Concealer can be a girl’s best friend, especially after a night out sipping salt-rimmed margaritas. But even teetotalers can wake up with under-eye bags or dark circles – resulting from lack of sleep, fluid retention, hay fever or just the deep-set eyes you inherited from Mom and Dad.
Dermatologists say the thin tissue around the eye is subjected to more stress than are other areas of the skin, making it one of the earliest problem areas for women.
A good concealer can hide the problem, but there’s an art to finding the right shade and formula. For that, we asked Eugenia Weston, an Emmy-nominated celebrity makeup artist. She says there’s a reason most concealers are either peach (orange-based) or yellow: Each color does something different, which is why they’re often packaged side by side in a single compact.
The trick isn’t deciding between peach and yellow (most of us need both), but choosing the depth of tone they’re available in – light, medium or dark – to match the pigment in your complexion.
Choosing the Right Color Concealer
If you have bluish or dark circles, a peach concealer will help cancel them out. But if your under-eye area and eyelids are pink-tinged, a common condition among the fair-skinned or allergy prone, a yellow concealer will counter the redness. The formula – cream or liquid – is a matter of personal preference. Cream concealers offer more coverage but take a little more skill to apply; liquids are sheer and a better bet for minimal circles or younger skin.
How to Apply
Using your ring finger for a light touch, prep the under-eye skin with eye cream so that the concealer won’t drag on. If you woke up with puffy peepers, apply a tightening or firming eye gel instead. The coolness and lifting ingredients should help send those bags packing.
If you wear foundation, bring it up under the eyes. Using an oval-shaped 1/3-inch wide synthetic bristled concealer brush, apply three dots of concealer starting at the tear ducts and ending at the iris. Paint them down and outward to cover the entire area. Gently blend in the concealer with your ring finger, using a press-and-roll motion. If upper eyelids are pink, stroke on yellow concealer there as a neutralizing eye shadow base.
Use a Powder
Set your concealer with one of the new ultrafine mineral powders in a colorless, one-size-fits-all translucent shade. “Dip the corner of a triangular latex sponge into the setting powder – I use pressed rather than loose for neatness – and blot it right up against the lash line,” says Weston.
Powdering concealer is an often overlooked but essential step. “Otherwise, the mascara and eyeliner you’re about to apply will smudge as the day wears on, creating the very darkness you’re trying to eliminate.”
How Hair Can Help
It never hurts to think outside the box. If under-eye circles are chronic, a good hairstyle can deflect attention from them, says Tom Brophy of the Tom Brophy Salon. For instance, sideswept bangs cut from a side part will direct the beholder’s gaze away from the under-eye area, as will soft layers around the face. “What I would avoid,” says Brophy, “is a middle part or horizontal fringe, both of which would only frame the problem area.”
Also, consider that your natural hair color may be exaggerating those under-eye circles by casting a shadow on them. Colorist Michelle Vance at the Tom Brophy Salon has a solution: Lighten up. “Since dark shades and ashy tones can accentuate under-eye circles, think about taking your overall color one shade lighter. Or add a few blond highlights around the face to brighten things up,” she says.
Next thing you know, those sunglasses that were hiding your under-eye circles will have nothing to do but act as a headband up in your hair.
Laurie Drake is a former Vogue staffer who has written about beauty, health and fitness for Allure, Glamour, Self, Prevention, Town & Country and InStyle magazines. She has won three Gold Triangle Awards for print journalism from the American Academy of Dermatology.