I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with concealer. It’s necessary when I want to disguise my dark circles or cover redness, but it can smudge, settle into fine lines, and highlight my skin texture. Worst of all, it can dry down to look powdery and sit atop my skin like some sort of mask. When that happens, I feel an instant and visceral frustration that makes me reach for the nearest makeup remover.
As you can imagine, I have a pretty strict set of standards for my concealer. I’ve tested countless formulas, but I only keep a few close at hand. They’re the ones that pass the test. They’re lightweight, they’re easy to blend, they provide ample yet natural-looking coverage, and they never (I repeat: never) do any of the aforementioned things I hate. They also contain active ingredients to benefit the skin and not just cover it. In other words, they’re modern formulas that deserve the title “next-gen.” Ahead, see all eight concealers I—a self-confessed picky beauty editor—love.
Let’s start with the latest launch from Makeup by Mario. This concealer is self-setting, meaning you don’t have to use a setting powder or spray to keep it from creasing or smudging; it does itself. The formula contains caffeine to minimize the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. It also contains fermented marine microorganisms to smooth skin and give it a tightening effect.
When I used this one for the first time, I didn’t notice anything in the way of de-puffing or tightening my skin, but I did notice that it had a dreamy texture that’s creamy but still budge-proof. It easily covered my dark circles and even did a number on the redness that hung out around my nose and cheeks. I didn’t set it with anything, and after a few hours, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t creasing or smudging at all. The medium-coverage formula stayed right where I put it that morning.
My only warning is that it sets fast, so I recommend working in sections. For example, apply it under the eyes, blend it out, then apply it elsewhere. Once you get the hang of it, it provides next-level, natural-looking coverage.
Next up is this concealer, which I’ve been wearing almost every single day since it came across my desk over a month ago. It reminds me a lot of the aforementioned Makeup by Mario product because it’s a long-wearing formula that promises to de-puff the skin. Again, I haven’t noticed anything in regard to that. However, the formula is incredible. It offers natural-looking, medium coverage (although I would argue it’s more on the full-coverage side) and includes niacinamide, fermented arnica, and hyaluronic acid to brighten, hydrate, and reduce redness.
Since so many fuller-coverage concealers are thick, powdery, or unnatural-looking, I’m constantly impressed by how stretchy and flexible this formula is. It’s so good that I trusted it to be my only complexion product while on a weeklong trip to Scotland.
Tower 28 is known for effortless makeup essentials, and this concealer is no different. First and foremost, it’s meant to be hydrating, so it includes hyaluronic acid, Centella asiatica leaf, and lysine. It’s meant to glide on like a serum and sink into the skin, disguising any imperfections with medium coverage.
Let me just say that it delivers on every single one of these goals. It’s lightweight and hydrating, and it looks incredibly natural on the skin. I don’t know if it’s because the shade matches my skin tone so well or if it’s because the texture is so dreamy, but it basically melts into my skin. It’s the easiest concealer to blend, by far, and it’s a no-makeup-makeup must-have.
Another self-setting concealer, this one is from Kulfi, the South Asian beauty brand that creates fun, user-friendly makeup products. (Check out the brand’s Zari Eyes Cream Eyeshadow ($30). The shades are right out of my personal makeup dreams.) This formula contains amla fruit extract for antioxidants and saffron flower and rose-hip extract for hydration. So, skin benefits? Check.
This brand is fairly new to me, but thus far, I’m impressed, and this concealer has a lot to do with it. It’s sat squarely in my makeup bag since it first touched my skin for three reasons. First, the cool undertone suits my skin perfectly. Second, the flexible formula never cracks or creases. Third, it stays put with zero touch-ups (even when I do a HIIT workout—true story).
To me, this concealer was one of the first “next-gen” concealer formulas ever launched. In fact, to me, it kind of created the category altogether. It’s the first I can think of that combined good-for-skin ingredients with a flexible, medium-coverage formula. The sweet spot.
That’s why, if any of these natural-looking, next-gen concealers deserve the title of being my first love, it’s this one. I’ve been using it for years—certainly longer than any other concealer on this list. It’s lightweight and breathable, and it never settles, smudges, or slips into pores and fine lines. I always have a tube in my makeup bag. Always.
The brand says this is full coverage, and because I’ve been spurned by full-coverage concealers before (they tend to sit atop my skin and look unnatural), I was a bit hesitant to use it. However, when I did tentatively swipe it across my under-eye area and gently pat it in with a concealer brush, I was shocked. The formula is light, flexible, and blendable. The coverage is ample but radiant—if anything, I think it’s more medium coverage, but I like that. It disguised my dark circles, covered an unwelcome zit, and toned down the redness on my cheeks. My skin was so natural-looking and radiant that this instantly became one of my all-time favorite concealers.
I had seen a lot of talk about this concealer on TikTok, and all of the buzzwords I heard hinted that I’d like it—I heard it was hydrating, flexible, medium coverage, and crease-proof and had a natural finish (the concealer sweet spot). I was right. This concealer is all of those things, and I appreciate that the applicator is pointed rather than rounded for more precise application. Just like the Tower 28 concealer, I’m calling this one a no-makeup-makeup must-have.
This isn’t the original Shape Tape Full Coverage Concealer ($31) you once knew. It’s a newer, more radiant version. Formulated with a whole troupe of active ingredients, including licorice root, prickly pear, ginseng, niacinamide, and green tea, this concealer promises to treat the skin at the same time it perfects it with medium coverage.
To be honest, I’ve completely abandoned my old Shape Tape for this one. I love that it benefits my skin; I love that it offers natural-looking medium coverage that doesn’t cover my freckles; I love that adds a luminosity to my complexion. While it does tend to fall into my fine lines every now and then, it’s nothing a quick tap with a beauty sponge can’t fix.