For years I never really understood the deal with under-eye concealers. I didn't suffer from dark circles myself and didn't particularly notice them on others either. To tell the truth, I sort of thought people were making a fuss about nothing. That is, until I was struck down with several bouts of dermatitis around my eyes (no doubt as punishment for my arrogance). Even after I finally got rid of the sore, red and flaky patches I was left with discoloured skin which just won't go away. Also, I got older. I don't think that helped. Of course, now I'm obsessed with my eye bags and they glare menacingly at me from any reflective surface/photograph, dragging my whole face down with them. I appreciate that this is a very first world problem but it's my blog and I'll, er, complain if I want to ;).
Anyway, all this is merely the preamble to explain that I've recently been on the hunt for an effective armoury with which to wage war against my dark circles.
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in Nude used on the rest of my face, plus Secret Camouflage SC-3 and MAC Select Moisturecover NC20 to conceal areas of redness and blemishes. No products yet on the under-eye area.
To draw the battle lines, this is the current state of my unconcealed skin (please excuse the wet hair, I still haven't got a hairdryer that's compatible with Japanese voltage). I've included the uncropped picture (even though I look like I'm posing for a criminal mugshot) because I think dark circles are most obvious in the context of the whole face -- it's not always that easy to see them when you just zoom in on an eye. See also this post for further examples of the discolouration. Whilst the worst of it is concentrated in the inner corner, I'm actually most bothered by the darkness which extends almost in a line down towards my cheeks. It's also this that's hardest to conceal.
The skin under my eyes is thin, dehydrated and extremely sensitive which makes finding suitable products tricky. Ideally I would like an eye cream which actively ameliorates discolouration, but I'm still too scared to try anything other than my current very bland hydrating formula. My search for very gentle products which lighten under-eye circles is ongoing (pie in the sky, much?).
My under-eye skin issues also mean that I need forgiving concealer formulas -- too many products just cake and turn patchy, which only draws attention to the area. I initially dipped my toe in the concealer water with light-reflecting pens. In particular, I've worked my way through a few tubes of By Terry Touch Expert Advanced Concealer in No.4 Cream Beige. Whilst I like the formula of this and find it a good colour match, it just doesn't offer enough in the way of coverage. It excels at producing a genuinely 'radiant' light-reflecting (but not panda-eyes) finish, but I have increasingly realised that I need to be using a something sturdier underneath this to get decent results.
I had been put off thick creamy concealers and correctors since first trying the Bobbi Brown Corrector, which is far too emollient for me and just insta-creases. However, I decided to try again with a heavier-duty product and picked up the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer #2 and Secret Brightening Powder #1.
My current concealing routine now involves the following:
- Apply Secret Concealer, focusing on inner corner and bringing down towards extended area of discolouration. I usually use the Bobbi Brown Concealer Blending Brush, a synthetic brush which serves me well for the basic purpose of laying down product.
- Blend this into inner corner and down over the larger discoloured area. My absolute favourite concealer blending brush is the Laura Mercier Finishing Eye Brush. This natural/synthetic mix brush works beautifully to buff out and blend concealers. I really need to buy a back-up because I also love it for this job on my face.
- Add the By Terry concealer on top of this and dabbing a bit across the whole under-eye area to lift and brighten.
- Final blend and finish with a dusting of Secret Brightening Powder.
Perhaps I'm being finicky, but I really don't see much difference for all the applying and blending. I am impressed with the formula of the LM Secret Concealer which is just the right side of creamy so it applies and blends well but isn't too prone to creasing. It also has a decent peachy-tone to counteract darkness. However, although it goes some way to cover the darkness at the inner corner, it doesn't address the discolouration which extends down towards my cheeks. As it's this that I feel pulls my face down, failure to conceal the area properly is a deal breaker. I'm not looking for a Kardashian-esque effect and I appreciate that the eye area naturally has a shadow -- I just want rid of the marks on my face!
Whilst I have reservations about the concealer, I adore the Secret Brightening Powder. As you can see in the pics above, I have fairly prominent creases under my eyes into which product tends to settle. This extremely lightweight powder seems to magically blur the area, simultaneously brightening and smoothing. Crucially, it actually works at its job of preventing creasing.
I am such a newbie at this particular game that my difficulties with the concealer are probably largely down to my own incompetence. I wonder if I'm over-blending, or even not applying enough product in the first place (I am so fearful of a cakey effect that this is quite likely). Any tips (and product recommendations) for this under-eye-concealing beginner would be much appreciated!
I'll be seriously impressed if anyone gets to the end of this bore-fest but, as a final note, I recently had a make-up consultation where I was advised to try cloudy, rounded eyeshadow shapes rather than shading at the outer corner where my lids are heaviest so I'm on the lookout for eye make-up inspiration pics to add to my Pinterest. Link me up if you have any good ones :)!