beauty lessons:

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Everything you wanted to know about the brilliant beauty essential.

Written by PRIYA RAO

Unless you were born with preternaturally flawless skin (Alicia Keys, we’re looking at you!), concealer most likely plays a major role in your life. Here, makeup artists Lisa Storey (best known for Kate Bosworth and Miranda Kerr’s flawless complexions) and Ashunta Sheriff (who tends to the visage of Taraji P. Henson) explain how to best wield your most essential beauty weapon. Because, as Storey asserts, when applied properly “It can work like magic,” whether your aim is to cover blemishes, sun spots, redness, dark circles, or all of the above.
Various skin issues—under circles, acne, and the like—will dictate what kind of product (liquid or cream) you need.


If you are looking for light to medium coverage, liquid concealers will be your go-to says Sheriff. “Liquid is best for people who are covering minor skin blemishes or circles that aren't extremely dark,” she explains. Liquid goes on easily, will have a dewier finish, and works on all skin types, but the amount will vary depending on skin condition.


Cream concealers work best for those in need of covering “more intense blemishes or skin imperfections that need heavier coverage” says Sheriff. “Cream also works for anyone with extreme dark circles because it can mask them.”
After figuring out your respective skin issue, what is the overall finish of your skin? Is it fragile, is it dry, or does it exhibit both in different areas of your face?


Fragile or thin skin requires a concealer with a little more weight or thickness explains Storey. “Cle de Peau concealer has amazing coverage and a little goes a long way,” she says. “It is important to have a light touch with this one and only use it where there is real darkness or redness.”


For skin that is equally sensitive, normal, and tense, or some amalgamation of the three, Storey suggests Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage, an iconic concealer, which creates a natural base layer for foundation and powder. “You can paint it nicely into the skin like a watercolor, and it gently sinks in,” she says. “Just make sure you’ve moisturized all over before.”


To create a dewy finish—this is especially helpful in colder months for sallow skin—Storey’s trick is to use a foundation like Illuminare Concealing (Extra Coverage) Mineral foundation as a concealer. “A matte finish concealer in a tub or pot will create a flakey look, whereas something like Illuminare’s foundation gives the appearance of a face that is silkier and hydrated,” she says.

Now that we’ve talked about formula and texture, finding the right hue is a science. Rather than matching your skin color, you will need to match your concealer to your corresponding undertone (i.e. that is the hue of your veins right underneath the skin). Rather than testing the color on your wrist or hand like you would with foundation, Sheriff encourages actually matching your concealer to your undereye area or respective blemish or redness to color correct properly.


Fairer skin is usually associated with cool undertones, like pink, red or blue. “You can see veins under this type of skin more easily,” says Sheriff. To get rid of the grey coloration, she suggests using Urban Decay Naked Skin, NARS Radiant Creamy concealer, or Dior Diorskin Nude concealer.


Warmer skin tends to have golden yellow or green undertones. Storey adores the Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Sticks used as concealers, as well as Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage. “Both Tom Ford and Laura Mercier have a range of colors for all skin shades that blend beautifully,” she says. For her part, Sheriff suggests Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer, which she uses on Henson and herself, and Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer.


Darker complexions have deeper undertones, like in the purple family. “Think of women with skin like Lupita Nyong’o or Tika Sumpter,” says Sheriff. “If you’re in that range, I would choose products that are more generated towards African Americans specifically,” she says. “I love Black Opal.


A heavy-handed approach is ill advised in employing concealer—less, in this case, is actually more. Storey suggests using it just in the dark area of the eye, especially the corner, and around the nose and chin if there is redness. Rather than swiping the concealer into the skin, she presses it upward with a firm, flatter concealer brush, like the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage brush or the Chanel Pinceau Correcteur Concealer brush.

After a long day, you may get the impulse to re-apply concealer before you head to your evening festivities (cocktails, anyone?), but Sheriff says to proceed with caution. “Concealer is so thick and flaky naturally, if you reapply at night it will look too cakey,” she says. Instead, use a cleansing cloth to wipe the area and start over like it is bright and early in the morning.


As the weather changes, women with pale, medium or dark skin tones will benefit from having two different shades: one for the spring and summer months and one for the fall and winter. “Use the lighter shade in the winter and go darker in summer,” says Sheriff. “In warmer weather, we go out to lunch more, we take walks, but in the wintertime, if you live in New York City or Chicago or anywhere that is not L.A., you’re not going outside, so you’re not as sun-kissed.”