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How to Pick the Right Shade of Concealer

Matching skin tone, covering up under-eye circles & more tips & tricks


Young woman with two shades of foundation on cheek
Pierre Bourrier/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

There's nothing like concealer to dramatically transform your skin, according to makeup expert Bobbi Brown. Concealer can cover up under-eye circles and those annoying blue veins that pop up under the eyes when tired. It also works like an erase on red spots, seemingly wiping them off your face.

So how to pick the right shade? I've done the research and here are your answers.

Go a Shade or 2 Lighter Than Your Skin

You want your foundation to match your skin tone perfectly. You want your concealer to be just a shade or 2 lighter than your skin, according to Brown in her book, Living Beauty. The exception is when you are covering pimples. It's best to use a concealer that matches your skin exactly when it comes to covering pimples. This is because you want to apply the concealer AFTER the foundation and you don't want that spot to stand out.

Most women need a yellow-based, not pink-based concealer, because it flatters all skin types. The exception is dark or black skin, which will look better in orange-based concealers.

The Different Types of Concealer

Most women use concealer to lighten the areas under the eyes. Others use concealer to cover up pimples, acne scars, tattoos and even spider veins. Concealers are not a one-size fits all formula. Different concealers work on different problem areas. Here's a rundown:

  • Under-eye concealer is best for camouflaging the circles under the eyes. This concealer won't work on redness or blemishes. 
  • Correctors work to cover up extremely dark unde-eye circles. Peach tones and pink tones work best to counteract the dark colors.
  • Yellow-toned concealer that matches your skin tone exactly is best for covering up blemishes, tattoos, etc.
  • Body concealer is great for covering up veins on the legs. Dermablend is a good option.
  • Heavy duty concealer works to cover up tattoos and bad scars. Look for a concealer especially formulated for such coverage like Covermark.

I give you the full scoop on different types of concealers in My List of the Top 12 Concealers.

How to Test the Concealer

Concealer is a definite "try before you buy" product. I don't recommend purchasing any product that's non-returnable. Instead, try out different concealers at department store counters or Sephora.

Test color on the area of your neck below your ear. Again, the color should be a slight lighter than your foundation. If you go too light, you risk looking like a raccoon. Just like you with foundation, you may need a lighter concealer shade in winter than you would in summer.

If you are covering up blue veins or under-eye circles, test the consistency of a concealer by dabbing it on the blue veins on the inside of your wrist. If it covers it up, you've found a winner.

How to Apply It

Now that you've found the perfect concealer, make sure you're applying it properly. I share my best tips in my article, How to Properly Apply Concealer.

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