WRITTEN BY Lesley Holland Downey
Concealer is at the heart of my holy grail hunt for perfection—and it’s what I get the most questions about. After all, the right concealer can make you look more well-rested, hide a blemish, even your skin tone and add brightness to your face. Concealer, according to Bobbi Brown, is “the secret to the universe,” and I fully subscribe to that philosophy, but with some caveats. You must choose carefully based on what you are using it for, how you are applying it and what goes under and over it for ultimate longevity and finish.
Here are my tips for choosing the right product, plus tips on application
- Are you covering a blemish or adding strategic overage around your nose or on dark spots? Try a drier formula in a matte finish like Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage. This texture would not work in the under-eye area unless your skin is extremely oily, but is great on other areas of the face. Use a synthetic brush like Chanel’s Le Pineal Retractable DualTip Concealer Brush to customize your color (this kit comes with two shades) and then apply after foundation or tinted moisturizer making sure that it blends seamlessly by lightly tapping it in with fingers or a blending brush.
- Do you want to brighten your under-eye area? First, is darkness your main complaint? Darkness can be mitigated by choosing the absolute perfect shade for your skin tone—generally slightly lighter than your face—Fenty Beauty and Makeup Forever both have a staggeringly diverse range of shades so that you can find exactly the right one that brightens without looking overly pale.
- If puffiness or bagginess is your under-eye issue, this needs a different approach. Putting a lighter shade (or one with a luminous finish) on a puffy under-eye can actually make it look worse. Try using something like Laura Mercier’s Flawless Fusion Longwear Concealer in a shade almost exactly the same as your skin tone and in a natural finish (neither dewy nor matte). Then sparingly apply a lighter shade in the darkest low point (think right under the eye bag) and blend lightly. I like using a brush or a tiny Beauty Blender for this part so you don’t wipe away too much of the product.
- Do your dark circles stand out so much that they are the first thing you see? You might want to consider a color corrector, which can help cancel out blue or purple tones before your concealer. Yes, it’s two layers, but it works. Bobbi Brown’s Corrector and Becca’s Under Eye Brightening Corrector are two that I personally like that seem to really brighten without looking too heavy.
- Youthful faces are full of light and shadow, and concealers or brighteners can add volume to thinner areas or ones that are shadowed. Try Trish McEvoy’s Instant Eye Lift or Clé de Peau’s Radiant Corrector for Eyes applied to larger areas of your face (triangle shapes under each eye, down the center of the forehead and nose).
- Use eye cream (like It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye) under concealer to keep that area from looking dry and crepey.
- Use concealer on your eyelids and in the inner corners of your eyes if you have darkness there—then blend like crazy with a brush like Laura Mercier’s Pony Tail Finishing Brush.
- Set it with a tiny amount of powder for the best wear—even lightly in the under-eye area with a small brush. You can get fancy and add even more light with a brightening powder like Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder or Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder.
- If you aren’t happy with your concealer, it may be that the color choice, texture or finish is off. With so many variables, don’t be afraid to sample before you buy so you can give it a test drive, or ask about the return policy at your retailer.
- If your eyes still need a lift, try Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops. These make my eyes (temporarily) look as bright as they did when I was in my twenties.
- A dab of concealer on a brush can “erase” mistakes like errant eye makeup smudges. A product like Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer has a super-moist luminous finish and is a great touch-up tool for the end of the day to make you look refreshed.
- If your skin is mostly even-toned, you may be able to just strategically use concealer instead of foundation to cheat the no-makeup look. Try Tarte’s Shape Tape which has a larger doe-foot applicator—use it sparingly and again blend with fingers, a brush or a Beauty Blender.
Want more? Here’s one of my favorite makeup artists, Lisa Eldridge, giving tips on how to hide a blemish with a sleight-of-hand technique.
And for an in-depth look at her favorite concealers, check out this video.