Now that you've got your shade lined up, factor in your skin. If you're covering dark circles: The skin around the eyes tends to be delicate and dry, so creamy, hydrating concealers, such as CoverGirl + Olay Concealer Balm, are best. On the inner corners, sheer liquids with light-reflecting particles, like Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat, add a touch of brightness (which is also why they're the last thing you ever want to put on a pimple). With redness and zits, a pigment-rich, opaque formula will neutralize flare-ups in just one or two (not 10) thin layers. Try Smashbox Camera Ready Full Coverage Concealer.
You Will needs Two Separate Shades
Unless you live at the office and never see the light of day (sad!), your complexion isn't the same all year long. Makeup artist Laura Mercier's trick is to buy one concealer to match your skin in the summer and another for the winter. "Then you can blend the two for your in-between shades the rest of the year," she says.
Never Forget To Prep
If you're starting to get fine lines around your eyes, plump them and provide a smooth base for your concealer by using your ring finger to pat moisturizer all around the eyes—including the lids. Give it a few minutes to sink in, though; otherwise the concealer will
Always Apply In Natural Light
Blame bad lighting for every concealer you thought matched your skin until you left the bathroom. The best place to do it is near a sun-drenched window, where natural light can reveal how your concealer is really performing.
Don't Over Do It. Seriously.
Using your fingers to load on concealer leads to creasing and caking. Instead, use a synthetic concealer brush (natural bristles pick up way too much color), like the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Brush, to place three tiny dots of the stuff under the eyes from the inner corners to the centers. Then use just your fingertips to gently pat in the color and blend. Also: Skip the magnifying mirror—you'll inadvertently wind up overapplying.
Be Extra Careful When Covering Zits
The only thing worse than a visible blemish is one that's badly camouflaged. Use a small, pointy brush to dot a concealer that matches your skin directly on the zit. Then, with tiny strokes, sweep the brush around the base of the pimple—that's how you blend precisely and without bacteria. (No fingers allowed.)
Never Skip Loose Powder
Pressed powder can draw attention to fine lines by settling into creases, so choose a lightweight, loose translucent powder, like Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, to set it all. You won't notice the powder, only an absence of shine.
Learn This Technique If You're Hiding A Tattoo
To cover blue ink—the toughest to conceal—use an orange base, like Ben Nye Mellow Orange, then sponge on two to three thin layers of flesh-tone concealer (makeup artist Pati Dubroff likes ones made by theatrical line Cinema Secrets). Once the tattoo is no longer visible, set it with translucent powder to prevent caking, then dust on highlighter or spritz with Evian Brumisateur Facial Spray to demattify skin. That said, if you're heavily inked or your tattoo is larger than three to four inches, hiding it with makeup can make you look like you belong in a wax museum. You're better off putting on an extra layer of clothing.
Know Where Not To Put Concealer
We know you'd never, but just in case, don't ever put concealer on eye lids. It makes them look heavy. Also avoid undereye bags—concealer actually highlights them. Instead, press a touch of foundation on the bags, 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 bags. Last, skip crow's feet. 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, and "absolutely under no circumstances blend past that point," Mercier says.
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Want never to hear "you look tired" or cringe over a zit again? Follow these 10 unbreakable rules for brightening eyes, covering dark circles, and hiding pimples. No spackle knife required.