (never use soap on your face, it dries out the skin and can clog pores) or whatever cleanser you like. I just use an everyday baby wipe, excellent for sensitive skin but not so much for makeup removal. Once clean, rinse with icy cold water to close your pores and pat dry with a towel (men should do this too, your buddies aren’t watching you in the bathroom and ladies love clean fresh skin).

Next moisturise, there’s a million moisturisers out there that all do similar things. I use Nivea but you just pick your favourite, Q10 plus is good for anti-aging (so my mother tells me and her skin is at least 20 years younger than her!) while my sister (acne-prone) uses Neutrogena’s Visibly Clear. My dad uses Sudocreme for eczema which is also good as a topical spot treatment but otherwise just pick your favourite. Men, I’m sure that the women you live with won’t notice you using theirs or if you live alone then buy one! Most moisturisers are cheap these days if you don’t have particular skin complaints or allergies.

Right prep done, now apply eyeshadow primer because we will be using a lot of make-up here and we don’t want it to settle into wrinkles, the crease of the eyelid or wear off during the day (or night). Facial primer will work if you don’t have any eye-specific stuff as will a tiny bit of Vaseline (and I mean tiny) but neither of these will last quite as long as real eyeshadow primer.


Next, examine the colour of your black-eye, it’s probably purple but could be red, black, blue, brown, yellow, green or even have sections of different colours all blending into each other. Make a note of this colour now because you’ll be needing it later.

Grab a coverstick, girls you probably know what this is, for the guys it looks like skin-tone lipstick (but it isn’t lipstick so don’t search that section of the store!) and is a really thick concealer. Cover the bruising entirely with the coverstick and blend the edges into your ‘normal skin by patting them with your fingertips or a blending brush. See, almost covered already! I wouldn’t go out with a massive circle of concealer around my eye though so let’s work on blending it into your face.

You all remember the colour wheel from art lessons or that paint chart you used to decorate your house right? Well its time to use it, the theory goes that opposite colours will cancel each other out so using the colours of your black eye (which you can’t really see anymore, that’s why you had to make note earlier) we can decide what colour to apply on top of the coverstick. Generally green will cancel red, orange will do blue, yellow for purple, lilac for green and brown varies depending on the brown. An extensive (matt) eyeshadow palette is vital here, I don’t know about you but it’s almost impossible to find a stand alone yellow that isn’t a pale gold or shimmery. Men you probably won’t have one of these so unless you can lend your wife/girlfriend/mother’s you’d better grab the sunglasses and head to the nearest make-up retailer. If you’re like me and have pale-medium skin then you want a light colour, darker/black skin will need a darker tone; under no circumstances use neon or glitter, you will look like a badly made-up clown.

Anyhow get your colour and apply it with a brush, fingers probably won’t get an accurate enough coverage here as you don’t want to get any outside the boarders of the bruising. Build the colour but keep it sheer; it’s much easier to add more than to take it all off. The advantages of using a powder eyeshadow are that they will set the coverstick (which can get quite sticky) and you won’t have to set them again with translucent powder. Mousse and cream eyeshadows will do the job as long as they’re set with translucent powder. An important point here is to dab the eyeshadow on, don’t sweep, swirl, brush it over the coverstick because it may rub and uncover the bruise beneath.

You can get colour correcting concealer that will do the job of the eyeshadow and coverstick, I haven’t tried them because well, I don’t have one. If you do have the right colour then don’t bother with coverstick and eyeshadow, just apply it over the bruising and blend the edges. Much simpler, unfortunately you don’t see them much in my area. Perhaps they’re more widespread outside of England but in my town at least, you only find them on the pricier make-up counters (Benefit, Mac etc.).

Back to Skin-tone

Right so now we’re stuck with a bright yellow/green/orange (or whatever) eye which probably looks worse than when we started. Oops… No worries, just get your concealer (the one with the best coverage), not coverstick this time because we’re going to apply it with a brush rather than rubbing it straight on. Guys, this is probably going to be a problem because the women who live with you are not likely to be a perfect skintone match (the same goes for foundation). If they are, great! If not, it’s back to the shops. Get some of the concealer on the back of your hand and load your concealer brush (the big eyeshadow brush you get in a set will do, just make sure it’s clean as you don’t want eyeshadow tinted concealer. Then dab the product all over they eyeshadow, extending it a little bit outside of the edges. Try to blend this as much as you can into your ‘normal’ skin but remember to DAB! Don’t start rubbing or smearing at this point as you’ll just rub off everything beneath.

Looking more like skin again? Good, now wait five minutes for the concealer to dry and grab your foundation. A long lasting, high coverage foundation is critical; tinted moisturiser, powders and sheer foundations won’t blend into the eye area, not with that much coverage and you’ll end up with a weird ‘eyepatch’ effect. Apply the foundation to your face as normal (men, this means a little bit all over, right up to the hairline, blended down your neck and onto/behind your ears; this goes for some women too). When you get to your eye area, you’re best off using a sponge or foundation/stipple brush. If you know what you’re doing then use your finger but do not rub, do not use a circle motion, do not swipe, slide or glide your fingers while applying foundation because it WILL rub away the concealers.


Finishing Touches

So once it all looks blended (I’d say natural but you probably look a little too airbrushed to be natural) wait five minutes for your foundation to dry. Then get a translucent powder or setting powder which matches your foundation. You want a big powder brush or fluffy powder puff for this part. Load up your brush/puff, tap a brush over your arm to remove excess or flick a powder puff for the same purpose before you apply the powder to your face, again dab it on the eye area though you can use whatever motion on the rest of your face. You don’t need a lot, heaping on the powder will create that cakey/flakey effect and also worsen wrinkles when the powder settles into them.

Now you should be hardly able to notice your eye (step back from the mirror, most people are not going to be three inches from your face), finish up the rest of your make-up, being especially careful with eyeliner/eye make-up, and viola! A whole new non-bruised you!

An extra tip is to distract people from your eyes, so go easy on the liner/mascara and instead use a nice bold lipstick (even more distracting on men!). Try doing your hair in an unusual style or wear a bright-coloured outfit. Anything to make people look away from your eyes will do.

I hope this method worked for you, best wishes for a quick healing time, if this hub helped you then please help me by leaving a rating or comment below, thanks for reading!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image


        17 months ago

        What color eye shadow should we put on yellow areas - or just do the other steps?

      • TanyaVan profile image


        21 months ago

        Thank you for the very detailed article, Kristen. I'm going to use color correcting concealers to cover my 7 days old and still very dark purple (though reduced in size) bruise. Will let you know if this worked.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        Thanks will try this method

      • minikitten profile imageAUTHOR


        3 years ago from England

        If it didn't work it could be the colour you're using to correct, if the eye's still red try adding a bit of green. A salmony pink can help with certian tones as well. Every bruise will be a slightly different colour and it takes a bit of experimentation if yellow doesn't cover it the first time.

        If you've still got time before the wedding, use a warm compress (or a sock full of rice warmed up in the microwave) to help stimulate the circulation to the eye area. It'll help it fade faster.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        it didnt work!

      • minikitten profile imageAUTHOR


        3 years ago from England

        Yeah the powders in the eyeshadow set the makeup, unlike a lot of concealers on their own which tend to melt, happy it worked well for you!

      • profile image

        Miss L 

        3 years ago

        Fantastic, a bit greasy, but it's really hot here.

        Didn't budge for 10 hours.


      • profile image


        3 years ago

        Thanks. Got elbowed at a Madonna concert Thursday night so these tips really help.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        this was so helpful. I have an appointment tomorrow and this is helping me from having to answer a billion unwanted questions!

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        It has been 5 days and my eye is still purple ( skin below eye) used ice then warm compress cold tea bags how long does it take for it to go away?

      • minikitten profile imageAUTHOR


        4 years ago from England

        Ouch :-P Glad I could help

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Excellent! Football in face on the first match of the season.. big nose. Black eye. My job involves a lot of potentional customers. Great advice. Ta.

      • minikitten profile imageAUTHOR


        5 years ago from England

        Hey, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. While makeup is certianly your best bet given that the wedding is in a few days you could speed up the healing of a black eye by using a warm compress (try putting rice in a sock and microwaving it for a minute or two, make sure its not too hot!). Heat increases blood flow to the area which helps the old 'bruise' blood to be taken away. To anyone else who might read this comment then please note that you should not use a warm compress during the first 36 hours of a black eye as the blood vessels might still be broken and this will just make the black eye worse!

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Struggling to know what to do. My daughter is getting married in 5 days time and with months of planning, excitement and preparation I fall ill, faint and hit my face on a hard tiled floor. Have now a lovely black eye just in time for the big day. Gutted! Any advise would be gratefully received.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Sounds helpful, going to have to try this. Fell and hit my face and its just a few days til my wedding. Fingers crossed!

      • minikitten profile imageAUTHOR


        6 years ago from England

        you're welcome, hope you managed to get the eye covered up without too much trouble; make-up can be tricky for beginners. Thanks for the comment :)

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        Very helpful. I'm a man with a black eye--never knew anything about make-up until I read this. Thanks.


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