A Ranking of the Worst Concealer Mistakes, According to a Makeup Artist

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


(Image credit: @sukiwaterhouse)

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


(Image credit: @zendaya)

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!"

Application Tips


(Image credit: @selenagomez)

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


(Image credit: @alexachung)

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:

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.