As a 45-year-old working mom of a first and fourth grader, life is a tad bit busy and getting eight hours of sleep always feels like a major victory. I’m a tired mama a lot of the time and not the best at the whole self-care thing. So it’s no surprise that the face I see in the mirror looks 45 and sometimes—um—older. My body isn’t what it used to be and I’ve got to color my hair a lot more often these days. But nothing makes me feel as old as the dark circles under my eyes.
Over the years, I’ve tried everything to conceal them: cucumbers, tea bags, almond oil, lemon juice…you name it. Here’s the thing: The circles under my eyes are really dark. I’m Middle Eastern so the darker pigmentation around my eyes is hereditary. I’ve even been complimented on my brown eye shadow when in fact the earth tones on my lids are just naturally dark. Clearly, it’ll take a lot more than a home remedy to lighten them up and make me feel human again.
So what’s a girl to do? Invest in some miracle makeup of course. After testing a bunch of concealers, here’s what I’ve learned: each has its own super power. If you have under eye circles, tired-looking eyes, puffiness or blemishes and flaws that are tough to hide, you’ll want to try one of these products. Because when those dark circles fade, your whole face lightens up and you look five years younger. And who doesn’t want that?
Best For Super Dark Circles
Too Faced Born This Way Naturally Radiant Concealer
This oil-free concealer makes quick work of erasing the dark circles under your eyes. It instantly lightens and blends into your skin naturally, with or without foundation. It has a light feel and actually looks like your skin tone (hence the name Born This Way). It’s also great as an eyelid primer (used sparingly) and comes in plenty of shades—with more being added by the brand this month. Be sure to choose a shade that’s slightly lighter than your skin tone.
An added bonus: It’s infused with coconut water to moisturize your skin, Alpine rose to brighten and hyaluronic acid for a smoother finish. A little product goes a long way so avoid the urge to apply more than you need and you’ll prevent creasing, too.
Best For Hiding Blemishes and Flaws
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
A long-time favorite of makeup artists and beauty editors, this two-shade concealer hides dark circles while evening out your skin tone and erasing imperfections. Why the two colors? One shade is supposed to match your skin’s depth of color, while the other matches its undertone. The trick is finding the duo that works best with your skin and experimenting with blending both tones. I have light skin with super dark circles and found SC-2 for fair to light skin to be the best blend for me. You can choose between eight color combos.
I use the lighter shade under my eyes to brighten and mix the light and darker tones to spot conceal imperfections. I use my ring finger—not a brush—to apply sparingly since it’s pretty thick and can look caked if you use too much. Once you find your perfect color combo and application technique, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how long this stuff lasts. Be sure to moisturize before applying.
Best For Reducing the Appearance of Bags and Puffiness
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
During allergy season, the puffiness around my eyes is out. Of. Control. And that’s when I need a different kind of coverage. If your biggest problem is bags and puffiness, this creamy concealer will hide those issues in a hurry. This stuff gives you heavy-duty coverage and just as its name implies, it lasts all day without re-applying. It dries pretty quickly after application so you’ll want to blend it right away. Work on one eye at a time and you’ll be set.
A couple of things to watch out for: If you have dry or combination skin, make sure to moisturize with a solid eye cream before applying. The concealer comes in a pump so it’s easy to over dispense and waste what you won’t need. So be extra careful to dispense only what you’ll use. This can get tricky so one way to make sure you aren’t wasting is to pump what you plan to use into a small sample tub and save what’s leftover.
Best For Moisturizing and Crease Control
I love the way concealer brightens my face and makes me look well-rested…until I start seeing creases an hour later. The struggle for crease control after applying concealer is real. Enter Benefit Fake Up, which looks like a lipstick tube whose core is concealer along with an outer hydrating ring. Together the combo does double duty to conceal while heavy duty moisturizing. The fact that it’s lightweight makes it look super natural on your skin.
For best results, gently apply the stick under your eyes and then use your ring finger to blend and smooth. The result: Lighter and silky looking skin with a product that won’t cake or crease.
Best For Tired Eyes
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand
This clever combo is a dream team of products inside a sleek double-sided tube. One end boasts a cooling anti-aging eye cream that gives tired eyes a boost. The cream dispenses right onto the brush the product comes with and has hyaluronic acid and rice proteins to hydrate and firm up your skin. I love the eye cream so much I use a tiny bit at night before bed, too.
After applying in the a.m., flip over to the other side of the wand, where an eye brightener works wonders to lighten shadows, conceal flaws and diffuse the appearance of dark circles. If you’re planning to wear little to no other makeup, this is a good choice since it looks natural and blends effortlessly into your skin. Be sure to click just once until the product appears on the brush so you don’t dispense more than you need.
Best for Overall Brightening
YSL Touche Éclat Radiant Touch
This 25-year-old classic is a staple in pretty much every beauty editor or makeup artist’s arsenal. It’s also unquestionably one of the most famous beauty products on the planet. In fact, YSL reports that one of these highlighting pens is sold every 10 seconds somewhere in the world. So it’s no surprise that it works magic on your dark spots.
A concealing and highlighting hybrid, Touche Éclat brightens the skin under your eyes and illuminates your face. Apply with the brush that’s part of the pen on your nose, above your brows, at the tops of your cheeks or wherever you need a little glow. I lightly brush the 1.5 shade (great for light skin tones) over my dark spots and on my lids before blending with my index finger. If you have really dark circles, this works well over a heavier concealer to quickly lighten and brighten your whole face. Like most splurge products, be careful to dispense only what you need (as in just one click at time).
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