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Here’s Your Crash Course On How to Apply Concealer Properly

28 Sep 2022

We’ve all been there: You wake up, ready to face the day—only to be greeted by dark under-eye circles or a blemish once you take a look in the mirror. It can be frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be a day-ruiner. Learning how to apply concealer properly can help ensure that those surprise (and, let’s be real, unwanted) imperfections don’t keep you from rocking your desired makeup look.

Here, we’ll teach you exactly where to put on concealer to brighten your under-eyes, camouflage breakouts, even out redness, and more. Plus, you’ll discover our favorite concealer formulas for different skin types and learn how to incorporate them into your regular makeup routine. Read on for your crash course on applying concealer like a seasoned makeup artist.

What Does Concealer Do?

Before we get into the “hows,” let’s cover the “what.” If you aren’t sure what purpose concealer holds, some of our favorite ways to use it include:

  • Brightening the under-eye area
  • Covering stubborn blemishes
  • Hiding visible redness and discoloration
  • Highlighting and contouring the face

How Do You Choose The Right Concealer?

In order to apply concealer properly, you need to choose the right formula and finish. The best way to do this is to determine your skin type, as this will help narrow down which type of concealer makeup is right for you.

If you have dry skin, try a hydrating concealer, like Bare With Me Concealer Serum. The vegan and cruelty-free concealer comes in 13 versatile shades and applies with a non-cakey, medium-coverage finish. Plus, the green tea-infused formula (which can be used on the face and body) provides up to 24-hour hydration, which is why it makes such a great pick for those with drier skin types.

For those with oily skin (or anyone who prefers a more matte finish), we recommend reaching for a full-coverage matte formula, like Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer. The fan-fave formula comes in 24 diverse shades that can be used to conceal, highlight, and contour your face to perfection. It’s blendable, long-wearing, and pairs beautifully with our classic Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation.

If you’re neither overly dry nor oily, try HD Photogenic Concealer Wand. The emollient-rich concealer is available in 20 true-to-skin shades, as well as three color-correcting shades (yellow, lavender, and green) to help even out discolorations like redness and dark circles. The pro-pick concealer applies easily and blends well, delivering a natural-looking finish that suits all skin types and skin tones.

Once you figure out which formula to use, you’ll need to find your shade (and undertone) match. Your skin can either have warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Warm-toned skin tends to be a bit yellower, while cooler skin tones tend to be more pink. An easy trick to figure out your undertone is to hold silver and gold jewelry up next to your face. If the gold flatters your skin more, you likely have warm undertones; if silver is your match, you’re probably cool-toned (and if you look great in both, you likely have neutral undertones). From there, you can narrow down a few shades you think may match your skin and test ‘em out—either in-store with testers or online using our virtual makeup try-on tool. The best concealer for you should blend in seamlessly with your skin.

What Is The Best Way To Apply Concealer?

Finding your ideal makeup for concealing is only half the battle—you also need to learn how to put it on properly. Don’t worry: We’ve got you covered (literally). Here, learn how to apply concealer for a seamless, your-skin-but-better finish.

1. Start With a Fresh, Clean Face

Before you get to work, you have a decision to make: which type of blush to use. Various types of blush can be used for your contour, but different formulas have different effects and finishes, so you’ll want to pick one that suits both your skin type and preferred vibe.

Artists tend to begin with clean canvases as they provide the perfect base for building a work of art. And this same idea can be transferred to makeup; it’s best to begin with freshly cleansed skin. So before even opening your makeup bag, you’ll want to do your usual skincare routine (cleansing and moisturizing are especially important, and if it’s daytime, sunscreen). After getting your skin prepped, you can go ahead and start with your makeup.

2. Don’t Forget Primer

If primer isn’t the first step in your makeup routine, you’re missing out on serious benefits. Used properly, primer can help smooth pores and fine lines, blurs imperfections, and (most importantly) provide grip, so your makeup stays in place without melting or smudging. As for which primer is best, it depends on your skin type and end goals (do you want a dewy makeup look or a matte finish?). For help finding your perfect primer match—and deets on how to use it—check out our article Prime Time: How To Pick The Right Makeup Primer.

3. Apply Your Base Makeup

A common question amongst makeup newbies is: Do you put concealer on before or after foundation? While there are no rules in makeup—that’s part of why it’s so fun—we recommend applying your concealer after foundation. Your foundation will provide the base coverage, while concealer, which is usually more pigment-packed, will help disguise any dark spots or blemishes that your foundation may have missed. For the best results, look for formulas that complement each other (like our aforementioned Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation and the coordinating concealer) or ones with similar finishes.

Pro Tip: Find your ideal foundation shade and finish with our Foundation Shade Finder.

4. Brighten Your Under Eyes

The under-eye area is one of the main places people apply concealer, mostly because of dark circles. And here are a couple of different methods for applying under-eye concealer. Those with minor discoloration can usually camouflage their dark circles fairly well with concealer alone. If you have eye bags or super-dark eye circles, though, consider applying a color corrector first. Peachy or yellow shades are ideal for neutralizing the bluish hue of dark circles, and you’ll find both in our Color Correcting Palette. Use a small amount to help cover the dark circles, then layer on a concealer to help brighten the area.

On the other hand, if you don’t have dark circles or eye bags (lucky!), you can just dab a bit of concealer at the inner and outer corners of your eyes. Blend it out with a concealer brush or makeup sponge for a natural-looking, soft finish.

5. Cover Any Blemishes

After brightening up your under-eye area, use a small amount of concealer to hide any blemishes you want to keep under wraps. You’ll want to use a concealer that matches your foundation for this task—if you use one that’s too light (or dark), you’ll end up calling more attention to the spot.

Pro Tip: Makeup sponges are great for concealer application because they help press the concealer into the skin rather than spreading it on top of the skin, which can disrupt your foundation. If you don’t have a makeup sponge, your fingers work well, too (plus, the warmth from your skin can help make the concealer easier to blend). Just make sure to wash your hands first! Brushes are also a worthy option; they’re perfect for achieving fuller coverage if needed.

6. Camouflage Redness

If that’s something you’re hoping to cover up, concealer is the product for the job. Use a makeup sponge to dab, rather than drag, the concealer over red areas—this will help you achieve a streak-free finish.

7. Set It!

Once you’ve concealed and blended your face to perfection, lock it all in with a setting powder (especially great for oily skin!) and a setting spray (a must for everyone). This will help keep your makeup in place, prevent it from smudging, and increase the wear of your favorite formulas so you stay fresh-faced and perfectly-concealed for longer.

More Concealer Application Tips and Tricks

Concealer is a must-have for faking a more even complexion, but that’s not all it can do. Here, learn how to use concealer makeup in four more ways.

1. Highlight Your Face With Concealer

If you don’t have a highlighter on hand, don’t stress—concealer works, too. Choose a hue two to four shades lighter than your natural skin color, and use it to emphasize areas that light naturally hits, like the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and your cupid’s bow. This gives a natural-looking finish while still brightening up your features beautifully.

2. Contour With Concealer

A full-coverage concealer, like our Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer, can pull double-duty as a liquid contour in a pinch. Reach for a shade slightly darker than your natural skin tone and use it to draw lines beneath your cheekbones, on your temples, and along the sides of your nose. Blend well, then set with powder and setting spray for a sculpted, defined look that lasts.

3. Use Your Concealer to Fake a Fuller Pout

For an easy way to fake fuller lips, concealer is your friend. Outline your lips with a concealer that’s a shade or two lighter than your natural skin tone to give the illusion of a fuller pout (bonus points if you reach for a reflective, juicy lip gloss after the fact).

4. Prime Your Lids With Concealer

No eye primer, no problem. Use your ring finger to dab long-wear concealer onto your lids in place of primer. The right formula can help your favorite eyeshadow stick, prolong wear, and help make your eye makeup pop.

Next: Why Setting Sprays Really Work


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