Last week my aunt shot me a semi-despairing email that plaintively asked, “Candice, what’s a concealer that really covers dark circles?” She had unsuccessfully tried several formulas that wouldn’t even last through a normal workday, and was in need of some serious help. Her note reminded me that in the wide world of concealers, it’s important to know which formulas are best suited to your particular concerns so you choose the best product.
Since I’ve suffered from every face malady requiring a concealer—acne, scars, blemishes, undereye circles, the list goes on—and my combination skin poses its own set of challenges, I decided to come up with a mini-guide on how to find the perfect concealer for you.
I didn’t know it then, but when I first bought Neutrogena’s Skin Clearing Makeup Concealer back in middle school to hide my acne, I couldn’t have chosen better. Liquid concealers offer not only great coverage, they also easily blend into your skin with (clean) fingers or a makeup sponge. These formulas are well-suited to cover bumps and blemishes and are particularly good for dry skin. Those with oilier complexions may find that coverage slips off by the end of the day. My grownup pick? Dermablend’s ultra-pigmented smooth indulgence SPF 15 concealer. The creamy formulation really hides dark spots—gently pat, never rub!—and stays in place all day long.
These options usually have a much tackier consistency, so they’ll really stay put. The downside? These formulas are much harder to blend, so aren’t best for acne-prone skin. But they are great for covering dark spots and scars because they’re extra-pigmented and don’t move. I’m a big fan of Smashbox’s Camera Ready Stick Concealer since the formula doesn’t budge—even on my oily t-zone. And for undereye circles (hi, Aunt Miranda!), I’m a recent convert to Benefit’s Fakeup. It’s a dual concealer and hydrator, which means I never have those unfortunate cakey creases beneath my lashline.
Thanks to their oil-absorbing prowess, loose powders are best in areas prone to shininess. They also stay in place in delicate undereye areas and hide fine lines like crow’s feet. The only problem? These concealers really aren’t suited for dark spots. Skip this choice if you’re looking for something to hide hyperpigmentation or scars. The best powder option that I’ve found so far: bareMinerals SPF 20 Concealer. Make sure to apply with a concealer brush to pack the powder and get the best coverage.
Do you have a favorite liquid, cream, stick or powder concealer? Tell us your pick in the comments!
Need more help finding a formula? Here are our top 5 concealer picks.