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Shopping for concealer can feel overwhelming because the undertones and shade matter, but there’s also a color correction to consider, how well it matches your foundation (or doesn’t—on purpose), where on your face you’ll be using it, the opacity, and whether you want to use it without foundation sometimes.
Beyond the basics of price, packaging, and color, there’s a lot to consider.
Tips for Finding and Using Your Best Concealer
Let’s start with some basic considerations to address when you first start to look for concealers. You’ll need to think about your budget, the finish you need, the type of formula you want, and whether you want anything special, like color correction or a long-lasting option that’ll last all day (and beyond).
Regardless of your budget, you should be able to find a formula that works well and covers all the bases (no pun intended). You can find concealers that get the job done well at drugstores for $15.00 or less. You can also find them for much more than that in department stores, Sephora, and Ulta (Ulta has the drugstore ones, too).
Some of these will have more luxurious packaging and fragrance, but I wouldn’t say the higher-end concealers always drastically outperform drugstore products. One perk to shopping for higher-end cosmetics like concealer, though, is the ability to test the color, coverage, formula, and wear without committing to a purchase first.
You can swatch them in the store—possibly even get a mini-makeover where the salesperson and makeup artist applies the makeup on your face—and sometimes even walk out with a free sample. If you pick up a couple of different ones to try, you’ll be able to decide which one works best for you, make one purchase, and not have to worry about returns or wasted time or money.
You’d think you’d just get whatever finish matches your foundation, right? That may work, but there’s more to keep in mind.
Matte vs Dewy
Before I compare matte and dewy concealers, I’ll say that a creamy, natural finish is the most versatile. That said, there are cases for both matte and dewy concealers. Matte concealers usually work best on oily skin. Dewy ones perform better on dry skin.
However, if you’re using it exclusively for under your eyes, a radiant, dewy concealer may work best there, regardless of skin type, because that skin doesn’t necessarily behave like our foreheads, noses, chins, or even cheeks. Plus the extra radiance from a brightening product will make you look more awake.
A matte concealer under the eyes could just end up looking dry and flat. On the flip side of that, putting a concealer that brightens and illuminates the eyes on your cheek or forehead to cover a pimple won’t work well, either. Especially not if your foundation has a matte finish. The concealer will be way too obvious.
Should you use cream, liquid, or powder concealer?
- Use cream when you need opaque coverage, don’t mind using a brush or your finger, and if your skin is especially dry.
- Use liquid in most cases because it’s blendable, buildable, lightweight, usually comes with an applicator wand, and still provides any type of coverage you’d prefer (light, medium, or full, depending on the product you choose).
- Use powder when you’re already using a powder foundation and think a liquid or cream would disturb the finish or cause product to clump under your eyes or on top of blemishes.
Choosing Your Concealer Shade
If you’re using it to cover a blemish, you’ll want your concealer to match your foundation. If you’re covering dark circles under your eyes, you can go a shade lighter to help brighten the area.
Lighter, Darker, or the Same as Foundation?
If you’re selecting your concealer for under your eyes, go with a slightly lighter concealer. If you need to conceal things on your cheek, jawline, forehead, etc, you’ll want your concealer to match your foundation. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting a spotlight on exactly what you wanted to hide.
Only have the lighter concealer on hand but you have a spot to cover somewhere else on your face? You could try applying it before your foundation.
When it comes to undertones, you can play around to see what works best for you. Sometimes, it may be best to match your foundation. At other times, you may enjoy the minor color correction that comes from a shade with different undertones.
Color-correcting makeup products are a different thing than regular concealers (even though you may see products marketed as yellow/green/peach/lilac concealers). You can, however, do a little minor color correction with your regular concealer.
It’s most successful when you want to hide dark circles and less effective if you’re hiding redness and/or blemishes (though green “concealers” are useful there, layered under your regular concealer).
If your circles are more purple than blue, you may be able to correct their color a bit more by choosing a concealer that leans a little more yellow than your actual skin tone.
Orange balances out blue, so if your dark circles have more of a blue tone to them, you’ll benefit from a peachier concealer than what you’d normally choose for the other areas of your face.
Pink-toned concealers are good at adding brightness to dark areas on the face (like undereye circles).
A Quick Note on Color-Correcting Concealers
Sometimes, a shift in a concealer’s undertone isn’t enough to camouflage what you’re trying to hide. There are color-correcting concealers for that, but there aren’t as many choices of these as there are of regular concealers, and fewer still that you can sample first.
You use these under your foundation, not on top. If you can still see the color, adding a concealer that matches your skin tone and foundation on top may be the final touch you need to completely cover your circles, blemishes, etc.
- Green: If you need to cover small areas with redness on your face, a green concealer can help neutralize those red tones and give you a more even canvas for applying foundation.
- Lavender: Balances yellow tones in the skin
- Pink/Reddish: Brightens dark areas (pink is for fair-light skin tones and reddish is for medium-deep skin tones)
- Peach/Orange: Balances blue undertones on dark areas, like undereye circles (peach is for fair-light skin tones, orange is for medium-deep)
- Light Yellow/Deep Yellow: Balances purple undertones in dark areas (lighter yellow is for fair-light skin tones, deeper shades are for medium-deep skin tones)
Is Long-Wearing Concealer Necessary?
This is one of those things that comes down to personal preference and your skin type. Will long-wearing concealer last longer than other formulas? Possibly, but not always. Will it crease? It may, but it’ll depend on where you apply it, how your face moves, how oily or dry your skin is, etc.
One of the bigger concerns with using a concealer designed for extended wear is the possibility for dryness and caking, especially under the eyes. That could look worse than the circles you were trying to hide. If you feel that you need a long-wearing concealer because regular ones just aren’t cutting it, see if you can try samples before you commit.
Some of the concealers designed to last 12+ hours have a drier formula, while others may not and could set well no matter where on your face you use them, even under your eyes.
The Major Differences Between Concealer for Under Eyes and Concealer for Blemishes
When you’re looking for concealer, you usually won’t have the same checklist in mind for an under-eye concealer that you will for a concealer you plan to use on blemishes.
- Concealer for under eyes can be radiant and illuminating, whereas concealer for blemishes should be satin or matte.
- Concealer for under eyes can be lighter than your foundation, whereas concealer for blemishes should match.
- Concealer for under eyes can have an undertone different from the one in your skin, whereas concealer for blemishes should match your undertones (usually) so they won’t stand out too much against your skin or foundation.
- Concealer for under eyes should (usually) be hydrating, whereas concealer for blemishes doesn’t necessarily have to be (especially if your skin is oily).
- Concealer for under eyes can double as highlighter in some cases, whereas concealer for blemishes cannot, since it’s the same color as your skin/foundation.
Advantages of Concealers
Who doesn’t love a good concealer that’ll make you look more refreshed and/or hide a breakout? Here are some of the main advantages of concealers:
- More opaque coverage hides imperfections better than foundation
- Does not require you to wear full-coverage foundation all over; you can spot-correct with concealer
- Some have color-correcting properties that neutralize unwanted colors in the skin (like blue/purple in dark circles) and add an extra layer of coverage
- Allow you to go without foundation in some cases, only covering what you want to be covered
- Can brighten and lift the face with careful placement and the right finish for the job
- Can double as an eyeshadow primer
The Disadvantages of Concealers
Concealers aren’t perfect, though. Here are some of the things that are not great about them:
- You may need more than one for different areas of your face
- It’s one more thing to match once you’ve finally gotten your foundation figured out
- Some are drying
- Some may crease and look cakey, especially under the eyes
- If you don’t blend well, you may end up calling more attention to the thing you wanted to hide
My Top Recommendations for Concealers
Here are some of my favorite concealers and concealers that seem to perform well for other people with different skin types and concerns. Some are best for under the eyes, while others work best for blemishes or do all the jobs (and save you money, thanks to their versatility).
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
If you have dry skin and want to make the skin under your eyes look brighter without the risk of dryness and creasing, you may love the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer.
Best for: Under eyes, though it’s not so radiant that it’ll look completely out of place on a blemish, either
- Has a brightening effect without shimmer
- Medium coverage
- Wide range of shades
- Doesn’t look dry or crease under the eyes
- Comes in mini size and full size so you can try it out before spending $30.00
- On the more expensive end of the spectrum
- May crease on upper eyelids if used as an eyeshadow base
Maybelline Fit Me Concealer
Maybelline Fit Me is similar to the NARS one listed above. It’s a little thicker and doesn’t stay put quite as well (at least, in my experience), but the coverage is good, the finish is glowy, and it doesn’t have a tendency to crease. Plus, it costs a fraction of what the NARS concealer does.
Best for Blemishes
- Decent number of shade options, but some others on this list have more
- Medium coverage
- May oxidize
- Some reviewers complained of burning/stinging
L.A. Girl HD Pro Corrector Concealer
The L.A. Girl HD Pro Corrector Concealer will need to be used in conjunction with your everyday concealer because, as the name suggests, these focus on color correction and don’t match skin tones at all. Each color has a specific set of benefits.
Best for: Color-correction anywhere on the face (just be sure to choose the right color for the job)
- Works with concealer to hide stubborn dark circles and other imperfections concealer isn’t the best at hiding on its own
- Inexpensive (around $5.00)
- Variety of shades
- Doesn’t work on its own and will need another skin tone concealer on top
- May irritate sensitive skin
MAC Studio Fix 24-Hour Smooth Wear Concealer
If you need a long-lasting concealer, you should definitely check out the MAC Studio Fix one. The shade selection alone makes it worth a look.
Best for: Undereye circles, blemishes
- Comes in 33 shades
- Lasts all day
- Matte natural finish makes it versatile
- Doesn’t crease
- Kind of pricy, though not the most expensive on the list, at around $25.00
- May be difficult to choose the right shade on the first try
- Some reviewers have problems with the wand (it’s too big or broke off)
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Full Coverage Concealer
This concealer from Lancôme vows to last a long time. With its matte finish and long wear time, plus full coverage, there’s not much this one can’t do.
Best for: Dark circles, blemishes
- Good coverage
- Hides dark circles
- Lasts a long time on the skin
- Shade may be off from what you expect if you wear Lancôme’s matching foundation
- One of the more expensive options, at almost $30.00
Tarte Shape Tape
Tarte Shape Tape hit the ground running when it came out, and it hasn’t really slowed down. It’s a full-coverage, vegan formula that can be used anywhere on the face.
Best for: Anywhere on the face, can also be used for highlighting and contouring
- Stays on
- Amazing coverage from just a thin layer
- Travel size available so you won’t need to make as big of a commitment
- Wand may feel too big for some people, depending on type of use
- Can look dry and crease under eyes if you have dry skin
- Packaging may accumulate concealer on the outside
- Pricy at around $30.00
Everyday Minerals Multi-Tasking Loose Powder Mineral Concealer
The Everyday Minerals concealer is a loose powder that can be used anywhere on the face.
Best for: Blemishes, spots, dark circles
- A tiny jar will last forever
- Doesn’t need a separate setting powder
- Can work on different areas of the face because it’s not too dewy or matte
- Inexpensive (under $10.00)
- Samples available
- You don’t feel it while it’s on
- Not always the most effective on undereye circles
- May crease or look dry under the eyes (depends on skin type and other products used)
- Requires a brush for application
Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit
The Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit is a circle-fighting duo. One side is a color-correcting concealer that brightens and hides circles, while the other is a lightweight setting powder.
Best for: Under eyes (the regular concealer side could be used elsewhere, though)
- Medium-to-full coverage
- Not drying
- Comes in a cute compact with its own setting powder
- Waterproof, sweat-proof, and humidity-resistant
- A little expensive (but you’re getting two products)
- Not the widest shade range
- You’ll need to use a brush or your finger to apply (no wand)
No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Concealer
The No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Concealer is a mid-range concealer in price, at just under $15.00.
Best for: Age spots, lines, wrinkles, other types of pigmentation
- Relatively inexpensive
- Available at Target
- Contains Vitamin C
- Limited shade range
- Lighter coverage than people seem to expect
Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer
The Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer is extremely lightweight and good for days you want to go light on makeup in general.
Best for: Illuminating areas, days you don’t want to wear a lot of makeup (this one’s not so opaque that it stands out against natural skin when you skip foundation).
- Radiant finish
- One of the widest shade ranges you could imagine
- Doesn’t crease
- Doesn’t look dry
- Not a lot of coverage
- Probably too illuminating to use on blemishes and would be best under eyes only
- Works best with a brush, not fingers
The Best Concealer Makeup: Guide to Finding Your Perfect Match
My personal favorite is NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (I’m on my third or fourth tube, which is a record for me), but I’ve tried most of them. My skin is dry and I generally just use concealer under my eyes. The MAC Studio Fix is next on my list to try because of its versatility, wide color range, and the fact that it’s supposed to last all day.
As long as you think about what you want the concealer to do before you get lost in a sea of shades and finishes, you’ll be able to find the right match for you. Always sample a few if you can, though, so you don’t spend money on something you can’t use or have to deal with the hassle of returns.