Surrendering to dark circles. Well, kind of.
February 15, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

No amount of hydration, sleep, cucumbers, teabags, fancy gels and creams will get rid of the very dark circles under my eyes. I have made peace with the fact that they will never ever go away, but I would love some makeup solutions for covering them up. Is it possible to do so fairly minimally, without layers upon layers of caked on makeup and products? What products have you had success with?

I have very pale skin, with yellow (no olive, no pink) undertones. Deep eye sockets, and prominent cheekbones, which contribute to darkness. It's also just genetic - my siblings all deal with this. I also have creases under the eyes which might be becoming a little more cemented as I get older, but are more due to bone/skin structure (I've had them at least since my teens).

Current routine: regular facial moisturizer, tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier in "nude" but "porcelain" might be better for extra winter paleness). Often a dusting of powder (Bare Escentuals). I'm happy with this for normal coverage on my face, but the tinted moisturizer doesn't do much for the under eye darkness, and I have to be careful with powder under my eyes as it'll sink into the creases. I've found this awesome question which introduced me to the wonder that is "primer." But I don't know what kinds. Apparently there are gel kinds, liquidy kinds, and tinted kinds. I have no idea where to begin!

I tend to be a little mistrusting of people at makeup counters, worried that they're just trying to get me to buy popular "hot! new!" products. But I tend to like to keep my makeup fairly simple, and I'd much rather hear suggestions by actual people who use products on themselves, that they're happy with.

Can you offer any makeup or product suggestions? Application tips? Other random suggestions for covering or concealing darkness under the eyes?
posted by raztaj to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
I'm also very pale, and use Laura Mercier's porcelain tinted moisturiser myself -- for my dark circles, i use Laura Mercier's Secret Camoflauge, which is a two-tone concealer that you mix together to the shade that you want, then apply. I find that it works very well with a small foundation brush under my eyes, with two caveats: you need to warm it up first by mixing it on your hand, and you need to apply very lightly. If you do those two things, it gives me excellent undereye coverage (as well as concealing a host of other sins!)
posted by ukdanae at 12:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I forgot to say - if you find that it's caking or creasing, you've put too much on! It's crazy how little you need.
posted by ukdanae at 12:42 PM on February 15, 2011

they make colored concealer sticks - yellow for under eyes and green for blemishes, i think - they both work wonders and don't take a lot of work to cover up.
posted by nadawi at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2011

I have the same problem and this is pretty much the best stuff ever. I use the number 20, which is the lightest one. There are similar products made by other brands, YSL has one that I've used and a few other of the high end cosmetic lines versions as well, but this one works the best for me. I'm pale like you and like simple makeup. My daily routine goes like this: I use kiehl's under eye creme, then this, and then sometimes a little bit of powder, some mascara and lip gloss and I'm out the door.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2011

I have the same problem. I found this concealer at Target a few months ago, and it's been the most amazing makeup-related revelation I've ever had (not that I've had very many).
posted by litnerd at 12:49 PM on February 15, 2011

I swear by the Laura Mercier undercover pot. It has a concealer and translucent powder. I put the concealer on with my finger and use a small mineral brush for the powder.
posted by sugarfish at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2011

For a completely different line of attack on the problem: dark circles under the eyes are known as allergic shiners because they often result from nasal congestion. Treating allergies is often more effective than sleep or cosmetics.
posted by Ery at 12:58 PM on February 15, 2011

I have similar skin and dot not too much of this (in "light") and this (in ivory petal). Then smooth/blend with a clean makeup sponge.
posted by bearwife at 12:59 PM on February 15, 2011

I also use the same Laura Mercier. I swear by this YSL stuff. The people at the makeup counters tend to be helpful with this stuff!
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:00 PM on February 15, 2011

With similar coloring to yours, I've had excellent luck using just a little tiny bit of this Physician's Formula concealer to neutralize the worst of the dark circles, then build out from there.
posted by DrGail at 1:15 PM on February 15, 2011

Weird question, but is there any chance you could be anemic? (If you are female who menstruates and a vegitarian, you are anemic.)

I had really really dark circles under my eyes that nothing would get rid of when I was anemic, because your blood is actually darker because it is less oxygenated. (there are many tiny capillaries under your eyes and the skin is fairly thin) I would reccomend going to the doctor and getting tested for it.

If it turns out you are, and you are a meat-eater, eat steak on a regular basis. I'm not even kidding, just go get a small steak during the time you're on the rag or right before or after and eat it as rare as you can stand.

If you don't eat meat, it's tougher. I've tried normal iron suppliments myself but they did really horrid things to me and weren't worth it. They made me very sick. But I had decent luck with children's chewable vitamins with iron (I think Flintstones makes a version with iron, but they have to say "with iron" on them because it dosen't come standerd in children's vitamins). The chewables were just easier for my body to handle and did have enough iron to clear the anemia up, but honestly it got to be too much and I just went back to eating meat occasionally.
posted by RampantFerret at 1:21 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The YSL stuff is a highlighter, not a concealer. It's meant to reflect light into dark places, so it might work to brighten your deep set eyes, but it's not going to work so great on covering the circles.

Ifyou really want to cover them up, I heartily recommend Cargo's OneBase. It's the only concealer I've used that doesn't sink into creases, that stays matte and doesn't get greasy, and that looks natural on my absurdly pale and yellow-toned skin.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2011

Response by poster: Everybody: Thank you for the product suggestions! I'm definitely going to look into all these. Please keep them coming!

Ery & RampantFerret:

Not allergic, not anemic (went to donate blood last week, my iron levels were on the higher level of normal for women). I just have dark circles. Everyone in my family has them. Some people just have them, without anything being "wrong." For me, a lot of it is just bone structure and deeply inset eyes - which makes the darkness look worse than it is. So, covering up what I can is really the only thing worth exploring!
posted by raztaj at 1:31 PM on February 15, 2011

I have genetic very dark circles and what's worked for me is using a peach toned color corrector like Bobbi Brown over my tinted moisturizer (I use Laura Mercier as well, just the brightening formula) and then a lighter concealer over that (any one will do). The peach tone really cancels out the bluish tone of the circles. Eve Pearl salmon corrector is supposed to be a holy grail for a lot of people, but I've never used it. Also, a different price point peachy concealer is Erase Paste by Benefit. I actually like that one better than all the rest because it's more of a gel consistency and doesn't sink into my teeny tiny lines under my eyes.
posted by hollygoheavy at 1:34 PM on February 15, 2011

I have dark circles too, and I'm a guy.

I went to a make-up counter. The lady suggested some stuff that was slightly moist, embedded in a sponge, and came in a large plastic compact. All that was needed was a fingertip pressed into the sponge and then daub the fingertip over my circles, then rub lightly to blend. It worked wonderfully, looked great, and didn't run.

Ultimately, I just didn't have time to add it to my morning routine, so I didn't use it for more than a few weeks. But when I did, it was great!

It had a white case with orange lettering, and some funky name like Strussi or Deufel or Funky. But that was 10 years ago so maybe it looks different now.

Maybe if you are wary of make-up counter people you could say "this is EXACTLY what I want, I don't care if my other flaws need different colors and fancy pencils." I imagine I had the advantage of being a fairly masculine guy, so there was no point in the counter person forcing eye shadow one me.
posted by MonsieurBon at 2:07 PM on February 15, 2011

I have seriously dark under-eye shadows, and have good results with Everyday Mineral's Sunlight Concealer. Very few ingredients and no bismuth means it doesn't make me break out, either. Use after moisturizing and before foundation.
posted by vers at 2:53 PM on February 15, 2011

I've had the same problem since childhood, though of course it's gotten worse as time wears on and both insomnia and all-nighters (for business and/or pleasure) have entered into the mix.

I like this stuff, because it's creamy and doesn't accentuate the creases. (Full disclosure: It's spendy -- $38 -- but I bought it on sale for 50% off because the company that makes it is very slowly going out of business. More info here, including good advice about how to use each of the three shades in the palette.)

Fpr $15, Pixi's Target line also makes Correction Concentrate, a concealer that is well spoken-of*, though I have yet to try it. Writing this post has inspired to place my order online. I'll send you a MeMail with my results.

Regardless of which concealer I use, I make a point of moisturizing well. 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream has proved to be plenty emollient so far, though it also touts its dark-circle-reduction capabilities, and my circles are still there. (The jury is still out, as I've used it only for three weeks.)

* Musings of a Muse may give you some other ideas, since she is ever on the hunt for the holy grail of concealers and has published plenty of reviews.
posted by virago at 3:07 PM on February 15, 2011

As hollygoheavy mentioned above, I recommend benefit's Erase Paste. It doesn't completely eliminate my dark circles, but that plus a bit of benefit's Absolutely Flawless (I'm pretty sure that's the name of it) does get my undereye area as close to the rest of my face color as I'm likely to achieve on my own.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:08 PM on February 15, 2011

Deep eye sockets, eh, me too. I don't have much in the way of dark colour underneath, but I find the deep eye sockets make up for that.

I could recommend various concealers - they don't have to be an exact match for undereye, and if your skin has only yellow undertones most undereye concealers would be in the right ballpark as long as they were light enough. But it has to be an undereye concealer, not something more opaque for zits etc. The press raves about YSL Touche Eclat, but who knows whether it's any better or worse than any other product. Or there's a treatment concealer from which is probably OK.

The bad news is: undereye concealer makes you look old. It settles into the cracks, which are inevitable because you blink, and it beads up and separates like any other makeup will during the day. You can powder it down, but - ha ha! the powder will settle into the cracks too! Gotcha!

So you really should consider just skipping concealer. Leaving it. Giving it up. Not worth it, I reckon.

Deep eye sockets, though, you want to stop fluid building up there during the night. You could help by sleeping with your head elevated (though I wouldn't do that if you want to keep your blood pressure down). When you wake up, get up and move around to get that fluid draining down towards your feet. For 10 minutes upon waking up, you might like to lie there with your eyes covered by refrigerated cotton pads soaked in water (it's the cold that makes the tissue contract, you don't really need to buy any other product and the water is unlikely to irritate). Supposedly, a sports drink with electrolytes will attract the fluid away from your eyelids and take it on a tour around the rest of your body, or something... hmmm. (A soda a day, every morning? Not sure that's worth it.)

And of course, the ultimate skin-improving treatment is the topical retinoid, though you may not want to get that too close to the eye.

Surprisingly, getting less sleep means less fluid build-up because it involves less lying down. But I gather it makes the dark colour worse, plus sleeplessness makes you look so crap in general that it is not worth it.

Every morning, if you have straight or downward-pointing lashes, curl them with an eyelash curler. That will help you look more awake all by itself and generally draw attention to the upper eyelid. If you want to paint on some grey eyeshadow on the upper eyelid only, that would create dominance elsewhere, away from your eyebags.
posted by tel3path at 3:56 PM on February 15, 2011

I have fairly severe hyperpigmentation and the only stuff that I've ever found to be long-lasting and have enough coverage is Dermablend's Cover Creme. I honestly can nearly erase all appearance of hyperpigmentation to the point where friends say hyperpigmentation? what hyperpigmentation? if I mention it. But if your dark circles are not that severe this may be overkill. Consider this the nuclear option. It does get bad reviews because people say that it tends emphasize wrinkles, but I've not had that problem with it (though this may be because I'm pretty young and don't really have too many wrinkles).
posted by peacheater at 3:56 PM on February 15, 2011

Hello! I am the OP of the previous question you linked to.

The solution I wound up with was Prescriptives Site Unseen concealer, which I dab on with my finger (I don't use the built-in applicator brush), and then dust lightly with cheapo Cover Girl loose powder to set. It'll wear off a little by the end of a long day, but I haven't had problems with it sinking into creases -- the concealer seems to be the perfect consistency, but I think the most important part is that the color is a perfect match for my skin. (When I thought Prescriptives was going out of business, I desperately snatched up my local Macy's counter's remaining two tubes, though I am delighted to see that they're still selling it online.) I am also very pale with a slightly yellow undertone, and I use Level 1 Cool. (Unfortunately, since they no longer have department store counters, you can't get a professional to pick out the right shade for you. If you were in Chicago I'd offer to let you try out some of mine!)

I also bought some "primer" (actually the Monistat anti-chafing gel that was recommended in that thread as a cheap alternative, because I am broke). If I'm getting all fancy I'll use it and it definitely makes the makeup "stick" better, but for my everyday 3-minute makeup routine, the concealer plus the loose powder works fine.
posted by pluckemin at 4:13 PM on February 15, 2011

I should also add -- I think the key to keeping it natural-looking is accepting that you're not going to be able to COMPLETELY cover the circles. If you aim for "model on the cover of a magazine" you're probably going to wind up with reverse raccoon eyes.

Mine are still slightly visible, but people no longer ask me if I'm ill. I think they're always going to be more visible to you than they are to other people -- if you can still kind of see them it means that nobody else is going to notice them.
posted by pluckemin at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2011

I have dark circles too (also genetic, has nothing to do with sleep or hydration or anemia or anything) and as someone in her mid-30s I am becoming more aware of fine lines and wrinkles. I use Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer too, same shade and everything so I think we have a similar skin tone.

For my dark circles, I first make sure the area is well moisturized. I use an Oil of Olay drugstore eye cream that works pretty well. Then I use Time Balm concealer. The keys as others have mentioned are to warm it up a bit and to apply sparingly. The other thing i do is after I'm done with all the rest of my make up I do a quick re-patting of the concealer to smooth out where it may have settled into wrinkles. For some reason this second smoothing seems to hold all day.

Another thing for me is that my eyelids are also dark and have visible capillaries. Urban Decay makes an eyeshadow primer that is sort of flesh toned that does a really good job of brightening up my eyes altogether in addition to all the usual eyeshadow primer benefits. I feel like either one without the other (concealer and eyeshadow primer) just isn't as effective.
posted by misskaz at 4:54 PM on February 15, 2011

I have seriously tried 2/3 of the suggested above. I think my sisters tried the other third, with overlap. We all use Erase Paste, as hollygoheavy mentioned.
posted by oflinkey at 6:00 PM on February 15, 2011

You're question was how to conceal rather than eliminate, so my answer won't be exactly on target and may seem a little Pepsi Blue, but last week...

So my whole family has the dark circles thing, possibly due to gluten intolerance but no way in hell I'm giving up croissants, and it's always haunted me.

But, while the wife was shopping last week (I'm a dude) I was bored at the Lord and Taylor (Tailor?) and picked up some Kiehl's "line reducing, eye-brighening concentrate" and I swear to god, it lightens the dark circles by 50% within an hour of application. Of course it probably will make my eyes fall out after six months so YMMV.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've got dark circles just because, well, I do and I've also done modeling work. The make-up tip I learned that helps me the most is a pink-tinted concealer applied directly beneath the eyes.

Dot liquid concealer in four or five dots under your eyes and blend with your ring finger (the weakest of the fingers, it will help smooth out and blend the concealer evenly without just smearing it). I use L'Oreal True Match concealer in a shade slightly pinker than my foundation and it works perfectly.
posted by sonika at 6:36 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I spent several weekends at the makeup counters looking for something that would hide my dark circles. My search ended with Bobbi Brown's corrector in peach. I then use Bare Escentuals Well-Rested to brighten up a little more. Then the regular BE powder, etc, etc.

If you sign up for Sephora, they do give samples on a regular basis. This month is a NARS primer which I would like to get! If you become a VIB, you get more/bigger samples. The last one was a cute mini brush, BE mini sample, and BE primer.
posted by jlunar at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2011

I've been totally loving Lorac Double Feature. Definitely try to go to a store so that you can get an exact color match. I find the roller ball really great at blending and it goes on really light and doesn't look cakey at all. I use the highlighter maybe every other time on my cheekbones for a little glow factor.
posted by like_neon at 2:15 AM on February 16, 2011

Revlon color stay concealer has always been very effective for me. Apply lightly, dab, let it settle and then dab again. Stays all day and once you dab a second time, does not crease!
posted by lettuchi at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2011

I have deep sockets and dark under eye circles and have been using this a lot. The 'light reflecting particles' really make a difference and it's really light weight and not cakey. For serious trouble I use a bit of this, but it's not as awesome.
posted by sweetmarie at 11:18 AM on February 16, 2011

I've had good results with this Almay product that I bought at the drugstore just as a temporary replacement. It turned out being good enough to use "for real."

(and the proposition that all women who menstruate and are vegetarian are anemic is just totally wrong --a woman who used to be vegetarian and menstruates and has never tested anemic even while being vegetarian and menstruating).
posted by elpea at 7:21 PM on February 16, 2011

I'm madly in love with the Kat von D Tattoo concealer. You apply it a little differently- you pretty much tap it on to blend it- but it's amazing. One of my friends had a really nasty bruise on her head before a banquet (from walking into a door, go figure) and borrowed this- and not a single person that she asked could even tell that she'd had a bruise. It's expensive but it lasts forever, I've been using it at least 4 days a week since last May and the tube is a little more than half done, and that's with friends borrowing it frequently.
posted by kro at 1:47 AM on February 17, 2011

I saw a recommendation for this Clinique concealer on Jezebel, and now I use it every day. The coverage is really good and it does not cake.
posted by maggiemae at 4:11 AM on April 1, 2011

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