Sometimes the secret to flawless-looking skin is just a really good concealer. The beauty product might be the hardest-working thing in your makeup bag. For me, some months, it might even work overtime if I'm dealing with an annoying breakout, dark circles from no sleep, or hard-to-cover blemishes. Raise your hand if you feel me on this.
While concealer might seem like the simplest thing to use, there are some application tips and mistakes to be aware of. It's not quite just dabbing some on and calling it a day. So to ensure you're getting the most out of this magical workhorse product, I tapped makeup artist Sofia Tilbury, a brand ambassador and the product and content creator at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty (and yes, Charlotte's niece), for her best tips.
Common Concealer Mistakes
1. Skipping Skincare
When I'm doing my makeup in a rush, I always forget to leave enough time to prep my skin before. "When concealing areas of pigmentation, redness, or acne, I will usually devote a lot of time to skincare and foundation before concealer—you can't have a beautiful painting without a beautiful canvas!" says Tilbury, whose clients include Irina Shayk and Suki Waterhouse. "Charlotte's Goddess Skin Clay Mask is incredible for calming the skin, and her Magic Serum and Magic Cream are the perfect hydration duo for gorgeous, smooth, baby-soft skin and the perfect foundation for makeup!"
2. Applying Too Many Layers
Your first instinct when you've got a pretty gnarly pimple, dark spot, or blemish is to keep adding more and more until it goes away. It's best to have some restraint in this situation. "What I often see with concealer is cakey-ness—avoid applying too many layers, and when blending over textured skin or acne, always pat—don't rub!" Tilbury says.
3. Forgetting to Set It
"Always set your concealer with powder so that it doesn't move or slip throughout the day," Tilbury recommends. "I use the micro-fine, perfecting Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder. It feels like silk on your skin and helps to lock in your makeup effortlessly—it can also help to reduce the appearance of any unwanted shine!"
Now that you know what to watch out for, how do you make sure you're applying your concealer correctly for a natural, flawless look? Tilbury has a few pointers:
1. Prep Your Skin First: Like mentioned above, don't skimp on your skincare routine. That might include cleanser, a mask, serum, moisturizer, and even some eye cream if you're dealing with puffiness.
2. Have Two Different Shades: It's not exactly one-shade-fits-all. "Whenever I am creating a makeup look, whether it is on myself or on a celebrity client, I always use two different shades of Magic Away concealer—a lighter shade for the under-eye area and around the mouth, and a shade that matches your foundation to conceal any blemishes or redness," Tilbury says. "It's a trick I learned from Charlotte! Makeup is all about cheating the light, and using concealer in this way means you create brightness and bounce the light away from dark circles while hiding any imperfections or blemishes."
3. Know When to Use a Brush vs. Fingers: "I like to apply concealer using the tapered end of my Hollywood Complexion Brush, as it helps you blend effectively into the contours underneath your eyes and around your nose, but I will also often use my fingers to tap concealer out and create a more natural look," Tilbury says.
Best Concealers for Dark Spots
When it comes to shopping for a concealer, Tilbury says she looks for one with stretch, coverage, and skincare benefits. Take a look at some of our favorite products below:
This is my daily concealer, and I'm obsessed with the fact that it's full-coverage, but it doesn't feel too heavy or cakey. I can use it for everything from dark spots to blemishes to dark circles.
This stick concealer can stand the test of time (or at least last for up to 16 hours). Ultra creamy and water-resistant, it's also formulated with good-for-skin hydrating ingredients like raspberry seed oil, blackcurrent seed oil, and sea lavender.
A popular pick, It Cosmetics' highly pigmented concealer provides 24 hours of coverage and works on just about any skin need. Also, we're so impressed with its variety of shades—there are 48!
"Magic Away is the holy grail of concealers!" Tilbury says. "Charlotte calls it her 'magic wand of makeup!' It contains Persian silk tree bark extract to reduce the look of fine lines and help fade dark circles over time, as well as wild indigo to enhance skin's luminosity."
You really can't go wrong with this highly rated $6 concealer.
This clean concealer is like a three-in-one product since it provides coverage but also works as an eye cream and spot treatment. It contains ingredients like arnica, caffeine, and peptides to brighten, heal, and support the skin.
You can build your coverage with this concealer. It also contains glycerin, caffeine, and vitamin E to reduce dark circles and puffiness.
Another great drugstore find, Revlon's creamy concealer goes on super easily. Use your fingertips to blend. It comes in six different shades.
Glossier's concealer leaves you with a dewy, not cakey, finish. It blends easily and has mineral pigments that can brighten your skin.
It's not hard to find your perfect concealer shade here, as Fenty Beauty offers 50 different ones. The full-coverage product has a matte finish and is lightweight.
Tarte's popular concealer works to smooth and blur fine lines and wrinkles while covering up blemishes. It also has nutrient-rich ingredients like licorice root extract and mango seed and shea butters.
Another trusted choice, Nars's creamy concealer provides up to 16 hours of long-lasting coverage. The formula contains mineral tone balance powder (to correct) and light-diffusing mineral powder (to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles). Plus, it also has some good-for-the-skin ingredients like magnolia bark extract, grape-seed extract, and vitamin E.
With full coverage, this concealer can cover just about anything but doesn't leave a greasy, heavy, or cakey finish. It's buildable, too, but a little bit goes a long way.
This full-coverage concealer can really work its magic on some tough-to-cover blemishes and spots. It's a creamy formula, but it has a matte finish.
This concealer also works as a serum, brightening and hydrating the skin. The weightless product goes on smoothly and is easily buildable.
Oil-free and waterproof, this concealer is easy to wear for long periods of time. It's formulated to cover blemishes, discoloration, scars, and tattoos with a matte finish.
On the pricier end, this popular concealer will cover dark circles, spots, imperfections, and uneven skin tone. And as a bonus, it contains SPF 25 sunscreen.