Though putting on a full face of makeup can be fun, these days, we all seem to be opting for a look that’s lighter and simpler. I like to go as bare-faced as possible day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean I have to skimp on a dewy, even glow. In fact, when applying makeup, you typically don’t need to cover every square inch of your face and jawline to get a beautiful finish. As a makeup artist, seamless, well-blended concealer is one of my favorite classic tricks to deliver the perfect mix of adequate coverage meets low effort, looks-like skin finish. They aren’t just for dark circles and blemishes, concealers can truly be the only coverage you need. So the big question is, what are the best concealers?
If you’re picturing beauty vloggers with painted stripes of concealer and contour, that’s not quite the direction we’re taking either. The whole point of this low-maintenance approach is to look naturally flawless while still letting the skin breathe and we have just the tips to help you achieve it.
Read on for how to use concealers to nail the no-makeup makeup look, plus an editor-approved roundup of the best concealers for every concern and skin type.
Prep and prime.
The answer to flawless makeup always lies in your skincare, especially when it comes to using concealer only—a well-hydrated base will ensure the application goes on smoothly. Cleanse, tone, hydrate, and you’re ready to go. If you’d like to use a primer, follow with one like Saie Glowy Super Gel. The finish is smooth with a subtle glow and is perfectly layered under concealer.
Pick the right concealer formula for you.
In general, more creamy, dewy finish concealers work better for this look as they blend a bit better. However, the concealer you use really depends on your skin’s specific needs. Look for more moisturizing formulas for dry skin and fuller coverage formulas for oily skin, as your skin’s oil will naturally thin out the product. If you’re still unsure, pick a more pigment-rich formula, as you can always thin it down with a primer or moisturizer. Generally, stick or solid concealers can be a bit more dry and sticky, whereas liquids are creamier with slightly less coverage.
Use more than one concealer shade.
The cardinal rule of concealer: one shade doesn’t cut it. The concealer you use to cover a blemish should be different from the shade you use to brighten under your eyes. Most faces are multi-tonal, which means you can have multiple skin tones across your complexion. Also, skin tone changes season to season, especially between winter and summer, so be sure your current shade matches your current skin tone.
- One concealer should be one to two shades lighter than your skin tone. This is for brightening and lifting—under the eyes, on the bridge of your nose, etc.
- The other should be as exact a match as possible to your skin. This concealer is to be used around the nose, on blemishes, and for redness. Test it out in the daylight, the concealer should practically disappear on your skin. Be sure you pick one with a similar undertone to your skin, yellow, pink, or neutral as this majorly affects the way the makeup blends.
Resist the urge to put product everywhere.
Everyone is different, and you’ll need different amounts of coverage in different parts of your face. Start with a light hand first, you can always add more later and once you start blending you may need less than you originally thought. Focus on spots with redness, around your nose, blemishes, and a dot under your eyes and in the inner corner and you can add from there.
Grab the right tools.
Your fingers work well in a pinch, but a small, fluffy eye makeup brush is my go-to. The fluff allows for better blending, while a smaller brush size gives you better control. My favorite affordable option is the Real Techniques Setting Brush, especially since you can get it from practically any drugstore. After you’ve applied and blended, buffing with a damp sponge will soften everything to make it more seamless with your skin.
APPLICATION TIPS AND TRICKS
1. Lighten and Brighten:
Grab your lighter concealer and apply it to the spots below. The main area to hit is under your eyes, but these other spots will have a brightening effect. Gently tap the product on using a very light hand.
- Under eyes and corners of your eyes
- Top of your cheekbones
- Bridge of your nose
- Tip of your chin
- Cupid’s bow (under your nose, above your top lip)
2. Conceal and Spot Treat:
Use a concealer that matches your skin tone/foundation. Since this is more for spot coverage, lightly dot a bit of product on each spot. You can always add more later!
- Blemishes or acne scars
- Red spots
- The sides of your nose around your nostrils where redness and discoloration are common
- Lower cheeks if you have rosacea
3. Blend, Blend, Blend:
Using your fluffy brush or a damp beauty blender, go back over your skin using a light hand to buff the product into your skin. Voila! Stop here or follow with the rest of your makeup routine, dust on some bronzer, fluff the brows, and add a swipe of mascara. For tips, check out this post on no-makeup makeup.
Editor-Approved Concealers for Every Skin Type:
Best for: dark circles, blemishes, spot treatment, buildable
Why I Recommend It: This buildable concealer is always in my makeup bag. As someone who wears very little makeup, I use this concealer for everything: covering dark spots, blemishes, and hormonal acne. A little goes a long way, and it blends seamlessly into the skin. Although it’s not entirely full coverage, it does the trick. It’s also not cakey, thanks to the concealer’s elastic micro waxes. I’m obsessed. — Edie Horstman, Wellness Contributor
Best for: all skin types, blemishes, medium coverage
Why I Recommend It: The OG of makeup artist-approved concealers, this one is a best seller and number one in the US for a reason. It’s one of my go-tos in my makeup kit thanks to its perfect texture and luminous finish. Enriched with hydrating, multi-action skincare benefits and light diffusing technology, it diffuses imperfections and fine lines and blends like a dream. — Hannah Zahner, Beauty and Wellness Editor
Best for: dark circles/brightening, dry mature skin
Why I Recommend It: I recently gave this highly rated concealer a try and it works like a charm. A little bit goes a long way to cover up my sleepy under-eye circles and any blemishes or dark spots. I usually have drier skin, and I like the liquid consistency of this concealer rather than the solids I’ve used in the past that tended to build up under my eyes. This one goes on smooth and they have tons of shades so you can find your exact match. — Michelle Nash, Senior Producer
Why I Recommend It: I have tried so many different concealers and as I get older (I just turned 41) every single one I tried seemed to make the under-eye area really dry, crepey, and cakey. But that all changed when Kosas sent me their Revealer Concealer last year. This is truly unlike any concealer on the market currently. It is super creamy, hydrating, and brightening—and a little goes a long way! After dabbing on a few spots on my forehead, under-eye, nose, and chin area, I love to apply it with a damp sponge to give it a soft, dewy finish. The glow this concealer gives your skin is unbelievable and it lasts all day without any creasing! — Sacha Strebe, Deputy Editor
Best for: dry skin, light, dewy coverage
Why I Recommend It: In addition to Kosas’ concealer, this one is hard to beat, not just as a nontoxic product but across the board of all concealers. This concealer reminds me of my two favorite non-clean beauty picks—the applicator is similar to NARS’ doe footed wand, while the hydrating formula spreads and covers like Glossier’s Stretch Concealer. It’s light and weightless with a natural finish that looks like skin and is especially great for “full face” coverage when you want to skip the foundation. — Hannah Zahner, Beauty and Wellness Editor
Best for: Dark circles, oily skin, full coverage, buildable
Why I Recommend It: Don’t be put off by the price tag because this concealer lasts forever. It’s a highly pigmented multi-purpose concealer/foundation that I like to sheer out with moisturizer or bb cream depending on how much coverage I need. I’ve had dark under-eye circles since the day I was born, and this is the only concealer that properly covers them and stays PUT. You only need the tiniest dot for under eyes and a nearly imperceptible touch to cover up pimples—I use it for everything. The shade range is a bit disappointing, but since it’s meant to be either sheered out or used with other products it actually does work for a relatively wide range of skin tones. — Lourdes Avila Uribe, Contributing Editor
Best for: Coverage, brightening, lightweight
Why I Recommend It: I’ve been using this concealer since it came out and I believe it was the first clean beauty product I ever purchased. When the clean beauty movement started there weren’t a ton of options for darker skin tones, this concealer blended into my skin flawlessly. It has a lightweight feeling and not only does it have coverage but it brightens and depuffs. — Brandy Joy Smith, Motherhood Contributor
Best for: Sensitive skin, blemishes, oily skin
Why I Recommend It: One of the very first clean concealers I fell in love with, I love that this one comes in a pot. I dab of your finger or a touch of the brush and you’ll find a little bit goes a long way. It spreads, blends, and covers like a dream while it’s non-drying, its creamy formula feels lightweight, breathable, and doesn’t get cakey. — Hannah Zahner, Beauty and Wellness Editor
Best for: dark circles, full coverage
Why I Recommend It: This has been my go-to concealer for the past couple of years. It is pretty full coverage and works great for using on my under-eye area and on any blemishes that I might need to cover up. I like to blend it out with a small brush, like the smaller end of this one from It Cosmetics for a seamless look. It can get a little cakey if your skin isn’t moisturized, so be sure to prep your skin first. The best part is that it is vegan and hypo-allergenic. — Bridget Chambers, Editorial and Social Media Intern