Main content
NYX Professional Makeup Concealer Products

Our Ultimate Guide To Choosing a Concealer Shade

05 Apr 2024

If you ask us, concealer is one of the most useful products to keep in your makeup toolkit. In addition to helping hide imperfections (arguably its most common use), the right concealer shade can help brighten up your complexion and give your base a smooth, even finish. Some concealers can even be used in place of contour or highlighter. The key, as it usually is with makeup, is to figure out how to choose a concealer shade (and formula) that suits your needs.

Whether you prefer cream or liquid concealer, there are a few things you should keep in mind when searching for your match. Here, we’ll give you the rundown on different types of concealer and their uses, then teach you how to pick a concealer shade that suits your needs. Plus, you’ll learn a few of our favorite concealer application tips and tricks along the way. Read on for everything you need to know before buying and using concealer.

What Is Concealer?

Concealer is a type of makeup product designed to help hide (or, well, conceal) imperfections, such as dark circles, blemishes, or dark spots. It’s often used alongside foundation to help create a base for your makeup. While concealers come in a range of different finishes and textures, they typically offer more coverage than foundation. For this reason, they’re usually used to spot-correct problem areas rather than even out your entire complexion.

What Are the Different Types of Concealer?

There are a few different types of concealer you can choose from, but most tend to be creamy or liquid in consistency. Different concealer formulas have different benefits—determining which is best for you boils down to how much coverage you want and how you plan to use it.

Liquid Concealer

When you picture concealer in your mind, you probably picture liquid concealer—the kind that comes in a tube with the attached applicator wand. Generally speaking, these formulas are easy to apply and blend well, which makes them a favorite amongst professional makeup artists and newbies alike. Liquid concealer can come in matte, natural, or dewy finishes and provide medium, full, or buildable coverage—it depends on the specific formula you choose. (Our favorite liquid concealer, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer, offers full coverage and wears for up to 24 hours.)

Serum Concealer

While serum concealers are a type of liquid concealer, they have a few characteristics that distinguish them from traditional liquid concealers. First and foremost, serum concealers usually offer skincare benefits (our Bare With Me Concealer Serum, for instance, offers up to 24 hours of hydration). They also aren’t exactly the same as standard concealers, texture-wise—they’re a bit more fluid and, well, serum-like than other liquid formulas. Other than that, their benefits are the same: Serum concealers can be used to cover blemishes, brighten the under-eye area, and conceal any imperfections that your foundation didn’t fully cover.

Cream Concealer

Cream concealers are thicker than liquid concealers, with a consistency more along the lines of a balm or putty. Because of their thicker texture, cream concealers tend to provide more coverage than liquid and serum concealers. They may come in a jar, palette, or compact, and typically require a tool (like a brush or a sponge) to apply.

Stick Concealer

If you want something between a cream concealer and a liquid formula, a stick concealer is probably your best bet. These creamy formulas come housed in a tube, which allows for easy, precise application. In this category, we recommend our Pro Fix Stick Correcting Concealers. The comfortable, layerable concealers offer medium coverage with a hydrating finish that looks natural on the skin.

What Concealer Formula Is Best for Your Skin Type?

The concealer formula you choose should be dictated by a few factors, including your skin type. In general, we recommend those with dry skin opt for hydrating formulas that are easy to blend, as these will be less likely to cling to any dry or rough patches you may have. Those with oilier skin, meanwhile, may prefer matte liquid or cream concealers that help balance out unwanted shine.

With that being said, it’s important to note that your skin type isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a concealer: Your preferences, desired finish, and how you plan to use your concealer all matter, too. Ultimately, you should feel free to choose whichever concealer aligns with your needs and preferences.

How to Find Your Concealer Shade

Choosing your concealer shade depends on what you plan to use your concealer for (the shade that you use for brightening, for example, may not be the same shade you use to conceal dark circles). Here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop:

Consider Your Skin Tone

If you’re using concealer primarily to cover minor imperfections (think: mild unevenness), you’ll want to reach for a concealer that closely matches your natural skin tone.

Consider Your Undertone

Your undertone is another important consideration when shopping for concealer. A concealer that’s too warm may appear yellow or orangey on the skin, while one that’s too cool could look ashy or gray. If you’re unsure what your undertone is, take a peek at the color of the veins on the inside of your wrist. Blue or purple-tinted veins typically indicate a cool skin tone, and green-looking veins suggest you’re warmer-toned. If you have a mix of both blue and green tones, your undertone is likely neutral.

How To Find a Concealer For Dark Circles

While concealer alone may be sufficient to cover dark circles, you’ll get the best coverage if you layer a color-correcting concealer under one that matches your skin tone. Opt for a pale peachy color corrector (like Pro Fix Stick Correcting Concealer in Pink) if you’re fair, Dark Peach if you have medium skin, or a terra cotta shade like Apricot to neutralize the appearance of dark circles on dark skin tones.

How To Find a Concealer For Blemishes

Blemishes typically appear reddish or pinkish in tone and can be neutralized with a green color corrector, like Pro Fix Stick Correcting Concealer in Green. Dot a bit of the minty hue onto any blemishes to help soften the redness, blend it out, then layer a flesh-toned concealer on top for natural-looking coverage.

How To Find a Concealer For Contouring and Highlighting

Concealers used for highlighting and contouring should be slightly lighter and darker than your natural skin tone, respectively. Keep in mind that the purpose of contouring is to create the illusion of shadows (not warm up your skin), so you’ll get the best results with a cool-toned concealer a couple of shades darker than your natural base.

If you’re still unsure which concealer shade (or shades) are right for you, consider trying our virtual try-on tool. It allows you to test-drive makeup from the comfort of your own home—no swatching necessary.

Should Concealer be Lighter than Foundation?

If you’re using flesh-toned concealer to cover up minor imperfections or blemishes, then it should closely match your foundation. But if you’re using it to brighten or contour, you should choose a shade that suits that purpose. To recap: When highlighting with concealer, use a shade two to three shades lighter than your base color, and to contour, pick a shade two to three shades darker than your base color.

As for color-correcting—another case where your concealer won’t match your foundation—we break down what shades to use and when in The Ultimate Color Corrector Guide: How To Use Color Correction Makeup.

How To Apply Concealer

Once you’ve found your perfect shade (or shades), you’re ready to apply your makeup. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you’ll want to follow for an even, natural-looking base.

Step 1. Start With a Fresh, Clean Face

Start your routine by washing and moisturizing your face. This little bit of skin prep can help ensure your makeup applies smoothly and may prevent your foundation and concealer from clinging to any dry patches on your skin.

Step 2. Smooth On Face Primer

Once your moisturizer is fully absorbed, apply a makeup primer to give your base makeup something to grip to. We love Blur Screen SPF 30 Primer, as it blurs imperfections, extends makeup wear for up to 18 hours, and provides SPF 30 protection against the sun’s rays.

Step 3. Apply Your Foundation

Next, apply your foundation as usual, starting at the center of your face and blending the product outward for a seamless finish. We recommend using Bare With Me Blur Tint Foundation, which blurs imperfections and offers up to 16 hours of comfortable wear with a medium-coverage finish.

Step 4. Brighten Your Under-Eye Area

Once your foundation is in place, grab your preferred concealer and use a small brush or sponge to apply it to your under-eye area. If you’re using a color-correcting concealer shade to help neutralize dark circles, apply that first. As soon as it sets, you can go over it with your skin-colored concealer shade.

Step 5. Cover Blemishes and Imperfections

Dark spots, blemishes, and redness can all be covered with a concealer that matches your skin tone. If you need a little extra help, this is also an opportunity to color correct—just remember to choose the right hue for your specific concern and give your color corrector time to set before layering on your concealer.

Step 6. Set It All in Place

When you’re happy with your base, lock it in place with a long-lasting setting spray, like the Marshmellow Setting Spray. The matte-finish formula helps keep makeup in place for up to 16 hours without smudging, fading, or transferring.

Next Up: How To DIY Your Own Tinted Moisturizer

We’d love to see how you use our concealers! Share a pic on social and tag us @nyxcosmetics.


Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device