How to Apply Concealer: 20 Tips for Covering Zits, Dark Circles, and More


To be completely honest, I feel like I missed the lesson somewhere on how and where to apply concealer. Like, it took me way too long to realize that you should always apply your concealer on top of foundation (what?!) and that dabbing it into your skin (read: not dragging it) is the secret to cake-free coverage. That’s why I’ve made it my personal mission to find the very best concealer tip, trick, and hack and to share it with the world. You’re in, right?

Keep scrolling for the definitive answer on how to apply concealer the right way, plus a few under-the-radar pointers that’ll pretty much change the way you apply your makeup for good.

Before you start concealing an-y-thing, make sure you’re using a formula that addresses all of your needs. Do you want something lightweight and hydrating? Do you need a formula that’s long-lasting and full-coverage? There are about eight billion concealers on the market right now, so play around with a few formulas until you find one that fits your vibe. And, obvs, if you need a few suggestions, these picks are a great place to start:

This one’s kinda up for debate, but unless you’re going for a softer, no-makeup makeup look, it’s always a good idea to apply your concealer after your foundation. When you apply concealer first, you actually end up removing most of it when you sweep on your foundation or powder products. If you start with foundation (and primer!) though, you’ll need way less concealer overall and get a more full-coverage finish. It’s almost like you’re applying it on top of a base.

Even though you might be tempted to sweep your concealer directly on top of your under-eye circles or under-eye bags, don’t—that’ll actually highlight puffiness. Instead, draw your concealer in an upside-down triangle shape (pictured above) to help brighten up your face and de-emphasize any discoloration.

You’ll then want to dab the concealer into your skin with your ring finger. It sounds very old-school, but it’s legit: Your ringer finger is actually the weakest of your fingers, so it’ll apply just the right amount of pressure to blend your concealer without pulling at the delicate skin around your eyes. Not into applying your makeup with your fingers? A concealer brush or damp beauty sponge will also work here.

If your classic concealer just isn’t cutting it when it comes to covering zits or red spots, try swapping it for a green formula, which can help cancel out redness. Gently tap a green-tinted concealer (I’m a fan of Physicians Formula Conceal RX or L.A. Girl HD Pro Corrector Concealer) directly onto your zit, avoiding the surrounding skin. Then, use a cotton swab to blend a tiny bit of high-coverage concealer (one that matches your skin tone) on top of the zit to really camouflage it.

TBH, this might be the most important step. There’s no point in taking the time to apply your concealer perfectly if you’re not setting the look with powder. Dust a little setting powder over your entire face to keep your concealer in place and crease-free.

See, not that bad, right? Now that you’re a total expert, keep reading for more expert-approved tips and hacks that’ll level up your concealer game. Spoiler: You can actually use concealer for so many things.

Not super down to spend extra $$ on an eyeshadow primer? Concealer is actually a godsend for preventing fallout and creasing (yup, really). Just dab a little concealer along your lids with your fingertips before you start on your smokey eye.

Concealers aren’t just for your face—if you have a zit on your chest or back that needs covering, dab on a creamy concealer and top it with setting powder. Continue alternating between concealer and powder, waiting a full five minutes between each “coat” until you’re left with the coverage you want.

If you find yourself without concealer (been there), place a small dot of liquid foundation on your zit/under eyes/nose/wherever, wait a few minutes for the formula to set, and then lightly blend it out with your clean fingertips. The trick is to wait until the foundation dries and thickens a bit (it will eventually reach the consistency of concealer) before trying to blend it. If you blend it too soon, the foundation will look too sheer and rub off, leaving you with some not-so-concealed spots.

Give your eyelids a nice little highlight with the help of a concealer that’s slightly lighter than your skin tone. Divide your lid into three tiny sections (the inner V, the middle, and just below the brow bone) with a concealer stick, then gently blend with your fingertips. The result? Bright, well-rested eyes that definitely hide the fact that you went way too hard at happy hour.

I’m of the belief that everyone should own a few color-correcting concealers, especially if you’re dealing with discoloration. Your color-correcting strategy depends entirely on your skin tone and concerns, but generally, you’ll want to look toward pale-pink concealer to brighten blue-toned spots on fair skin, peach concealer to neutralize blue/purple shadows on medium skin tones, orangey-pink concealer to cancel out dark spots on dark skin tones, yellow concealer to offset purple or darker-toned shadows on olive or tan skin, green concealer to neutralize redness, and lavender concealer to cancel out yellow tones.

The secret to hiding tired, puffy eyes? A combination of eye cream, highlighter, and concealer, which brightens and lifts your brow bones for a wide-awake look. Just mix all three products on the back of your hand and tap it into your skin with your fingertips for a natural finish.

After applying concealer, blot the area with a thin tissue to prevent the product from settling into the creases around your eyes. And if your concealer tends to look a little cakey around midday, split a tissue into two layers and use one side to dab away excess oil.

If your cat eye looks a little shaky, dip an angled brush into liquid concealer and clean up any jagged lines (which is, like, way easier than removing it altogether and starting over). One of these top-rated brushes should do the trick:

Keep your lipstick from bleeding or smudging by tracing your lips with a dab of concealer (a fine-tip brush will help you get super-precise lines). You’ll be amazed at how sharp your lips will look.

While we’re on the subject, concealer can also make your lips look a lot plumper. Start by filling in the middle section of your lips with a light concealer, blending it out with the warmth of your fingertips. Finish off with a nude lip gloss (like NYX Intense Butter Gloss or Bare Minerals Gen Nude Buttercream Lipgloss) for a slightly iridescent look.

Want to completely reshape your lips? Start by covering them with a thin layer of concealer, then trace just slightly outside your natural line with a creamy pencil. Continue to fill in your lips with the pencil for a matte look, or finish off with a lip gloss.

Define your arch by lining above and below your brows with a concealer that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. You’ll want to blend it out with your fingertips, since your body’s warmth helps soften and diffuse the product (which, IMO, is always easier than whipping out a brush).

Amp up your going-out look by contouring and highlighting with two pencil concealers: One formula should be two shades darker than your skin tone, and the other should be two shades lighter. You’ll use the lighter shade around the areas of your face that naturally catch light (like your cheekbones and T-zone) and the darker shade in softer areas (like your forehead and jawline). Blend it all out with a buffing brush for a smooth, natural finish.

Alright, bear with me, but lining your collarbone with concealer is such a pretty addition to any nighttime look. Just shrug your shoulders and draw a thin layer of light-colored concealer on your collarbone (the area that protrudes), then trace your natural contours (the shadows) with a concealer that’s two shades darker than your skin tone. Blend it all out with a damp makeup sponge, eliminating any harsh lines.

Create your own tinted moisturizer by mixing a dollop of face cream with a solid amount of liquid concealer. Your skin will feel nice and hydrated, with a super-subtle tinted finish.

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