How to Cover a Cold Sore Because That's Beauty DEFCON 5

Ready the nuclear football.

Lip, Carmine, Tooth, Graphics, Coquelicot, Clip art, Peach, Illustration, Drawing, Marine mammal,
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

It hurts. It's unsightly. It's...the cold sore that crops up twice a year because of some mystifying configuration of your wonky hormones, recent travel, stress levels, sun exposure, and the Dow Jones industrial average 17 days before you started ovulating. Our bodies, ourselves, etc. But who even cares *how* when there's the question of "What'll it take to get this damn thing off my face, I can't just go into hiding until it clears up?"

Well #AMA, because one such bugger emerged on my lip over the weekend, when I was meant to give a semi-important presentation. True, the audience was mostly several feet away and down (while I was onstage), but all the same, Bay Area makeup artist Asal made a valiant effort that resulted in me looking and feeling normal enough to not do the whole thing with the top half of this pink guy over my head. Here is what we—okay, she, mostly—did, as told in the only song of ice and fire you're going to read for a very, very long time.

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Ice, or the Only Bit I Played Any Part in (Aside from Growing the Cold Sore)

Because I'd felt blisters coming on before I boarded my flight, I'd had enough foresight to be like "Oh, @$%^, better bring this tube of Abreva along, even though the pump is definitely manufactured to release way more product than you'd ever need at once so you'd have to buy more faster." As I treated and cursed the twisted ingenuity of Big Pharma, I also went to the hotel ice machine, filled a bucket, and promptly held cube after cube to the sore spot. (Do not wrap in a towel, because that's just asking for further contamination.) By the morning, the swelling will have gone down, providing a flatter surface for coverage.

An Interlude About Safety

In addition to being ugly and exasperating, cold sores are contagious. Which means you must take precautions against ruining everything in your makeup bag because you weren't careful. After applying medication (this one dries clear), dip a clean finger in concealer to pick up enough to do the whole job, and transfer the product onto the back of your hand. Then, using a disposable sponge or doe-foot applicator—Q-tips can drag on bumps—carefully spot-correct, making sure to feather out the edges. Set with powder.

Fire!, or the Name of the Musical I Am Destined to Write

Meant more in the 🔥 sense, or as much in the 🔥 sense one can feel when one has pustules growing on one's upper lip. However, if you've properly concealed, there is nothing preventing you from 🔥, except, perhaps, your own insecurities about how others perceive you. Now is the time for a diversion, the unlikeliest, most badass of which would be...a bright lip. Nothing too matte or fluorescent, of course, but pretty, poppy pink? Yes, please. The texture will be off where your friend has taken residence, but it's not like you're going to let anyone you care about get that close—not until it scabs over, at least.

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Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at Marie Claire. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.