The title gets really long when you include the full names of three different products!
One of the only types of makeup I've worn consistently since high school is undereye concealer. I inherited extremely dark under-eye circles from my dad. I don't really have bags or puffiness, but I have dark purple half-circles (the shocking photo appears later in the post!) that are only enhanced by the contrast with my pale skin. I think the cause has something to do with my sinuses, but whatever it is, if I don't cover them, I look pretty sickly and ghoulish. As a result, I've tried dozens of concealers over the
In addition to very dark, purplish circles that need to be covered, I have some other challenges when it comes to finding an effective concealer. I have some lines/wrinkles under my eyes that tend to cause concealer to crease. My eyelids are also oily, which exacerbates the creasing and also makes things fade more quickly. As a bonus, the skin around under my eyes has a weirdly rough texture, which an inferior concealer will highlight.
(Be warned: long, detailed review with lots of photos ahead.)
For the last year or so I had been alternating between two products: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles in Fair and theBalm Time Balm Concealer in Lighter than Light. The Maybelline concealer, as I mentioned in this post, is pretty good at not creasing, but it has a grayish hue to it which doesn't make it the best option for covering my dark circles. I used it up, but I wasn't completely satisfied with it.
The Time Balm concealer has a better color (pale and slightly peachy, which counteracts the blue in my purple circles), but it's trickier to use. As you can see from the photo above, my jar is pretty beat up--I've been trying to make it work for a long time. The lid is actually cracked all the way across, which seems to be a common problem with these jars (or used to be? maybe they have improved them), but that doesn't seem to be causing the product to dry up or anything. It contains a lot of product (0.26 oz.) and it's very pigmented, yet I've used up about half of it, so it's not as though I haven't given it a shot. It's a very thick and rather dry cream. On its own, it creases terribly and also highlights that weird texture I mentioned. You can see the texture problem in the photos in this recent post (along with many of my other posts) as well as in the close-up photo below.
I've tried all sort of things to make theBalm's concealer work better--different applications techniques and tools, varying the amount I use, putting eyeshadow primer under it--but the only thing that really helped was to mix it with some moisturizer and apply it with a brush (as I mentioned here, where I was perhaps overly excited about the results). This decreases the creasing somewhat and improves the texture. On the downside, it sheers it out quite a bit and causes it to fade more quickly, so it doesn't do the whole concealing thing so well. It's also kind of a pain in the ass to have to do extra steps just to get decent, but not excellent, results. I think without the particular issues I have (creasing and texture), this could be a good product for some people, because it is really pigmented and so a little bit of the big jar goes a long way.
Here's a photo oftheBalm Time Balm Concealer in Lighter than Light under my eye on its own (i.e. not mixed with moisturizer):
In a moment of frustration a month or so ago, when Stila was on HauteLook, I bought their All Day Concealer in Fair. My basis for the purchase was nothing more than that I vaguely remembered liking a sample I'd got from Birchbox a couple of years earlier. It's similar in texture to theBalm's concealer, but a little softer and creamier so it doesn't do the weird texture thing. It's also sheerer and too dark and yellow for me. Unfortunately it just doesn't work great for me: too sheer to cover my circles, creases, wrong shade, and, contrary to its name, doesn't seem to last a particularly long time. I think it actually looks better in the photo below than in person. I took this immediately after applying it, before it had creased much, but it doesn't take long.
I thought I was going to have to cave and buy one of the expensive concealers everyone is always raving about: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ($29) or It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye ($24) or Amazing Cosmetics Concealer ($42). Eek. (I'm pretending Kevyn Aucoin and Clé de Peau don't exist.) I've heard that Maybelline Fit Me Concealer is similar to the Nars one, but judging from swatches and reviews from other pale people, it looks like its lightest shade would be too dark for me.
But then someone on the Our Beauty Talk boards recommended Sephora's Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer as a possible dupe for Nars--or maybe even a better option (thank you!). It's $14, which isn't exactly cheap, but much more affordable than the others I was considering. I wanted to order a Bite lipstick duo (swatched here) anyway, so I added this concealer to my order. Since I don't live near a Sephora, I relied on the few swatches I could find online (especially these) and chose Fondant, which appeared to have the most yellow in it, in order to counteract the purple under my eyes. (The descriptions of the colors that Sephora provides don't seem very accurate.)
[ETA: TooMuchElectric on the OBT boards just drew my attention to this blog post comparing the Nars and Sephora concealers, which notes that the Nars one contains 0.22 oz. compared to Sephora's 0.14 oz. That means that the actual cost per oz. is pretty close. Interesting! Sephora has made the plastic on their tube very thick so that it looks larger than it is. A common trick. But the blogger linked above also notes that the Nars one gets thick before she finishes it, and since it is a little more expensive, there may be no advantage there.]
Here are comparison swatches comparison of the three concealers, Stila Fair, theBalm Lighter than Light, and Sephora Fondant (left to right):
Sephora's Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer is excellent. I really recommend it if you have any of the same concerns I do. It's a liquid, obviously, which makes it very easy to apply, and it sets quickly but not immediately, so you have enough time to blend it. It's very pigmented/opaque, so you only need to use a tiny dot. If you want more coverage, you can layer it over itself with no problems. It doesn't highlight the weird texture under my eyes, and while it creases slightly, I think that's inevitable for me. The creasing is minimal and I'm sure it isn't noticeable to anyone else. It almost completely blots out my dark circles. And they are fucking beasts. Look:
I look like I got in a fight. Left side of the photo is no makeup (except eyebrows filled in) and right side of the photo is just the Sephora concealer. On closer inspection, I probably could have added a little more near my lower lash line, but what a fucking difference, right? And even close up, it just looks like skin:
The best part (well, they're all best parts) is that it really stays put. It doesn't fade or nearly disappear after a few hours like most other concealers I've used. In fact, I didn't even realize how badly the others faded until I got this--now I sometimes look in the mirror in the evening and am surprised by how not-corpselike I appear. It's the same at the end of the day as it was at the beginning, even if I don't set it with powder (but I usually do, from force of habit).
It also works very well to cover redness and zits, etc., elsewhere on my face. In the past I've usually used one concealer under my eyes and another one on the rest of my face, so it's nice not to have to do that.
If I have to come up with something negative to say, it's not really a problem with this product itself, but that I might have been better off with a different shade. This is just a touch too yellow. The yellow does a great job of canceling out the purple, but on days that I don't wear base makeup to neutralize other redness in my skin, you can see the edges of the concealer a bit (see the bottom left corner of the above photo for what I mean). This is probably only visible to me, but it's there. I might swatch some of the others the next time I find myself in a Sephora to see if I want to replace this with a different shade with it runs out. Here is this concealer when I've done a full face of makeup (but not my hair, clearly):