By Brennan Kilbane.
Ask any person over the age of 18 if lying is OK, and the answer will almost always be yes. (Ask any child and the answer should be no, unless you’re speaking to a toddling sociopath. In which case, get out of that house immediately.) Lightweight deceit is just a way to play this crazy game called life, and the officially unofficial position of GQ is that moderate levels of lying are totally fine. Especially when you’re lying to yourself and others about why your skin looks good.
Your secret is concealer. Concealer is a coverage product designed to—what’s a synonym for conceal?—hide your facial imperfections from the eyes of your friends, family, and sworn enemies. In other words, it’s makeup. But unlike other methods of coverage, concealer is applied only where you need it, masking blemishes with a thin wash of color like they weren’t even there in the first place. And because of technological advancements, they are totally invisible. A good concealer is a product that conceals so well, it looks like nothing at all.
And yes, you need it, although you might not know it yet. Even the most skincare-militant guys among us are prone to the occasional inexplicable breakout—and in the event you don’t have 5-7 days to clear it up the old fashioned way, concealer comes in clutch. They’ve been around for ages, but have been specifically marketed to women who are historically more cosmetic-savvy. They use it for acne, dark undereye circles, redness or other inconsistencies in skin texture…which are all things men suffer from, too. In fact, they almost work better for men, who are more prone to breakouts (because of oily skin) and dark undereye circles (because of genetics). In the past, getting guys to wear makeup has been a hard sell. But the stigma is dissolving in the face of overwhelming logic.
The specific use-cases run the gamut. What do you do when you notice a small cluster of zits just east of your lower lip, and you’re pressed for time before a first date with the woman who probably won't but could be the love of your life? Slap on a dab of concealer, and you’re good to go. What happens when you wake up after a full night’s worth of tequila shots, and the bags under your eyes are bulbous and purple, like grapes, and it’s your Wedding Day, meaning lots of photos will be taken of you? Reach for your best man—a small jar of concealer—and go get hitched.
It's a quick fix, but an effective one, and the perfect complement to whatever grooming routine you’ve got going on now. So find one that suits your situation. Here are the best options:
For dark undereyes: Bobbi Brown Serum Corrector
Bobbi Brown’s Serum Concealer comes with a wand applicator—because magic, yes, but also the ideal distribution technique for getting that product under your eyes. After eye cream, just slide on some serum, gently pat it down, and you’re good to go. The genius here is in the (extensive) shade range, which is not only formulated to match skin tone, but is also formulated to counteract the darkness or sallowness that most guys suffer from. Choose wisely, and always ask for help. (If Sephora freaks you out, don’t sweat: Bobbi’s site offers a chat function that’s perfect for clandestine shade matching.)
For acne, redness, and dark spots: Nars Creamy Matte Concealer
So easy, it barely necessitates a description: Take the silver-dollar sized pot of Nars’ matte concealer, scoop a tiiiiny bit of product out with your finger, and press it into whatever pimple is dominating your face. The finish is so close to skin, you will actually forget you’re wearing it.
For your bathroom, gym bag, safety deposit box, everywhere, all the time: Tom Ford For Men Concealer
This product is not for the uninitiated, and should only be wielded if you’ve mastered the previous three. If not, please go back and train. When you’re done, you’re rewarded with the sleek, chic Tom Ford Very Masculine Concealer for Dudes. The pen pack dispenses a little wash of perfecting color to anybody who knows exactly where to apply it, which is, in no particular order: top of cheekbones, underneath and in the inner corners of eyes, down the bridge of nose, and atop any and all emerging zits. The end result is Bizarro you—the same, but slightly better-looking. That’s the truth.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
More from GQ: