Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Treating (and Covering Up) Scars and Veins

Caitlin S. Miller
treat veins scars

Photo: Yuri Arcurs / E+ / Getty Images

Scars and veins are just a part of life. No matter who you are or how old (or young) you might be, you’re sure to have a few battle wounds to show for it. In fact, many veins are hereditary, and as for scars, well, let’s just say clumsiness is often hereditary, too. Most of the time we don’t even give a second thought to either skin condition, but occasionally, these scars and veins (especially those pesky varicose and spider veins) can become a nuisance or just downright unsightly. If you’re a vein or scar sufferer, listen up. We chatted with Dr. Hadley King, MD, dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa in New York City to learn how to treat scars—and how to treat varicose veins!—once and for all. Plus, if you’re not able to visit your derm for an appointment, we tapped Lori Taylor-Davis, pro lead makeup artist at Smashbox, to learn just how to cover both skin blemishes up with makeup.

According to Dr. King, the most common types of veins people visit their dermatologist about include telangiectasias, angiomas, and spider veins. “Telangiectasias are dilated capillaries, most commonly found on the face, neck, and chest,” explains Dr. King. “They commonly appear in fair-skinned individuals and can be the result of sun damage or a background of rosacea.” You probably recognize these as the tiny vein clusters that can pop up on the nose, cheek, or chest.

Ever noticed red dots or bumps on your skin? Turns out these are angiomas, or dilated blood vessels. “These are generally genetic, but can also be caused by pregnancy or liver disease,” she adds, so you are probably best to visit a derm to rule out any serious health issues. Both telangiectasias and angiomas are best treated by visiting your dermatologist, who will likely use a pulsed dye laser. Although treatment is possible for both types of veins, they do sometimes come back over time, warns Dr. King.

If you’d rather not seek treatment, never underestimate the power of a little makeup in masking these forms of veins. Taylor-Davis reminds the importance of color theory. Color theory uses opposite colors that are not only complementary colors, but also counteracting colors, she explains. To cover up the redness you see with telangiectasis and angiomas, use a green shade like the one featured in Flower Beauty Hollywood Secret Concealer Kit ($13, walmart.com), to counteract the rouge. Be sure to dab on the color and blend for a flawless look.

The third most common type Dr. King sees in her office is spider veins. A variation of varicose veins (you know, those twisted, enlarged veins commonly seen on legs), spider veins are a mild version that are primarily a cosmetic concern. Dr. King notes this particular type of vein is usually genetic but can pop up during pregnancy and from spending a lot of time on your feet. “Elevating your legs when possible can be helpful, as can support stockings,” she says. Lasers are sometimes used to treat spider veins, but sclerotherapy (a process in which a liquid is injected into the vein to reduce the vein’s appearance) is often the most effective option, says Dr. King.

Although varicose and spider veins are most common on legs, you can still use makeup to cover them up (hey, that mini skirt has your name on it!). For veins that are more greenish in hue, opt for a concealer with a slight pinkish or neutral undertone to them to counteract the green, says Taylor-Davis. For bluer veins, you’ll need a concealer that is warm and peachy, she says. Opt for a yellower color but nothing too dark and apply it in light layers.

The first thing to know about scars is they can appear differently depending on how people heal, explains Dr. King. “They can be skin-colored, red or pink, hypopigmented (whitish), or hyperpigmented (brownish),” she says. If a scar is red or pink, a pulsed dye laser can be used to fade these colors and often decreases the size of the scar as well, explains Dr. King. If a scar is firm, a dermatologist can give a corticosteroid injection to soften up the area. Other scars that are raised—think of a keloid scar that can pop up on cartilage after an ear piercing—can be treated by a derm surgically or with injections.

Covering hyperpigmentation can be a bit tricky, but with the right tools, it’s definitely doable. Reach for a concealer with a yellow undertone. Just remember, you want to match the skin around the scar. “Apply with feather-like strokes until the color you’re covering up blends into your natural skin tone,” adds Taylor-Davis.

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