Centuries ago, only one wee little cosmetic cover-up roamed the verdant glens and vales of this fresh land. Named Spirits of Saturn, it intoxicated 16th century court lady and hand maiden alike with its magical ability to snare fine, greenback-strapped male specimens into the wearer’s clutches.
Of course, the long-term enamoring effects of the skin whitener—vide Elizabeth I for the oh-so-posh suffocated mime look—were never studied because the users kept kicking the bucket (perhaps it was the lead and mercury content?).
Ah, how simple life was back then. Whether you wanted to look Volturi-chic for your traveling morality play troupe meeting or becomingly chalky for a light supper with the Duke of York, Spirits of Saturn always fit the bill.
With only one option for both foundation and concealer, beautifying was predictable and never confusing, if slightly fatal.
Today, though, we're like the pimp of a perpetual concealer harem, tasting and sampling a large pond of different candidates on a regular basis to find The One—or at least the one for right now—that’ll rescue our tired eyes without looking too cakey, too off-color, or too Dolly Parton.
You see, there is ample cause for such fickleness.
No matter how perfect the concealer, after a few hours it starts settling into fine lines and making a total mess of the canvas you spent so much time painting.
And it doesn’t help that almost every concealer out there boasts the “best coverage” or the “longest wear." As wearers of maquillage, we know no concealer really does either of those things long term.
Until you find The One (if he—I mean, it—even exists), continue reading to unearth the concealer ingredients and application tips that will change your eyes forever.
Consider this your meerkat ring-disguising bag-o-tricks, sans the mercury poisoning.
Prep With An Eye Cream First
Eye creams are like the foundation of a skyscraper—if you skimp on building materials and make the base unstable, the entire building will tumble down, no matter how strong the rest of it is.
In the beauty world, these powerful weapons not only perform massive amounts of R&R on your peepers, but also act as the primer to your eye primer, shadow, and concealer.
The How-to: Prep the skin by applying a dollop of eye cream with SPF, since sun exposure increases melanin levels, making circles darker.
Tap it into the skin with your ring finger gently.
Ensuring your skin is moisturized allows concealer to go on evenly, preventing it from slipping into fine lines and caking.
Just make sure you don’t use an overly thick cream (like a night cream), which leaves a film under your eyes that causes concealer to slide off.
Note: Not all eye creams are created equal. To address dark circle concerns, use ones with light-reflecting pigments like mica and skin-lightening nutrients like vitamin C and K.
Try: Clinique Advanced Stop Signs Eye SPF 15 ($33.50, Clinique.com).
How to Pick A Concealer
Concealers are the illuminati of your makeup arsenal, bestowing you with an airbrushed complexion bathed in light.
You know how you pick out shadow colors based on your eye color (at least I hope you do)? Use the same approach with concealers. For maximum coverage, choose a shade that’s the opposite color of your circles on the color wheel.
Girls with purple circles: Yellow is purple’s opposite on the color wheel, so a yellow concealer is your best bet. Yellow is the go-to color for brightening and concealing, and works well on all skin tones.
Bonus: If you have eczema or rosacea, yellow also reduces redness.
Try: Benefit Boi-ing in 02 Medium ($18, Sephora).
Girls with blue-black circles: Like a master magician, peach concealer makes blue-black raccoon rings vanish into thin air; now you see them, now you don’t!
Unlike yellow, though, peach doesn’t brighten the eye area.
Try: Sephora Collection Concealer Palette ($20, Sephora).
Girls with brown circles: Look for blue-based concealers. It may seem odd to slather what looks like the blood of smurfs on your face, but the color disappears quickly and neutralizes circles.
Try: Jane Iredale Corrective Colors ($21, dermstore.com).
General Tips: Your concealer should be a shade or two lighter than your foundation. As you get older, your orbital area hollows out, so lighter colors bring your sunken eyes forward, creating the illusion of volume (which, in turn, makes you look youthful).
Contouring concealers—like Benefit Boi-ing mentioned above—use skin-plumping ingredients like silicone that sit on the skin’s surface to counteract wrinkles, loss of volume, and blue baggage all at once.
Also, a dependable concealer must be creamy but dry enough to stick to skin, with enough light refractors to blind a stratosphere-hugging X-1 pilot.
For a concealer that hides flaws while highlighting, try LORAC Double Feature in DF 0.5 ($24, Sephora). With ingredients like pearl powder and mica that scatter the light that hits your skin, the product softens light and distracts from dark circles.
Apply It Like A Pro
Botox and $270 caviar facials aside, applying concealer correctly can instantly take years off your face. And what woman doesn’t want to look like a younger, handsomer version of herself?
The How-to: Stipple the concealer onto the darkest portions of your circles, usually the inner corners and around the orbital bone. Let the concealer sit for a few minutes—your body heat will melt it a little, making it more blendable.
Then blend away, tapping the product in with your ring finger or a small concealer brush.
Cement your hard work with a loose dusting of silicia-infused translucent powder, which zaps shine and prevents concealer from slipping into fine lines. Even though sparkly powders look lustrous and pretty, try to avoid them because sparkles settle into creases and amplify zombie eyes.
To further open your gazers, brush a shimmery white highlighter on the inner corners of your eyes and brow bone.
Finish with the smile test: Smile at yourself in the mirror, and if you notice any concealer caking under your eyes, take it off by pressing a tissue over the spot.
Note: Don't substitute foundation for concealer unless you’re in a dire circumstance.
Foundations are lighter in formulation than concealers so they easily dry out the delicate skin under the eyes, aggrivating ridges and crevasses.
When all else fails, distract. Apply a warm pink cream blush on the apples of your cheeks and a peppy magenta lipstick on your lips. The lively colors pull the eyes down to the rest of your face and take the focus off the eyes.
To find out to how to make circles go POOF! into thin air, scroll down below for Tiffany D.’s tutorial on concealing dark circles on all skin tones.
For How to get rid of under-eye circles, part 1: Natural remedies & creams, click here.