Why your concealer looks like garbage and how to fix it

To conceal means to hide, keep something secret; prevent it from being known or noticed.

But what if your concealer makes things like under eye circles or fine lines actually look worse, not better?
What if you concealer looks like garbage?

I bet I know why and I bet I can help you fix it.

7 Reasons Your Concealer Looks Bad

  1. You’re using too much product
    This is the most common mistake, by far. If your concealer looks heavy and cakey, I can almost guarantee you’re using too much product.

    The fix: If you’ve gone too far, trying using a dry brush to buff color away or a damp sponge to pick up some of the product. You could also use a q-tip to remove product directly from the crease that has formed.

  2. You’re using the wrong formula
    Your concealer might be super full coverage, when you don’t need it, too mattifying for your dry skin or too emollient for oily skin types.

    The fix: Match a concealer to what your skin needs. If you have dry skin, don’t use something matte. If you have oily skin, don’t you dare reach for something hydrating.

  3. You aren’t prepping the skin first
    The under eye area is the thinnest and most delicate so if it’s dry, and you put concealer on top, you’ll only accentuate the dryness.

    The fix: Before applying makeup, apply an eye cream like Glossier Bubblewrap. Let that absorb while you do other things.

  4. You’re applying it in the wrong places
    Concealer is meant to cover darkness, redness, blemishes, etc. so why put it in places beyond that? This especially applies to the under eye area.

    The fix: Apply the concealer only where you see darkness and shadow, feather it out and call it a day.

  5. You’re not setting it properly
    Liquid and cream concealers have emollient properties to help them apply smoothly, but also need set with a setting powder and/or spray to prevent the concealer from traveling, slipping and settling into lines.

    The fix: I like to spray a sponge or small brush with setting spray, dip into loose powder and press over the concealer to set. You can skip the setting spray but I think it gives it a nicer finish and more staying power that way.

  6. You’re using the wrong shade
    If you are using a shade that is too light, you’ll literally be shining a spotlight on your under eye area, wrinkles and all. If you are using a shade that is too dark, it will just look awkward and out of place.

    The fix: I like to use just 1 shade lighter at most. If you need more brightening, see the next step.

  7. You’re not using a color corrector first
    If you find that your under eye area still looks dark after applying concealer, even ashy grey, you likely need to use a color corrector first to neutralize the darkness before you use a concealer to cover and brighten. When you put 2 colors that are opposite on the color wheel on top of each other, they cancel each other out, or neutralize.

    The fix: For blue/brown under eye darkness, a peachy corrector before concealer does the trick. If they are more red/purple, use a yellow corrector.

3 Concealer Commandments

  1. Use less product than you think
    You can always add. When using a liquid concealer with a doe foot applicator, instead of painting it right onto the skin with the wand, dab it on your hand, working off of it like a palette, picking up more product as you go. You can also touch your brush directly to the wand tip.

  2. Use a more fluffy brush than you think
    What works best will likely be an eyeshadow brush, not a flat “concealer” brush. A more fluffy shape will help buff out the product softly and not lay down as much product.

  3. Only apply where needed
    Look and see where it’s dark under your eye and just apply to that shadow area. 

Now that you know how to properly apply and set concealer, I bet you’re wondering which are the best? Read on.


Glossier Stretch Concealer

I grab Glossier Stretch when I need quick and easy under eye brightening and dewy hydration in one go. This concealer is the most hydrating one I’ve ever tried, making it my winter go-to. You have to use a little itty bitty under the eye, ok? Or, it will crease.

elf hydrating camo concealer

e.l.f. Hydrating Camo Concealer

If you need to really brighten up darkness without making skin look more dry, and on a budget? Reach for e.l.f. Hydrating Camo Concealer. The value is insane.

hourglass vanish concealer

Hourglass Vanish Airbrush

If you want a concealer with a matte finish and super long wear, this is the one. I think it would be best suited to normal to oily types.

covergirl trublend concealer

Covergirl Trublend Undercover

If you have more than dark circles to cover, I recommend this one. I enjoy it on other parts of the face quite a bit and it comes in 30 shades.

kevyn aucoin the etherealist concealer

Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist

When I’m working with a client, I save the fancy stuff for them aka this. When set, it rarely, if ever, creases, and gives good coverage without heaviness. I just wish there were more shades/under tones.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: