How to Hide a Hangover With Makeup

Updated on November 19, 2019
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant by profession, Jayne has been advising on correct skin and hair care, makeup, and other cosmetics for almost 20 years.


You need time to recover from the ravages of overenthusiastic alcohol consumption, so the best time for a night on the town is when you don't have to go anywhere the following day.

If only it were that simple.

There is such a thing as a spontaneous night out. Or perhaps your schedule doesn't allow for a complete day of rest. This is often the case during the festive season when you're expected to be on top form for days on end while fulfilling countless social obligations.

If you like to party, or if there are numerous celebrations to look forward to, it might be worth putting together an extra beauty kit just in case you feel obliged to accept a cup too much.

Preparing Your Skin

You need makeup more than ever when you're tired and hungover. The trouble is, it either tends not to go on properly or, if it does, doesn't stay on for very long. It's because alcohol induced chemical reactions within the body lead to dehydration and pH imbalances of the skin.

An aspirin and plenty of water help, but applying a richer moisturizer and more makeup than usual doesn't.

When you're hungover, it's only natural to reach for a heavier face cream to stop yourself feeling dried out, but this is actually the worst thing you can do. It impairs the covering quality of foundation and concealer and causes eye and lip makeup to smudge and feather. What you really need is an easily absorbed serum to hydrate and plump up skin, followed by a water-based moisturizer (if any), and a foundation primer.

Primer is essential. It improves the surface quality of the skin, providing a better base upon which to apply makeup. It also makes foundation last longer, reduces shadows, and helps to even out skin tone.

You'll need a green color corrector beneath your foundation if your skin is particularly red and blotchy.

Makeup to Hide a Hangover

Rather than applying more makeup than usual, pay attention to the type of makeup you use and which colors.

Pay attention to the type of makeup you use and which colors.
Pay attention to the type of makeup you use and which colors. | Source

The Ideal "Hangover Foundation"

Foundation is a must. The ideal "hangover foundation" keeps skin hydrated, covers blemishes and unwanted shadows (like under eye circles), and has a lot of staying power.

Try a product like Laura Mercier’s Silk Creme long-wear foundation. It's an oil-free cream product with moisture balancing properties and silk proteins.

Silk proteins are amino acids that enable foundation to adhere to the skin, meaning you won't need to fix with powder, which can make your face feel dry and wrinkly when you’re hungover. Because it leaves a matte but luminous finish, you won't need powder to take off shine, either.

If you don't have Laura Mercier's Silk Creme foundation, you can achieve a comparable luminous finish by mixing four parts liquid foundation with one part illuminator. Something like Smashbox's Artificial Light Luminizing Lotion is a good choice. It lends a natural looking glow and won't alter the color of your foundation. After applying, fix with the lightest dusting of translucent powder.

Tinted moisturizers and alphabet creams can also be mixed with illuminator if you prefer these to foundation.

Concealer to Hide Dark Circles

If under eye circles show through your foundation, apply concealer. Like your foundation, it should match your skin tone exactly, but be aware that a pink toned product can make dark circles appear blue, which only worsens the problem.

To camouflage particularly dark circles, wear a yellow color corrector beneath your foundation. In case you don't have one, an orange lipstick will also do the trick.

Place highlights at your inner and outer eye corners using a concealer product two shades lighter than your complexion for added freshness and a lifting effect.

Clarity and Sparkle With the Right Eye Makeup

Apart from mascara, keep your eye makeup as light and sparse as possible. If you wear too much or a shade that's too dark, your eyes will appear dull and you'll look as tired as you feel.

Eye Shadow

Unlike blue and purple eye shadow, natural tones of brown, beige and peach don't emphasize unwanted shadows and suit every eye color. Apply a darker shade to the crease of the upper lid, and add sparkle by placing a highlight at the arch of the brow and the center of the lid using a very light shade.

Use only matte, powder eye shadow—gloss and satin products accentuate puffiness, wrinkles, and fine lines.


A very light or neutral eyeliner applied to the waterline makes tired or red-rimmed eyes look fresher and clearer.


Curl your lashes to make your eyes seem more open and alert, and apply plenty of lengthening mascara. Avoid thickening or volumizing products—these cast shadows, which is the last thing you want when you're hungover. Leave your bottom lashes bare to avoid emphasizing under eye circles.

Wear black mascara to make the whites of your eyes appear whiter.

Subtle Blush

Blush can give your complexion a healthy-looking radiance, but only if it's very subtle. Depending on your natural skin tone, a light dusting of powder blush in either apricot or a soft rosy pink is all you need. Blush that is too obvious when you're feeling under the weather creates a harsh, "painted-on" effect.

If you don't own a subtle powder blush, try applying cream blush under your foundation so that just a hint of color shimmers through.

Cream blush, by the way, is always the best choice if you're wearing a tinted moisturizer or alphabet cream.

If you usually take your blush or shading product beyond the apples of your cheeks, your best option is a foundation two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Bronzer and other powder products used for shading and sculpting tend to look messy when you're not up to par. Foundation has a more flattering, subdued effect and is easier to blend.

Blush that is too obvious when you are feeling under the weather creates a harsh, painted-on effect.
Blush that is too obvious when you are feeling under the weather creates a harsh, painted-on effect. | Source

Lip Colors to Brighten the Complexion

Dark lip colors are always taboo if you're not feeling good, however, a vibrant red can detract attention from tired eyes.

But if vibrant lipsticks seem too severe or are inappropriate, lip gloss in pink or apricot can brighten even the dullest complexion while making lips look fuller and moister. Or apply a soft toned lipstick straight from the tube for a breezy, casual look.

A Steady Hand

A hangover makes even the easiest task seem difficult, and putting on makeup with a tremor in your hand can prove near impossible. A makeup remover pen (by Océane Femme or ELF Cosmetics, for example) is the perfect way to clean up smudges and mishaps, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Alternatively, use a Q-tip moistened with eye make-up remover.

Before You Go to Bed After a Night Out

Finally, here are three things you can do before going to bed to make you look a little less the worse for wear the next day:

  1. Drink plenty of water to counteract the dehydrating effect of alcohol.
  2. Remove your makeup.
  3. Sleep with an extra pillow. This promotes lymph drainage, which reduces swelling and puffiness the following morning, especially around the eyes. If your eyes are puffy when you wake up, apply cold tea bags, cucumber slices, or potato slices for 15 minutes to reduce swelling.

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.

© 2014 Jayne Lancer


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    • Jayne Lancer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayne Lancer 

      5 years ago from West London, UK

      The ability to inconspicuously hide a hangover with make-up is one of the advantages of being a woman. :) But there are things a man can do without using actual make-up, all of which I've mentioned: he can use serum and moisturizer to plump up skin; apply foundation primer to even out skin tone; curl his lashes with an eyelash curler to look more awake; place cold teabags, cucumber or potato slices on his eyes to reduce puffiness; sleep with an extra pillow to promote lymph drainage which helps prevent swelling; drink plenty of water before going to bed to counteract alcohol induced dehydration; and take an aspirin.

      The only make-up I'd recommend is concealer to hide under eye circles, but it must be applied skillfully in order not to look obvious. Bronzing towelettes are a good idea for a healthy but discreet sun-kissed look. It's best to use them before going to bed if possible. The color is then fully developed by morning, and any patchiness can be evened out by washing.

    • Buildreps profile image


      5 years ago from Europe

      Very nice subject. Do you have suggestions for the male readers? Or should I follow your make-up tips next time? :D


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