The Big Cover-Up Psst. Want the fastest way to hide facial flaws? We spill the secret.

The Big Cover-Up

Psst. Want the fastest way to hide facial flaws? We spill the secret.

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Be a Master of Disguise: 5 Simple Steps

1. Prep your skin with moisturizer.

Concealer is thicker and more concentrated than foundation, so it often cakes up on dry skin. To fill in fine lines and create a smoother canvas, moisturize a few minutes before you apply your concealer, says Philadelphia dermatologist Richard Fried, Ph.D., M.D. That way, your skin will have time to absorb the moisture.

2. Decide if you really need foundation.

Even if you’ve always used it, try experimenting with concealer only – you might end up looking better than you expected. However, if you really do want full-face coverage, apply your foundation at the right time: after a moisturizer but before the concealer. “If you do concealer first, you risk blending it away when you put on foundation,” explains Los Angeles makeup artist Niki Pashalidis. A shade tip: Foundation should match your skin perfectly, but concealer needs to be a little lighter.

3. Identify your problem areas.

You’ll use concealer only in specific spots, such as on undereye circles or pimples. Leave the rest of your face bare. “The point is to even out your skin, not to cover it completely,” says stylist Erin Porteous of Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont in Banff Springs, Alberta. “Clear skin shining through looks younger and prettier.”

4. Be a minimalist.

Concealer contains more pigment than foundation and powder do, so a little goes a long way. Start with a dab and add more only if you must. For larger areas, apply with a finger, tapping gently until the makeup blends into your skin. For smaller areas, use a small angled brush.

5. Preserve your work.

Concealer generally lasts longer than foundation, but it needs help to stay in place all day. Sweep a large brush over translucent powder, shake to remove excess, then whisk the brush over your face to set the makeup. (But don’t powder your undereyes – they’ll look cakey.)

Crack the Color Code

Concealers operate on the principle of neutralizing the enemy. For example, if your skin’s flaw is red (like a pimple), you can camouflage it with a concealer in the counteracting color, green. “It’s the same basic theory that artists use,” says celebrity makeup artist Joanna Schlip. You cancel out one color (your flaw) by using the color (a concealer) that’s directly opposite on the color wheel. Typically, the colors representing skin flaws are on the left half of the wheel, and the solutions are on the right (yellow can be either).

  • Use mint green concealer to combat redness (like pimples, rosacea and rough spots).
  • Use shades that are yellow- or orange-based to help offset purple and blue (like dark undereye circles, broken capillaries or visible veins).
  • Use lilac or pale blue to help even out yellow (like a bruise or a birthmark).

Key Spots for Concealer

Tips for dealing with your biggest trouble areas.

  • Wrinkles and fine lines: To soften their appearance, apply a creamy, lightweight concealer. And be frugal, or you’ll highlight crepey skin.
  • Dark circles and puffiness: Undereye skin is super-thin, so pat concealer on with your ring finger (it’s the weakest digit).
  • Broken capillaries: These tend to be in highly visible areas, so use the lightest-weight concealer you can – try a wand or a tube.
  • Blemishes: To get the concealer directly on the pimple or red spot (and not on the surrounding skin), use a precise applicator, like a pencil, tiny brush or sponge.
  • Unplucked brows and veins: Put concealer all over lids – it will also keep eyeshadow in place.
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