How We Tested
Hi, I’m Jessica, the lifestyle writer and resident beauty expert at Reviewed. When I was in high school, I dealt with cystic acne that left behind hyperpigmentation and uneven texture. Because of this, I often reached for full-coverage foundations and concealers that could essentially make my face a blank canvas for any other makeup I wanted to apply. Now that my skin tone and texture have evened out, I find myself instead searching for concealers that can blend well with my skin even on days where I don’t want to wear much makeup at all, which is increasingly more often as I get more confident with my skin. For this reason, it’s important to me that any concealer I have in my makeup collection is versatile enough to cover everything I want gone for a full glam look or to just cancel out some redness on my cheeks or darkness under my eyes on “no-makeup makeup” days.
To arrive at the 14 drugstore concealers that were tested, I combed through articles, my YouTube watch history, and retailer’s best-seller pages.
With the help of Reviewed senior scientist Julia MacDougall, we designed our testing in three rounds with eliminations after round two. First, I dabbed up and down my arm with a red marker and painted each concealer over one of the dots to see how well it might cover a blemish. What I learned: None of the concealers could completely mask a bright red dot, and they all faded the same amount on my arm. (What can I say, not all our tests are winners.) Because of this, I didn’t disqualify any concealers and went onto round two.
At this stage, I put each concealer under my eyes to see how well it concealed darkness, how evenly and easily it blended across this delicate area of skin, and how well it stayed throughout the day. After scoring the concealers on Julia’s calibrated rubric, I had a better idea of which one may be worthy of our Best Overall spot on this drugstore-only list. I then used the top ones (the Covergirl, L’Oreal, and Colourpop) in my normal makeup routine. I’m no makeup artist, but this meant setting down each one with powder to see how it meshed with other products and layering on my everyday staples like brush and bronzer.
Beyond what the concealer looks like, we heavily weighted the shade range each concealer comes in. If it only came in 10 shades, points were docked. If it came in 30 shades but 25 of them were light or medium and only five were deeper, points were docked. We also paid attention to whether or not the shades had different undertones (warm, neutral, and cool) and how easy it was to shade match yourself when buying online.
In addition, because not everyone reading this will have my skin type or tone—normal-to-dry fair skin with neutral undertones—I enlisted the help of four panelists who tried the top concealers and answered questions, just like I did, about the following attributes:
Application: How easy was it to apply the concealer? How would you rate the comfort and functionality of the applicator?
Coverage: How many swipes or how much concealer did it take to fully conceal what you wanted to cover?
Wear: How does the concealer hold up when you go through your normal makeup routine? Did the concealer stay on and stay effective throughout the day? How comfortable was it to wear the concealer throughout the day?
Shade range: How would you rate the range of skin tones that this concealer comes in? Did the concealer shade you picked online match the shade that you received?
What Should You Know About Concealers
When you’re looking for a concealer, keep in mind where and why you want to use it—under your eyes, on blemishes, to accentuate the high points of your face, or even all over your face like foundation—and how much coverage you want. If you’re like me and you want a concealer that can do it all, and look great doing it, you’ve come to the right place. In my mind, the right concealer is versatile enough to blend smoothly over your under-eye area without settling into fine lines as well as cover up a pimple without clinging to any dry patches around it. It should also blend seamlessly for a skin-like finish, regardless of how much coverage it offers. If you want a thin layer of coverage that lets your skin show through or if you want to create a blank canvas, a great concealer can rock both without looking unnatural.
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.