ART CLASS

I Tried the Abstract Concealer Hack That's All Over TikTok

It's like arts and crafts time, but for your face. 
Two images of women wearing concealer on face on peachcolored background
Channing Smith / Allure

Like many twenty-somethings who live in major cities and have green hair, I am a sucker for an abstract print. My living room is decorated with four (4) geometric paintings. The coffee mug I'm sipping from as I write this is adorned with minimalist drawings of boobs. I have an abstract portrait of my favorite film shot tattooed on my forearm.

So as I scrolled through TikTok one bleary-eyed morning, it makes sense that my thumb would immediately stop over a clip of 22-year-old Nashville makeup artist Sarah Wolak (@sarah_wolak) applying contour to her face in a way that made her look like she was straight out of an abstract expressionist masterpiece.

In the video, Wolak can be seen swiping the Maybelline New York Age Rewind Concealer first under her eyes. In one fell swoop, she slides the stick down around her nose, traces the outline of her lips, glides up to her cheekbone, and then back down to her chin. She repeats the process on the other side of her face. It's that type of oddly-satisfying movement that makes clips like this go viral. It doesn't hurt that after some blending, Wolak reveals a damn near-perfect contour.

TikTok content

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Wolak tells Allure that she started practicing this hack after watching "countless YouTube videos" on how to contour and highlight.

"I could never quite put my finger on it, but something always looked a bit off on me," she says. "I had higher cheekbones, straighter brows, a squared-off forehead, and a sharper jawline. I realized I needed to come up with a technique myself, so I took the time to study my face and learn what truly looked best on me. Instead of unintentionally masking my natural bone structure, I learned to enhance and embrace it."

While Wolak's TikTok doesn't show how she blends her contour — the clip just cuts from her painted face to her fully done-up look — she tells Allure that she uses a dense foundation brush to do the job. "That creates the sharp, chiseled appearance you see in my video," she adds. "From there, I take a sponge to blend the edges and soak up any excess product. This leaves you with a defined and airbrushed face."

Makeup artist JoAnn Solomon, who has worked with clients like Alicia Keys and Hailee Steinfeld, tells Allure that Wolak’s technique reimagines one taught by the legendary 1970s makeup artist Way Bandy. Back then, Bandy described the process of applying makeup as creating a "Personal Sculpture Portrait." The way Bandy placed concealer on faces is similar to Wolak’s hack, though he used both light and dark contouring products to sculpt the face.

"I think this hack works well because it’s a great step-by-step technique for non-artists to easily remember," Solomon says. "I think if you are going for a super made-up look, this is perfect. It is a lot of concealer [to use]."

Shaky hands — plus a complete lack of any scientific prowess — kept me from being a surgeon, but I was determined to not let it impact my ability to try this trend. I’m not a concealer person and usually just wear my naked face out and about, but I used Kosas Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer ($28) for the purposes of this exercise.

According to Wolak, both cream and stick concealers will do the trick, but she prefers using a stick. "I find that it allows for more crisp lines and an easier blend," she says.

When I tried using a creamy formula, the product slid all over my face. The lines were not as perfect as the ones you see in the video, and the concealer dragged right around my under eyes. The sight of myself looking an absolute mess—and not the hot kind — made me want to wipe the concealer off and attempt to forget that I ever tried to hack it. Instead, I took a photo of my face, and here it is now, to live on the internet forever.

Courtesy of editor

After that, I started blending with my makeup brush. With each tap, I saw the concealer start to fade into my face and the contours emerge. Quite suddenly, and against all odds, I look chiseled. I especially liked how the high points of my cheeks stood out. It was a cold day that left some cute red ruddiness on my face, and I think the concealer framed this natural blush perfectly.

Courtesy of editor

I could've theoretically gone outside in the light of the day and no one would have guessed I was wearing what felt like half a bottle of concealer on my face. But I certainly felt the heaviness of the product, and that wasn't exactly comfortable. I ended up washing off the look after about ten minutes. It just felt too stifling on my skin.

I would not recommend this hack for people who aren't normally fans of base, but I think it's a solid move for anyone who is comfortable with the fullest of full-coverages. In any case, it's a fun excuse to doodle on yourself and to create a little bit of wearable abstract art.


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