I Tried $278 Worth Of Concealers — & This Was The Clear Winner

I am not, in any way, a makeup minimalist. I can't go on vacation without packing three cosmetics bags, my bathroom cabinet is bursting at the seams with foundations and highlighters, and I was a Sephora Loyalist long before I passed my driver's license test.

But if I was forced to Marie-Kondo my ways and get honest with what I really need, it's concealer. The liquid makes it look like I've slept 4+ hours more than I actually have — and have 4x more perfect skin than I actually do. And I know I'm not alone here; even my non-makeup wearing friends use concealer most days, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any working actor in Hollywood who doesn't have a slick of it on their face.

Because it's such a versatile and universal item, I decided to test out nine different tubes — from super-luxe to ultra-affordable formulas — to see which covered up my own under-eye bags and breakouts the best. I also documented my before-and-afters and day-end updates to track their wear. Click through to watch the concealers work their magic and find out the surprising pick that beat out the rest of the competition.

The Concealer: Too Faced Born This Way Naturally Radiant, $28, available at Sephora.

Shades Available: 16

The Claims: The oil-free formula is infused with coconut water and hyaluronic acid to blur lines and wrinkles while covering dark spots.

I'd heard good things about the Too Faced Born This Way line, so I was excited to test out the concealer in Light Nude. The price-point is pretty typical for a prestige formula, $28, and there are 16 shades — which means you're able to get a near perfect match to your complexion. I was most looking forward to see how it would cover the pimple on my chin and redness around my nose.

I immediately liked how the liquid felt on my skin; the texture was thicker than I expected, but blended easily. My favorite aspect was the doe-foot applicator, which came to a perfect point so I was able to conceal blemishes with precision. Once blended, my face looked flawless and airbrushed. Plus it photographed really well — I have no other face makeup on in this photo, and it looks like I'm wearing foundation.

12-Hour Test: While it stayed put on my nose and under-eyes, I noticed it disappeared on my chin by the end of the day. If I had powdered my face, I think this product would've stayed all day. Despite wearing off around my chin, I loved the hydrating formula, and this was my favorite tube for medium coverage.

The Verdict: 9/10
The Concealer: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer and Foundation, $48, available at Sephora.

Shades: 16

The Claims: The creamy formula conceals, corrects, and contours, and it's formulated with jojoba oil and honey for a dewy finish.

This cream is technically a concealer and a foundation in one, but it's pretty thick, so I'm not sure that it would work all over my face. To keep my combination skin from going into freakout mode, I decided to spot cover instead.

The price was initially shocking, but considering you get .63 ounces and most tube concealers contain somewhere between .15 to .35 ounces, it ends up coming out pretty equal. The shade range they have is also solid, and I went with Sx04.

I liked this product, but it was the most high-maintenance of the concealers I tried in this experiment. Even with my best blending efforts, I felt like the cream was still visible on my skin. The coverage was really stellar, though, and my skin looked great after application.

12-Hour Test: Because the product didn't melt into my skin, it rubbed off any time my hand brushed my cheek or forehead. That meant it didn't last as long as I would have liked, though again, I think a bit of powder would have helped this situation. It's a great coverage product for someone who doesn't mind heavier makeup and routinely powders, but in the end, this product required too much work from me.

Verdict: 5/10
The Concealer: NYX Hi Definition Photo Concealer, $4.99, available at Ulta.

Shades Available: 19

The Claims: The concentrated, emollient-rich concealer gives medium to full coverage without drying out your skin.

NYX's color range impressed me the most out of the experiment. The 19 different shades range from Alabaster to Espresso — all of which are non-comedogenic, so they won't clog your pores. I grabbed Beige and got to work.

The coverage on this product is AMAZING. I was shocked by how well it masked my under-eye circles and brightened up my face. It also looked so natural — something that I don't usually get from full-coverage concealers. I was pleasantly surprised by this product, especially considering the price.

12-Hour Test: My skin, especially my under-eyes, still looked almost flawless at the end of the day, which is a small miracle for me. For less than $5 and with such a huge range of shades, this was the best drugstore concealer I've ever tried.

Verdict: 10/10
The Concealer: Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF 25, $70, available at Nordstrom.

Shades Available: 6

The Claims: The long-lasting, full coverage concealer masks dark circles and discoloration while brightening and smoothing skin.

The day I tested this concealer, it was Friday and I was tired. I needed something that would mask my under-eye circles, and was looking forward to seeing if this cult favorite was worth the hype.

I grabbed Almond, the third lightest in the brand's limited shade range. The price is 3-4x that of other concealers I tried, and it only contained .12 oz of product, but then again, it might be worth it if it really was the best concealer of all time.

The product really does live up to its reputation in terms of coverage, but I didn't love the application because I couldn't get any sort of precision with the stick. Since I use concealer namely under my eyes and around my nose, that was an issue for me.

I also wish it had a more extensive shade range; Mocha is the deepest tone (and it's not very deep) and six colors is not enough to cover the spectrum.

12-Hour Test: My skin definitely looked good at the end of the day, but I had to be careful not to touch my face because the formula would come off, which was a little annoying. This product, like the Kevyn Aucoin, was too high-maintenance for me.

Verdict: 6/10
The Concealer: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout, $28, available at Ulta.

Shades Available: 7

The Claims: The two-in-one drying lotion and concealer delivers full-coverage pigments without creasing.

I really like the idea of healing a blemish throughout the day underneath makeup. I'd also heard great things about this product (it was nominated for a Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Award), so I knew I needed to give it a try.

My initial thought upon swatching it was that the "Light" shade wasn't that light; though it was a close enough match for my skin, others with fairer tones would have difficult finding the right shade. Same goes for those with dark skin: Only two of the shades in the lineup cater to medium-to-deep skin.

As for price, $28 isn't too bad for a concealer, especially considering the gentle AHA/BHA exfoliating complex and other acne-fighting ingredients incorporated into the formula. You also get .39 ounces, which is a good size.

I really liked the thin consistency of this product and the ease with which it blended out. I wish the "Light" shade was a bit lighter, but I made it work. The coverage was pretty good, but definitely not "full-coverage," more like medium (the blemish above my eyebrow was still visible after application). I'm willing to look over that though if the product clears up active breakouts throughout the day.

12-Hour Test: This product wore well, but it did fade off a bit around my nose and chin by end of the day. I didn't have any major breakouts, so it was hard to tell if it worked in that capacity, but the slight irritation I had didn't worsen. Overall, I thought it covered pretty well, but I wasn't blown away. This would be better for someone with active breakouts and truly acneic skin.

Verdict: 6/10
The Concealer: Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape, $27, available at Ulta.

Shades Available: 14

The Claims: The full-coverage, hydrating concealer is made with Amazonian clay, mango seed, and shea butter.

My skin needed some serious help today, and Tarte Shape Tape is traditionally very full-coverage, so I was excited. I grabbed the shade Light Sand, which swatched pretty close to my skin-tone. Right off the bat, I loved the consistency and the smell, which smelled a little like a fancy floral face cream, but in a way that was appealing.

Shape Tape is the most full-coverage of all the concealers I tried. After tapping it onto my face (made easier by the doe-foot applicator), it looked like I was wearing foundation. Another bonus: It was easy to blend, which is notable considering that most high-coverage concealers are usually harder to buff into the skin.

This product made my skin look flawless and airbrushed, and completely erased any signs of redness or irritation.

12-Hour Test: I still loved how the Shape Tape looked after a long day in the office. The only place it wore off was around my nose, but that's an area I touch a lot throughout the day and have yet to really find a concealer that stays put there. Overall, it's a really nice concealer and a solid option if you want something high coverage.

Verdict: 8/10
The Concealer: Charlotte Tilbury Retoucher Conceal & Treat Stick, $35, available at Nordstrom.

Shades Available: 10

The Claims: This concealer cancels out blemishes, hydrates the skin, and fills in wrinkles for a smooth finish.

I'd heard lots of wonderful things about Charlotte Tilbury's Retoucher concealer from friends and makeup artists in the industry, so I knew I wanted to try it for this experiment. I tried 03 Medium, the third lightest shade.

The click-pen applicator wasn't what I was used to, and I found it dispensed more than I needed for smaller areas. But I made it work by wiping some onto the back of my hand before patting it under my eyes and on blemishes and redness.

As far as consistency goes, this was one of my favorites. It's super easy to blend out with your fingers, and gave a nice light-medium coverage. It made my skin look really pretty and airbrushed, likely due to the blurring and hydrating ingredients in the formula.

12-Hour Test: The concealer didn't cake and it wore nicely, but it didn't stay put around my nose. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) I didn't hold it against the product, though, because it doesn't claim to be truly full-coverage. I'd definitely wear this for low-maintenance days when I just want a light wash of color, which is a lot of the time. I'd say this is the concealer equivalent of a BB cream.

Verdict: 8/10
The Concealer: Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, $6.99, available at Ulta.

Shades Available: 6

The Claims: This cream provides fresh, breathable coverage that looks natural on the skin thanks to its oil-free formula.

This has been a OG favorite of beauty gurus for years, but I haven't picked it up since high school. The price point is great, so I was excited to put it to the test against some of the prestige options.

The only downside is the narrow shade range, which consists of only six shades ranging from light to deep.

I really loved the finish and consistency of this concealer. It reminded me of a slightly thinner Shape Tape with a bit less coverage, but it still covered all my zits and redness. I did find that the applicator didn't collect enough product, so it took several dips and a few layers to get the amount of coverage I needed. Also, the shade range really disappointed me here.

12-Hour Test: This product wore well throughout the day and still looked natural on my skin after a long day. It was also very comfortable and felt like nothing on my skin, but the one thing that would make this concealer better is a more inclusive shade range.

Verdict: 6/10
The Concealer: NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer, $30, available at Sephora.

Shades Available: 16

The Claims: The full-coverage, lightweight concealer has a soft-focus effect to conceal and blur imperfections.

This concealer is an editor favorite at Refinery, and I loved the wide range of shades it came in. Everyone from super fair to deep could find a match. My shade of choice was Cannelle.

I'm not normally a pot concealer fan, but I loved this stuff. The consistency makes it so easy to apply with the fingers, and it simultaneously manages to be thin and full-c0verage. It's magic. It was especially clutch under my eyes, where it covered my under-eye bags in one quick swipe.

This product also made my skin look totally airbrushed, in addition to covering all my redness. And it was the fastest to apply of any product in this experiment.

12-Hour Test: This product wears really well throughout the day, but I'd recommend powdering if you're on the oily side. I'm normal to combo, and don't really need to powder, but I think it would have amped up the longevity and coverage of the product.

Verdict: 9/10
produced by Anna Jay; photographed by Kate Anglestein.
What I Learned: There are tons of great concealer formulas, ranging from uber-high end to drugstore, but Nyx's HD concealer stole the show for me. It was the cheapest I tried throughout this experiment, and it worked wonders for my complexion. I don't ever remember my skin looking as instantly refreshed and bright as it did after applying the Nyx cream. And, with 19 shades, everyone can enjoy it.

Too Faced's Born This Way and NARS Soft Matte were close runners up, both for different reasons. I loved the hydrating hyaluronic acid ingredients in Born This Way, while the ease and natural finish of Soft Matte won me over. For on-the-go touchups and quick coverage, I'd pick NARS, but for a more radiant, full-glam look I'd pick Too Faced. Charlotte Tilbury also gets an honorable mention because the consistency and finish was really nice, but the click pen dispenser wasn't my favorite.

At the end of the day, a good concealer makes or breaks a look for me, but high price doesn't necessarily mean high quality.
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