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When it comes to applying a full face of makeup, concealer is essential. Going on after foundation and before setting powder, its number one job is to cover under-eye circles, pimples, dark spots, and scars. But masking blemishes is far from the only thing concealer does.
It can also be used as a cream highlighter, whether on the bridge of your nose, lower forehead, brow bone, cupid's bow, upper cheekbones, or chin. With multiple uses in mind, celebrity makeup artist Erika La' Pearl explains, "You want a concealer to give the skin a bit of brightness while eliminating any dark circles, concealing redness, and covering up any dullness on the face."
"I aim for a product that I can manipulate in many ways," says makeup artist Nick Lujan, Director of Artistry and Education at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty. When shopping around, you'll want to consider the shade, of course, as well as the application, coverage, and finish.
So, which one should you add to your makeup bag? We gathered tips and recommendations from makeup pros and reviewed our stashes to bring you the crème de la crème of modern concealers.
Ahead, the best concealers for every skin type and tone.
Best Overall: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
Mini size available
While there are many stellar options on the market, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer is a reigning champion. Dubbed the best by makeup artists and beauty fanatics alike, the award-winning formula does everything from contouring and highlighting to color-correcting.
"Not only does it give your skin a natural and soft finish," says Former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue, "but it's also the easiest product to use with any beauty tool of your choice—fingertips included."
Thanks to skin-loving botanicals, a tone-balancing mineral powder, and tiny light diffusers, this all-star concealer does an amazing job covering dark circles, correcting redness, and hiding blemishes for up to 16 hours. We also like that it comes in a mini size.
Key Ingredients: Botanical blend, mineral powder | Shades: 30 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"Everything I wanted to be covered was covered. I noticed my skin looked glowier, which is a nod to the radiant aspect of the formula. The concealer held up all day and didn’t crease on me." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Budget: NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer Wand
May sting eyes
Some people say NYX HD Studio is a budget-friendly dupe for Nars, and we're here for it. The medium-coverage, emollient-rich formula comes in 22 shades, including a few color-correctors, like neutralizing pastel green and skin-boosting shimmery lavender.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, silica, aloe | Shades: 22 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Concealer
Cap can get messy
Since its 2010 launch, Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Eraser has been a shining star in the drugstore aisle. A favorite of Byrdie Senior Editor Holly Rhue, the clickable pen, pillow-soft applicator sponge, and reliable formula make for an all-around winning concealer.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, goji berry | Shades: 17 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Splurge: Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer SPF 25
From the high-end beauty counter, we're big fans of Clé de Peau Beauté's concealer stick. The multi-tasking, long-wear formula boosts radiance and conceals while hydrating the skin and preventing photoaging with SPF 25.
Key Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, green tea extract, chestnut extract | Shades: 12 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Crease-Free: Tarte Shape Tape Concealer
It can be tough to achieve a crease-free finish, especially under the eyes, but Tarte Shape Tape is up for the task. Available in 25 shades, makeup artist Sophia Nawabi says she'd recommend this moisturizing waterproof concealer to people of all skin tones. Plus, she adds, "A little bit goes a long way."
Key Ingredients: Shea butter, mango butter, licorice root | Shades: 35 colors | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
“The biggest takeaway from wearing shape tape is how my skin looked lifted immediately after applying, and the fact I was able to use it to highlight my features, too, was a big win in my opinion.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Long-Wear: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Waterproof Concealer
Dries very quickly
When it comes to affordable long-wear makeup, L'Oréal's Infallible line is tough to beat. This waterproof concealer covers blemishes with ease and lasts for up to 24 hours. Just a heads up—it dries super fast, so make sure to blend it immediately.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, silica, copolymers | Shades: 25 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Waterproof: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer
Can get cakey without primer
"Sensual Skin Enhancer is a smoothing, hydrating, and nourishing cream complexion perfector," Lujan tells Byrdie. "I can apply it full-coverage or adjust the coverage by blending it with Sensual Skin Primer to make it sheer."
Key Ingredients: Mineral oil, jojoba oil, honey | Shades: 16 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Matte: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Concealer
Soft matte finish
We stand behind Fenty Pro Filt'r for those who prefer a shine-free finish. This brilliant concealer flaunts a sweat-resistant, full-coverage formula that glides on smooth and leaves a soft matte finish in its wake.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, centella asiatica (cica) | Shades: 50 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Buildable: Glossier Stretch Concealer
Not dry or cakey
From the brand known for its no-makeup makeup, Glossier's Stretch Concealer was designed for those averse to dry, creasy, cakey formulas. It contains beeswax, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil for better-looking skin, and it goes above and beyond to deliver natural-looking coverage.
Key Ingredients: Beeswax, jojoba oil, cocoa butter | Shades: 12 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Skin: Catrice Cosmetics True Skin High Cover Concealer
Limited shade range
Folks with dry complexions should reach for Catrice's True Skin Concealer. "It is very high coverage with real skin-like texture," offers celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek. More to the point, he adds, "It contains hyaluronic acid to maintain its moisture levels."
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Shades: 15 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Blemishes: Almay Clear Complexion Concealer
Helps clear pimples
Limited shade range
Almay Clear Complexion has your back in the battle against breakouts. Not only does this clever concealer cover zits, but thanks to salicylic acid and aloe, it also helps clear them while soothing irritation.
Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, aloe, talc | Shades: 6 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best K-Beauty: MISSHA M Magic Cushion SPF50+/PA+++
Limited shade range
Korean cosmetics companies are known for a skincare-first approach to makeup. With this in mind, Missha's Magic Cushion not only covers and conceals but also hydrates and smooths while enhancing your complexion and protecting it with SPF 50.
Key Ingredients: Bamboo water, witch hazel, niacinamide | Shades: 4 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Shade Range: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Concealer
Diverse shade range
The best range of shades isn't necessarily the most shades. What we appreciate about Pat McGrath's Sublime Perfection is that the colors reflect a diverse range of skin tones. Recommended by La' Pearl, this ultra-smooth concealer covers, boosts radiance, blurs, and diffuses light with a radiant matte finish.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Shades: 36 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Highlighting/Contouring: Beauty Bakerie Instabake 3 in 1 Concealer
Diverse shade range
If you're looking for a multi-use product that works for covering and sculpting, look no further than Beauty Bakerie. Available in shades for every skin tone, contour color, and highlight hue, the brand's texture-blurring Instabake Concealer makes it easy to create the dimension you desire.
Key Ingredients: Silica, talc, cassava extract | Shades: 18 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Pen: YSL Touche Éclat All-Over Brightening Concealer Pen
Launching in 1992 as one of the first color-correcting products with light-reflecting pigments, YSL Touche Éclat has been a fan favorite for nearly three decades. A couple of clicks from this sheer hydrating concealer pen is all you need to cover and enhance your complexion. And let's be honest—Touche Éclat is just fun to say.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E | Shades: 14 shades | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Stick: Dermablend Quick Fix Concealer Stick
Easy to blend
Limited shade range
Not ideal for highlighting
Partial to sticks? Go with Dermablend Quick Fix. Containing high-performance pigments, skin-loving allantoin, and beeswax for blendability, this portable concealer works hard to cover everything from pimples and birthmarks to dark circles and age spots.
Key Ingredients: Beeswax, kaolin, allantoin | Shades: 8 shades | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
If we could use only one concealer until the end of time, we'd go with Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. Available in 30 shades, the beloved award-winning formula covers, corrects, conceals, and contours while diffusing light and leaving a soft, natural finish that lasts up to 16 hours. For something a little easier on your wallet, your best bet is NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer, a medium-coverage formula that does an impressive job covering and color-correcting.
What to Look for When Buying Concealer
The most important consideration is the shade, so be sure to view the colors on an untinted screen when shopping online. In most cases, you should opt for a concealer that's one to two shades lighter than your foundation. However, Sesnek says, "If you're using concealer for blemishes, I recommend matching it to your foundation."
Celebrity makeup artist Erika La' Pearl states, "With the right shade of concealer—undertones are also super important when picking the right shade—along with your perfect foundation match, you can really achieve that seamless look."
Depending on what you're trying to achieve, the undertone for your concealer might be different than your foundation. For instance, if you have olive skin, your foundation might have neutral undertones, while your concealer may have peach undertones to correct for dark circles.
Like foundation, concealers offer different finishes, including matte, radiant, natural, and soft, as well as varying levels of coverage (sheer, medium, and full). "I personally like a moisturizing fuller-coverage concealer, as it can be sheered down or built up depending on your concerns," says Sesnek.
Most concealers come in lip gloss-style tubes with doe-foot applicators. This makes it easy to apply with precision while keeping things relatively sanitary. Concealer sticks, on the other hand, twist up and swipe on like lipstick.
Then there are little pots, along with clickable pens that deposit liquid through a sponge or a small brush. This is mostly a matter of preference, and in any case, you can always use a concealer brush or a makeup sponge to apply and blend the product.
What does concealer do?
A better question is, what doesn't concealer do? The main purpose of this makeup mainstay is to cover blemishes, such as pimples, scars, and dark under-eye circles. Additionally, you can use concealer to color-correct for things like hyperpigmentation and general redness. People also use it for highlighting and contouring.
"I love using concealers to spot-cover, color-correct, as a base for eyeshadow, and sometimes to highlight and contour the features," Lujan tells Byrdie.
How do you apply concealer?
The proper way to apply concealer depends on the formulation and what you're trying to achieve. Having said that, it should generally be applied after foundation. Using the included applicator, your fingers, or a makeup brush, apply the cream or liquid anywhere you want to conceal or highlight. "If you feel it's a bit dry under the eyes, I would mix it with an eye cream," says Nawabi.
Next, get to work blending. Sesnek recommends tapping it out with your fingers first and then using a sponge for a seamless finish. Lastly, Lujan says, "You can always set it with a little loose setting powder to adjust the level of radiance."
Where can you use concealer?
You can use concealer nearly anywhere. In addition to the more obvious blemishes and under-eye circles, you can apply it to your eyelids as a shadow primer, around the nose as a color-corrector, or around the eyebrows to achieve a clean line. People also often use lighter shades for highlighting the nose, chin, cupid's bow, and brow bone and deeper tones for contouring the cheekbones, upper forehead, and neck.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Theresa Holland is a freelance copywriter specializing in cosmetics. For this story, she interviewed four makeup artists for product recommendations and insight into formulations and proper application. Before making her final selections, she looked at the reviews, key specs, and ingredients lists of a wide variety of concealers. From the above list, she has personally tried Nars, NYX, Maybelline, L'Oréal, Glossier, Missha, Fenty, and Yves Saint Laurent. Theresa has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers makeup, skincare, and wellness products.
Meet the Expert
Celebrity makeup artist Erika La' Pearl, who works closely with Cardi B.
Nick Lujan, Makeup artist and Director of Artistry and Education at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty.
Makeup artist Sophia Nawabi with experience in bridal makeup.
Celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek, who has worked with talent such as Vanessa Hudgens.
Lu J, Cong T, Wen X, et al. Salicylic acid treats acne vulgaris by suppressing AMPK/SREBP1 pathway in sebocytes. Exp Dermatol. 2019;28(7):786-794. doi:10.1111/exd.13934