Beauty Tips From the Pros: Concealer

We all want to look naturally beautiful and when it comes to skin, concealer, or cover-up as we sometimes call it, can be our saving grace.

Concealer is that magic little solution that can make anyone instantly and simply look more rested and refreshed. The reality is that looking natural needs a little effort.

Often we want to hide common skin discolorations -- such as blemishes, dark circles, freckles, birthmarks and, for some of us, melasma, or what is commonly known as the discoloring "mask of pregnancy."

Foundation comes in limitless shades and formulations, such as creams, stick, pots, powders and liquid. A foundation that gives complete coverage can double as concealer. That formula is the simplest way to solve the issue of coverage.

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Choosing a concealer can be fairly challenging because it is often just available in the shades light, medium and dark. While there are several choices out there, I wouldn't randomly jump from product to product, which can be costly.

To begin, select the shade closest to your bare skin tone or a shade that you can closely blend into the shade of your foundation for the most natural look. You can go a smidgen lighter ONLY is if it is to be used under your eyes. This can also double as a highlighter.

You can always blend two shades together to make the perfect custom blend shade that you can adjust through the seasons -- as our skin color changes with any exposure to daylight (whether with sunscreen or not).

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If you don't wear foundation, consider a full cover or heavier coverage foundation as your concealer -- the range of shades is much more universal.

There are some brands that beautifully custom blend a concealer that will be perfect for you. Cosmetic lines such as Prescriptives are fantastic, but MUST be purchased in person. You should be face to face with the resident artist when choosing a blend. Also, Lauren Hutton Cosmetics has a wonderful palette that let's you play and explore your own perfect shade to concealer and highlight. Her line gives you freedom and flexibility and that wonderful product is also available online.

What should you do about truly stubborn spots to cover? Port wine stain? Birthmarks? Scars?

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Theatrical makeup brands offer very serious coverage, and can be set with powder to last all day. Please use the powder they recommend, so you don't get a buildup or darkening of pigment on the area you are trying to cover. Dermablend, Kryolan's Dermacolor and many others are all great. I love the brands Joe Blasco, Ben Nye, William Tuttle and RCMA. Look at their Web sites for local availability, or consult a local theatrical makeup vendor such as Alcone Co.

These offer the most complete coverage, but can also be thinned out a bit with a foundation to customize your color and coverage!

TAKE AWAY TIPS

* Shop around and patiently for the perfect weight formula and shade of concealer. They vary greatly between cosmetic lines, or treat yourself to a custom-blend formula.

* To add even more coverage, set the concealed areas with powder foundation.

* Always wear sunscreen, even under foundation, as skin discoloration can be made worse by sunlight.

* Apply foundation first, then spot-touch over the top with the concealer you'll be working with.

* Blend borders very carefully, either with fingers or a brush. It is always best to do this in a well-lit area, particularly daylight.

* This next step is optional, but it will make your coverage last much longer -- set with loose, nonpigmented powder to keep coverage lasting all day.

* Avoid shades that are too pinkish or obviously too light next to your bare skin tone.

* DO NOT even try to choose your perfect concealer (or foundation) shade on your hand. You MUST try it on your face, preferably near your jaw line or the center of your forehead. Great match? Buy it!

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