Many women forgo wearing concealer, but leading makeup experts say it is probably one of the most important aspects of any beauty regimen.
"The key when you're putting on makeup is to create a flawless look," says Chanel spokesperson Anny Kazanjian. "A beautiful skin tone, a beautiful complexion begins with concealer. It is the number one element."
Jenia O'Connor, senior makeup artist at M.A.C, agrees. "If you think of your face as a canvas, the concealer allows you to make your canvas perfect. Your face becomes a clean slate for you to work on."
The most important tip when choosing a concealer is picking the right shade for your skin. Kazanjian says a good rule of thumb is to go one shade lighter than your own skin. She cautions, however, that you should always have an expert advise you on the right shade because if the colour is inaccurate your face will appear a different colour than your neck. When testing the product, try it right on the area of your face where you will be using it. Also, reassess your needs every few months because your skin tone can fluctuate with the changing of the seasons.
Equally important is choosing the right consistency of product. O'Connor explains that heavier products actually emphasize flaws. "If you've got dry skin, it accentuates the flakiness, so you want to use something that's smooth and has a more runny feel."
The most common use for concealers is hiding under-eye circles. It is also great for covering blemishes, or even freckles.
Kazanjian advises that you begin with cleansed, moisturized skin. The moisturizer will hydrate your skin and allow all your cosmetics to glide on and hold better. She cautions that you should not tug on your eyes when applying any makeup, as this will stretch the skin and can actually create wrinkles. Also, be careful when adding concealer to the folds around the mouth because too much product can cause the makeup to cake and make the folds more noticeable.
Many concealers come with their own applicator wand. If yours does not, apply it with a small, firm brush. O'Connor explains that your hands have oils that could contaminate the product. A brush allows the concealer to perform better and longer. Dab it on, a little at a time, building slowly until you have the coverage that you need. The next step is to add foundation and then powder, to set and hold the products.
O'Connor notes that the need for coverage determines how she uses concealer. In cases where her clients have only minor skin imperfections, she prefers to begin with foundation and then adds concealer only to areas of the face that still need more coverage.
If you have severe problem skin with major blemishes, O'Connor suggests seeking professional advice. You should look for a product with a thicker, more gooey consistency. This will offer fuller coverage, allowing less of your actual skin to come through the makeup. Choose a shade closest to your skin colour and use the concealer all over the face, as a foundation. "Once you've achieved the look of flawless skin, you can just add some lipstick and mascara and you'll look like you're wearing no makeup at all," says Kazanjian. "You'll have a very natural look that everyone wants."
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