I’m obsessed with skin care, and I still know next to nothing about makeup (chalk it up to male privilege). I never really thought about it until a few things happened: Daniel Kaluuya proudly admitted to wearing Fenty x Rihanna foundation to the Oscars, Milk Makeup tapped male model and actor Luka Sabbat for its latest campaign, and Chanel launched its first male-focused makeup line, Boy. This got me thinking, Why not give makeup a try? Concealer seemed like a good place to start.
To narrow the field, I zeroed in on concealers that wouldn’t require a brush and aimed for “for men” varieties when I could. I piled a Sephora basket full of concealers and swiped my credit card. I also went to CVS, read as many reviews as I could, and polled my friends for recommendations. I focused on a few things: longevity of wear, amount of coverage, and what type of problem area I was trying to cover up. After extensive trials (and errors), I found a few standouts that worked for me. My favorites below.
The Best Overall Concealer
Of all the concealers I tried, this was my favorite. There was no brush to intimidate me. Instead, it’s a little squeeze tube, so you use it as you would your zit cream or eye serum. I dabbed it under my eyes and on various dark spots, blemishes, and little imperfections around my face. It worked just as well under my eyes as it did on spots, blending over both areas seamlessly and with great coverage. It also matched my skin tone very well, which meant I could use it on its own without fear of getting clocked or looking spotty. It also stayed put all day long; it’s basically the concealer version of “set it and forget it.”
The Best Concealer to Carry Around
Tom Ford is an OG in the world of male cosmetics and has clearly given a lot of thought to what men want in their concealer. The teeny-tiny stick concealer is basically a crayon with no fussy brush or added applicator. It’s so small that it would fit in that mysterious fifth pocket of your jeans (finally, the mystery is solved). It didn’t offer the same amount of coverage as some of the other liquid-based concealers I tried (it’s a waxy solid), but it did the trick under the eyes better than over spots. I can see carrying this with me for touch-ups throughout the day and keeping it in a gym bag or Dopp kit.
The Men’s Concealer With the Easiest Applicator
The spongy tip of this liquid concealer is pretty crazy-looking but worked well for an even application under my eyes. I twirled the tube, soaking the sponge with a small amount of concealer, and with just one swipe got enough on my skin. It blended in easily, and while it didn’t match my skin tone quite as well as some others, it helped cover up my dark circles and made my eyes look bright and more alert.
The Best Drugstore Concealer
I bought basically every concealer I could find at my local CVS. But trying to figure out which shade would match my skin tone without opening the packaging was a challenge. I opted for anything close to a “light beige,” and out of all of them, this CoverGirl concealer matched my skin tone best. It was thick enough that it worked well as a spot treatment in addition to under my eyes. On the downside, it didn’t last quite as long as some others, but at $4 a pop, it felt the closest to other versions ten times the price.
The Best for Spot Correcting
I can see why people love YSL makeup so much. The quality blew many of the others out of the water. It was smooth, easy to apply (a little goes a long way) and worked well for anything on my face that I wanted to hide. Where it really shined was spot coverage. I applied it to zits, dark spots, and red patches all over my face, and it covered them with ease. It didn’t take a lot of effort to blend in either, which for something that covered so well was surprising. However, I noticed a little bit of creasing under my eyes after a few hours, so would likely stick to spot treatment with this one.
The Best for Under Eyes
I heard a lot about NARS whenever I brought up concealer in conversation with friends in the beauty industry, but usually people talked about the Soft Matte Concealer that comes in a pot. I opted for the applicator version (brush fears) and immediately understood what the fuss was all about. The formula was silky and added a wonderful brightness under my eyes without making it look like I was wearing highlighter. I was happy with the applicator because it kept me from over applying. Throughout the day, the concealer held strong, and while it worked a little less well on spots, it’s one I found myself reaching for over and over again
The Best for Multiple Skin Tones
When I polled my friends, including many self-proclaimed “concealer experts,” literally everyone said they loved Tarte Shape Tape. One friend even called it “the Holy Grail” of concealers. In fact, I learned that one of them is sold every 12 seconds. I can see why — this stuff works overtime: a few dabs will last you all day, and it blends in seamlessly. Most importantly, out of all the different concealers I tried, this one offers the widest range of skin tones clocking in at 30 different shades.
The Best Advanced Concealer
The Under Eye Concealer trio from male makeup line Formen (get it?) requires a little knowledge of color theory and a fairly experienced hand to use, but it was easier than I expected. The idea is to use complementary colors based on what problem areas you need to fix: Green is for redness, purple is for yellow sallowness, and yellow is for darkness with purple or blue tones. They work fine by themselves but do leave a little trace of visible color. This product is especially helpful when used underneath another concealer to combat an especially troublesome issue. I don’t know if I would use this every day — that’s a lot of concealer — but for special events or photos where I need to pull out the big guns, it’ll come in handy.
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