How to Apply Concealer as Eraser and Highlighter

With just one product you can accentuate facial contours, set corrective highlights, and erase spots, discolorations and under eye circles. Concealer—no woman is perfect without it!

Concealer can work in two ways: as blemish eraser and highlighter. Sometimes it serves both purposes at once. It can, for example, highlight inner eye corners while erasing the dark veins that shimmer through the skin in that area.

But don’t confuse concealer with products sold specifically as highlighter or ‘illuminator’, as they are sometimes called. These are translucent and create a shimmery or opalescent finish. Concealer has a high pigment density—it's more opaque than any foundation—and leaves a natural-looking, matte finish which makes it ideal to set corrective highlights and accentuate contours.

Which Colors?

If you’re using concealer only to erase flaws and discolorations, it should match your complexion exactly. If you’re using it as highlighter, it should be two nuances lighter. And it should always be of the same base tone as your complexion.

Are Concealer and Highlighter the Same?

Yes and no. You can use a concealer product as highlighter, but you can't use a highlighter product as concealer.

Products sold as 'highlighters' or 'illuminators' are translucent and designed to create a luminous or pearlescent sheen. Concealers are opaque and create natural-looking highlights.

Reserve highlighter products for eveningwear—they're most effective in artificial light.

Should You Apply Concealer Before or After Foundation?

Apply concealer on top of foundation whether you're using it as eraser or highlighter—it only works if it is perfectly placed, so applying foundation over it would sabotage any efforts of perfect placement!

Concealer as Eraser

Erasing Under Eye Circles

Use as little concealer as possible when camouflaging under eye circles—too much creates a ‘caked’ appearance and emphasizes even the finest of lines and wrinkles. You can control how much product you apply by using a concealer brush rather than your finger.

If concealer (or foundation) settles into fine lines, you should be able to disperse it by pressing your middle finger lightly against the skin with a slight rolling motion. If this doesn't work, blot gently with a Q-tip.

Erasing Blemishes

It’s difficult to hide pimples and acne breakouts without accentuating them. For precision, apply concealer with a brush, then carefully fix with translucent powder for an absolute matte finish that doesn't draw attention.

Don’t be misled by claims that concealer darker than your skin tone causes spots to recede—if concealer is too dark for your complexion, it will make flaws even more noticeable.

Medicated concealers seem a good idea for acne related blemishes, but they tend to be of a dry consistency which creates a flaky appearance. Creamy products provide a smoother texture and better coverage.

Clean your concealer brush with mild shampoo after covering spots and breakouts. Because brushes take up to 24 hours to dry, consider investing in two.

Color Corrective Concealer

Counteract redness and broken or dilated capillaries with green color corrective concealer—also called color corrector. Be sparse: if you use too much, it will shimmer through your foundation.

Choose a yellow color corrector to neutralize dark under eye circles, which are usually blue toned. You can also use orange lipstick for this.

Color corrector is the only type of concealer that should be applied beneath foundation.

Set highlights at inner and outer eye corners.
Set highlights at inner and outer eye corners.

Concealer as Highlighter

What You Need

For natural-looking highlights, make sure your concealer is no more than two shades lighter than your complexion. Matte, liquid products work best for young and mature skin alike. These usually come in a tube with an applicator wand. Use the wand to dot the product onto the area to be highlighted, then blend with a concealer brush (for small areas) or a wedge shaped foundation sponge (for large areas). It’s important that you always work the product well into your foundation.

Set Highlights at the Inner Eye Corners

This is a must for all women. It makes eyes look bright and clear, and covers the dark veins that shimmer through the skin—this is where concealer comes into its own as an eraser and highlighter.

Using a concealer brush, work the product upwardly and downwardly. You might find this is enough to diminish under eye circles, too, if they’re not too heavy.

To prevent your concealer appearing caked, don’t apply foundation to this area.

Beneath the entire eye.
Beneath the entire eye.

At the Outer Eye Corners

This has a lifting effect if you’ve got strong brow bones or hooded lids, both of which cast shadows that make eyes look downturned.

Simply blend the product from outer eye corner toward your cheekbones.

Beneath the Entire Eye

For Deep Set or Small Eyes

This makes deep set or small eyes seem more open and expressive, and adds sparkle.

Using the barest amount of product, set the highlight from your inner to outer eye corner and blend down to your cheeks. You can also blend the product into your inner eye corners.

For a Round or Square Face

Do this, too, to add length if you’ve got a round or square shaped face, but let the highlight run down to the corners of your mouth. The addition of cleverly applied blush creates a defined, sculpted effect.

Frown lines and nasolabial folds
Frown lines and nasolabial folds

Frown Lines and Nasolabial Folds

Unfortunately, most women only worsen the problem when they try to erase frown lines and nasolabial folds, but if you get it right, you'll instantly look at least ten years younger!

Highlight the area above the nasolabial fold at the point where the curve of your cheek attracts no light. Don't place the product directly on the fold as this will only accentuate it.

Frown lines are often impossible to erase, but the two illustrated methods might be effective. Experiment until you find what works best for you.


If your mouth is downturned, place a highlight at each corner for a lifting effect.

Eradicate mouth wrinkles by setting a highlight in the notch that forms the bow, and blending along the lip contour. This also prevents lipstick from 'bleeding' into lines.

Corrective highlights around the mouth.
Corrective highlights around the mouth.

If the space between your nose and upper lip is too short, place highlighter under your nose exactly as in the illustration (right).

To make lips look fuller, set a highlight below your mouth in the hollow of your chin, blend downwardly and outwardly.

Highlights for Definition

Because concealer is matte, it’s great for adding decorative but natural-looking highlights. Try the following:

  • In the arch of your brow.
  • At the center of your upper eyelids. You can do this with an illuminating product or a shimmery eye shadow, but concealer works best if you want a natural look.
  • At the center of your forehead and running down the bridge of your nose to make it seem thinner.
  • On your collar bones to make you seem leaner.
  • On the curve of your breasts to make them seem fuller.

Photo Credits

Title images by Nissor found on ( CC0 Public Domain [modified]

Sketches by Jayne Lancer

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Comments 2 comments

Akoria Ofega profile image

Akoria Ofega 15 months ago from Nigeria

This is amazing and interesting Jayne. I have learnt a thing or two from this article. It is really inspiring to find out that one concealer can be used for so many purposes. Thank you very much.

Jayne Lancer profile image

Jayne Lancer 15 months ago from West London, UK Author

Thank you, Akoria!

Yes, it really is a cosmetic no woman should be without.

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    Jayne Lancer247 Followers
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    A beauty consultant by profession, Jayne has been advising on correct skin and hair care, makeup and other cosmetics for almost 20 years.

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