It’s a well-known truth: Concealer is as much of a game-changer in the morning as a double espresso. But just as important as having the perfectly matched formula in your arsenal is knowing how to apply concealer to erase dark circles and cover up unwanted spots for a no-makeup makeup effect—especially in the age of Zoom. And that’s where the pros come in. Here, three of the industry’s most in-demand artists weigh in on how to apply concealer to get that flawless finish wherever you need it.
Create a Smooth Canvas
Thoroughly cleansing and hydrating the skin with a rich yet weightless moisturizer like Lancôme’s Hydra Zen is just the start, says makeup artist Nick Barose, who counts Lupita Nyong’o, Priyanka Chopra, and Rachel Weisz as clients. “Before big red carpets, I use warm washcloths to scrub away dry patches,” he says. Or, if there’s time, makeup artist Vincent Oquendo encourages clients to use Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Facial Scrub or REN’s Flash Rinse One-Minute Facial for an allover flake-free glow, before slicking the skin with Georgia Louise’s Vitamin A Serum for an extra dose of moisture. “It absorbs and doesn’t overload the skin so your concealer doesn’t slip all over the place,” says Oquendo.
And if you’ll be wearing foundation as well, Barose suggests applying that first, and all over—even under the eyes. “If you use too much, it makes what you’re trying to hide look even more obvious,” he explains. “This way you see that you don’t need as much concealer as you think.”
Know Your Shades
“When your undertones are mismatched, the concealer starts to look ashy or just stands out too much,” says Oquendo. Warmer skin tones should look for yellow or orange undertones, while cooler skin tones will find pink shades most flattering, he says. Furthermore, you should be using different shades of concealer on different parts of your face. “On the under-eyes, use a light-reflective formula that’s a shade lighter than your skin to brighten up the area,” says Barose, whose go-to formula is NARS Creamy Concealer. You can also use a mint or apricot-tinged color corrector underneath your concealer to further counteract darkness. “For the rest of the face, you want a richer formula that seamlessly matches,” he adds.
Apply From the Inner Corner of the Eyes and Move Outward
“You don’t need to cover your whole under-eye area, just wherever you are dark,” says Romy Soleimani, whose clientele includes Tracee Ellis Ross and Cara Delevingne. “Usually it’s the inner third of the eye and a bit at the outer corner.” When it comes to application, she likes to deposit the product with a small synthetic bristle brush and then use the pads of her fingertips to blend it in carefully. “It’s important not to go too close to your bottom lashes so there is no buildup or harsh line,” she says. “And also be sure to get the sides of the nose that hits the inner corner of the eye.” If the under-eye area needs extra brightening, Soleimani neutralizes it with a creamy, peach-hue color corrector.
To ensure the concealer grips onto the raised bump, Oquendo first applies a matte primer. “Blemishes are already overproducing oil, so you don’t want the product to slip and slide,” he explains. Then, he presses his finger in a thick pot of concealer, like Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer (“It covers up everything!” he says), and blends it into the spot.
Blot, Then Set
After using blotting papers to take down shine, Soleimani uses a small, dome-shaped brush to apply whisper-light setting powder, like Hourglass’s Veil Translucent Setting Powder, under the eyes, and around the nose. For a brightening effect with a hint of shimmer, Oquendo suggests Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder under the eyes. And there you have it—a 12-hours-of-sleep glow, no caffeine necessary.