How to Get Flawless Skin
Expert strategies and tools for concealing a multitude of problems—from a rogue pimple to that sounded-good-at-the-time tattoo.
Redness Around the Nose
What to do: To keep concealer from slipping off this oily area, avoid moisturizer, foundation, or tinted moisturizer (which go on before concealer) around the nostrils. Using a flat-tip concealer brush, dab yellow-based concealer on red areas. Next, blend on a flesh-tone product with your fingers to neutralize yellowness. Set with translucent powder, using the fan brush for precise placement.
RS picks: Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer, $23, bobbibrown.com. Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57, $24, sephora.com. Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge Correcteur, $95, neimanmarcus.com. Sephora Pro Fan Brush #65, $27, sephora.com. Korres Wild Rose Translucent Mineral Setting Powder, $18, sephora.com.
What to do: Tap on an eye cream to hydrate the area and make the skin appear plumper before applying foundation or tinted moisturizer, says Paula Dorf, the creator of Paula Dorf Cosmetics. Next, smooth a concealer a shade darker than what you would normally use onto just the circles. “Your face has peaks and valleys that cast shadows, so if you overly lighten the area, it won’t look natural,” says Sandrine Van Slee, a New York City makeup artist. (Do not top with powder, which can cling to lines, exacerbating their appearance.)
RS picks: Kate Somerville CytoCell Dark Circle Corrective Eye Cream, $75, katesomerville.com. BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener, $22, bareescentuals.com.
What to do: To downplay a raised, red blemish, fewer layers of makeup are key. Dip a cotton swab in green concealer (green counteracts red) and dab onto the pimple. Blend into skin with your finger. Top with translucent pressed powder (which is typically more opaque than loose powder). Then avoid touching the area; the heat from your fingers can make the makeup melt.
RS picks: Make Up For Ever 5 Camouflage Cream Palette in No. 1, $38, sephora.com. Shiseido Translucent Pressed Powder, $32, shiseido.com.
An Erupted Pimple
What to do: Apply an acne-fighting gel to the pimple. This will “help seal the opening to prevent bacteria from entering the skin and inflaming the lesion,” says Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City. Use your finger to pat on an opaque concealer that matches your skin tone. Since shine highlights imperfections, apply an oil-absorbing translucent loose powder on top to set the concealer and make the area matte.
RS picks: Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel-Lotion, $17, clinique.com. Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer, $24, tarte.com. Laura Mercier Loose Setting Translucent Powder, $35, lauramercier.com.
A Fine Line
What to do: Legend has it that Hollywood actors used to apply melted paraffin to their skin to obscure fine lines. Today wrinkle-filling products can serve a similar function as the wax (with less mess); they contain ingredients such as silicone, which sinks into lines and helps smooth them out. Squeeze a bit on your finger and tap it into the wrinkle until it is less detectable. Top with a liquid concealer to hide any remaining evidence of a line. Skip powder, which can cling to lines and call attention to them.
RS picks: Boots No7 Instant Illusion Wrinkle Filler, $19, shopboots.com. Ulta Fabulous Face Liquid Concealer, $9, ulta.com.
A Discolored Patch (Melasma)
What to do: Using concealer in a shade slightly lighter than the area you’re covering, paint over the patch until you can no longer notice any discoloration, says Van Slee. “A wand-style product makes it easy to work fast and spread the makeup over larger areas,” she says. (For very large patches, place the concealer on a synthetic makeup wedge first.) To set, top only the concealed area with translucent or colorless powder, either loose or pressed (whichever you feel more comfortable working with).
RS picks: Origins Plantscription Anti-aging Concealer, $17.50, origins.com. Smashbox Photo Set Finishing Powder SPF 15+, $28, smashbox.com.
What to do: If the scar is red, choose a green color-correcting fluid to offset the redness. Top that with a thick concealer that matches the skin surrounding the scar to hide any remaining green tones. If the scar is not red, skip straight to the thick concealer. For effective coverage, tap (don’t rub) either product onto the scar with your finger. Set with loose or pressed translucent powder.
RS Picks: Physicians Formula Conceal Rx Physicians Strength Concealer in Soft Green, $9, physiciansformula.com. Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing Concealer, $19, benefitcosmetics.com. Maybelline New York Mineral Powder Finishing Veil Translucent Loose Powder, $10 at drugstores.
What to do: Pencil or wand-style concealers allow for the most pinpointed application of cover-up, says Van Slee. Trace directly over the offending marks, then blend with your pinkie until there are no discernible lines of demarcation. Set with loose or pressed translucent powder.
RS picks: Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil, $18, urbandecay.com. Too Faced Absolutely Invisible Translucent Pressed Powder, $27, toofaced.com.
A Birthmark or a Tatoo
What to do: Because they’re often darkly pigmented, “birthmarks and tattoos usually require a heavier body-coverage product,” says Sarah Lucero, a celebrity makeup artist for Stila Cosmetics, in Los Angeles. “For speed, you can apply it all over the mark with your finger,” she says. “If any parts require extra coverage, you can go over them again with the brush once the first application dries.” Choose a color that matches the surrounding skin, and blend well with your finger or a latex sponge. (A sponge is sometimes better for thoroughly blending the edges of such thick makeup.)
RS picks: Dermablend Leg and Body Cover SPF 15, $27, dermablend.com. Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57, $24, sephora.com.