Come on, Get Happy: Concealing the Shadows

The one thing–and I do mean the ONE thing–that makes the biggest difference between looking haggard/sad/hung over and looking fresh/happy/sober is this….are you ready for it? Concealer. Bobbi Brown had it right when she called concealer “The secret to the universe”. A good concealer covers your circles, firms your bags, and brightens your face immeasurably. When proving the powerful effects of concealer to a client, I like to apply it to only one eye and hand them a mirror. The reaction usually goes something like this:

“Oh my god. I look like I’ve been punched under the other eye. I had no idea my circles were so dark. But THIS eye….makes me look younger. And happier.

Is it really possible to make someone look happy by hiding their circles? Or a better question: How do dark circles make us look unhappy? What do they suggest?

Dark circles are a visual indication that someone is suffering in their life somehow.

When we see people with dark circles, we make a mental note of it (even if only subconsciously). Of course, as a society, we tend to let those sufferers slide when we learn something about their situation.

New mothers are certainly happy (right?), but they don’t sleep. They have shifted from a state in which they worried only about themselves to one in which the weight of the world has been heaved (all 8 pounds of it) onto their shoulders. We understand their suffering, and expect their shadows and worries to be temporary. They never are.

Students are happy (right?), but they rely on all-nighters to study for exams, write papers, and participate in college culture (read: drink). We understand that they’re working hard now so that they may one day be unfulfilled in their jobs and turn into responsible citizens. We expect their shadows and worries to be temporary. They’re not.

Entrepreneurs are happy (right?), but they worry constantly about their investors, their loans, their mortgages, and whether or not their first business success will prove to be a “flash in the pan”. We applaud their talent and their bravery, and expect their shadows and worries to be temporary. Ha!

So look around–happiness doesn’t always show up on our faces in ways we might expect. Happy people often look unhappy, and here’s another blow–unhappy people look even worse, which doesn’t do anything to help their mood.

Dark circles are largely hereditary and hormonal. They are partially influenced by skin tone (the fairest tones and olive tones often have it the worst), and partially affected by lifestyle (stress, lack of sleep, diet). Circles are caused by a collection of blood under the surface of the skin–and no, surgery to cauterize those blood vessels is NOT the answer.

When I was 12, I found a natural recipe which claimed to bleach undereye circles with a blended mixture of raw potatoes and yogurt. It worked. That is to say, it bleached my SKIN, thereby lightening my purple shadows a shade or two. If having slightly paler purple or green circles is enough to inspire you, then rush out and buy some potatoes. What really works, though is makeup. It is easy, it is effective, and it has the added bonus of making you look happy. I will leave my house without lipstick, without mascara, and without blush. If I ever leave my house without undereye concealer, rest assured that it is on fire.

The concealer I currently use (and no, it is NOT green) is Bobbi Brown’s creamy corrector/concealer. It is the very best mainstream concealer on the market. Trust me, I’ve been around. On the department store end of things, I have tried Dior, Chanel, YSL, Nars, Estee Lauder, Lancome, Armani, Laura Mercier, and Trish McEvoy. From drugstores I have tried Physicians Formula, Covergirl, Mabelline, L’Oreal, Max Factor, and Almay. (Circles plagued me from a young age). For some time now, I have been obsessed with finding “green” concealer options. I will not stop until I find one that I can feel good about using everyday for the rest of my life, even if I have to make it from scratch myself. (I guarantee there will be no potatoes in it).

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

Suki Concealer in Flax or Linen: I used this liquid product at a fashion show, and didn’t like the way it went on. (I worked with another artist and she had the same experience): it tended to “roll” under the eye, rather than gliding and blending. Also, limited by two tones. Really? There are only two colors of women out there?

Josie Maran: I’ve written about this one before. Three stick shades, all of which are too tan/orange for a fair skinned person, and too light for a dark skinned person. Application was fine, but I didn’t find it “buildable”, without it looking cakey, which is important. Also, I hate having to read labels when a company brands themselves as clean.

Dr. Hauschka: The wand is a popular concealer tool, and you can’t fault ol’ Hauschka on ingredients, but the coverage is too sheer, and the shades (there are three) don’t embrace even a majority of the population…except maybe the population of Germany.

Eco Nvey: I was SOOOO excited to try this little pressed pot of concealer (nice and green) BUT with only two shades to choose from…..are you seeing a theme yet? I will say that the consistency of this one was great. It was buildable, creamy, and blended really nicely, but the lighter shade looked positively yellow on me, and I wouldn’t get tan enough for the darker shade even if sailed around the world twice.

Sheer Cover: I was curious about this mineral makeup brand a while back. I had tried Bare Minerals, (who hasn’t?) and found their recommendation for powdered undereye concealer to be suitable for only those women who are naturally very moist/greasy under the eye (who is?). Sheer Cover had a selling point: a two toned creamy concealer with less offensive ingredients than most on the market. Result? It works. It’s buildable, blendable, and moist. And here’s a shocker: they offer a shade that matches my skin. It’s a decent option for women who are already using their mineral line, though I won’t continue to use it (not green enough for my blood).

If I’m willing to compromise a little, I’m willing to compromise a lot. Until I find my dream green concealer, I’m going to keep using the one I love. Everyone’s got their sticking point. Concealer’s mine.

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6 thoughts on “Come on, Get Happy: Concealing the Shadows

  1. I really like Jane Iredale’s Disappear. I have fair-olive skin and the medium light is good for me, my sister (whose face is touch lighter) loves the light.

  2. Have you tried the 100% Pure concealer, or the Miessence concealer? I haven’t tried either personally; I was just curious. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 100% Pure’s concealer works for me. I have FINALLY given up my mainstream concealer crutch, and made the switch (it was the last non-green thing to go). I’ve been using 100% Pure’s Peach Bisque Nourishing concealer for about 3 months, now, and am pretty happy with it. Still excited to try every other green brand that hits the market. I’ve also used the brightening wand 100% Pure makes, (in a similar vein to YSL’s Touche E’clat) and while it’s great for under and over the brow, the clicking button sticks which drives me nutters, and the formula is too sheer to work under the eyes except as a topper to the concealer.

  3. Thanks for the feedback!

    I am still clinging to my mainstream concealer, so I’m on the lookout for greener options. Unfortunately, I really only need it for under my eyes, and it is so hard to find something that a) is light enough, b) has buildable coverage, and c) won’t slide off my face by noon.

    Again, thanks for writing this blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I identify with this plight so much … it is what I am doing online right now, looking for recommendations on a natural concealer. Like you, it is my one crutch that I can’t live without because it brightens my face, makes me feel confident and ready to go out in the morning. I feel like I could abandon everything else with relative ease. Lately IO have been having some skin issues, likely a roscea – I have always been fortunate to have clear skin with the exception of dark circles. Now I don’t want make my skin worse by putting parabans — ultimately, I want to find something natural that I can wear daily to replace my under eye dependency on M.A.C.’s concealer. I will start with trying to locate the brands you have reviewed here. Thanks for the head start.

    • Thanks for reading, Julianna! If you make a point to pester the sales staff while out shopping for green concealers, you’ll help to increase the demand for good, clean products. Good luck!

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