Funny thing–in all my years of experimenting with makeup, I've never worn (or at least loved) a concealer and foundation hailing from the same cosmetics brand. Strange, right? After all, virtually every single foundation formula seems to have a corresponding concealer designed to sleekly accentuate the foundation's consistency, finish, and coverage. Thus, it would make sense if these cultivated pairings were the most quintessential of power couples. And perhaps, to some, they are. But not for me, and after prodding my co-workers for their favorite concealer-and-foundation combos, apparently not for them, either.
Thanks to my sleuthing, I quickly found virtually every member of Team Byrdie has a similar MO: mismatched brands yet indubitably perfect results. And although a few of us played the same favorites (make way for lots of Armani and Tarte up ahead), no one mirrored another's precise prescription. So after years of trial and error, why not share the foundation and concealer combinations we've officially coined as strategic couplings? Keep scrolling for our go-to combinations.
The Concealer: Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer ($70)
"I have to credit my colleague Deven for introducing me to the magical wonders of Clé de Peau concealer years back. Yes, it's extremely pricey for a small stick, but it's amazing the number of sins it can cover in just a few strokes. Thus, in my mind, it's worth the hefty price tag. The formula is creamy but sets quickly, so I always apply it first over any problem areas, and then quickly blend out with either my fingers or a Beautyblender ($20). If I'm having a good skin day, this will be the end of my routine. But more often than not, I'll follow with one of my go-to foundations, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk. I've found that the two formulas work really well together. The Luminous Silk melts into my skin and doesn't mess with the concealer or move it. The finished effect is like a blurred, Photoshopped version of my skin that doesn't look like I've caked on makeup. It's my go-to duo when I'm doing my makeup for a night out."
The Concealer: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30)
"I'm all for anything that makes my skin look radiant. This Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is essentially my glow-up in a bottle. It's one of the first foundation lines that had an expansive shade range before it became a trend—pre–Fenty Beauty. I found my perfect match in shade #13. It's super-hydrating and gives me a lit-from-within look I love. After I apply this veil of dewiness, the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer just seamlessly seeps right onto my skin. I've loved this concealer since its inception because it truly brightens up my complexion. Plus, I consider this concealer-and-foundation pairing my first foray into contouring."
The Foundation: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($35)
The Concealer: Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($27)
"I can't get over how this Fenty foundation seriously looks like my second skin. Rihanna is my soul sister in my head, so of course, she's the creator of one of the best foundations I've ever tried. What I love the most about this stuff is a little goes a long way. On a daily basis, one drop will do my entire face good. Its matte texture is extremely hydrating, which makes for a comfortable and long-lasting wear. This foundation pairs so well with Tarte's concealer because they both are just how I like it: full-coverage. Tiny specks of this concealer underneath my eye area will make me look like I slept 12 hours. And I never have to set this concealer with powder, because it never creases. Yep, it's a game changer. I lean on this combo when I want to look fresh-faced and well-rested."
The Foundation: Revlon ColorStay Makeup For Combo/Oily Skin ($14)
The Concealer: Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($27)
"I have pretty bad melasma and small acne scarring on my face, and Revlon ColorStay covers all of it. There's also some magic that happens when my natural oils interact with the formula—it's almost as though it gets better as the day wears on, whereas with most formulas, I'll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror midday to find streaking and blotches. Couple that with Tarte's Shape Tape concealer, a thicker formula that somehow doesn't crease in the slightest, and I've got a full-coverage duo that doesn't make me look like a mannequin, but more so someone with a radiant, even complexion."
The Foundation: Tarte Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation ($39)
The Concealer: Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Hydrating Concealer ($22)
"I've fallen in love with Tarte's Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation. The formula is absolutely incredible. It's a medium coverage that breathes—it offers a perfecting bath of product, applied with an easy-to-wield doe-foot applicator, and yields glowy, even skin. The thing is, the limited shade range is problematic. I have fair skin with pink undertones and found a perfect match. For darker shades, I'd recommend Fenty Beauty, as the coverage and luminosity are stellar as well. Then, I use Benefit's Hydrating Concealer, a stick that houses a coral-colored formula meant to neutralize darkness (necessary) and moisturize for hours. See, the outside layer is a hydrating gel (which adds light-reflecting shine), and the inside is the actual concealer. They glide on together for a perfect duo of under-eye goodness."
The Foundation: L'Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup ($11)
The Concealer: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($25)
"When I was in high school, I went through several unfortunate phases when it came to foundation and concealer. And usually, it pertained to wearing the wrong formula for my skin type (i.e. powders or tinted moisturizers) or the wrong color for my complexion. And sometimes, in hindsight, a horrifying combination of the two.
"That being said, this foundation-and-concealer combination was my one and only non–faux pas, and I still wear it to this day. Personally, I think L'Oréal's iconic True Match formula is one of the best drugstore makeup finds point blank, and I also love this high-coverage concealer from MAC, which just so happens to be another cult favorite. Both formulas are similar in consistency (thin but yielding satisfying coverage) and deliver pristine matte results. I'm the kind of person who wants full coverage all the time, no questions asked, and this duo does the job."
The Foundation: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation ($43)
The Concealer: Revlon PhotoReady Concealer ($11)
"Depending on the time of year and how much coverage I want, this tag team is my go-to. As I mentioned before, I love full-coverage foundation, and Estée Lauder's is by far one of the best I've ever tried. (I've literally worn it for 24 hours, and it still maintains its meticulous coverage.)
"However, I will say I usually avoid it in the summertime and keep it reserved for winter months when my skin can handle (and kind of craves!) something that feels and acts like a second skin. I don't mean that to sound negative in any way—the formula is still surprisingly invisible, and I always get compliments when I wear it—but it does feel a touch heavier. I love to pair it with this OG concealer from Revlon, which rivals the color payoff and durability of concealers nine times its price. In a pinch, I'll also treat it as a highlight and sweep it underneath my eyes to help conceal and lingering darkness post-foundation and on my chin, nose, and T-zone."
The Concealer: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer ($29)
"This trio is my current obsession. I can't stop talking about it, and the discovery was actually a complete accident. I've loved the Too Faced Born This Way Foundation for years, and previously, I always paired it with the Revlon concealer shown above. (Still a great combo, by the way!) However, during a trip to my family's place in Arizona, I realized I had packed the wrong (summer) shade of the Too Faced foundation, and it was entirely too dark for my pale, winter complexion.
"Thus, I looked into my mom's makeup arsenal and found this CC cream from It Cosmetics. I had actually tried it before and liked it but ultimately was left desiring more coverage. Regardless, I decided to mix it with my Too Faced formula (to lighten it up a bit), and I ended up hitting a dewy, glowy, full-coverage jackpot. By mixing the two, I gain the creamy luminosity of the CC cream and the high-coverage benefit of the Too Faced foundation. Plus, this concealer is my all-time favorites. It doesn't crease, it nixes my dark circles in seconds, and it never actually looks like I'm wearing concealer. Which is kind of the whole point, right?"
The Concealer: Tarte Colored Clay CC Under-Eye Corrector ($25)
"Armani's foundation plus Tarte's concealer is my go-to, tried-and-true, everyday pairing. I swear by it because Armani's finish is super lightweight and pretty for everyday, while the concealer is more full-coverage, so you can spot-correct where you need a bit more camouflaging. The result is flawless but never cakey. Obsessed."
The Foundation: Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation ($13)
The Concealer: Maybelline FaceStudio Master Conceal ($9)
"When I want my skin to have a super-dewy, glowy, yet still medium-to-full-coverage finish, I reach for Stila's serum foundation. It pairs nicely with Maybelline's concealer not only because it's such a steal, but also because the concealer is super blendable and integrates seamlessly with the foundation's dewy finish."