1. Concealer expectations
The best concealer is designed to cover discolorations and pigmentation flaws, lighten designed to be used on specific areas, such as underneath the eyes, around the nose, on blemishes such as red marks and on spots or discolored areas.
The amount of coverage you need will determine whether you apply it over or under the foundation layer. For less coverage, apply concealer before foundation; for more coverage, apply concealer on top of foundation.
Tip 1: Concealers should always be used under, not over powder foundation, as doing so causes streaking and makes the powder layer roll and get cakey. If you prefer to use powder foundation, apply concealer first.
Tip 2: The most natural results are achieved by using a concealer that is one or two shades lighter than the dark areas it is correcting. This is enough to neutralize the dark areas without standing out.
If you do not want to use foundation, and prefer a more natural look, you can use concealer alone. This can work, provided you have a perfect complexion with not much to correct, allowing you to focus on a few areas only. However, even then, the concealer must blend with your skin color perfectly. As with other make-up items, several thin layers achieve a better result than one thicker one.
No matter how good the concealer, they all have limitations. It is just not possible to completely cover flaws, acne, brown spots, etc, without looking like you have makeup on.
2. Choosing a concealer based on your skin type / concerns
If you have dry skin, you should not use a liquid concealer with a matte finish because it will emphasize dryness. If you have oily skin and enlarged pores, do not use creamy concealers, as they tend to clog pores and magnify their appearance. Additionally, they tend to add an oily shine, which is exactly what you want to avoid. If you would like to cover dark circles, red marks or brown spots, use a concealer that provides at least a medium coverage.
For the under eye area, use a concealer that is no more than one or two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. For other parts of your face, use a concealer that is exactly the color of your foundation. Avoid concealer shades that are pink, rose, peach, white, yellow, or copper. As an exception, a tinge of peach or pink can be acceptable if they are being used to counteract bluish or purple-colored dark circles.
3. Types of concealer
There are many types of concealer, each of them conceived for a specific purpose. That is why, if you are looking to cover several coloration issues on your face, you will most likely need at least two concealers. This is because a creamy, moisturizing concealer that is designed for dark circles will not work well on breakouts or discolored areas on your cheeks.
1. Liquid Concealer
Best suited for normal, combination, oily, sensitive, and breakout-prone skin. Liquid concealer coverage is buildable, allowing you to work either in layers or by using a full coverage concealer. It is available in dewy, satin, radiant shimmer, and matte finishes. Because it offers buildable coverage, liquid concealer is the most versatile type of concealer. It also works for all skin types, except very dry. It is easy to apply and blend in, either by using a clean finger, a flat concealer brush or the wand applicator provided. Liquid concealer is better for acne coverage because it poses less risks of causing additional breakouts, as a creamier concealer may do. It also is less likely to cake up during wear.
Liquid concealer is also preferable for wrinkled areas because its thin texture prevents it from creasing throughout the day, although some slippage into lines is always possible. Liquid concealers with a matte finish last longer than those with a satin finish and they smudge less. However, satin-finish liquid has a more natural look, especially in dry areas of the face. A shimmer finish is suitable for under the eyes areas, because it highlights the area while at the same time providing a bright, illuminating but subtle effect.
2. Cream Concealer
Cream concealers are best suited for normal, dry, combination, or sensitive skin. Their coverage ranges from medium to full, and it is buildable, by adding layers, as needed. Cream concealers come in satin and creamy finishes.
Cream concealers usually come packaged in a small pot, palette, or compact. They work well for under the eyes area and for covering discolorations like melasma (patchy skin discoloration also known as “the mask of pregnancy”).
Their thick texture and rich pigmentation provides intense coverage, which makes it easier to build coverage than with other types of concealers (liquid ones, for example). However, if not used properly, creamy concealers can look heavy and thick on the skin, so proper application is needed. They can be applied with a clean finger, sponge, or a small concealer brush, and they have a very easy to work, gliding quality. They do tend to crease into lines and wrinkles, which can be corrected by thorough application and by setting them with loose or pressed powder.
3. Color-Correcting Concealer
Color-Correcting Concealers are best suited for correcting skin color issues that cannot be corrected with foundation or concealer alone. These issues include bluish under eye circles, extreme redness or sallowness. Their coverage ranges from sheer to full, and it is buildable, by adding layers, as needed. Depending on the formula, they come in a variety of finishes. Color-correcting concealer is usually available in cream or stick form; its liquid versions are sheer and therefore can be easily blended so as to achieve a natural finish.
It is important to use them in moderation and to do tests until you find the right concealer for your color problem: for example, green concealer will neutralize redness, but if it visible under your foundation, the discoloration problem remains.
Apply color-correcting concealer before your foundation; after application, allow it to dry and make sure it neutralizes and balances the color issue you are trying to correct. You also can use it in combination with a flesh-tone concealer, so that when the foundation is applied the color corrector is not visible underneath. If you go for this option, the two should be of the same color.
Because they are tricky to use, color correctors do require practice to get it right. However, once you’ve mastered the application technique and found the right concealer for you, they can work wonders! Here are a few tips on how to choose the right concealer, depending on your concern:
Mauve’ish: excellent for balancing out sallow or yellowness in the skin.
Mellow Yellow: works very well to counteract purples such as dark circles or scarring; pale yellow can be used to highlight brows and cheekbones, if they have blue-ish visible veins, but it must be pale, not gold.
Green: is a must for neutralizing redness, such as redness from rosacea.
Pink: is great if you are looking to neutralize a blue cast on lighter skin tones or add color to a very pale skin.
Read more of MBS’s Technique column, over here.