We've all been there: fiercely applying concealer under our eyes and dabbing it onto our pimples with abandon, hoping that in addition to being a makeup product, it will also somehow, some way act as an eraser of sorts. Unfortunately, however, sometimes concealer can actually cause more issues (chalkiness, creasing, uneven color) that accentuate our problem areas rather than hide them.
Concealer is the one staple in a beauty arsenal that can dramatically change your appearance. Used correctly, concealer can brighten a tired face, cover up blemishes, and conceal under-eye circles. In fact, many beauty editors use concealer primarily and skip foundation completely.
To find out how to expertly apply concealer, giving off the vibe that we have youthful-looking under-eyes and unblemished skin, we asked some top makeup artists for their tried-and-true tricks. Spoiler: Product choice is so important.
Learn 5 Smart Ways to Use Concealer with MUA Bob Scott
Keep reading to learn how to apply concealer like a pro.
Start With Cleansed Skin
Ask any dermatologist or makeup artist and they'll tell you that clean skin is the cardinal rule and most crucial part of any skincare or makeup routine. Before applying any makeup to your face, you'll want to ensure that your skin is properly cleansed and moisturized. Wash with a gentle face wash, pat dry, and apply all of your serums and moisturizers.
Apply Makeup Primer
To ensure your makeup lasts throughout the day (especially during those hot NYC summer days), try applying a primer before the rest of your makeup. There are plenty of options for moisturizing primers for those with dry or sensitive skin or oil-free primers for those whose skin tends to be oily. Using your fingers, massage the primer into the skin.
Use a Base
After your primer, opt for a tinted moisturizer, foundation, CC, or BB cream. If your choice of base is foundation, for under-eye circles, apply concealer first, then foundation. For blemishes and pimple coverage, apply foundation first or the concealer could be rubbed away in the foundation application.
Prep the Area
Now that you've washed your face, it's time to hydrate the under-eye area before you apply concealer. Use "an effective but gentle and quickly absorbed eye cream," says NYC-based makeup artist Suzy Gerstein. "A couple I love: Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum ($88), Ren Keep Young and Beautiful Anti-Aging Eye Cream ($44), and Pai Echium and Argan Gentle Eye Cream ($54)."
"Hydrating sensitive skin around the eye would not only help with lines but it will make your concealer stay on better. Otherwise, your skin will absorb moisture from the concealer and leave not-so-attractive powdery residue under the eye," adds Honey artist Azra Red.
Choose Your Formula
While a thick formula may sound like the perfect choice for hiding the darkest of circles, a creamy consistency is ideal. Says Gerstein, "For under the eyes, I love liquid and cream concealers, as the drier, thicker, and waxier formulas tend to crease more underneath the eyes. The creamier formulas wear more naturally.” We like YSL Touche Éclat All-Over Brightening Concealer Pen ($38) for its light, natural coverage and radiant finish.
Find the Right Shade
This may sound like a no-brainer, but oftentimes, we want to reach for a shade that's far too light, too peach, or too yellow, causing the concealer to stand out. Instead, use Gerstein's easy guide: "Look for pink colors if you're fair-skinned, salmon if you're medium-toned, and peaches and oranges if you're olive- or darker-complexioned." A good rule of thumb: When choosing a shade, go no more than one to two shades lighter than your natural skin tone.
She continues, "For blemishes, look for a formula that matches the skin exactly in tone—too light and you'll just draw more attention to what you're trying to cover."
If your skin tone is darker in the summer, you should choose a darker shade for summer months and a lighter one for other months. And don't be shy! Test shades by trying them out at department store beauty counters or Sephora.
Apply the Concealer
Avoid globbing on the product, and keep a light hand instead. "Don't overdo on concealer. Apply layer by layer and make sure to blend each layer by gently tapping the worked area with your fingertips," says makeup artist Min Min Ma. Do this by applying several dots of concealer under the eyes close to the lashes, and a dot to the inside corners of the eyes. Gerstein also recommends using a damp Beautyblender Micro.Mini ($18). If you use your fingers, use the pad of your middle finger to tap in the concealer, blending well.
Apply concealer on other uneven spots on the face—including the chin, and around the nose and mouth if need be—and tap in, adding another layer if you need more coverage.
You can disguise a concave pockmark or scar by using an angled brush dipped in a concealer that's a shade lighter than your skin tone. Fill in the center of the pockmark without going over the edges and then dust skin the with translucent powder. If the scar is raised, use a concealer that matches your skin tone and pat the scar with the concealer, setting the concealer with powder.
Add Setting Powder
For the final step in your concealer application process, dust fine, loose powder over your face with a fluffy brush to set your concealer.
"I am a big believer in setting your under-eye with super-light translucent powder. This step will ensure that not only your will concealer stay on better but your eye makeup as well," says Red, who recommends Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($40).
If you're afraid of overdoing the powder, Gerstein's got a genius tip for making sure it looks flawless: "I like to separate a two-ply tissue and gently powder through the half-sheet to avoid over-powdering."