Concealers That Work Just As Well As Foundation (Or Better)

Come August, slathering on a face of foundation is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie, to echo the sage Cher Horowitz’ sentiment on dating high school guys. For sweltering summer humidity, it’s all about strategic camouflage via concealer.

You can use concealer to impart a touch of radiance; to camouflage blemishes, redness, and dark circles; or simply to quickly even out skin tone. We talked to Dior celebrity makeup artist Ricky Wilson and makeup artist Erin Williams, founder of Erin’s Faces, to demystify the myriad consistencies and packaging — plus tell us about the best purposes, techniques, and hacks for everyone’s desert-island desideratum.

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Cream
Wilson tends to use cream concealer under the eyes, as this texture smoothes out that area well. “I just pick up a bit of product on a precision concealer brush and work underneath the lashes to brighten,” he says.

Williams’ method is to draw the concealer in a “V” shape under the eye — directly below the iris — for a boost of brightness and to bring the focus to the eyes, as opposed to the darker undereye area. “The key is blending well, either with a brush or your ring finger, so the concealer and foundation mesh with no lines of delineation,” she says.

For a natural highlight, Williams says to pull the concealer all the way from the tear duct to the outer edge of the eye, continue the line to the hairline, and blend it. “It gives you a lift with no shimmer, for a more natural effect,” she advises. We like Laura Mercier Secret Concealer and Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit, which comes with a coordinating powder.
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Stick
Sticks are easy, but due to an abundance of “hideous highlight/contour videos on YouTube,” people tend to overuse them, notes Wilson. “These are full-coverage products and need to be treated as such — a little goes a long way.”

Stick concealer is especially excellent for zit-hiding. Wilson likes to make a "stamp" over the pimple, and then blend out the edges using his finger or a small concealer brush. “Stippling is the best method for covering zits,” he says. “When you sweep product back and forth, you aren't really covering.”

Another trick of Wilson’s is to mix a little bit of matte primer into the concealer before applying it to a blemish. “This is great to hold the product on, so the area doesn’t turn red throughout the day,” he says. “Never go too light with the color of concealer if you are covering a zit. It will make it look bigger.” Our favorite sticks are Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer and Erin’s Faces Mineral Photo Touch Concealer.
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Powder
It's best to use powder concealer on skin that’s extremely oily, as most cream and stick concealers contain oil, suggests Wilson. It also works well to apply it to your eyelids before putting on eyeshadow.

Williams applies concealer post-BB cream/tinted moisturizer/foundation, so she can avoid covering up more than necessary. “A tiny amount of product will get you the most natural finish,” she says. You can also try BareMinerals Heal & Conceal Blemish Therapy & Concealer — it boasts SPF and the acne assassin sulfur.
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Liquid
Wilson reserves liquids for those with fine lines and wrinkles or large pores. He says that the heavier the concealer, the more it will move throughout the day. "I apply liquid concealer with a Beautyblender sponge, which helps the product get into all the nooks and crannies so that it doesn't look like it’s sitting on top of the skin," he explains.

To keep product from caking under the eyes, Wilson first applies a liquid glow maximizer like Dior's, which is a concealer/highlighter hybrid, layered under a thicker, cream concealer. “The shimmer from the product acts as a reflector to cut darkness in half even before concealer is used,” he says. Our perfect pair? Dior Glow Maximizer Primer and Topshop's The Concealer, for the best glowy coverage.
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Brush Pens
We live in fear of these, as we never know which day of our concealer click-pen will be its last. But, unpredictable lifespan aside, they do have merit. Wilson recommends stocking up on backups, though.

He likes them for midday touchups and around the mouth before reapplying lipstick. “Use them in lieu of the traditional white shadow brow of the early '90s,” he also advises. Check out the classic Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat or Eve Lom Light Illusion Concealer.
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Corrective Color Palettes
These are green-, yellow-, and lavender-hued camouflagers intended to hide flaws based on the color wheel. For instance, yellow — opposite blue on the color wheel — neutralizes dark undereye circles. Green is meant to cover up redness in the skin. One that does the job brilliantly is Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda, which contains a khaki-yellow shade that somehow covers up everything we want camouflaged.

Wilson maintains that these are for extreme cases and can be easily misused. “You know all too well the woman who has mild rosacea who buys a green correcting concealer, but doesn't know she is walking around looking like Kermit,” he says.
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Doe-Foot Applicators
These light formulas refresh your look quickly and easily. “NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Diorskin Star Concealer are great for spot touch-ups,” says Wilson.

Williams likes to throw a little concealer on either side of the brows to make them pop and define the arches. “Just blend with your finger,” she suggests. For serious redness or dark circles, we love the pigment payoff of Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer.
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