Cover Girl: My Guide to Concealers

The thing about good skin days is that they don’t last.

Fine, fine. Yes, I’m being melodramatic. It’s just that I had a nasty breakout… right before a family gathering. Those evil little buggers know exactly when to make a grand entrance, don’t they?

Ugh.

The thing about my breakouts is that they tend to be of the cystic kind. I don’t have acne-prone skin most of the time, but when my skin gets clogged, it gets clogged. I get one or two pimples that are just huge and red and pulsing, like neon signs for the seedy bars along Kalayaan.

Still ugh.

My first instinct — and I guess this is probably true for most people who aren’t makeup artists — is to cover everything up. I want to reach for the most opaque of foundations and just paint my face blank.

Honestly though, that only makes things worse. Painting a thick layer of foundation is never flattering, and will only make you look weird and unnatural. It’s the exact opposite of what you want.

Instead, stealth is the key. Sleight of hand, my babies — we will vanish those pesky pimples with magic.

Or maybe not magic, but the right concealer.

See, I know you’ve seen the wide variety of concealers available on the market. You’ve got creams and liquids and sticks and tubs and pens and wands and, well, you get the point.

Figure out the right tool for the job, and those ugly buggers are no match for your makeup skills. Let this be a short and sweet guide.

Dark Circles

All those Youtube tutorials and Instagram influencers have made highlighting under the eyes a thing, but if you’re dealing with dark circles, applying a lighter concealer without correcting first will absolutely make your eyebags look gray. Not cute.

Depending on the color of your dark circles, you may or may not want to get into correctors first. I have brownish dark circles (others have noticed blue-ish or purple under eyes) so I can get away with a concealer that’s just a tiny bit peachier than my actual skin tone.

Even so, I prefer using a combination: Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid in Peach + Glossier Stretch Concealer in G11. I have to make sure I apply a light layer of both, though, so the end result isn’t thick and cake-y.

You can even add a brightening concealer, especially on the small grooves near your nose. Remember that you highlight to bring the area forward, so a bit of glow under your eyes can brighten the sunken parts and make you look more wide awake.

A final note for anything near the eyes: never use anything dry or matte! A thick, opaque concealer has its uses, but it will only make your undereyes look old and crepe-y. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is a little oily, which makes it an excellent choice for the eye area.

If you’re worried about the concealer melting off by mid-day, you can set with just a small amount of powder before leaving the house.

Redness

So let’s say you’ve got super ruddy cheeks, or a smattering of old acne marks that are healed and flat but won’t just straight up disappear. It doesn’t mean you have no choice but to use foundation!

Liquid concealers are best for this kind of job, because they’re easier to spread and can be sheered out to cover larger areas without getting too thick and obvious. You can just dot a few dabs on the area then sheer out carefully until you get the coverage you want.

Two of the best liquid concealers I’ve tried are NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer. Both offer great color options, medium coverage, and smooth texture. I find that using a Beauty Blender (or whatever sponge you prefer) works best for applying light and thin layers.

Pimples

Ah, the scourge. I know I’m not supposed to be too bothered by pimples, but I am. I can’t help it. I see those pimples on my face and I can’t stop worrying about them. It really messes with my head, and sometimes I get a little obsessed.

No matter. I now have a bullet-proof solution for covering up even the ugliest of these pimples. Sure, they’ll be visible if they’re bumpy, but the right concealer can make them just a tiny bit less obvious.

First up: never use a creamy or brightening concealer. The Glossier Stretch Concealer is excellent for brightening the undereyes, but it can only make cystic pimples a lot more noticeable. Remember what we said about bringing things forward by highlighting?

So you want a matte concealer instead. It’s a visual trick, really. Matte makes it just a little bit less visible.

Second, you want something that’s straight up opaque. No medium coverage bullshit here! For really angry and red pimples, you need a concealer that can cover those bad boys up with one layer so you can keep it looking “natural”.

Finally, you need something that stays put the entire day. No one has time to keep retouching, you know. But where exactly do we find this perfect concealer?

Makeup Forever Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream exists and it is magical.

To think I almost gave up on it! I thought I could use it like regular concealers, applying with a finger and dabbing it all over my face. Wrong. To get this concealer right, you have to use the right tool for the job.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Small amount squeezed out on the back of my hand
  • Zoeva Concealer Buffer Brush picks up a small amount
  • Dab a little on the back of my hand to make sure I don’t pick up too much concealer
  • Dab lightly on and around the pimple I’d like to cover
  • Buff the edges if necessary

That’s it! I find that if I apply a light enough layer, I won’t have to really set the concealer. I do dab a bit of powder on the area if I want extra assurance.

Can you get away with just one concealer for everything? Sure, if you don’t have really dark circles or if you don’t have a lot to cover. If you want to be excellent at finessing your base, though, having a number of concealers to choose from is definitely perfect for your needs.


Photo by Karly Jones on Unsplash

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