Concealer is one of the most useful makeup tools to beautify your complexion. It can brighten shadowed areas, correct discolorations, disguise spots and scars, and even emphasize facial structure. In order to accomplish that, it is essential that you pick the right texture, color, and finish that best suit your skin type and skin tone. It is also very important that you apply it selectively, targeting the areas of your face that truly need to be concealed. Here’s everything you need to know to master the art of concealing.

Types of Concealer

Concealers comes in different textures, offer different levels of coverage, and have different finishes. The most common types of concealer are liquid, creamy, and stick.

Liquid Concealer
Liquid concealers have a light to medium, runny consistency that works well for most skin types, including dry, normal, combination, and oily. It is often used to conceal dark circles and other shadowed areas (such as around the mouth) because it tends not to crease (collecting into fine lines and wrinkles). Some liquid concealers that are specifically formulated to be used under the eyes contain light-reflecting particles, which help with brightening the under eye area and work well to make tired eyes appear more rested. Liquid concealers are easy to blend and have a light to medium pigmentation for a moderate amount of coverage.

Creamy Concealer
Creamy concealers have a thicker consistency than liquid ones and are usually more pigmented, offering medium to full coverage. Creamy concealers may be used under the eyes to cover dark circles, but they tend to crease more than liquid concealers (depending on the formula), so they do not work well as under-eye concealers for more mature skin with deep wrinkles. They are particularly effective at covering discolorations, such as redness around the nose and melasma. Depending on the formula and the level of pigmentation, they may also work well to cover blemishes. They often have a satin or matte finish that photographs well.

Stick Concealer
Stick concealers are highly pigmented and have a slightly waxy consistency. Having an opaque coverage and finish, they work very well for covering blemishes and acne scars. Since they are so pigmented, only a tiny amount is needed for each application, and they are particularly useful for covering red, inflamed spots, such as those experienced during an active acne breakout. A good example of a stick concealer is the Vichy Laboratories Dermafinish Corrective Foundation Stick.

Do you need more than one concealer?
Depending on your skin and what you need to conceal, you may need one or more concealers. If your skin is even in tone and you barely have any spots to cover, you may need only an under-eye concealer to brighten underneath your eyes, which should be a shade lighter than your foundation color. If you also have spots to cover, you may need another concealer with a high coverage (like a cream/stick concealer) that matches your foundation. If you have intense discoloration, you may use color correcting concealers in addition to under-eye concealer and spot-covering concealer.

Choosing the Right Concealer Color

Under Eye
To conceal under eye darkness, you should pick a color that is one or two shades lighter than your foundation. This helps brighten the under eye area, without looking too obvious. If you have very dark shadows under your eyes, you may also correct the darkness with a peachy toned corrector before applying the concealer.

To conceal blemishes, you should use a concealer that matches your foundation (given that your foundation matches your skin). This should ensure that the blemish “disappears” into the rest of the skin with no visible edges around it.

Depending on the intensity, redness can be concealed with a yellow-toned concealer.

How to Apply Concealer

Once you find the right type of concealer for your needs and have picked the right shade, you can experiment with different application methods until you find what works best for you. You may start to experiment by following these instructions.
Before or After Foundation?
Most professional makeup artists agree that concealer should be applied after foundation. The main reason is that foundation offers some coverage, so after applying a thin layer of foundation, some blemishes, shadows and discolorations are already covered by the foundation. Another reason is that if you apply foundation over concealer, it may disturb the concealing work you have already done. Foundation first, concealer second.

Covering Dark Circles
The best tool to apply concealer underneath your eyes is a flat concealer brush, so the product can be layered exactly where is needed, in a thin layer. It is particularly important that the product is applied in a thin layer, because as we move our face throughout the day our facial expressions tend to make the product crease, by collecting into smile lines. The more product you use, the higher the chance of creasing. Only add extra product if more coverage is needed.

Here are a few tips for flawless application:

Apply a small amount of concealer on the back of your hand and use a flat concealer brush to pick it up.
Begin to layer the product in the inner corner of your eye where it is usually very dark. Although often neglected, this is a very important step that makes a big difference in how “fresh” and “awake” your eyes look.
Using the brush — or your finger, if that is more comfortable for you (your ring finger is smaller and weaker than the other fingers, and therefore works best for your under eye delicate skin) — blend the product patting it gently until it is evenly distributed and looks seamless.
Make sure that no edges are visible. You should not be able to tell exactly where the concealer starts/ends.
With the brush, proceed with layering more product following the dark shadow under your eye. Apply only where the shadows are.
Unless your under eye area is very dry, it is best to apply a small amount of setting powder over the concealer, which helps it stay in place longer.
If you use a concealer pen, you may also layer the product directly onto the skin without a brush, and blend with your finger.
Correcting Discolorations (Redness/Pigmentation)
Redness and pigmentation can often appear over large areas of the face. Most women tend to have some redness around the nose. A creamy concealer is best suited for this function and works best when applied in thin layers. Applying a thick layer of concealer may look very obvious and may move throughout the day, rather than stick to the skin.

Here are a few tips for flawless application:

Using a flat concealer brush, or a small flat foundation brush, layer concealer over the problem area.
If coverage is sufficient, blend the edges until it looks seamless.
You may now apply a setting powder to make it last longer and better.
If more coverage is needed, apply another layer of concealer, blend the edges, and then set with a powder.
Covering Blemishes
Covering blemishes requires a highly pigmented concealer, such as a cream or stick one, that perfectly matches your foundation. If you use a shade lighter or darker than your foundation, you may emphasize, rather than disguise, the spot you want to cover. The more pigmented the concealer is, the less product you need — and less product is always better, as it draws less attention toward the spot. The best tool to apply concealer on a spot is a very small synthetic brush, as for example a small blending brush. If the spot you want to cover is tiny, a lip brush or eyeliner brush allow you to apply the product exactly on the spot.

Here are a few tips for flawless application:

With a small brush (size depends on the spot you want to cover, as previously mentioned), pick up some concealer and dab it on the spot.
If more is needed to cover the spot, add it as needed.
Make sure to blend the edges of the area where you applied the concealer until it fades evenly onto the rest of the skin.