10 Best

Water Based Concealers

of December 2023

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How to Choose a Water-Based Concealer--The Ultimate Guide

Yehudah Posnick

Applying makeup is a form of artwork in and of itself. When applied properly, makeup conceals blemishes while highlighting unique aspects of your complexion and bone structure. Both concealer and foundation are among a makeup artist’s tools, and they both have a similar purpose: to cover up imperfections in your skin, to achieve a flawless look. And water-based concealer is the most versatile. It’s ideal for all skin types–as long as you choose the right shade and the right formulation.

Just to clear things up: in the majority of cases, concealer is not an alternative to foundation. Foundation can be applied to your entire face, to achieve a uniform look. But concealer is meant to be applied to specific parts of your face that have a slightly different skin tone that foundation won’t be able to rectify. For example, you may need to apply concealer to cover up bluish rings under your eyes from lack of sleep, reddish spots around your nose due to sun exposure, or changes in your complexion due to aging. Generally, concealer is thicker than foundation. In some instances, you only apply a few dots of concealer, and then smooth it in with your fingers or a brush.

We’ll go through the different types of concealer, to help you make the best choice for your skin type. Water-based concealer is best for dry skin since it helps moisturize and hydrate. But it can also be good for people with oily skin because it’s light and won’t clog pores. And even among water-based concealers, there are different ways in which they can be applied. And each product comes in a range of skin tones. When you choose a particular product, you want to get exactly the right shade to correct for any imperfections, so that your skin looks flawless!


  • How can I know if a concealer is water-based?

A concealer can be water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based. Almost all skin care products will have some water in them. But, if water is the main ingredient, and there aren’t any oils or silicone-based ingredients among the top five components, you can conclude that the concealer is indeed water-based.

A test to see if a concealer is water-based is to put a small amount of the product in a glass of water. If it dissolves, you can assume that it’s water-based.

  • Can water-based concealers help manage breakouts and acne?

If you have oily skin, some suggest that it’s better to use an oil-based concealer, since the oils in your skin won’t mix well with the water in the concealer. But, if you have dry skin, a water-based concealer will hydrate and moisturize your skin.

On the other hand, a water-based concealer will not clog your pores as much as a silicone- or oil-based product. If you suffer from acne, using a water-based concealer will avoid causing your skin to break out.

  • How can I prevent my water-based concealer from oxidizing throughout the day?

Some concealers and foundations may discolor over the course of the day. By reacting with oxygen in the air or with the oils in your skin, these makeup products can start to go from skin tone color to orange! Therefore, experts recommend “sandwiching” concealer to protect it:

  1. First, apply a primer. Use a mattifying primer if you have oily skin, to get rid of excess oil. For dry skin, you can find hydrating primers.

  2. Then apply foundation on top of the primer.

  3. Now apply the concealer in the spots that you need it.

  4. Finally, to protect the concealer, apply a translucent finishing powder on top.

Important Features

A. Definition and functions of water-based concealers

Liquid concealers will usually have water as one of their main ingredients. But, to be a water-based concealer, it will have water as the main ingredient, and won’t have any oil or silicone-based compounds among the top five ingredients.

Concealers in general are used:

  1. To make fine lines (such as “crow’s feet”, that develop around the outer corner of your eyes) not so noticeable

  2. To add contours to your face, by applying concealer relatively darker or lighter than your natural skin color

  3. To cover dark circles that develop under your eyes, due to lack of sleep

  4. To hide blemishes due to acne, or uneven skin tone due to sun exposure (you’ll see concealers that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or hyaluronic acid in concealers, which whiten the skin)

Why would you use a water-based concealer?

You’ll apply water-based concealer to hydrate your skin while hiding any dark circles and imperfections. You’ll probably need a few shades of concealers since the concealer should be the color complement of the hue that you’re trying to hide. For example, you would use a concealer that is 1-2 shades deeper than your natural skin color if you want to add contours to your face. If you want to highlight or brighten your complexion, you’d select a tone that is 1-2 shades brighter than your natural skin tone.

B. Differences between water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based concealers

Concealers will differ in their method of application, depending on whether they’re water-based, oil-based, or silicone-based.

  • Oil-based/wax-based concealers: These will usually include plant-based oil in the main ingredients. This type of concealer has to be warmed before applying it, to ensure a smooth application. But, it’s enough just to warm the concealer on the skin of your hand. These concealers tend to contain a lot of pigment, in fact, twice as much as the amount of pigment in a silicone or water-based product.

  • Water-based: This is best to apply to dry patches of skin, to replenish your skin’s hydration. Your skin will absorb the water in the concealer, and a foundation will keep the moisture in.

  • Silicone-based: These will typically have an ingredient near the top of the list ending in the suffix “-cone”, such as “dimethicone”. These concealers will feel smooth and silky and will tend not to get absorbed into your skin as would a water-based product. Silicone-based concealers are recommended for people with oily skin, or with “combination” skin, where some patches are dry, while others are oily. One advantage of a silicone-based primer is that it will be waterproof, such as the Catrice True Skin High Cover Concealer.

Catrice True Skin High Cover Concealer

One rule of thumb is that your foundation, concealer, and primer must all be of the same type. That is, if you purchase a water-based concealer, you’ll need a water-based primer and foundation as well. This will ensure that the different applications won’t separate so that they’ll achieve a uniform look.

C. Benefits of using water-based concealers

It’s recommended to at least try a water-based concealer at first, regardless of your skin type:

  • For oily skin: Some skin care experts say that applying a water-based concealer on oily skin won’t adhere well, since oil and water don’t mix. But, on the other hand, putting an oil-based concealer on oily skin may end up worsening the situation. It may clog your pores and result in a breakout of acne. So, a water-based concealer might be worth a try at first. If you’re not pleased with the results, you can try a silicone-based or oil-based product.

  • For dry skin: Dry skin needs to be hydrated, by applying water to it, as well as moisturized, by applying a cream that keeps the skin’s moisture from evaporating. Water-based concealer on dry skin can help achieve both. Your skin will absorb the water in the concealer, and the foundation will ensure that the moisture remains inside.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying Water-based Concealers

A. Skin type and specific requirements

If you’re in your 20s, you generally don’t need a concealer. But, as you get older, you may start to experience discoloration due to sun exposure, aging, and not getting enough sleep. That’s when concealer can help improve your complexion.

Besides the benefits of water-based concealer for people with dry, oily, or combination skin types that we mentioned above, you’ll also see different types of finishes to concealers:

  • Matte finish: Concealers with a matte finish (i.e., with no gloss, so that your skin will not reflect light) are recommended for people with oily skin. They’re not recommended for people with dry skin, since it makes the dryness more noticeable.

  • Natural finish: You’d use a concealer with a natural finish if your skin is neither excessively oily nor dry. It’ll help you achieve a uniform skin tone, without anyone noticing that you’ve applied makeup.

  • Satin shimmer finish: People with dry skin should prefer concealer with a satin finish. This will make dry skin appear more moisturized, as well as more natural.


B. Shade matching

You’ll notice that concealer will come in a complete palette of shades. For example, the Nyx Professional Makeup Bare With Me Concealer Serum comes in 12 different shades, ranging from fair and light, down to mocha, rich, and deep. Other products, such as L’Oreal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer, have 24 shades!