From its ability to cover up even the nastiest of breakouts to making us look wide awake when we feel like death, concealer is the definitive makeup marvel. But when it goes wrong? It can go really wrong.
There’s nothing worse than creasing concealer or those white ‘bags’ under your eyes. Or as makeup artist Frey-ja Barker says, “Concealer can be our best friend. However, if applied badly, it will not do us any favors.” Here, she and other top makeup artists reveal the seven major concealer fails – everything from choosing the wrong formula to failing to set it – and how to fix them. Fast.
“There are two elements that help concealer last longer throughout the day: primer and powder,” says Marc Reagan, Global Director of Education, Artistry, and Events for Hourglass. “Our ‘Veil Mineral Primer’ is our most popular product for a reason – it works on every skin type and skin tone, and helps hold onto makeup, extending the wear all day. Apply a light layer all over the face or on areas where you typically find a breakdown of makeup during the day.
Laura Hogsden, Senior Trend Team Makeup Artist at Benefit, says eye cream is also essential. “Using an undereye cream before makeup will plump the skin’s surface, helping to iron out fine lines and giving your undereyes an even smoother and more radiant finish.”
Formula Faux Pas
According to Barker, your choice of concealer should depend on your skin concerns. “Concealers for breakouts tend to be a thicker consistency, and I would advise looking for more of a matte finish as you do not want to draw attention to it. A great formula to check out would be the Nars ‘Soft Matte Complete Concealer’, which comes in a little pot.
“As the skin under the eye is much thinner, opt for a cream concealer that is light in texture and highly pigmented to hide dark circles whilst giving a smooth finish,” says Hogsden. “Using an overly textured concealer will appear cakey and only enhance fine lines. The Benefit ‘Boi-ing Airbrush Concealer’ would work perfectly for this, as it has a light texture and consistency.”
“The Hourglass ‘Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick’ is super helpful when it comes to versatile coverage and portability,” explains Reagan. “It can be used as an all-over primary foundation or as a concealer to even skin tone or cover up a stubborn blemish.” Concerned about spots and dark circles? “You can’t go too wrong with the famous Nars ‘Creamy Radiant Concealer’. Us makeup artists love it!” says Barker.
Going Too Light
“One of the biggest mistakes I see is people applying a much, much lighter color than their natural skin tone. This can run the risk of looking gray or cloudy, especially in photographs,” Barker tells us. “To avoid this, try a color corrector in a peachy tone for dark circles, followed by a light-reflecting concealer such as Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Magic Away Concealer’.”
Charlotte Tilbury ‘Magic Away Liquid Concealer’
Not Using a Brush
A flat brush is best for precise application, according to Reagan. “When applying concealer, try to use a concealer brush – like our ‘No. 8 Brush’ – for the most even coverage, and focus only on where you need it. “I like to apply concealer under the eyes with a ponytail eyeshadow brush, such as the one by Laura Mercier,” says Barker. “It allows you to buff the concealer without looking heavy or cakey.”
When faced with purplish-black patches under your eyes, it can be tempting to slather on lots of product, but that’s not a good idea. “My advice is to always start with a small amount of product because you can always layer more,” advises Reagan. “You want people to compliment you on your skin, not your concealer.”
Barker says that when used sparingly, concealer can provide all the coverage you need, especially in summer when you don’t want to wear a lot of foundation. “Concentrate swiping in a cross formation through the face – a little in the center of the forehead, down the nose, the apples of the cheek and chin, then blend,” she says. “A great concealer that is long-wearing in the summer months would be the Tom Ford ‘Emotionproof’.”
Tom Ford ‘Emotionproof Concealer’
Blending Too Much
Conversely, if you’re too heavy-handed, you can end up wiping away the coverage altogether. “Avoid blending or rubbing, or you’ll only end up revealing the problem area again,” says Hogsden. “Patting the concealer will hold the coverage and pigment and, to ensure a seamless blend into our foundation, you can use the warmth of your fingers to emulsify the concealer.”
Skipping the Setting
“Once the concealer is blended, it needs a powder to lock it in place,” reveals Reagan. “Gently stipple or press the Hourglass ‘Veil Setting Powder’ on top of the concealer, which will ensure that the concealer stays in place and remains bright and radiant over the course of the entire day.”
Hourglass ‘Veil Translucent Setting Powder’