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All of your burning questions about concealer, answered


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There may be no four words more maddening than “you look tired today.” Because, in proving your power to conquer early morning workouts and late nights at the office, the last thing you want is to look sleepy versus like you just took on the world—which you did, BTW.

The most common giveaway is dark under-eye circles. The problem is that even if you’re at a low-stress point in your life or you’re religiously getting to bed on time, a myriad of other causes could be at play here. So, even the most unwaveringly well-rested can fall prey to them from time to time.  

According to Rose-Marie Swift, a makeup artist and founder of RMS Beauty, the cause can be hard to pin down. “Sometimes it is as simple as excess salt and MSG in some foods,” Swift says. “It could also be kidney or liver issues as well as heredity.” (Thanks, mom.)

If you’re looking for solutions to conceal dark circles or under-eye bags, however, it’s not always as easy as slathering on a concealer to camouflage them. So, I asked Swift common questions that I hear from others (and that I have myself) to figure out the best way to properly apply concealer. Pack your bags, bags!

Keep scrolling for Swift’s tips to make the most out of your concealer.

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What’s the best concealer for dark circles?

Concealer isn’t just about covering up; it’s also about canceling out. When it comes to dark circles, one of the best ways to do that is with color correction, so when you pick a formula (RMS Beauty UnCoverup, $36, is a cult fave), choose one with warm, pink undertones. This helps to cancel out the gray and blues that are common under eyes. Then, when you apply, don’t simply slather it to the entirety of the under-eye area, but instead try patting the formula directly to the bag. “A little trick is to only cover the bag itself not the whole under eye for better results,” she says.

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How much is too much?

Less is more when it comes to concealer. “I’m a firm believer in not piling too much under the eye because thick, dry concealers look just as bad as the bag itself,” Swift says. And while it may be tempting to reach for the thickest concealer stick possible to cover the area, Swift suggests just the opposite. The more pronounced the under-eye circle, the thinner the concealer should be, she says, pointing out that you should opt for a more liquid formula if you battle lines or crepiness under eyes (this helps to prevent it from creasing).

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Where does concealer belong in your makeup routine?  

Years ago, I saw a friend put her concealer on after her foundation and have been grappling with the order you should actually apply your makeup ever since. Swift helped ease my mind. I add a little concealer just on the under-eye area itself and then add the foundation lightly to blend,” she says. This helps build the coverage versus their being a stark difference between what’s covered and what’s not. 

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What’s the best way to apply concealer?

A luxe, narrow brush might make you feel like an IRL makeup artist, but the greatest tool is actually right at your fingertips (well, it is your fingertips). “Skin-to-skin is the best application tool,” she says. “Using your finger will make it easier to get the angles you need for precise application.”

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What’s the best way to set concealer?

You’ve found the perfect concealer, you know just where and how much to apply, but now you want this feeling to last forever (or at least through the night). Swift suggests using a light organic setting powder to keep it holding on. “Use the lightest powder you can find so you don’t end up with caked-up drying ingredients such as talc and clay-laden powders,” Swift says.

For many more concealer hacks, check out how to cover a pesky blemish and these five genius ways a makeup artist uses concealer.

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