The best concealers are like a magic wand for skin. In a flash, they even out skin tone, cover dark-under-eye circles and blemishes, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten your whole face. But they need to be wielded wisely. After all, you don’t want to make a concealer mistake that accidentally causes dark circles to look worse or wears off halfway through the day.
A lot of this boils down to choosing the right concealer for the job. While this category of makeup products may seem very similar, there are some important differences. Here’s a quick primer: Gel concealers are lightweight and generally combine a serum-type skin treatment with the power of a concealer. Blur sticks are the lightest of all types of concealers, made to blur out fine lines or blemishes, like Photoshop for your skin. Then there are liquid concealers for light to medium coverage, color-correcting concealers to camouflage dark circles or redness, and stick concealers that can provide medium to full coverage with one swipe.
Whatever formula you end up using, whether it’s an affordable multitasking Maybelline concealer with near-perfect reviews or a splurge-worthy cover-up that’s on par with the best anti-aging eye creams, the key is to make sure it looks natural. “Concealer should melt into the skin and blend into foundation seamlessly for an even-toned look,” says makeup artist Lynnette Cole, PÜR’s global education director. “Try testing your concealer on your neck. If it disappears, it’s the right shade.”
What to know before you buy
When it comes to choosing choosing the best under-eye concealer, New York City–based makeup artist Alexandra Baranoff, advises: “The general rule for finding a concealer is to use one shade lighter than your foundation. Going too light will only makes the skin look ashy or can add a touch grayness to your face.”
For women of color, dark under-eye circles and blemishes can seem more intense, but this isn’t the time to consider your undertone. “Unlike choosing a foundation, the right concealer really depends on what you’re trying to conceal rather than the undertone,” says Nechelle Turner, Jane Iredale’s national makeup artist. “A concealer that is yellow-based will neutralize and conceal redness, whereas something warm will neutralize the blue, gray, purple cast that you see in dark circles.” Looking for an under-eye concealer to even out skin tone? Turner suggests using a concealer that’s “half shade lighter than their foundation shade.”
Another factor to consider: your personal style. “Do you prefer the natural look, or are you more of makeup maven?” asks Baranoff. “How you wear your makeup will help determine the formula that you choose. Whichever style you are, always to opt for a concealer that brightens the under-eye area.”
With that in mind, here are the best concealers for every conceivable need, skin shade, style, and budget. Stock up on the right ones for any beauty emergency and you’ll always look awake, alert, and ready to face the day (or night).