Is your skin luminous and even-toned, clarified by monthly facials and a multipart skincare regimen? Do you head to the salon every six weeks to cover your gray with the perfect honey highlights? Yes? That's great, really great. You can move on; we'll see you later. This story is for those who don't always have the time or the money to keep up a maintenance program; who are looking for quick fixes to camouflage problems (from breakouts to spider veins); who know that there's probably a laser or acid or suction machine out there that offers a solution but aren't ready or willing (or flush) enough to try it. For you, we canvassed beauty experts to come up with the best advice for concealing imperfections (or, as we prefer to think of them, annoyances. Because, really, you're fine as you are; this is just a little surface polishing). Print out these pages and save them for the day or evening you find yourself facing a spot you'd rather not.
The Tool Kit: Pencil (one shade lighter than your brows); powder (that matches your brows); small angled brush.
The Technique: Overzealous plucking (or age) can leave brows patchy. Even after you've put away your tweezers, it can take anywhere from three months to a couple of years for brows to grow back, says brow expert Sania Vucetaj. In the meantime, fill in only bare spots ("never, ever, ever the whole brow") with a pencil. If the pencil is too waxy, it will leave a heavy line, so look for one with a drier texture (like Paul & Joe Eyebrow Pencil) and always use short, feathery strokes. Once the holes are filled, take a brow powder (like Becca Brow Powder) to fill in the length of the arch (again, with short strokes). The powder will adhere more to the penciled-in areas and help bulk them up a bit, while blending in with the rest of the brow.
Dark Undereye Circles
The Tool Kit: Eye cream; creamy concealer (one shade lighter than your skin tone) with a slight golden (or, for darker skin, apricot) cast; translucent loose powder; small, slightly tapered brush with synthetic bristles (animal hair absorbs too much moisture, drying out concealer).
The Technique: When you lighten dark circles, suddenly every crease under your eyes is brought into high definition. So use a very creamy concealer, says makeup artist Susan Giordano. Always start with an eye moisturizer (Vital Radiance HydraSmooth Under Eye Concealer includes one in half of its dual-ended wand). Let it absorb for five minutes, then begin applying the concealer with a brush at the inner corner of the eye. Work your way out, but "use it only on dark areas," says makeup artist Laura Mercier. Gently pat in the concealer (use your ring finger so you don't tug at the delicate skin), then dab on the slightest hint of translucent powder with a tiny velvet puff or eyeshadow brush. (We like Clinique CX Soothing Concealer Duo SPF 15 and Mally Beauty Cancellation Concealer System, which both include creamy concealer, sheer powder, and a dual-ended brush.)
The Tool Kit: Eye gel; highlighting pen.
The Technique: When it comes to concealing, makeup artists preach moderation—especially with puffiness. Concealer accentuates bags, so use it only on the inner corners of the eyes. Minimize swelling with a firming eye gel (like Christine Chin Hydra-Lift Eye Gel; store it in the fridge for a little extra tightening power, the beauty equivalent of icing a sprain), and then run a highlighting pen (it delivers a sheer, slightly shimmery cream through a firm brush; we like Elizabeth Arden Sheer Lights) along the indentation below the puffiness. The light reflectors will make that area appear less depressed.
The Tool Kit: Creamy, full-coverage foundation; tinted redness neutralizers.
The Technique: To downplay overly rosy cheeks, often a result of broken capillaries or rosacea, use a foundation with gold or yellow undertones, which help counteract the pink. Blush-prone skin tends to be dry, so look for a very emollient formula (ignore anything labeled matte, says Nars senior makeup stylist James Boehmer) and moisturize before smoothing it on with a sponge. The sun aggravates redness, especially if it's caused by rosacea, so always wear sunscreen (or choose a foundation that includes it). "Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the least irritating UV blockers, and when they're finely ground in a sunscreen or foundation, they can help camouflage redness as well," says Mary Lupo, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. Products with green tints (like Murad Correcting Moisturizer SPF 15 or Avar Green, which is prescription only) help hide more serious redness (while also soothing irritation), but always apply a foundation on top to ensure a natural finish. Choose warm lipcolors; anything bright or blue-based will bring out pink tones in the skin.