Everyone has those rough mornings when too little sleep has left you with dark circles under your eyes or days when an angry, red blemish rears its ugly head right in the middle of your chin. Concealer is made for occasions like those -- or pretty much any time you need a little extra brightening or help evening out your skin tone. Because it has a thicker consistency and offers more coverage than foundation, you only need a small amount of concealer to hide imperfections and instantly make yourself look healthier and more awake.
Keep reading our shopping guide for all the tips you need to choose the best concealer for your makeup bag. We've also included some specific product recommendations, including our top choice from Tarte, which is a vegan formula that's designed to provide long-wearing coverage that won't crease or fade throughout the day.
Considerations when choosing concealer
Concealer is available in three main types:
Liquid concealer has a lightweight, liquid-like consistency. It works well for oily skin, because it's not as likely to clog your pores, and for mature skin, because it usually doesn't settle in and accentuate fine lines and wrinkles. It's typically sold in a tube with a doe-foot applicator or a pen-style container with a brush tip, so you can apply it directly from the packaging.
Cream concealer is usually found in a small pot or compact and has a thick, creamy texture. You use either your fingers, a brush, or a sponge to apply and blend the product into your skin. A cream concealer works best for dry skin because it offers more hydration than a liquid formula.
Stick concealer comes in a pencil or lipstick tube-style packaging. You apply the concealer directly from the stick and then blend it in with your fingers, a brush, or a sponge. A stick concealer usually works well for dry skin.
Concealers are typically designed to be used either under the eyes or on the rest of the face for spot concealing. Some formulas can work well in both areas, but under-eye concealers are typically more hydrating liquid formulas that also soothe dry skin under the eyes. Spot concealers, on the other hand, are typically thicker cream or stick formulas that offer more coverage for blemishes, age spots, and other discolorations.
Getting the right shade of concealer for your skin tone is definitely the most important thing after choosing a formula that suits your skin type. If you choose a concealer that's too light or too dark, you'll wind up accentuating the darkness or spots you're trying to conceal rather than camouflaging them.
For under the eyes, it's actually best to choose a concealer that's a shade or two lighter than your skin tone for a brighter look in that area. For spot concealing on the face, choose a concealer that matches your skin tone exactly, so that it blends more easily.
For highlighting your face, you should also opt for a concealer that's two to three shades lighter than your skin tone. For contouring, choose a concealer two to three shades darker than your skin tone.
Concealer is available in both matte and dewy finishes. For oily skin, it's best to choose a matte concealer that won't add any shine to your skin. For dry or mature skin, a concealer with a radiant or dewy finish works best, because the glow it adds makes your skin look healthier.
To help your concealer to last all day without needing too much touching up, it's important to choose an option with sufficient wear time. Most concealers can make it six to eight hours with no issue, but if you have particularly oily skin, you may want to opt for a formula that boasts 16- to 24-hour wear.
Concealers usually range from less than $5 to more than $50. You can find options at the drugstore that cost between a dollar and $15, though you'll pay $20 to $35 for higher-quality ingredients and $35 to $50 or more for concealers from luxury brands.
Q. How can I make my concealer last longer?
A. If you find that your concealer is creasing or fading throughout the day, you may want to set it with a finely-milled loose powder. It's an especially important step if you have oily skin or are using an extremely hydrating formula under the eyes.
Q. Can I apply concealer with my fingers?
A. You can use a brush or makeup sponge to apply concealer, but many people like using their fingers because the warmth from your skin can actually help the concealer blend in for a more natural look. Just make sure to wash your hands before tapping the concealer into your skin.
Concealers we recommend
Best of the best: Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer
Our take: A favorite concealer among many makeup enthusiasts because it has a creamy texture that offers excellent coverage and long wear time.
What we like: Is lightweight while still being creamy enough to hydrate the skin. Doesn't crease easily so its full coverage lasts all day. Has a dewy finish that makes it excellent for highlighting. Vegan formula. Available in 30 shades.
What we dislike: Requires quick blending because it sets soon after application.
Best bang for your buck: Dermablend Quick-Fix Concealer with SPF30
Our take: A well-liked concealer that's been popular for years because it offers enough pigmentation to cover nearly anything, including scars, blemishes, and dark circles.
What we like: A highly blendable formula that can be layered to achieve medium to full coverage without looking cakey. Lasts all day with minimal creasing or fading. Suitable for sensitive skin. Tube lasts for a long time because only a small amount of product is required. Offers SPF30.
What we dislike: Can settle in fine lines and wrinkles if not fully blended.
Our take: A long-wear concealer that delivers full coverage and good-for-your-skin ingredients.
What we like: Contains collagen, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and other anti-aging nutrients to protect the delicate under-eye area. Waterproof formula can last up to 24 hours. Offers intense pigmentation that resists creasing.
What we dislike: Formula is fairly thick and heavy so it can be more difficult to blend. Some users find the shades lighter than expected.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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