Basics Baby: The Concealer Edition

Concealer is to skin as is white tape/ink is to paper. The latter hides mistakes in writing while the former camouflages imperfections in complexion. The use of concealers in the world of cosmetics is rather dominant, not just for one but multiple ends. Whether for corrective or brightening purposes, concealers are meant to help you achieve a more flawless and radiant look.

Given its varying purposes, can we expect to use just one concealer for all that? How do we know which concealer is best for which usage? Are all concealers the same?

In this Basics Baby series, I’ll let you in on the world of concealers.

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Target: Hide blemishes

One of the most traditional and common uses of concealers is to erase or at least minimize the appearance of basic skin imperfections such as acne spots and scars. These blemishes can appear on our forehead, cheeks, chin or jawline. Often times, these imperfections prevent our complexion from looking even toned.

Solution: Full coverage, oil-free, matte finish concealer in a shade similar to skin tone

The key to effectively diminish, or totally eliminate the appearance of blemishes, spots and acne discolorations is a full coverage concealer. You want something that is opaque enough to cover those bold and stubborn imperfections. Getting something lightweight would make it much tougher to conceal them, and you’d end up applying too much of that product only to end up looking cakey but without much coverage. With a full-coverage concealer, you only need a small amount applied directly to the blemishes.

Since blemishes are usually linked to acne, you would want to opt for an oil-free formula that has a matte finish. It’s best to ensure that the concealer is not adding any unfavorable effects on your acne. Also, you wouldn’t want any oil or shine to draw more attention to your zits and such.

In covering up blemishes, it is most important that you choose the right shade. A concealer that is lighter than your skin tone will give an illuminating effect. A concealer much darker than your skin tone would also make the area more prominent. What you’d want for your blemishes is for it to blend seamlessly with your skin tone, to create the impression that well, you don’t have any blemishes! So the way to go is to choose a concealer that is of the exact shade as your skin tone. This way, it is easier for your blemishes to appear imperceptible on your skin.

Try: MAKE UP FOR EVER Full Cover Concealer

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At 34.00 USD for 0.5 fl oz, this concealer is not only full-coverage and oil-free with a matte finish, it is also long-wearing and waterproof. Available in 12 shades, it has a light and creamy consistency, yet highly pigmented enough to cover major imperfections such as scars, hyperpigmentation, burns and even tattoos. You need just the tiniest amount to cover pimples and spots. I prefer applying this onto my blemishes using a tiny pointed lip brush like the MAC 316 or an eye liner brush like the MAC 209. The pointed tip allows for a more precise application on spots. I would also blend it in with the same brush or with my fingers. However, those with pitted acne scars shouldn’t expect much coverage as such skin indentation is not one to be hidden with concealer as are other colored, non-indented imperfections.

Target: Cover dark circles under the eyes and/or brighten under eye area

Another common use of concealers is to diminish the appearance of dark under eye circles. At the same time, it also seeks to brighten the under eye area. This is one of the more tricky territories as when it comes to our delicate under eye area, there are more to consider before deciding on the best concealer.

Solution (for severe dark circles): High coverage, lightweight and hydrating concealer in a shade lighter than skin tone

It is first important to assess the severity of your dark circles. Clearly, the more prominent your dark circles are, the higher coverage you’d need. However, this is when things get complicated. High or full coverage concealers often times come in a thicker consistency, and these usually lean more towards the drier than the hydrating side. This is an issue especially because the skin under our eyes are mostly thin and drier, compared to the rest of our face. That makes it delicate and susceptible to dryness and fine lines. Finding a concealer that provides high coverage of dark circles, yet simultaneously lightweight and hydrates the under eye area is not an easy feat.

Try: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer

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At 28.00 USD for 0.16 fl oz, this concealer is indeed a rare gem. As of today, I have not found a comparable formula – one that provides a high coverage, yet feels weightless and blends seamlessly into skin. Available in 11 shades, it has a liquid consistency, unlike most creamy high coverage concealers, thus making it less likely to settle into fine lines. Best of all, it is enriched with peptides and sodium hyaluronate to retain skin elasticity and moisture – a treat for our delicate under eye area. High coverage AND hydrating at the same time – YES! This concealer does live up to its exceptional claim.

Solution (for mild dark circles and/or brightening under eye effect): Light to medium coverage, hydrating concealer in a shade lighter than skin tone

For those who do not have much under eye darkness to conceal, concealers placed under the eyes can give a rejuvenating appearance. You can opt for a light or medium coverage concealer, depending on how much darkness you’d like to cover, and these usually come in a formula and consistency that works well with the delicate under eye area. It is much easier to find a light to medium coverage concealer that is hydrating than a full coverage one. Just be sure to pick a shade that will be able to give you that brightening effect. One shade lighter than your skin tone might conceal your mild dark circles, but may not be light enough to give that illuminating effect under the eyes. You may have to go 2 to 3 shades lighter. It is also best to apply your under eye concealer in an upside-down triangle for a balanced, radiant appearance.

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Try: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Aquacealer Concealer     

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At 26.00 USD for 0.34 fl oz, this is a lightweight, 12-hour wear concealer that provides medium, buildable coverage. Its consistency is almost serum-like and feels amazingly hydrating, most probably due to its relatively high water content (20 percent). This concealer contains ingredients such as cucumber and coconut, known for their skin soothing and moisturizing properties. It feels like applying a serum, but with a tint that is pigmented enough to bring radiance to your under eyes. This is one of my go-to concealers whenever I want to apply minimal makeup. The only downside is that it regrettably comes in only 6 shades. But if you’re looking for a lightweight concealer and could find a match with this, get it!

Target: Brighten other areas of the face

Yeah, it’s not just our under eye that needs brightening. Other parts of the face want it too. Basically, brightening other areas, usually the forehead, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow and chin, helps achieve a radiant, balanced appearance. So you won’t only be light under your eyes. Concealer can be strategically placed to lighten up the areas that would normally catch light and naturally appear brighter or more prominent than the other areas.

Solution: Medium to full coverage concealer in a shade lighter than skin tone

It is quite common to apply your under eye concealer for this purpose as well so as to achieve a more cohesive look. I’d say that the concealer of choice for this use is no biggy. You just need to be wary of your skin type. You’d notice that the areas that you brighten up tend to be the T-zone area which is more prone to oiliness.If you’re oily, stick to an oil free and matte finish concealer for this so that you won’t end up with a shiny forehead or chin that looks like an oil well. If you have dry skin, get a hydrating one to complement your skin. Those with normal skin can pretty much go either way depending on whether you’d prefer a matte or dewy look for the day.

Try: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

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At 29.00 USD for 0.22 fl oz, this concealer is ideal for all skin types. Providing medium to full, buildable coverage, this concealer is one hell of a multi-tasker. It can be used to correct and to highlight. It has a creamy consistency (as its name suggests) yet goes on smoothly and blends easily. What I love about this concealer is how it doesn’t budge, yet feels comfortable and gives off a radiant finish. Available in 16 shades, this concealer is also used by some for cream contour.

Target: Define certain features

Lastly, concealers are also used to define features such as your perfectly drawn or filled in eyebrows or your bold, red lip. Applying a concealer that is lighter than your skin tone for this purpose could enhance the beauty of that feature and bring out its prominence.

Tunde K. Mason for

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Solution: Medium to full coverage, matte finish concealer in a shade lighter than skin tone

In defining your brows and lips, you are creating and refining their shape. You are using the concealer to set how your brows and lips will look. For this purpose, you’d want a concealer that doesn’t budge. And concealers that do not budge are usually those that provide a matte finish, simply  because it prevents your natural facial oil from moving the product around and altering what you’ve already set and defined.

Try: MAC Studio Finish Concealer

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I find that for this purpose, pot concealers perform the best. And this MAC one is one of the top tiers. At 20.00 USD for 0.24 fl oz, it has a highly concentrated, creamy formula that gives an opaque coverage – what you need for this defining purpose. It is easy to use this to fix your red lip – you need the tiniest amount and it sets to a natural matte finish. As with all MAC products, it comes in a staggering 23 shades and this concealer is rich in antioxidants to help absorb excess oil as well as vitamins A and E derivatives for skin hydrating purposes. A bang for your buck I must say!

So, in conclusion…

Concealer 101

  • You may have to use different concealers for different parts of your face, and for different purposes to get the best look
  • Opt for a full coverage, oil-free, matte finish concealer in a shade similar to your skin tone to hide blemishes, hyperpigmentation and acne spots
  • Always find a lightweight, hydrating concealer for the delicate under eye area
  • Use a concealer in a shade visibly lighter than your skin tone for brightening purposes
  • Stick with matte, oil-free and opaque formulas when it comes to defining

Best of luck with choosing your perfect fit concealer!


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