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>In most instances, the purpose of makeup is to enhance our best features. We shadow our eyes, line our lips and apply highlighter on cheekbones to draw the eye there.
But makeup can also help hide those things we don’t want seen; the scars from teen acne, broken capillaries and dark circles under the eyes.

Concealers come in a variety of types -- pots, tubes, sticks and wands. Choosing the right one for the job at hand is actually fairly easy. For under eye circles, a creamy formula is needed, and for facial blemishes, heavier types, like those found in pots, are better.

The right tools can also help make the job of camouflage easier for you. While using your fingers will help warm the concealer and allow it to spread easily, it isn’t a good idea to add skin oils to a blemish you want to hide. Small, triangular makeup sponges or a brush are your best bet. DON’T buy a concealer brush from a makeup line. Most of these are tiny and so pointed, you’ll be painting for hours to try to get the right effect. The one that I bought is only 3 mm wide at the base, tapering to 1 mm at the point. Pick up a “detail brush” at your local Michael’s Craft Store (artist brushes are regularly discounted) or art supply shop. These are also pointed, but you can get them in a larger size. Mine is 5 mm, tapering to 3 mm; a size that is much more useful. Sable is what most companies use to make these brushes, and mine cost about 1/3 as much as those available at MAC.

Do not be fooled by the promises of coloured “corrective” concealers. During my teenage years, I fell prey to a green “corrector” that promised to hide the redness of pimples. When it wasn’t washed away by the foundation I put over it, I looked like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster with it showing through my makeup.

Most blemishes and dark circles can be hidden by yellow or orange toned concealers a shade lighter than your own skin tone. The most common mistake made when choosing a concealer is using one that is too light.

Finding the right concealer for you is a matter of trial and error. Go to different makeup counters or your local Sephora if you’re lucky enough to have one near by. Try different formulas from different lines, request samples if possible and always try to see what the product looks like in natural light.

If you have good skin, you may be able to simply put a bit of concealer where you need it, set with powder and walk out the door. For the rest of us, it’s not quite that simple.

To hide acne or blemishes from acne, choose a stick or pot foundation -- MAC’s Studio Finish or Stila Cover Up Stick are two popular choices. After applying foundation, use the brush to lightly dab a small amount of concealer over the blemish. You can add more if needed, but it’s much more difficult to subtract. Blend out at the edges with the brush or a sponge. Apply more if needed and powder LIGHTLY to set.

To hide dark circles under your eyes, first apply eye cream and let it absorb. Using your brush or sponge, or a wand-type concealer like St. Laurent’s Touche Éclat, apply the product lightly, working from the inside corner out. If you think you’ve added too much, thin it out with a dot of your eye cream. Do not use powder on this part of the face; it gives a crepey look that you would rather avoid.

There’s one more trick to hiding those dark circles under your eyes that you may not have heard of. According to Jeanine Lobell, founder of Stila Cosmetics, wearing blush along the tops of your cheekbones brightens the eye area and reduces the effect of the under eye circles. I find it really works!

One of the best concealer products on the market at the moment is the Becca Cosmetics Compact Concealer duo ($33US at Sephora). It contains two formulations of concealer in heavy and medium textures in slightly different shades depending on where it will be used and comes in one of the widest ranges of skin tones available.

Another great product for those of us who need more coverage is the Estée Lauder Prime FX Pro Concealment Kit ($25 US at select Lauder counters). This contains a line diffuser, yellow and red concealers and a light-weight powder to set the products.

In drugstore lines, Physician’s Formula has the “Wanderful Wand”. I have this in the light and neutral shades and they are great for under eye circles and around the nose. They also take up little space in your makeup bag.

It can take time to master concealer, but it’s well worth the effort you put into it to put your best face forward.

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