Dark circles — be they hereditary or caused by a lack of sleep — can take your look from flawless to fatigued, and cause you to be the subject of all those not-so-helpful remarks about the state of your slumber. That's why an undereye concealer is so important — it hides those purple half-moons to give you a bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed appearance.
Problem is, not every concealer can deliver on those miracle-coverage claims. So, we asked four brave R29ers to put their dark circles on display in order to test out some of the most promising undereye coverups and winnow out the best of the best. From those that brighten to those that hide everything, find out which ones performed the most convincing dark-circles disappearing act.
Photos: Courtesy of Bare Escentuals, Dermablend, It Cosmetics, L'Oréal
Who: Megan McIntyre, senior beauty editor
The Contender: Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Stroke Of Light Eye Brightener
"Dark circles have always been an issue for me, but with a wedding in the works, they seemed to go from manageable problem to full-scale beauty meltdown — I was starting to look just as exhausted and harried as I felt. I've been a loyal user of Benefit's Erase Paste for years because it literally hides everything, so I was hesitant to try something that was more about brightening than the covering of those telltale purple marks.
"Stroke of Light comes in four shades — since the focus is on brightening, it's not about matching a shade exactly to your complexion, but rather finding the one that will best complement it — and has a sheer finish and lightly creamy texture. While it's super-easy to blend, I'm used to something with a bit more tackiness, so I kept applying the satiny liquid under my eyes because I didn't think I was getting enough. Once I finished layering it on (using Taylor's helpful "press and roll" technique, obvi), it took a few minutes to dry and set, but that could have been a result of me putting on too much on the product."
The Result: "Brightener is a totally apt name for this product — once it set , my eyes looked like someone had professionally lit my face, eradicating those pesky shadows and making me look perky and, dare I say it, well-rested. I was worried that the viscosity of the concealer would cause it to move and settle into the fine lines under my eyes, but the color did not move all day, even when faced with NYC's unrelenting heat and humidity (if you've ever been in the subway in the middle of August, you know what I'm talking about). I really liked that it didn't look chalky, which some heavier concealers can be guilty of. The end result for me was a glowing, illuminated appearance that helped me hide all the sleepless nights and stress-filled days I had been facing."
Bare Escentuals BareMinerals Stroke Of Light Eye Brightener, $22, available at Bare Escentuals.
Photographed by Sara Haile, Courtesy of Bare Escentuals
Who: Christina de la Cruz, design director
The Contender: Dermablend Smooth Indulgence Concealer SPF 20
"Being a night owl and an early riser with severe allergies, I end up with dark circles. I've experimented with many eye creams and homeopathic concoctions to try and correct them, but since I rarely, if ever, wear makeup, I had not considered concealer as an option.
"Before I tried the concealer I was hesitant that any of the shades would really match my undereye area, but I was pleasantly surprised at how closely my selected shade matched my skin tone. Initially, the concealer felt light to the touch as I patted it underneath my eye. However, it dried quite quickly and was difficult to blend, especially when I tried to add more. The coverage was quite good but the product started to feel a bit heavier and dry. I was curious if it was the titanium dioxide used for SPF — oftentimes it can make products a bit quick to dry and slightly pasty — or perhaps it was the waterproof component. Fortunately, the concealer performed really well in terms of being long-lasting and smudgeproof."
The Result: "After using this product, it looked like someone Photoshopped my dark circles away in real life, which was great. For coverage I think this is a great product, but I really wish the consistency was truer to its name of being smooth. I think patting a bit of almond oil or facial moisturizer on top of the concealer might assist with the dryness."
Dermablend Smooth Indulgence Concealer SPF 20, $22, available at Ulta.
Photographed by Sara Haile, Courtesy of Dermablend
Who: Jessica Teves, managing editor
The Contender: L'Oréal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Concealer SPF 20
"Thankfully, I don't have too many concerns with my eyes — at least not yet! That said, if I don't get enough sleep, which happens every now and again, I definitely need a go-to product that combats the purple-ish circles that can crop up when I'm exhausted.
"My makeup routine varies dramatically based on where I'm headed. If I'm running around town or to the office, I prefer a tinted sunblock (La Roche-Posay makes a great version), which has super-light coverage, but also gives me the sun and environmental protection I need. When I have a little extra time and want to look my best, my go-to product is Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation. So, I was pumped when the beauty department first handed me this sleek gold tube and said, 'give it a go.' I thought this might be my golden ticket for in-between coverage, for those days when I need a little extra boost.
"My excitement continued when I saw it contained SPF 20 and was pretty much a spot-on color match. The brush was delicate and made for easy application; you simply twist the wand and a small amount populates on the brush for swift application. Consistency-wise, I thought it was a bit thick, though the coverage was ample and I did feel a little brighter-eyed.
"As the day wore on, however, I noticed the product seemed to be drying out the delicate skin underneath my eyes, almost becoming cake-like. Maybe if I used a face mist and added some moisture back into the skin, it would have been okay, but I definitely wasn't feeling my hottest — and it didn't help that it was a HOT day."
The Result: "Ultimately, I think it’s a solid product that contains SPF and has generous coverage, just apply sparingly, people. I’m going to keep it on-hand and give it another go, but this time I’m going to mix it with a bit of moisturizer in the palm of my hand before applying. Maybe it’ll lighten it up enough to make it wearable, at least for my taste."
L'Oréal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Concealer SPF 20, $12.95, available at Drugstore.com.
Photographed by Sara Haile, Courtesy of L'Oréal
Who: Piera Gelardi, creative director
The Contender: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye
"I have a genetic deep line under my eye that tends to frame any darkness or redness. Both my dad an I have pronounced circles under our eyes. They're not dark always, but more etched/defined lines. Stress and lack of sleep cause my undereyes to get a bit red and my natural circles frame that. I don't like to look like I have lots of makeup, so my usual go-to is Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat, followed by Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. Sometimes if I'm in really rough shape that's just not enough though."
"Initially, I wasn't excited about trying this product. I'm a packaging snob and I was turned off by the design of the product. It looked like something you'd pick up at a tattoo parlor on St. Mark's Place. I was also put off by how thick and dense it was — I usually go for creamier, more transparent products. However, when I road tested it one morning and came into the office, several people spontaneously told me I looked 'fresh faced.' There was definitely a visible change and once I blended it in, it really brightened my undereye. It minimized the appearance of my redness, as well as helping to reduce the visibility of the concave area underneath my eyes."
"This product provided a lot of coverage — almost too much where I wondered if it looked too much like I was wearing makeup. I prefer skin products to look natural, so I kept wondering if I looked like I had to too much makeup on. The thick consistency was a bit tough for me to apply, but I used my pinky to get it into the corners and applied by dabbing and rolling. I also tried it with a concealer brush which worked just as well. Towards the end of the evening, it had started to break up a bit, creating an almost speckled look."
The Result: "I definitely felt that it brightened up my eyes and the matte finish masked my concave undereye area. I would recommend it for days when you need that extra coverage, but I'd suggest making sure to do a makeup check midday to even it out and potentially re-apply. You might also want to apply a translucent power over it to help it set. It would be good for an event since it really masks and brightens the under eye, but I wouldn't wear this every day as it's a bit too intense."
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye , $24, available at It Cosmetics.
Photographed by Sara Haile, Courtesy of It Cosmetics
Photographed by Sara Haile