14 Makeup Tips on How to Use Concealer Properly

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

We’ve all got some flaws that we would rather hide. From fine lines, blemishes and under eye circles, to spots and unwanted freckles there’s always something staring back at us from the mirror that needs banishing. So it’s a good thing that we have concealer to mask those problems.

Concealer covers up all of the bad bits that we don’t want anyone else to see. But when it’s applied badly, or the wrong product is used, it draws attention to the very thing that it was supposed to hide.

The best concealers, lighten dark areas, cover spots and blemishes, and work together with your foundation to give the appearance of an even skin tone.

On the other hand, poor quality concealers, the wrong type of concealer and incorrectly applied concealer can all draw attention to problem areas, making blemishes look more obvious, and creating a whitish glow around dark areas. The secret is knowing which type of concealer you need to use for which tasks and how to apply it.

So here are some tips to help you get the most out of your concealer and get the flawless look that you need.

So here are some tips to help you get the most out of your concealer and get the flawless look that you need

1 One Concealer Isn’t Enough

There’s a seemingly endless stream of concealing products out there. They come in a dizzying array of formulations and colors that can leave you wondering which one is the right one for you. The truth is that none of them will the right one if you’re trying to find an all purpose concealer.

Different problems needs different solutions. The concealer that perfectly hides your dark under eye circles, won’t cover up your red acne break out quite so well. You’ll need to use different types and shades of concealer for different areas of your face.

2 When To Use A Cream Based Concealer

Cream based products are a good choice for normal, dry, combination, and sensitive skin types.

Their coverage ranges from medium to high, and their thick consistency means that they can be layered as needed, allowing the concealer to be built up to cover very problematic areas.

Creams come is a satin or a matte finish. Very dry skin types will benefit from using a cream concealer but should avoid the matte finish. And for mature skins you have to be careful when using creams because they tend to settle a little too heavily into creases and lines.

Cream concealer works very well to hide under eye shadows, pimples and blemishes and to even out skin tone.

In addition to the palette or compact cream concealers, this type of concealer also comes in 2 kinds of stick formulation.

Body sticks have a thick consistency and a matt finish which is perfect for covering up veins, birthmarks, tattoos and scars.

Regular stick concealers are good for covering up pimples and blemishes and are just what you need for on the go touch ups.

3 When To Use A Liquid Based Concealer

Liquid concealer is the most versatile type of concealer and it works for all skin types except very dry skin.

It’s the better choice for oily skin types and those with enlarged pores. Cream concealers tend to add an oily sheen to already oily skin and they can magnify the appearance of enlarged pores.

Thicker creams can also clog pores, which is the last thing that you want if you have oily skin that is prone to breakouts. Liquid concealers pose little risk for clogging pores and they’re unlikely to cake up.

Like creams the coverage with liquids is also buildable, but to a lesser extent. Coverage ranges from light to full, and finishes include dewy, satin, shimmer, and matte. They work well to cover under eye circles and to even out skin tone.

Liquid concealers are the easiest type to apply and blend and they also are the best type to use on wrinkled skin because the thinner texture makes them less likely to crease.

Concealers with a matte finish last longer than those with a shinier finish and the mattes are also less likely to migrate over the course of the day. But concealers with a shinier finish provide a more natural look, especially over dry areas.

A good finish for under eye use is a subtle radiant shimmer finish. This concealer will cover the shadows and highlight the area with a soft glow.

Liquids that come with an applicator wand are useful for drawing on highlights and contours.

For on the go light touch ups, liquids also come in pen form with either a puffiness reducing metal tip or a brush tip.

4 When To Use A Stick Concealer

These are best for normal, dry, and sensitive skin types. Available finishes include satin and matte and their coverage is buildable, ranging from medium to full.

Stick concealer has a semi-solid texture and often has more pigment. This type of concealer can be dotted on for concealing or easily swiped on to give a line of color for contouring and highlighting.

Concealers in stick form pose the highest risk of clogging pores, so they aren’t really suitable for  those with oily or combination skin.

5 When To Use A Powder Or Pencil Concealer

If you have combination skin or oily skin, then a mineral powder concealer is a good choice as it will help to absorb the excess oil on your forehead, nose and chin. Powders give medium to high coverage.

Pencils have a thick consistency and a semi matte finish, they’re good for highlighting and contouring.

6 Choosing The Right Shade

This is where concealer gets a little more complicated.

For general use and for hiding fine lines choose a concealer that matches your skin tone and your foundation. You can go a couple of shades lighter and it will still blend well to give you a natural finish. Recheck your choices as the seasons change, what works on pale winter skin won’t work on sun kissed summer skin.

  • Use orange toned concealer to hide blue under eye circles.
  • Use a combination of orange and yellow toned concealers to hide under eye circles that have mixed blue and purple hues.
  • Use yellow toned concealer for purple under eye circles.
  • Use yellow toned concealer to even out skin tone.
  • Use green tones for hiding red spots and blemishes and to conceal any red around your eyes.

7 Use The Right Application Tools

You can always use your fingers in a pinch, but no matter how clean your hands are you will alway transfer some of the oils from your fingertips to the concealer which will alter its composition. Plus if you haven’t washed your hands well, then you will plop a big dollop of bacteria onto your makeup where it will happily multiply and lead to spots and other unsightly horrors.

There are brushes made specifically for applying concealer and by using these you will find it easier to get a professional finish. Concealer brushes have very soft bristles which makes the blending process much easier.

A separate brush with a tapered end helps to apply and blend concealer at the corner of your eye.

Another tool that you’ll want to use for getting a good finish on a cream concealer is a damp sponge. With a sponge you can press and dab at the concealer to even it out.

Lastly, for blending concealer close to your lash line you will find a damp Q-tip very helpful.

Remember to keep your tools clean!

8 Cleanse Tone And Moisturize First

Prepping your skin properly will go along way to helping your makeup look great. Makeup can cover a lot of flaws but it never looks good on skin that is coated with too much grease, on rough skin that hasn’t been exfoliated, or on dry skin that hasn’t been moisturized.

For use under makeup choose a light moisturizer that is fully absorbed. You really can’t go wrong with Argan oil, whatever your skin type, and Rice Bran oil is a similar but less expensive option.

Save the richer emollients for night time use and your makeup will have more staying power.

9 Before Or After Foundation

Before Or After Foundation

There is no right or wrong way when it comes to using concealer before or after your foundation. The only exception is if you use powder foundation, then you should always apply concealer first.

People have differing and strong opinions about this, but it ultimately comes down to what works best for you.

A couple of things to keep in mind are;

By applying your foundation first, you won’t need to use as much concealer. Your foundation will have evened out a lot of the discoloration and you can see exactly what still needs to be done.

If you apply concealer first, you’ll undo some of your handiwork when you apply and blend your foundation.

10 Hiding Spots

For the best results use a brush or pencil to apply a touch of green concealer right on top of the pimple to counteract the redness. Then use a high coverage concealer that matches your skin tone to go over the top, and to apply to the area surrounding the spot. Blend well.

11 Open Sores And Blisters

If you’ve got a serious breakout going on with weeping spots, then concealer won’t stay in place all by itself. Use a dry Q-tip to apply a little translucent powder to the area first, then dab concealer on and blend before applying a final covering of powder.

Alternatively use two applications of a powder concealer. When you get home remove your makeup and cleanse your skin well before applying whatever treatment you use to clear up your skin. A diluted essential oil is always a good choice.

12 Dark Under Eye Circles

The area under the eye has a much thinner layer of skin which allows the color of the underlying veins to show through. This color is magnified when you’ve had a late night, or you’re feeling under the weather, because inflammation sets in.

Disguise the discoloration with the right color correcting concealer first.

Orange tones to hide blue under eye circles, a combination of orange and yellow tones to hide circles that have blue and purple hues, and yellow tones for purple under eye circles.

Then to create a natural look, choose a shade of concealer that’s no more than one or two shades lighter than your natural skin tone or you’ll have a very obvious lighter patch around your eyes.

The best way to apply this top coat of concealer is by dotting it on in a triangle shape, with the base of the triangle underneath your eye (where the dislocation is) and the point of the triangle sitting over the apple of your cheek. Blend in well.

By using this technique, which is known as the triangle of light, you more effectively camouflage the dark circles, brighten your face and draw attention to your pretty eyes.

Sometimes concealer applied around the eyes can look very garish, no matter how well you have tried to match the color to your skin tone and it can settle into crows feet making them more obvious instead of hiding them. To remedy this you can mix the concealer with a small amount of eye cream, which keeps the skin hydrated and allows the concealer to blend more smoothly.

After applying concealer, blot the area with a thin tissue to further prevent it from settling in the creases around your eyes.

13 Covering Freckles

Freckles are cute, but if you want to cover them up then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Use a concealer that’s as close to your natural skin tone as possible. Try out different concealers because you may not need as much coverage as you think you do, and a light coverage concealer might be all that you need. Dot it all over the freckled area, then blend well with a damp sponge.

If you’re going to wear foundation too, apply that first then follow with concealer.

Let Your Concealer Sit For A few Minutes.

Concealer can change color (usually to a darker shade) as it adjusts to the warmth of your skin. Wait a few minutes after you’ve first worked it over your skin then make any adjustments necessary. Your makeup will look a lot more natural if you’re working with the true colors of your products.

14 Concealer Fixes And Tricks

Keep your lipstick from bleeding outside of the lines by first lining the outside of your lips with a fine tipped brush and a bit of concealer.

Cover any eyeliner mistakes with an angled brush dipped in concealer. It’s much easier than trying to remove the smudges which inevitably takes off some of your other makeup too.

To help your eyeshadow stay put and to prevent it from settling into eyelid creases, prime your eyelids first with a touch of well blended skin toned concealer.

Use a concealer that’s a shade lighter than your skin tone to highlight three sections of your eyes. The inner “V,” at the corner of your eye, the middle section of your eyelid, and just below your brow bone. Blend lightly for a natural look that gives eyes some lift after a bad night’s sleep.

Create the illusion of filler lips by applying a light shade of cream concealer to the middle section of your lips and then blending it out with your fingertip. Finish off with a slick of nude lip gloss over the top.

Reshape your lips. Moisturize, then completely cover your lips with a cream concealer. Trace a new lip line just slightly outside of your natural lip line with a lip pencil. Then continue to fill in your lips with the pencil for a matte look or finish with lipstick or a gloss.

Make a feature of your brows by running a line of concealer above and below them. Use a shade  that’s one shade lighter than your natural skin tone. Then use your fingertip to blend as the warmth will make it easier to get a more natural finish than a brush would achieve.

For a more glamorous look contour and highlight your features with two concealers. One that is  two shades darker than your skin tone for contouring, and one two shades lighter for highlighting. Pencil or stick concealers make this very easy.

Draw the lighter shade of concealer onto the areas of your face that would naturally catch the light – cheekbones, chin, along the center of your nose, over your brows. And use a darker one to shade in the areas that are naturally shaded – the sides of your nose, hollows of your cheeks, around your hairline. Then, blend with a soft brush.

To accentuate your collarbone, pull your shoulders back to make your collarbone more pronounced, then trace the natural contours of your collarbone with a concealer two shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker concealer to fill in areas that fall in shadow, then use a concealer two shades lighter than your skin tone to highlight all of the areas that protrude and would catch the light.

Use a damp sponge or a soft brush to blend the two shades together and eliminate any obvious lines.

Create a tinted moisturizer with a little extra coverage than normal tinted creams by mixing your regular moisturizing lotion with a bit of your skin toned concealer. This will hydrate your skin while giving you a light coverage and a hint of color.

Have fun!

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.