Whether you like a full glam look or an all-natural face, chances are good that you've got a concealer rolling around somewhere in the bottom of your makeup bag. That's because concealers are a makeup product that pretty much everyone can use, no matter their beauty style. Concealer can help cover up issues like dark circles and pimples, either as your only type of face makeup or as the base of your complexion routine.
Unfortunately, for something so simple in theory, concealers can also be somewhat frustrating in practice. Either you don't get the shade right and wind up with reverse panda eyes, or the texture is all wrong and slides off or creases.
Rather than get frustrated and throw your cover-up on the floor in defeat, we asked our resident makeup magician, the always charming Samson Smith, to reveal his expert tips and tricks for finding the best concealer for your skin, the best way to apply it, and the biggest application mistake you are (probably) making. Keep reading to learn how to apply your concealer like a makeup artist, plus his three go-to formulas.
Rule 1: Texture Matters
Most people think that color is the most important deciding factor for choosing a concealer, but Samson says it's actually the texture you need to pay attention to first. "It's so important to find the right texture of your concealer for your skin type," says Samson. "If you're someone who has really dry undereyes, for instance, you don't want to use a cream matte concealer because it will look cakey. You should look for something lighter and more hydrating, like Kosas' Revealer Concealer. If your undereyes are on the oilier side and product tends to slide off or crease, you want something a little thicker like the Westman Atelier Vital Skin Stick Foundation (which I love to use like a spot treatment concealer) or the Lilah B. Virtuous Veil Concealer & Eye Primer. They're hydrating without being too greasy and they stay in place without creasing."
If you are covering up pimples, you'll want something that's a bit thicker that will adhere to the skin and provide maximum coverage, in which case Samson recommends the Westman Atelier Stick Foundation. A wet, liquid concealer won't build up enough to cover up the redness and inflammation.
Rule 2: Learn The Art Of Color Correction
While color isn't priority number one, it is obviously crucial to getting a natural look. The difference with color, however, is that unlike texture, if it's not quite right you can blend a few together to get a great match. In addition to finding your perfect shade (something Samson is happy to do for you in store at Shen, if you stop by), you'll also want to learn the tried and true makeup artist secret of color correction. For those not in the know, that's when you use colors that are opposite on the color wheel to cancel out skin discolorations. For dark circles, that means using something with more peach undertones, while for red spots you should look for more yellow-based concealers.
Rule 3: Get Your Placement Right
While you might think you need to apply your concealer directly on the area you are looking to cover, Samson says that's not always the case. "The biggest concealer mistake people make is putting their concealer directly underneath their eye. When you goop on a wet concealer on that thin, moveable skin you're going to get creasing and product build-up every time." Instead, he says, apply your undereye concealer starting at right above your nostril and then use your ring finger to blend upwards.
For pimples and red spots, Samson says to apply your concealer directly on top, but don't blend it in until you are done doing the rest of your concealer and your eye makeup. "Then come back to that spot and use your finger or a wet Beautyblender sponge and feather it out from the affected area. When you allow the product to sit on the skin for longer, it oxidizes and attaches to the skin, giving it the perfect cover." And, in case you haven't heard it before, if you are someone who also wears foundation, you should always be applying your concealer after foundation, otherwise you're just wiping away that carefully applied cover-up as you swipe on your makeup.
Rule 4: Pay Attention To Your Pre-Makeup Skin Routine
What you put on your skin before you put on your makeup can also have an effect on the longevity and appearance of your concealer. Samson says to avoid silicones at all costs because, in addition to being horrible for the environment, they almost always will make your makeup slide off after a few hours. "A lot of people also believe that putting oils on before putting on makeup will make their makeup slip off. This is partially true — using large amounts of heavy oils like avocado or coconut are not good. Lighter oils and coconut oil in very small amounts can be good, just don't use them as your main moisturizing base."
Finally, Samson has a very weird but very effective setting trick that he swears by for a crease-free undereye concealer finish. "Powdering your skin after you apply concealer will always ensure it stays on better, but you have to make sure tighten the area first. So, whenever I go to set my concealer with powder, I first look all the way up, then I curl my top lip over my teeth. It makes a really silly face but it also makes my undereye skin tight. I'll apply the powder and sit like that for a few seconds, then relax my face and sweep away the excess powder. The concealer will crease almost immediately and then all you do is wipe away the excess with your ring finger and you won't see another crease for the rest of the day, guaranteed."
There you have it: A makeup artist's professional secrets for how to apply concealer. Try them out for yourself and tell us in the comments how you did!