Hide dark circles and cover blemishes with the best concealer, designed to combat all manner of imperfections
Whether you need to disguise pesky dark under-eye circles or hide the mother of all blemishes, the best concealer is an absolute must for your make-up bag.
Rest assured that there’s one out there to mimic eight hours’ of sleep, cover up breakouts or disguise redness, whatever your budget. So, what do you need to look for to ensure you get your perfect makeup match?
‘Not all concealers are made equal and not all of them will do everything,’ MAC Senior Artist and Glow Up judge Dominic Skinner explains. ‘Concealer is like a pair of shoes; you need different ones for different occasions. When choosing one, you need to ask yourself “what is it for?” and “where is it going?”. This will help you find your way through the forest of options.
Best concealers 2021:
- Best for dark circles: Rose Inc Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer, £23 | Space NK
- Best high street option: Maybelline Instant Anti Age Eraser Concealer, £8.99 | Lookfantastic
- Best for doing-it-all: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer Duo, £28 | SpaceNK
- Best for dry skin: Glossier Stretch Concealer, £15 | Glossier
- Best long-wearing: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, £22 | Lookfantastic
- Best for spots: NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer, £24 | Cult Beauty
- Best for brightening under the eyes: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Illumination, £25 | Cult Beauty
- Best for mature skin: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Liquid Concealer, £24 | Charlotte Tilbury
- Best for angry red blemishes: Bareminerals Original Liquid Mineral Concealer, £24 | John Lewis
- Most skin-loving: Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Concealer, £30 | SpaceNK
- Best for dehydrated skin: Armani Luminous Silk Concealer, £34.50 | Lookfantastic
- Best for full-coverage: Huda Beauty Overachiever Concealer, £24 | Cult Beauty
- Best for covering it all up: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer, £19 | Boots
- Most purse-friendly: NYX Professional Makeup Born To Glow Radiant Concealer, £9 | Cult Beauty
Concealer for dark circles
‘For under-eyes you need something that will set, like the MAC ProLongwear Concealer. This means it won’t sit in the fine lines and won’t start lifting your mascara. Which is what causes panda eyes at the end of the night. You might also need a shade that’s more pink or coral than your skin tone as this will help to banish those dark circles.’ Of course, the best eye cream will also help to treat dark circles and bags.
Something to note is that dark circles under the eyes are often hereditary, so you’re not going to get rid of them completely. However, Zoë Taylor, Chanel Make-up Artist, suggests facial massage before applying your concealer. ‘Lazy lymphatic drainage can really emphasise the problem, she explains. ‘Facial exercises are a huge part of any skincare routine, but don’t underestimate how much this can help with lymphatic drainage.’
She also says that: ‘Using one under the eyes is all about the light layering of products.’ She recommends colour correcting, then applying your foundation, before topping with your concealer. And blend each one into the skin with a very soft, fluffy brush.
And her final tip? Highlighter. ‘Applied with the tip of my finger and patted into the outer corners of my under eye, this is a great distraction from any of the fine lines in this area too.’
Concealer for acne
‘To conceal blemishes you need to go for one that has a more creamy texture,’ Dominic continues. ‘This will prevent the dry skin from around the blemish to crack and peel during the day. It’s best to go for one that is closest to your skin tone and I find that applying with fingers in a tapping motion works the best to camouflage the blemish completely.
‘For skin pigmentation and uneven skin tone, I recommend a liquid one as you can build up the coverage to a flawless finish. Plus, you can mix it into your regular liquid foundation to give it that extra red carpet finish. MAC’s Studio Fix 24 Hour Smoothwear Concealer is amazing, and a fashion week and award season staple in my kit.’ Pair it with a great hyperpigmentation treatment for maximum results.
Best concealer brush
Although some people prefer to use the ‘wand’ or tip of their concealer, a brush is recommended in order to ensure that you make the most of the product and get a nice, even finish with equal coverage. Size-wise, we suggest something like Bobbi Brown’s Brush, or the classic MAC 195 Brush. Alternatively, pat it into the under eye area with your ring finger – it’ll fit perfectly into the inner corner of your eye socket and under the lash line.
Colour correctors work incredibly well alongside you concealer. As the name suggests they colour correct. So for example, if you have blue/purple shading under your eyes, it’s useful to use a peachy, orange colour corrector before your concealer.
If you have a seriously angry, red blemish, a green-tone colour corrector will take down some of the inflamed pinkish tone before you cover up.
Best concealer for dark circles
The brainchild of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Rose Inc is beauty's new favourite brand. And its concealer is the standout product. It's very hydrating and super brightening. Ideal if you have kids and want to keep those dark circles at bay.
Best does-it-all concealer
An industry favourite, Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage is iconic for a very good reason. The two different shades mean that you can cover blemishes and brighten the under eye area simultaneously. It also allows you to create your own custom shade and thus the perfect coverage. We love the new pen-style applicator as it allows you to be really precise.
Best concealer for dry skin
Dry skin works well with most types of concealer, but the more nourishing the better as it won't cake or cling to dry patches, making them more noticeable. Glossier's Stretch Concealer ticks that exact box, with a creamy formula that has a glowy finish. It's a brilliant, buildable concealer that's particularly great for brightening the under-eye area. Not great at covering angry spots - look for one with more coverage for blemishes.
Best long-wearing concealer
MAC's Pro Longwear Concealer is super lightweight and applies much like a foundation, before sinking into the skin. It covers all manner of skin issues - like pigmentation, blemishes and dark circles. It's super long-wearing, leaving you with a flawless matte finish.
Best concealer for spots
NARS' oil-free formula is every blemish-prone skin's dream with seriously magic coverage and staying power. The soft-focus finish blurs imperfections and lasts for hours without creasing or caking. Plus the inclusion of peptides, vitamins A, C & E, and hyaluronic acid mean your skin gets a treat, too. We recommend using a thin pointed brush to 'erase' any blemishes, before using the warmth of your (clean) fingers to gently blend the edges for subtle spot coverage.
Best concealer for brightening under the eyes
If you suffer from dark under eye circles even when you're getting enough shut-eye, this is the formula for you. Ultra brightening and illuminating, it doubles up as a concealer and an illuminator. Genius. Avoid using on blemishes, because when covering spots, you don't want to brighten the area and draw attention to the zit.
Best concealer for mature skin
Tilbury says this is like 'Spanx for the under eye'. What she means is that it's capable of covering a multitude of sins. Blemishes, dark circles, pigmentation - you name it, it will conceal it.
Best concealer for angry, red blemishes
Super creamy, super blendable and super buildable. This concealer is a dream to work with. A lighter shade brightens and blurs the under eye area, whereas one that matches your skin tone will work well at hiding unsightly spots.
Best high street concealer
There's a reason why this was Britain's #1 concealer last year. Just as it says on the tube, it erases dark circles, blemishes and dark spots. The sponge applicator means that you never apply too much, making it perfectly buildable too.
Enhance your skin with Illamsqua’s innovative Skin Base Concealer. Enriched with both vitamin E and provitamin B5 it applies smoothly, covering any imperfections and brightening under eyes. The pen applicator allows your to control how much you’re using too for a buildable, matte finish.
Best skin-loving concealer
This is a brilliant concealer, which it should be for that price. As with all of Shiseido's make-up, the formula is packed full of skin-loving ingredients that work with the skin not against it. It blurs imperfections and leaves skin dewy and glowy.
Best concealer for dehydrated skin
The brand's foundation of the same name is a bestseller and a cult classic among beauty lovers. The concealer is just as good - luminous on the skin, without being shiny. It moves with skin, rather than creasing into lines.
Best concealer for full coverage
There is nothing this concealer won't hide. Seriously - it's full coverage and takes no prisoners. Which won't suit everyone, but if you have particularly red and inflamed blemishes that you want to disguise all day, then this is the formula for you. The metal applicator is also soothing and good at depuffing tired eyes.
Best concealer for covering it all up
Long-wearing and unrelenting, this concealer is the dog's bollocks when it comes to added coverage. And no one can argue with the shade range.
Best purse-friendly concealer
So often concealers and used to mattify and disguise parts of the face, but sometimes what you want is to brighten and illuminate. This purse-friendly concealer works beautifully alongside a dewy-finish foundation.