“I’m the worst at remembering to use concealer… or maybe I just haven’t found ‘the one’ yet. I should be put in makeup jail for that,” says Erika Brooks Adickman, our social media manager.
It’s true. Finding your holy-grail concealer is one of the greatest beauty pains of all time. Case in point: For over a year, I thought I had my ultimate blemish camouflage on lock—until the day the natural light hit my face to reveal all the orange splotches on my jawline. Yikes?!
To make your life a bit easier, our team consisting of Kim Do, our Chief Editor & Makeup Artist, and our beauty-obsessed experts did a bit of the homework for you. Start by checking out our best concealers for every skin problem.
First, know this before hunting down your dream concealer
Most of the well-meaning “cast members” at Sephora can’t help you. It’s not their fault, though. Everyone’s idea of a flawless look is subjective—some people live and die by color correctors and contouring while full-coverage concealer and foundation makes others feel like a Kabuki actress. It’s up to you to find your dream combo.
And let’s not forget the deceptive florescent in-store lighting. Sometimes, even other people who look at you with objective eyes can’t tell if your concealer is creating weird, unnatural spots on your face. Always test concealers on yourself near an untinted window with natural light using a hand mirror. (Do not use your powder compact because it’s small size might trick your eyes into seeing even tones.)
According to Kim, you’re likely to be unhappy with your concealer purchase if you don’t see it in multiple lighting scenarios, when in doubt–natural daylight is your BFF. Concealer shopping takes a lot of trial and error, but it’s worth it when “the one” finally comes along. Always ask for lots of samples and never commit until you’re sure the concealer looks invisible under the sun and in flash photography!
The Best Concealers for Every Skin Issue
There’s another issue that compounds the whole concealer conundrum: the need to cover up multiple types of imperfections, including dark circles, blemishes and hyperpigmentation. Hate to break it to you, but coming up on a single formula that does all of the above and matches your skin tone exactly is rare. Having a couple of options in your arsenal might be necessary. Here are the ones that never fail us!
Glossier & Bare Minerals
Under-eye concealer needs to fulfill so much criteria—it must cover dark circles, it must be hydrating and it cannot settle into fine lines. If it doesn’t strike the balance among these three common needs, it’s useless. In fact, the wrong concealer can make you look even worse. Hera Clark, our intern (who’s also a makeup artist), loves Bare Minerals Bare Skin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer. She is of Middle Eastern descent and her multi-ethnic skin color is a neutral caramel tan. The liquid formula not only conceals smoothly, but humectants and antioxidant Lilac Plant Stem Cells also help hydrate, brighten, and fight premature aging, which is key for the super-fragile eye area.
For me (I’m Asian with medium tan skin and yellow undertones), Glossier Stretch Concealer in Dark does the trick. The coverage is buildable and thanks to micro-waxes and nourishing oils, this creamy concealer sinks in to give that second-skin look. But the truth is it does nothing for my dark spots and blemishes—more on that later.
Cle de Peau & Nars Cosmetics
Having a reliable full-coverage formula is essential for those moments when a pimple viciously crops up right before an important meeting or a hot date. Our social media manager Katie Durko, a classic sun-kissed California blonde, is all about that Cle de Peau Concealer. Just apply this emollient cream stick directly onto the blemish and blend with a brush. Shades range from Ivory to Mocha.
For a wider range of shades, including darker skin tones, try NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer. It’s oil-free and blurs and smooths imperfections while providing full coverage for a very natural look.
Urban Decay & Hourglass
If you commit the cardinal sin of picking at your face (guilty as charged, by the way!), dark spots might materialize on your skin. For the longest time Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil was amazing at hiding my dark spots—but both shades I’ve tried either look too ashy or reddish on me.
I’ve since switched over to Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer—Honey is the perfect match. The shade range is best for fair and light skin tones, but there are options for tan and dark-skinned beauties with cool, warm and neutral undertones, too. The moisturizing creamy stick formula gives it a non-cakey look and feel, but a very light hand is needed for actually achieving the best coverage. Applying concealer with the ring fingers (which are our most delicate of all) gives the most natural finish, but always do this with clean hands!
Make Up Forever & RMS Beauty
To counteract redness, go green, understandably, it can seem terrifying to apply a mint colored pigment on your face. Make Up Forever’s Camouflage Cream Pot Redness Color Corrector is a pro favorite. The idea is that green is the opposite of red on the color wheel which neutralizes or erases blotchiness. Don’t be alarmed if the skin surface looks stark upon application, it simply becomes a blank slate for the concealer application.
Redness is one of those issues that requires more than just spot treatment, but also diligent blending. RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up Concealer/Foundation is what it sounds like—a fresh hybrid of concealer and foundation. The coverage is light, but when applied and blended with a foundation brush, it evens out skin tone like a dream. For the ultra fair–skinned who may struggle with redness the most, the lightest shade is for you.
Nars, Stellar & Smashbox
Dullness doesn’t discriminate—it’s a problem for women of every color.
Shoutout to Stellar Limitless Concealer, which was made especially for medium skin tones. (You’d be surprised to know that those with medium skin have almost as much trouble finding a concealer match as darker-skinned people.) This lightweight liquid concealer refracts light and hydrates, so it can brighten up skin all over—under the eyes, cheekbones, and around the nose. Apply to problem areas with the wand and blend with clean hands.
For a wider range of shades, again, NARS Soft Matte Concealer kills it. Light diffusers give an overall glow, and antioxidants, collagen-boosting peptides and hyaluronic acid help brighten and plump skin over time. With clean fingers or a beautyblender, lightly pat it onto any areas that need a radiance boost.
It’s technically not a concealer, but Smashbox’s Photo Op Under Eye Brightener deserves noteworthy mention. Its sheer, reflective and warm qualities instantly brighten dullness. The built in brush makes it effortless to prime your under eye and/or to mix with any shade of concealer to counteract imperfections.
One last thing: Concealer isn’t a must for everyone. There are legendary makeup artists out there, who shall remain nameless, who skip concealer on their clients altogether. Whether you just can’t figure out how to put it on (like our editor Sarah Ban) or your makeup style is low-key (BB cream and concealer are basically the same thing to you), there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Nobody’s going to makeup jail.
Take some pleasure in finding what works best for your issues and skin tone, and remember that you don’t have to trust the word of the nice artist or salesperson at the beauty counter as gospel. Tell us about your concealer faves below!