These purse-friendly picks make light work of concealing everything from dark circles to blemishes…

Concealer is the unsung hero of our make-up bag. Use it correctly and it can help perfect your complexion, counteracting dark circles, disguising blemishes and reducing redness, without the need for a heavy layer of foundation. And by investing in a couple of shades, it can be used to highlight and contour, too.

If we had to choose between concealer and foundation, concealer would win hands down. A handbag essential, this multitasking wonder can be used on the go to touch-up your make-up as and when needed. Even better, you don’t have to break the bank when buying a new concealer. Many of the top-rated formulas that are loved by beauty editors and make-up artists alike cost less than £10. All you need is strategic placement and expert blending to help perfect and brighten skin. 

How to find your concealer shade

"It’s important to choose the correct shade based on your concealing needs," says Aimee Connolly, make-up artist and founder of Sculpted by Aimee. "For example, if you’re looking to conceal blemishes or pigmentation, then I would suggest keeping your concealer shade as close to your foundation shade as possible – this will help disguise the area and it should blend right in.

"However, for the under-eye area, I’d suggest a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation shade as this will work to conceal the area, but will be more effective at highlighting and brightening."

How to avoid common concealer mistakes

According to Aimee, the two most common mistakes are choosing the wrong shade or applying more product than needed. "If you’re concealing under your eyes, you don’t need to apply foundation to that area as well," says Aimee, "the two need to blend together, but they don’t need to be layered on top of each other." Layering can lead to a cakey finish and no one wants that.

Too much product can also cause creasing (whereby the concealer settles into fine lines). "To prevent this, make sure your skin is prepped with the right skincare or primer," says Aimee. "I’d also suggest setting the concealer in place with a lightweight, invisible powder." Try Sculpted by Aimee Velvet Veil Mini for a smooth, seamless finish and a compact that’s small enough to fit into any bag.

If you’re covering a blemish, remember that less is always more. "Be strategic and target your concealer directly over the blemish to pinpoint that area and avoid build-up," adds Aimee.

Discover more tips and tricks for applying your concealer like a pro in our tutorial.

How to find the right concealer formula for you

This all comes down to your specific concealer needs. Looking to cover up blemishes? "Go for something with a thicker texture, such as a cream or stick, as these formulas usually have higher coverage and are designed for camouflaging," recommends Aimee. For hyperpigmentation or redness, apply light layers to avoid it looking cakey. Aimee suggests also applying a colour corrector like her Brighten Up Colour Corrector before concealer to help counteract any uneven tones.

And for highlighting the face or brightening under the eyes, "look for a slightly thinner, hydrating and light-reflecting formula that’s less likely to sink into fine lines or crease throughout the day".

How to brighten dark circles with concealer

"For underneath your eyes, go one shade lighter than your natural skin tone to help brighten the area," suggests Val Garland, L’Oréal Paris global make-up director. "And if you want to colour correct, opt for a peach undertone as this will help counteract any discoloration."

Val’s favourite? L’Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer. "I am obsessed with this concealer – it’s enriched with hyaluronic acid to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and blends in seamlessly."

9 of the best budget concealers at Boots

Whether you’re looking to help conceal dark circles or target uneven skin tone, we’ve got all bases covered. Here are nine of our favourite budget-friendly concealers to meet any coverage need.

Shop more top concealers in our full range.

Best for medium coverage

Try: 17. Second Skin Enhancing Concealer, £2

• 10 shades

• Vegan-friendly

• Medium, buildable coverage

This heavy-duty concealer is a total steal at just £2. Loaded with pigment, the creamy formula helps conceal blemishes and dark spots in seconds. To apply, we recommend spot concealing, which is where you dot the product onto any problem areas before patting it in with your fingertips.

Best for covering dark circles

Try: NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer Wand, £6

• 23 shades

• Vegan-friendly

• Natural-looking coverage

Keen to hide dark circles? Give this pick a whirl. The creamy liquid blends in effortlessly, counteracting dark under-eyes without creasing or cracking, thanks to nourishing coconut oil and glycerin. Swipe on before buffing it in with a small fluffy brush. It also has a great shade range.

Best for staying power

Try: Rimmel London Multi-Tasker Concealer, £8.49

• 9 shades

• Waterproof

• Large applicator

• Full coverage

After the heavy-duty stuff? Turn your attention to this full coverage, yet lightweight, concealer that helps erase all signs of a tough week. The highly pigmented formula evens skin tone and brightens the under-eye area, without looking “caked on”. Just swipe on and blend in with a sponge or brush for long-lasting coverage.

Best for brightening under-eyes

Try: Revolution Eye Bright Concealer, £8

• 8 shades

• Vegan-friendly

• Sponge applicator

• Easy to build

There’s so much to love about this concealer. First, it instantly camouflages dark circles with its silky texture that’s easy to blend and build. Next, it’s formulated with skin-brightening ingredients to help revitalise the under-eye area. And finally, it comes with a nifty sponge applicator that makes applying it a total breeze.

Best for on the go

Try: e.l.f. Flawless Brightening Concealer, £5

• 16 shades

• Buildable, lightweight formula

• Brush applicator

• Sheer coverage

With a featherweight formula and a click-and-brush-on applicator, this pen is ideal for on-the-go touch-ups. Simply shake up the pen and click until you see the formula appear on the brush, before swiping it on and blending it in with fingertips. Expect sheer coverage and a natural-looking finish. 

Best for dry skin

Try: Rimmel London Kind & Free Hydrating Concealer, £7.99

• 6 shades

• Vegan-friendly

• Light-to-medium coverage

Dry skin? Then consider this hydrating pick from Rimmel. Combining skincare ingredients vitamin E and aloe vera with light-to-medium coverage, this complexion perfector adds luminosity to skin without settling into fine lines or clinging to dry patches. Tick, tick, tick!

Best for covering blemishes

Try: Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, £5.99

• 10 shades

• Oil-free

• Non-comedogenic

• Medium coverage

Fans of Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, listen up. This formula from Maybelline boasts a similar creamy texture that melts effortlessly into skin – but with a smaller price tag. Seriously good, we were impressed with how well this concealer camouflages dark spots. Those with oily skin may get on particularly well with its oil-free formula.

Best for fine lines

Try: L’Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer, £9.99

• 8 shades

• SPF20

• Brush applicator

• Sheer coverage

This double-duty concealer combines the skincare benefits of an eye cream with the coverage of a concealer to help brighten under-eyes. L’Oréal’s Val says ‘it gives instant dark circle correction and nourishes the eye area at the same time’ – which is thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Best for full coverage

Try: Sleek MakeUP Lifeproof Concealer, £6.99

• 12 shades

• Good staying power

• Full coverage

This full-coverage formula expertly conceals blemishes, dark spots and pigmentation. For best results, use Aimee’s pinpoint technique (where you apply the concealer directly over the blemish) to target problem areas, before buffing around the area to blend it in with the rest of your make-up. Note that the formula dries quickly, so it pays to blend fast. Once set, this concealer will stay put!

Discover more top picks in our full range of concealers.

All prices correct at date of publication.