Of course there’s no one-size fits all approach to concealer, and different skin textures, tones and preferences will find that some work better for them than others. From illuminating and colour-correcting, to industrial strength and weightless, there’s plenty of solutions to go around each created with specific skin concerns in mind.
Concealer has to be up there when it comes to desert island heroes. Keep your compass, we’ll take the coverage, cheers. Whether it’s spots, eye bags, hyperpigmentation or redness, a great concealer can calm the whole lot down and leave skin looking even.
And with the ‘skinimalism’ trend making way for more pared back makeup looks, concealer is stepping out ahead of foundation as perhaps the most important of all our base products. Why? Because it offers tactical coverage just where you need it, while still letting your skin (and all that extra effort we’ve put into our skincare) shine through.
But, to give a little guidance on what might work best for you, we asked Bobbi Brown Senior Pro Artists, Amy Conway and Zara Findley, to answer a few crucial questions to help you decide which concealer to pick (as well as how to apply it correctly).
Can you wear concealer by itself?
“Concealer by itself is a great way to lighten the eye, and this is perfect for everyday natural makeup,” advises Amy. “For the ultimate brightness opt for a corrector underneath to banish any darkness first as this will give a flawless under-eye lift.”
Where should you put concealer?
“It’s best to apply concealer only where you need it,” says Amy. Apply a dot of it in the inner corner of the under eye (close to your nose which often has shadows). “Then using your finger blend that out to the outer corner of the eye for a sheerer finish. This will give the most lift without applying it too heavily where you don’t need it,” she says. Elsewhere, make a judgement call. It often helps to add a touch round your nostrils (an area that often gets missed) and dot a small amount over blemishes as and when they crop up.
Should you apply concealer or foundation first?
“We often turn to foundation first to even out the skin, but in actual fact if you start with the concealer first you’ll find yourself using half as much foundation everywhere else,” says Amy. “For all skin tones, our main area of darkness and unevenness is the under eye so when you brighten with a concealer it instantly evens out the rest of the skin before foundation.” Then if you need a little extra on top, you can always add some more later.
When it comes to blotchiness or blemishes, “layering is key,” adds Zara, “especially if you don’t want to look cakey.” The secret is to use a lightweight base and only add concealer in the areas that need some extra help. “This will give you the look of all over natural skin, but with the finish of full coverage just where you need it,” says Zara.
What’s the best concealer for spots?
A matte concealer offers the best camouflage (you don’t want to make them look shiny). Pots like NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer (£24) and Glossier’s Stretch Concealer (£15) work particularly well versus tubes of liquid concealer. As for how to apply? “Don’t sweep over a blemish,” says Zara, too much blending defeats the point. “Instead press the concealer in using your fingers, it will mimic the skin and help build coverage vs sweeping it away,” she says. Blend gently just around the edges to merge it with your skin, while keeping the coverage in place over the spot itself.
What’s the best concealer for under-eyes?
A hydrating concealer works well especially since our under-eyes tend to be where more lines form. Keeping the area hydrated and plump will help to minimise creasing. And avoid anything too thick as this will also settle in lines. There’s plenty of lightweight concealers with impressive pigment pay-off which can disguise bags and discolouration without weighing skin down, such as Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer Kit (£27.50) and BareMinerals Complete Coverage Serum Concealer (£24).
How to choose a concealer shade?
This depends on where you’re applying it – it can be a good idea to have a couple of different shades to tackle a range of issue. For under eyes, “choose a concealer shade that’s one shade brighter than your skin tone,” advises Amy. “If you go too light it will appear grey and ashy and if you use the same as your foundation it won’t give enough brightness to lift the eye.” But if you’re looking to cover up puffiness or blemishes, “opt for a concealer that is exactly the same colour as you skin,” she says. “This will ensure it will look smoother and seamless against the rest of the skin,” says Amy.
Now you know exactly how to apply it, here’s our round-up of the very best concealer options on the market.