Foundation is good for a lot of things, but will never be as versatile as a concealer. Whether it’s blurring out blemishes, subtle highlighting, or helping us forget about the dark circles beneath our eyes, the right formula can cover any problem areas. It can also help you achieve that elusive no-makeup make-up look when worn on its own, taking your skin from dull and tired to bright and awake.
As with all complexion products, the first step to finding the right concealer is nailing the shade. Luckily for us, brands have upped their shade range game (we have Rihanna to thank for that) and have even broken them down by undertones.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to concealer, with some preferring to go a shade lighter to brighten up their complexion, or even go a shade or two darker for natural contouring. Our top tips are to avoid going too light if you’re planning to use it on spots – this will just draw attention to redness – and make sure you know whether you have a warm, cool or neutral undertone.
An easy way of doing this is looking at the veins in your arm. If they appear green-ish, you likely have warm undertones. Those who have veins that appear blue or purple usually have cooler undertones while those with neutral undertones will find that their veins aren’t overly prominent.
Just as important as shade is the formula itself. At their worst, concealers can be patchy, cakey or extremely drying. During our testing, we were looking for was the best of the best – the concealers that would illuminate our tired skin and take us to new levels of fresh-faced glowiness.
To do this, we tested a range of budget and luxury concealers. We put them through rain, shine, workouts and breakouts to find the products with the best staying power.
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Glossier stretch concealer
Like the majority of Glossier products, this lightweight concealer is designed to enhance the natural appearance of your skin. Available in 12 different shades, it comes in a small pot and is best applied with your fingers, as this helps it blend seamlessly into your skin. Coverage is light but buildable and has a dewy, your-skin-but-better kind of finish.
While we were concerned that it would wear off throughout the day due to how light it feels, the use of elastic micro waxes helps the product move with your skin instead of caking on top of it, in turn helping prolong the effects. It’s a good substitute for a full face of foundation if you just want to tackle a few problem areas, but we particularly love how it looks beneath the eyes – the mineral pigments are super hydrating and make the area glow.
Too Faced born this way super coverage multi-use sculpting concealer
It’s difficult to balance both full coverage and a dewy, hydrated finish, and yet somehow Too Faced has succeeded. The multi-use sculpting concealer is oil-free and infused with coconut water and hyaluronic acid, which helps replenish your skin’s moisture levels as well as boosting radiance.
It didn’t slide throughout the day and is easy to build without any cakiness. Used in lieu of a full face of foundation, it kept our tester’s oily skin on the right side of shiny from morning to evening. The range has 35 different shades and doesn’t oxidise upon application, making it easier to find the perfect one.
We also love how much product you get – the generous tube looks more like a container for foundation than concealer – which more than justifies the price tag.
Fenty pro filt'r instant retouch concealer
We would argue that there are few beauty brands out there that deliver such consistently spectacular results as Fenty Beauty. This concealer is no exception, providing a soft matte finish similar to the brand’s pro filt’r foundation. Coverage is full but natural, brightening up dull areas and easily blurring out any redness, spots or acne scars.
We were sceptical when we discovered that Fenty Beauty advertises the product as “sweat-resistant”, but one workout later, we can tell you that the breakdown of our coverage was minimal, if any different than before. And of course, we can’t not mention the shade range – with 50 different options, Rihanna’s got you covered.
NARS radiant creamy concealer
This is touted as the number one bestselling concealer in America, and for good reason. As the name suggests, it’s a super creamy formula that absorbs easily. Thanks to light diffusing technology, it looks softer and smooth rather than cakey or heavy, no matter how much you build it up.
Our tester tried this while running on very little sleep, yet found that her under eyes looked brighter than ever. Non-comedogenic and free of alcohol, parabens and fragrance, this is a great option for those looking to switch up their beauty routine for the sake of their skin.
There are 30 shades, making it easy to find the hue best for you. However, if we had one critique, it’s that you get very little product in each stick – with only 6ml, it’s sure to run out fast.
Trinny London BFF eye serum
Part eye cream, part concealer, this is one of those products that can totally revolutionise a beauty routine. It uses a fusion of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and the brand’s duo peptide complex to deliver intense hydration to the under-eye area while also minimising dark circles. It immediately brightens up your complexion and delivers long-lasting coverage all over the face, not just beneath the eyes.
The shade range is quite basic with just eight options, with a very fair “natural oyster” on one end of the spectrum and a deep “neutral true brown” on the other. For best results, apply this with your fingers. We also recommend taking extra care when opening up the tub, as it contains a lot of product and spills very easily.
Barry M all night long concealer
A concealer that lasts “all night long” seems like a tall promise, but we were pleasantly surprised. This formula blends easily into your skin before drying very quickly, locking in coverage for hours on end.
Our tester found that it stayed in place, even without the help of powder, and gave a matte finish. However, this does mean it can be quite drying if your skin isn’t prepared thoroughly beforehand. Also, while this concealer does come in 11 different shades, we would like to see more variety for dark complexions.
Clarins instant concealer
This concealer feels deceptively thick when first squeezed from the tube, but in practice is relatively easy to dab onto your skin with a finger. It achieves its main goal of fighting signs of fatigue, masking undereye circles and leaving the whole eye area velvety and hydrated.
Skin felt smooth and supple for most of the day, with no creasing or caking. As it works mainly through some subtle colour-correction, the shade range is extremely limited with just three options. While this adapts to your skin tone to an extent, those with very pale or dark complexions might find this an issue.
No7 match made concealer
Unlike the other concealers on this list, this comes in stick form. It swipes over the skin and can then be blended out either with your fingers (our preferred method) or a brush.
Not only is this easy to apply, but it lasts all day and blurs out hyperpigmentation with minimal product. It even helped keep oiliness at bay on our tester’s notoriously problematic T-zone. However, it does flake a bit on drier complexions, who might want to layer up on moisturiser beforehand. With 17 different shades, we found it easy to choose one with the right undertones.
Morphe fluidity full-coverage concealer
Morphe uses a level system to organise its 31 shades of concealer, with five different categories (light, medium, tan, rich and deep) each broken down by undertones (neutral, warm and cool) to make it easier than ever to match the product to your complexion.
While the brand gives its concealer an estimated 16-hour lifetime on your skin, we found it didn’t quite live up to that. It wore off quite quickly in our oiliest spots and creased beneath our eyes, but did sit well on our tester’s chin and forehead. Set with powder, it fared for much longer. We found this works best as a highlighter, so we chose one that was a shade or two lighter than our skin tone to brighten up certain areas.
Becca Cosmetics aqua luminous perfecting concealer
This brand has a few different concealers, but this formula is our favourite. While it doesn’t offer the fullest coverage, it’s amazing for brightening and illuminating the higher points on your face. Made with 32 per cent water, it’s unsurprising how light and hydrating it feels on your skin (we found it particularly refreshing beneath the eyes) but those with very oily skin might find this difficult to manage without powder. While it’s easy to blend and layer, this also isn’t for those who rely on concealers to cover blemishes. It's available in nine different shades.
Huda Beauty overachiever concealer
Just like the brand’s foundation, this concealer offers full, pigmented coverage capable of masking any imperfections, redness or scarring. Its light reflecting spheres help illuminate dull skin while green tea and Jericho rose extract work on discolouration and promote cellular regeneration – perfect for that delicate under-eye area.
Available in 20 different shades, we loved how easy it is to pinpoint the exact shade for your undertone. However, its top selling point is its staying power. Once set with powder, this concealer is going nowhere. If you love matte full coverage, this is definitely the one for you, but it might be a bit too heavy for those who prefer a natural look.
The verdict: Concealers
Glossier’s stretch concealer is the newest staple in our beauty bag thanks to its dewy, natural finish. For something more matte with fuller coverage, we recommend the Fenty Beauty pro filt’r instant retouch concealer. If your main concern is the undereye area, Trinny London’s BFF eye serum is your best bet.
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