9 minute read
Just as our skincare needs change as we get older, the kind of makeup we use may need to change, too. We say embrace this as an opportunity to treat yourself to something new! Since we know there’s an endless sea of products out there, all making different promises, we’ve done your homework for you: we’ve researched the best concealers out there that are designed to suit skin that’s showing signs of aging, such as fine lines or wrinkles, age spots, uneven tone, and other changes in skin texture.
As certified skincare obsessives, we’re always on the lookout for products that won’t irritate the skin or cause breakouts. So many Curology members come to us for help with acne and sensitive skin, we’d never recommend makeup or skincare products that are liable to make matters worse. So, rest easy: this guide will give you plenty of research-backed concealers to choose from, all with the peace of mind that someone has done the work of screening ingredients for you.
Without further ado, here’s our ultimate guide to finding the best concealer for you.
We know this may sound a bit extra, but it takes different kinds of concealers to work best at covering different areas of your face. For fine lines, wrinkles, and areas prone to creasing like your under-eyes, finding the right texture is key. For dark under-eyes, age spots, hyperpigmentation, or redness, color correction is the name of the game. Whatever look you’re trying to achieve, there’s a concealer out there with your name on it—you just might have to try out a few. Think of it as an opportunity to play around with different varieties until you find your new favorite product!
The best concealer to use for your skin type will depend on your goals, so here are some general guidelines for how to choose the right concealer for your skin type based on texture and color.
Liquid: best for oily to normal skin. Can make dry skin look drier. Best for light coverage, such as under-eye circles.
Cream: best for normal to dry skin. More hydrating.
Stick: best for normal to dry skin, touching up on the go, and hiding blemishes/dark spots. They don’t spread easily, so will be unlikely to give you good full face coverage. Better for “spot treatments.”
Balm: better for normal to dry skin, more creamy and moisturizing.
Whichever texture you go for, you’ll also want to consider the finish: whether the concealer will give your skin a “dewy,” hydrated look, or a matte finish.
As we get older, the skin tends to produce less sebum (aka oil), so try a concealer with a dewy, natural, hydrated finish if your skin tends to be dry. Concealers with a matte finish are a better choice for oily skin—you can find matte concealers in liquid, mousse, or powder formulas.
To get the best results, use a primer first, then apply your concealer with a blending sponge, fine-tip makeup brush, or with clean fingertips.
Since we’ve all got subtle differences in tone, shadow, or pigmentation in different areas of our skin, the best concealer to use can sometimes depend on where you’re using it.
A concealer with yellow or pink undertones is best for covering up under-eye dark circles, veins, or dark spots. An orange or peach based concealer is good for hiding brown or yellowish areas. To cover acne or redness, use a concealer that matches your skin tone—or try a green tinted color corrector underneath your concealer (green cancels out red). Check out our guide to primers on the Curology blog for more product recommendations!
Concealers for under-eye dark circles: Go for a creamy concealer, liquid concealer, hydrating concealer, or tinted eye cream. These can vary from light to medium coverage, but you can always build up product on certain spots that need a little extra. When applying concealer under the eye, it’s best to go one shade lighter than your usual concealer color.
To avoid concealer getting into fine lines or creases near your eyes, start with a primer or eye cream before you apply concealer. Some concealers also have brightening properties, but these work best on the inner corners of the eyes. You don’t necessarily want to add too much brightness, shine, or sparkle directly to dark under-eye circles—it’ll draw more attention to them!
Concealers for pimples and redness: Cover spots with full-coverage, highly pigmented, matte finish concealers. A thicker consistency makes it easier to blend it in for a seamless finish with the rest of your skin or foundation.
Concealer sticks have a drier, solid consistency, and they’re good for precision—not really meant for blending out as one does around the eyes. Another option: concealers with balm-like consistencies, which are thicker than liquid or creamy concealers. Apply it just to the precise spot with a concealer brush, the tip of a BeautyBlender, or with your finger tip (just make sure to wash your hands with soap first to avoid getting germs on your face that might make acne worse!). You can blend it in a little around the spot you’re trying to cover, but it’s thick enough that you’ll want to use it sparingly.
Certain brands offer many different options, so if you’re stumped, it can be helpful (and fun) to go try some on in your local store. Certain stores that sell makeup, like Sephora, offer color-matching services, and allow you to try on different products until you find the right color and texture for you.
Test concealer shades on your chest rather than your forearm since the skin on the chest is generally closer to that of the face.
When in doubt, opt for a lighter color: concealers can turn darker over the course of the day when they are exposed to air and skin oils.
Know if your skin tone is “warm” or “cool,” two common ways that makeup brands distinguish their range of shades. Warm complexions are ones that are more “golden,” whereas cooler complexions tend to be more “pink/rosy.”
Another interesting way to determine complexion type is to look at the color of the veins in your arms: bluish/purple indicate a cooler complexion while veins with a greenish color indicate warmer undertones.
Dealing with dark circles If you deal with dark circles under your eyes, your concealer is probably your hero—the one product you’ve always got in your bag, even if you’re a true makeup minimalist. But there are so many concealers out there, how do you choose the best one for your skin? It’s especially tricky once you learn how many of the ingredients commonly found in cosmetic products can actually clog your pores or irritate sensitive skin.
Dewy > matte As we get older, our skin tends to get more dry — or combination (oily in the T-zone, dry elsewhere). Choose a hydrating formula such as a tinted moisturizer or a balm concealer. If you look a touch too dewy in places, you can always dab on a little finishing powder for a more matte finish.
When applying concealer, take it easy on your skin Be delicate with your skin when applying makeup—especially the skin around your eyes. Any dragging, pulling, and stretching of your skin will result in concealer and foundation settling deep into any fine lines. And it’s nice to be nice to your skin, anyway! Gently blend your concealer in with your fingers — this also helps warm up the product so it’ll blend better.
Don’t forget the finishing touch Top off your concealer with a light dusting of loose finishing powder to set the makeup and reduce shine. However, reserve powder for only areas of your face that get oilier — using powder on your entire face can create that caked-on look, or emphasize fine lines and wrinkles.
Where not to put concealer Avoid thick or creamy concealer on the eyelids — it tends to make them look heavier. If you want to brighten up darkness or conceal veins above your eyes, try something sheer and lightweight, such as Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer, Clé de Peau Radiant Corrector for Eyes, or even a liquid foundation that blends in seamlessly with the skin.
Keep in mind that concealer with light reflection isn’t always the right thing to use underneath the eyes. Opt for one with a hydrating formula and sheer to medium, buildable coverage. Remember, less is more when it comes to achieving a smooth, natural finish.
Another technique for under-eyes: concealer can actually highlight under-eye bags. If your usual concealer isn’t cutting it for your under-eye area, try pressing a touch of foundation onto the under-eye instead, and then dot a highlighting cream (peachy for fair skin, golden on darker skin) at the inner corners of the eyes and just underneath the “eye bags.”
When you’re applying concealer under your eyes, avoid the “crow's feet” region. Concealer settles into fine lines and actually draws attention to them. To brighten, use one tiny dot on the dark area at the outer corners, but don’t blend it beyond that area lest you highlight the creases.
These are our top picks of concealers for aging skin : formulas designed with lines in mind.
Formulated with SPF 25 to provide sun protection throughout the day
“Illuminating Complex EX” helps diminish the appearance of damage caused by dryness and provides hydration
Reduces the visibility of wrinkles around the eyes
Lightweight, liquid texture effectively covers darkness without settling into fine lines
Infused with pearl for a brightened, radiant finish
Not only for the eye area—can be used anywhere, for example, to brighten up around the nose
Effectively camouflages dark circles, redness, and spots
Persian Silk Tree Bark extract helps create the illusion of a lifted upper eyelid, reduces the appearance of crow’s feet, and helps with dark circles
Wild Indigo extract, a native Indian plant used in Ayurvedic remedies, gives the skin a luminous appearance
Palmitoyl glycine may help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles
Long-lasting wear up to 16 hours
Formulated with hydrating and light-diffusing ingredients
Medium buildable coverage
Suitable for all skin types
No alcohol, parabens or fragrance
Camouflages discoloration, lines and wrinkles with high-coverage pigments
Water-repellent powder technology blends into skin while resisting creasing, caking and streaking
Stretch gel resists settling, while botanical moisturizers hydrate and soften for a natural, brightened finish
Good for dry and aging skin
Paraben-free; sulfate-free; phthalate-free; mineral oil-free; synthetic fragrance-free; artificial color-free; gluten-free
Highly pigmented, long-lasting coverage that won’t crease or crack
Infused with proprietary Expression Proof™ Technology, plus anti-aging peptides, vitamins, hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants
Improves the appearance of wrinkles and conceals the look of skin imperfections including dark circles, bags, redness, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, age spots and discoloration
Good for dry and aging skin
Blurs imperfections and covers dark circles with a brightened finish
Contains light-reflecting pearls that diffuse light for a radiant finish
Features vitamin E and other moisturizing ingredients
Suitable for all skin types
Full coverage with a matte finish
Conceals and doubles as a contour/highlighter
Creamy, easy-to-blend formula won't flake or crease
Mango seed butter and shea butter hydrate the skin
Helps illuminate skin for a lifted effect
Vegan, dermatologist-tested, and cruelty-free
Natural-looking full coverage to even skin tone, cover dark circles and fine lines around the eyes
Soft, matte finish
Long-wear, waterproof formula won’t crease or fade
Hydrating balm concealer can also be used as foundation
Light to medium, buildable coverage
Contains coconut oil and cocoa butter, so we don’t recommend this for acne-prone skin
Highly pigmented to cover under-eye circles and darkened areas
Visibly smoothes wrinkles and fine lines
Metal massage tip has a cooling effect
Brush built-in for easy application
“Phyto-Cernes Éclat” formula of caffeine, soy peptide extract, and horsetail extract may help reduce the appearance of under-eye bags
Creamy, lightweight formula is enriched with I.M.C®* technology to hide dark circles, wrinkles, fine lines, and imperfections with a velvety-smooth finish
Ergonomic applicator makes precise touch-ups easy
Good for dry and aging skin
Multitasking solution that conceals without creasing or settling into lines
Light-reflecting pigments hide discoloration
Features a sugar-based oligopolymer that plumps the look of fine lines
“Anti-Fatigue Complex” works to lighten the appearance of dark circles and reduce the look of puffiness
Botanical-based brightening ingredients minimize the appearance of age spots
Good for normal, dry, and aging skin
Some ingredients found in makeup, including concealers, can clog pores or irritate the skin—both of which can lead to acne breakouts. If you’re using concealer to cover up pimples, the last thing you want is for that concealer to cause more pimples!
Here are some common makeup ingredients that cause acne or irritate sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for them!
Coconut oil, aka cocos nucifera oil (pore-clogging)
Isopropyl myristate (pore-clogging)
Sodium laureth sulfate (pore-clogging)
Myristyl myristate (pore-clogging)
Ethylhexyl palmitate (pore-clogging)
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (drying and pore-clogging)
Potassium chloride (pore-clogging)
One rule of thumb: avoid foundations and any product that contains alcohol, denatured alcohol (aka “alcohol denat.”), or isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol doesn’t clog pores, but it can be very irritating and drying—and it can exacerbate any pimples that are already red and inflamed. Some products have very small amounts of alcohol (found towards the end of the ingredients list) which might not irritate skin, but it’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re particularly sensitive.
The exceptions: alcohols that are okay for your skin Not all alcohol is irritating for your skin! There are lots of different kinds—such as cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, coconut alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol—that are fine to use, even if your skin’s on the sensitive side. They’re used in cosmetic products to give a pleasing texture and help keep ingredients shelf-stable. Stearyl alcohol in particular has a long history of safe use in personal care products, with no evidence of comedogenicity.
Some common ingredients in makeup can irritate your skin or clog your pores—even if the product is labeled “non-comedogenic”! Because that term isn’t regulated by the FDA, beauty products can (and often do) claim their products won’t clog pores, even if they do contain pore-clogging ingredients. When you know how to check the ingredients list yourself, you can make better choices when choosing which makeup to use. Luckily, there’s a (free) tool that makes it easy to check any product for ingredients that can clog pores or irritate your skin. It’s called CosDNA.com, and it’s a must-have for your Bookmarks. Check out our quick-and-easy guide to checking product ingredients!
We know it isn’t easy to find a concealer with the right texture, color, finish, and ingredients that won’t clog pores or irritate your skin—but now, you’ve got plenty to choose from that we’ve checked out for you. Try out a few to find what works best for you. If you’re looking for more than just cover-up to address any skin issues you’ve got going on, such as pigmentation or signs of aging, we might be able to help!
Become a Curology member and take our quick-and-easy consultation online. If you’re a candidate, you’ll get your very own customized skin treatment prescribed by one of Curology’s medical providers. Start with a free 1-month trial (you only pay $4.95 for shipping and handling) and give it a try.