We’ve recently tested a popular economic rule that states that what one saves by buying drugstore mascara, one must then spend $70 on concealer. Anyone who’s tried it, gets it: one use of the creamy, blendy, buildable Clé de Peau Concealer and you’ll probably never consider anything else. But with beauty technology democratizing, is the try-before-you-buy experience your only real sacrifice when you step away from the department store counter? In short, yes. Natural, creamy, blendable, buildable goodness does exist on the shelves of your local CVS, and the best options are under $12:
Best For Large Areas: Maybelline Master Conceal by Face Studio
This is a medium-coverage concealer that’s crazy blendable and lightweight. The consistency is creamy and it leaves a healthy, glowy look to skin rather than setting matte—the finish is so nice and it wears very well, so we don’t recommend using a setting powder. Consider this if you have larger areas of discoloration or scarring to cover.
Best Under-Eye Concealer: Almay Wake Up Under Eye Concealer
The soft-pen packaging will give you mixed feelings as it requires no twisting or clicking 1,200 times to dispense product (probably way too much) from the shaft, but the squeeze-dispense design sometimes makes things just as unpredictable and messy. But! If you’re careful about not smushing it at the bottom of your handbag, it does great things to help your under-eyes. It’s not full-coverage, so it won’t completely cloak your skin, but it will brighten under-eye darkness significantly. No settling to report, either.
Best Spot Concealer(s): Revlon ColorStay & Maybelline Fit Me
These are both wand-applicator liquid concealers on the higher side of medium when it comes to coverage. They blend well (an excellent color match is key—yellow-toned skin should go with Colorstay, pinker shades will be better off with Fit Me), but their setting power is what makes them great for dabbing onto blemishes. Bonus points go to Colorstay for containing salicylic acid. More bonus points to Fit Me for its numerous mentions as an ITG-reader favorite.
Best All-Purpose Stick: NYX Cosmetics Incredible Waterproof Concealer
If Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick and the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer mated, the result would be something along the lines of NYX’s $5 concealer. It glides onto skin with ease and melts in as you blend, allowing buildable coverage with a natural, glowy finish. Good for spots, discoloration, and under eyes, and comes in 11 shades—including a corrective green, yellow, and lavender. $5, people. Incredible for sure.
Photographed by Tom Newton.