Chances Are, You’re Using Concealer Wrong

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Concealer is one of those oh-so-simple makeup products to use, right? You just apply a thin layer of it to problem areas—think under-eye circles, red spots and blemishes—and they magically disappear. Guess again. According to NARS stylist Niko Lopez, about 70 percent of women use concealer incorrectly. And if you’re not using your concealer the right way, you’re doing way more of a disservice to your skin than wearing none at all.

For starters, Lopez says that not enough women properly prep their skin—especially their eyes—prior to concealer application. “It’s important to moisturize your face and around your eyes the night before so that it’s supple and plump by morning. Prior to applying concealer, hydrate your eye area with a good moisturizer and wait a few minutes for it to fully absorb. If not, the concealer might slip and crease.” Opt for a hydrating formula that isn’t too thick, like Avene PhysioLift Eyes ($44) or iS Clinicals Eye Complex ($95).

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Next, reconsider what you’re using, both color-wise and formula-wise. Too many women use concealers that don’t gel with their skin type. “It’s important to work with an expert to find that perfect shade and formulation,” says Loren Ridinger, creative director and founder of Motives. “You want to make sure that what you’re using match perfectly with your skin tone and skin concerns.” You may need to do a little housekeeping and toss what’s stashed in your makeup drawer to make room for better formulations. In terms of color, you should always have at least two to three different shades on hand. Use lighter ones in the winter and darker ones in the summer so that the concealer matches perfectly your skin.

If you’re in a pinch and only have your fingers as an option to blend in your concealer, then fine. “For areas, like the under-eyes, which tend to be a little more dry, using your fingertips can be more beneficial because the natural oils and warmth of your skin allows the product to spread more,” says Lopez, who also says that you can apply concealer with a brush and use it blend out the product and then tap with your fingertips to soften any streaks. But, Ridinger says that a good concealer brush or blending sponge, like Motives Dual Blending Sponge ($14) or the trusty beautyblender ($20), are necessary to get the best coverage. “Brushes allow you to blend the product in without breaking it down. When you use your finger, you remove a lot of the makeup and the product gets broken down, preventing the concealer from doing its job.”

Before you even apply concealer, Ridinger says to neutralize any redness in the blemish with a green-toned concealer—then you can apply regular concealer. Just a dab of concealer is usually all that’s needed to cover up a blemish. And, you’ll want to use a stick concealer, like Hourlgass Hidden Corrective Concealer ($34), which tends to be more “dry,” when it comes to spot-treating your face. “These give the best coverage and tend to stay put on pimples,” says Lopez. You’ll also want to stipple, or gently push, the concealer instead of pounding it into the skin or dragging it across your skin.

Lastly, powder isn’t just for midday touch-ups—it’s every makeup artists’s secret to making concealer stay perfectly in place. “Like the product says, it sets your makeup. It also keeps your concealer from sinking into fine lines,” says Ridinger. “There are so many reasons why women don’t set their concealer. I don’t know if it’s the extra step or that they don’t know the benefits, but it’s worth it.”

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