Introducing The Kit’s new editor-tested shopping awards, the Shop Smart Guide. The idea is simple: Every month, The Kit editors exhaustively test-drive items in desert-island categories — not the season’s exciting yet ephemeral trends but the evergreen essentials you’re most likely to buy now and wear or use forever. We’re talking mascara, jeans, retinol serum, black turtlenecks, white sneakers, etc. Our hope is that Shop Smart helps you reach that mythic shopping ideal: to buy less but better. Here, our guide to concealer.

Susan Sontag once wrote that “Great writers are either husbands or lovers.” Well, I’d argue the same is true of great makeup (though sans the ’60s heteronormative slant). Shimmery shadow and loud lipstick? Lovers for sure: fun once in a while, but not exactly dependable, a fault you forgive in exchange of a thrill. Concealer, on the other hand? Concealer is a partner you can lean on. On your worst days, when the world’s got you feeling tired and overwhelmed, it gently helps you put yourself back together, reminds you that you’ve got this. If that’s not love, I don’t want it.

So with that in mind, I set out to find the most commitment-worthy concealer out there. No games or ghosting tolerated. I wouldn’t settle until I found the one.

Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer, $39, SHOP HERE

Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer, $39,

Winner: Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer

The cost: $39

The coverage: Full

The finish: Natural matte

The review: I’d heard a lot of hype around this product, but for some reason — maybe the allusion to contouring in its name, or the fact that it’s full coverage and on the matte side — I always imagined it would be heavy and antithetical to my “no-makeup makeup” pursuits. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is what concealer dreams are made of. A silky lightweight formula so powerful it erases dark circles on contact and stays put for 16 hours without caking or settling into lines. And because of its non-shiny yet not flat finish, it’s perfect for spot-concealing pimples and pigmentation concerns, banishing the stuff you’re not fond of while seamlessly blending in with a bare face or foundation. It’s also got something called “tape technology,” which helps to blur fine lines and wrinkles. Skin looks fresh, even and buttery smooth.

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, $39, SHOP HERE

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, $39,

Best concealer for dark circles: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer

The cost: $39

The coverage: Medium

The finish: Radiant

The review: If you use a luminous concealer on a breakout or something else you’re trying to cover on your face, you’ll essentially shine a spotlight on the area, defeating the entire purpose. The only time that’s not true, though, is when it comes to your under-eyes, a place where most of us need all the glow we can get. Enter Nars’s legendary Radiant Creamy Concealer. It’s laced with tone-balancing and light-diffusing powders to optically brighten and blur all the usual issues associated with the area: dark circles, puffiness, fine lines — you name it. One wave of the wand and poof! You look like you get a nightly nine hours of blissful slumber. Bonus points for the formula’s hydrating properties, which makes it feel really yummy on skin.

Dior Forever Skin Correct Concealer, $46, SHOP HERE

Dior Forever Skin Correct Concealer, $46,

Most long-wearing concealer: Dior Forever Skin Correct Concealer

The cost: $46

The coverage: Full

The finish: Natural

The review: It boasts up to 24 hours of wear. In what circumstances would you need 24 hours of wear? I’m not sure. But the point is, this stuff does not budge. It’s the kind of concealer you put on in the morning and when you catch a glimpse of yourself at the end of the day, it still looks just as good. And I’m talking really good. The finish is described as natural, but I’d say it’s more like “enhanced natural,” or what I wish my skin looked like naturally: smooth and subtly lit from within but not greasy. As for the coverage, it’s definitely up there, though I did find I needed to layer a bit more than other full-coverage formulas to completely hide my dark spots. Other than that, it’s pretty much perfect.

Clé de Peau The Concealer, $95, SHOP HERE

Cl� de Peau The Concealer, $95,

Best concealer for pimples and dark spots: Clé de Peau The Concealer

The cost: $95

The coverage: Full

The finish: Matte

The review: OK, yes, it’s not cheap, but it’s so concentrated, you only need the tiniest amount to get the job done. (Think of the cost per wear!) I especially love it for tackling pimples, redness or hyperpigmentation, because it swiftly deletes what you don’t want to see without attracting attention to it, either. The concern and the concealer both just … disappear — not the case with all formulas, unfortunately. I also sometimes smooth it on under my eyes, especially on-the-go (the stick format makes it particularly purse-friendly), though I’d recommend going for something a wee bit creamier if your skin is on the dryer side. On the topic of touch-ups, another benefit is that you don’t need a sponge or brush to apply this. It’s actually best to melt it into your skin with the warmth of a finger pad. Quick, easy, effective — there’s a reason it’s a cult-classic. And great news: It’s now available in more shades than ever.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer, $16, SHOP HERE

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer, $16,

Best drugstore concealer: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer

The cost: $16

The coverage: Medium

The finish: Natural

The review: This is actually the number 1 concealer in Canada, and as soon as you swipe it on, you can see why. It’s quite thin in terms of consistency — so light in fact, it feels like you’ve got nothing on — yet does a solid job camouflaging dark circles, dark spots and pimples. I’d characterize the finish as velvety: not matte, but not all-out dewy, either. It just looks like, well, skin. The formula is spiked with goji berry and Haloxyl, a peptide-based ingredient that’s been shown to reduce dark circles and puffiness, firm skin and lessen the look of lines — hence the product’s “Age Rewind” moniker. Another nice feature is the built-in dome applicator, which allows you to buff in the product directly without reaching for another tool. For $16, it delivers serious bang for your buck.

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick, $49, SHOP HERE

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick, $49,

Best multipurpose concealer: Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick

The cost: $49

The coverage: Light to medium

The finish: Natural

The review: Technically, this is a “perfecting complexion stick.” It’s not exactly a concealer, nor is it a foundation, but as the brand says, “it’ll replace both in your makeup bag.” The idea for it came from Merit’s founder, Katherine Power (she launched the popular site Who What Wear in 2006 and has gone on to become a beauty and lifestyle entrepreneur). Power is a big fan of micro-concealing, meaning targeting only the areas that need coverage and leaving the rest of your face makeup-free. Kind of a “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater” approach, if you will. I like to pat it on with Merit’s Brush No. 1, which is quite dense and flat, to make undereye circles, redness, hyperpigmentation or pimples disappear. It’s so brilliant, you can’t tell where the product ends and your bare skin begins. And then sometimes, for a night out, I’ll kick things up a notch and apply it all over like a foundation. It takes about five seconds to apply and makes your complexion look silky smooth and a wee bit dewy — just gorgeous all around.

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Katherine Lalancette is the beauty director of The Kit, based in Toronto. She writes about beauty and trends. Reach her on email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @kik_tweets


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