The Correct Way to Choose Concealer

By Noleen Sliney

When you go to a makeup counter or drugstore to buy a concealer, the sales assistant will often tell you to choose a shade that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. But choosing a lighter shade of concealer isn’t actually going to do anything for you at all. Why? how-to-choose-concealer-shadesBecause choosing the correct concealer only relates to skin tone when it comes to choosing the light, medium or dark shades of concealer.

There’s actually a bit more to choosing a concealer than this. But don’t worry, I’m going to break it down and make it super simple for you so that you’ll never again waste money on the wrong concealer. Of if you’ve never before bought concealer, even better. As this way, you’ll be starting off on the right foot.

Let me get a little bit technical for a second. When choosing a concealer, the rules of colour theory come into play. Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an art lesson, nor is it going to be complicated. ☺

The purpose of concealer is to neutralise, or even out, certain areas of your skin. So for example, dark circles around the eye area, spots, redness on your cheeks, chin and nose. It’s not possible to treat all of these issues with just one shade of concealer. Why? Well here’s where our colour theory comes into play.

If you look at the colour wheel, the colours that are opposite each other on the wheel are called complimentary colours. That’s because when they’re placed side by side, they compliment one another and increase in their brightness. However, when you mix them together, they neutralise one another. There are some complimentary colours.

Blue & Orange
Blue and Orange are complimentary colours, as they are opposite each other on the colour wheel. When you mix blue with orange, they will balance each other out

Red & Green
Red and Green are opposite each other on the colour wheel and therefore are also complimentary colours. If you mix red with green, they’ll offset each other.

Violet & Yellow
Violet and Yellow are opposite each other on the colour wheel and therefore are also complimentary colours. If you mix red with green, they’ll offset each other.

Dark circles around the eye area are generally a bluish colour. So now we’re going to take our colour theory above into consideration. As orange is the opposite of blue on the colour wheel, you need to choose a concealer that has orange undertones in it, in order to neutralise those pesky dark circles around your eyes.

Now let’s move on to any redness or spots, which are, of course, red in colour. As we’ve already established, green is the opposite of red on the colour wheel. So in order to neutralise any redness or spots, you need to choose a concealer that contains green undertones.

When choosing a concealer, you need to first take a look at the colour of the area you want to neutralise, and then choose a concealer with a colour base that’s the opposite of it on the colour wheel.

As you can see, choosing a concealer that’s one shade lighter than you skin tone isn’t actually going to conceal anything at all. In fact, choosing a lighter shade with no undertones can often just lead to a grey looking tint around your eye area. All that’s going to do is make you look ill and even more tired. So if you’ve been using a concealer and wondering why you’re still looking tired, or still have redness, this is most likely why.

colour-wheel-basic-concealer-theoryMany of the mainstream brands that you find in department stores and drugstores don’t have undertones in their concealers. They’ll often just have shades like light 1, light 2, medium 1, dark 1, and so on. Even some of the very well known, and very expensive, brands don’t have undertones in their concealers.

Now this next bit is a little tricky. It can be, in all honesty, very hard to know which concealers have green undertones and which have orange undertones. The reason being, they don’t actually look orange or green.

But I’ll attempt to make it a little easier for you. MAC is a brand that do have concealers with these undertones in them in order to balance out specific areas of your face. They have a coding system which makes it easier to find which shades will neutralise dark shadows and which will neutralise redness and spots.

If you’d prefer more of a natural alternative then the Touch Mineral Concealers by Younique are perfect for you. These concealers are free from parabens, talc, formaldehyde, fragrance and are not tested on animals.

These are actually the very concealers I use on myself and my clients every single day. They have undertones to them, so it makes it so much easier to choose the perfect concealer that will actually do what you want it to do. The only thing you need to then choose is whether you are light, medium or dark toned.

I’ve listed out below which shades are for balancing out dark eye circles and which ones are for balancing out redness.

These concealers are highly pigmented. So this means, you only need to apply the tiniest amount of product. You can literally apply these in seconds, and you’ll immediately look fresher and more awake, which in turn makes you FEEL more awake. And they balance out redness on my cheeks, chin and nose area too. So even before applying my foundation, my complexion already looks more even. Some days I actually only wear concealer.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclait is NOT a concealer. It DOES NOT neutralise under eye circles. It is in fact best used as a highlighter. A highlighter attracts light, creating the illusion of brightness. But most of us need a little extra coverage from a concealer, in order to really neutralise and brighten up dark circles. If you do want to use a highlighter around your eye area, it’s better to stick to a matte product. Touche Eclait has a little shimmer to it. So if you have puffy eyes, or fine lines or wrinkles around the eye area, it’s best to avoid products with illuminating properties. Otherwise, you run the risk of emphasising these even further.

One of the most frequently asked questions I’m asked by my clients is ‘In what order to I apply concealer and foundation?’ Well the simple answer to that is, it really doesn’t matter in what order you apply them. You can apply concealer first and then foundation if you prefer. Or you can apply foundation first and then concealer.

There’s only one exception to this rule. And that’s when you are applying a powder foundation. The basic rule to remember is liquid products are ALWAYS applied before powder products.

So what this means is, if your concealer has a liquid or cream consistency, and your foundation is a powder foundation, then you’ll need to apply your concealer first, and then your foundation. The reason is that it’s very difficult to apply liquid or cream products OVER a powder product.

A powder product will always set a liquid product. In other words, it will hold it in place. But if you try to do it the other way around, all you’ll be left with is a patchy looking application.

If both your concealer and foundation have a liquid or cream consistency, then it doesn’t matter what order you apply them in. Here’s a quick recap:

Liquid/Cream Foundation – Apply concealer first or second.

Powder Foundation – Always apply concealer FIRST

Don’t go overboard applying concealer, especially around the eye area. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking even more tired, as the product will look heavy and cause creasing or settle in any fine lines or wrinkles. Start off small and apply only a very tiny amount. The amount the size of a pin head on each eye is more than enough.

Applying Concealer to the eye area:
Apply only to the inner corner of the eye and work your way downwards. This is generally the area that looks darkest. Don’t apply all the way up to the eye, as otherwise the concealer will settle in any fine lines or wrinkles, which will only accentuate them even further. Even if you don’t have any fine lines or wrinkles (lucky you ☺ ), avoid applying it all the way up to the eye are. Otherwise, you risk your eyes looking puffy and tired. Concentrate on applying the concealer stopping at about half way around your eye socket only. Apply using your fingers, as this heat from your fingers will really help work the product into your skin and blend it well.

Applying Concealer to any redness or spots:
Again, begin by only using a small amount of product. If you feel you still need a little more, go ahead and apply a little more. Building up the product slowly in this way will ensure you have a much smoother and natural looking application. The product will blend in perfectly with your skin tone.

Profi Tip: I personally prefer to apply concealer first, and then foundation. That way, I use less foundation, and it ensures a much more natural looking finish.

Dark eye circles – choose a concealer with orange undertones (can also be referred to as pink)
Redness & spots – choose a concealer with green undertones (can also be referred to as yellow)

I hope you found this article helpful. And if you’re still unsure which shade of concealer to choose for your skin, just drop me an email at and I’d be delighted to help you find your perfect shade.

Noleen Sliney is a Makeup Artist & Green Beauty Blogger who’s passionate about showing women how to enhance their natural beauty so that they’ll not only look fabulous but so they’ll also FEEL fabulous and full of self-confidence every single day. And how to easily make the switch to natural and organic beauty products. She doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to beauty. And in her virtual Personalised 1 to 1 Makeup Lessons, she helps her clients to find the exact products and techniques that are perfect for their face shape and skin type so that they never again have to waste money on products that aren’t suitable for them. You can find out more about Noleen and her work at

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