Thursday, December 3, 2015

Concealer comparisons (and a rave review): Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer in Fondant vs. theBalm Time Balm Concealer in Lighter than Light in vs. Stila Stay All Day Concealer in Fair

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
The title gets really long when you include the full names of three different products!

Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer in Fondant vs. theBalm Time Balm Concealer in Lighter than Light in vs. Stila Stay All Day Concealer in Fair

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 decades years, and I keep trying new ones. I think I've said before that I am a bit of a concealer Goldilocks--I'm always convinced that there must be one that's just right out there somewhere. I think I have finally found it, so read on to see which one of these it is.

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 of theBalm 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):

Swatches of Stila Stay All Day Concealer in Fair, theBalm Time Balm Serum Concealer in Lighter than Light, Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer in Fondant

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):


Barely undead at all! Of course, since I love it so much, Sephora will no doubt discontinue it within the year, as they seem to do whenever I find something good in their house line. Anyway, if you are looking for a great concealer and you have any of the same concerns I have (if, say, you are Liv from iZombie), I would highly recommend the Sephora Collection Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer. It comes in 20 shades, from very light to very dark, which is another plus. I don't usually rave like this about things, so I hope you know I mean it when I do.

25 comments:

  1. Damn. I am really impressed at how that just looks like skin and not concealer.

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  2. Awesome. I've been using nars RCC and while
    it's good its not perfect, but the colour match is awesome. I seem to have bad creasing issues too. Maybe i will take a look at the sephora one!

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    1. I wonder now if I would like the Nars as much, but since this is a little cheaper, I'm not really motivated to try it.

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  3. Wow! I may have to try this stuff. I have wicked purple/blue circles too, and - though I never realized that was what was causing the problem with other concealers until you said it - I have the weird skin texture under my eyes too. Thanks for the (as always) excellent review!

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    1. Yeah, a lot of concealers that work okay for me on zits or whatever do this texture thing under my eyes. Liquid is better, but even then sometimes. It doesn't seem to matter if I moisturize or anything. But the texture isn't visible unless bad concealer highlights it. Let me know if you try it!

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  4. Ooh! That Sephora stuff really does the trick. I'll have to look into that. I've been laying off the concealer for the past six months. Barely wore any over summer but have recently been reaching for the Lancôme EFFACERNES Waterproof Protective Undereye Concealer. Got a good look at myself in a mirror in the cosmetics department last night and, clearly, I need this Sephora stuff.

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    1. I can get away without it sort of in summer, sometimes. It seems like the colder the weather and the more I am stuck inside, the worse the circles get, which makes me think it's sinus related, since that's also when they get worse. I was so used to having sort of dark circles all the time that I'm having to get used to my face without them now, but I'm into it.

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  5. Have you tried Hard Candy glamouflage (I think it's called - my tube's print has long been rubbed off) concealer? I use it more than the Maybelline one because, like you, it also appeared way more gray on me and dulled my tone. The Hard Candy one has a yellow base and is thicker so you only need the tiniest smidgen to cover up dark circles. It's also liquidy so it doesn't crease on me but sticks to my undereye. The only negative about it is that it has a terrible scent, like something's been fried? To me that's what it smells like (I know, that shouldn't invoke any bad smells 'cus frying anything smells good.... But this isn't the good kind of fry scent.)

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    1. I've heard lots of good things about that one, but there hasn't been a Walmart near me for a long time, so I tend to forget about it. I should check it out some time!

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  6. It sounds like you have a great solution! I like bye bye under eye by IT cosmetics. I got it in an ipsy bag last year and the teeny tiny sample is still going strong (I did stop using it over the summer because hot & no school). It is not too yellow and a very thick. The best way I can describe it is that all the other options are watercolors, and this is real paint.

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    1. I was sad that that sample was sent out right after I cancelled my Ipsy subscription! I've heard lots of good things.

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  7. Sephora concealer looks great on you! it looks so natural. I'm a big fan of IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye, it covers great, but you can tell that I'm wearing it.. I have Nars Creamy concealer, and it's a bit too sheer for my dark circles.

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    1. To cover the circles 100%, I have to add a second layer--but it doesn't take long, and it's nice that I can do it without it getting weird. Sometimes if you try to add more concealer it gets cakey or removes the first later or something.

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    2. Interesting. I'll try adding a second layer of Nars. Maybe that will do the trick. I really hate not being able to use it.

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  8. Whoa! I definitely to get that Sephora concealer, because it looks like we have a similar undereye situation-- and a similar concealer compulsion, heh. I'm also very pale and def have similar circles, and I've experienced the same issues as you have with the same shades of Maybelline IAR and TimeBalm.

    Given that, I promise you that the Fit Me concealer won't have enough coverage for your undereye. It also vanishes pretty quickly. Glamoflage really is quite good; great coverage, yellow-y rather than pink-y, less crease-prone than the TimeBalm (but not 0%), not too cakey (but not 0%). I'm currently using Maybelline Studio Master Conceal for blemishes/redness-- incredibly, in the second-lightest shade, as the very lightest one is *extremely* pink. It's pretty good for that purpose, but not as good for undereyes, as it doesn't last long.

    My current go-to undereye concealer is L'Oreal's Visible Lift Blur concealer in Fair. This one was a big surprise to me. The reviews weren't thrilling, and I picked it up just for kicks, not expecting much. But it's fair enough, yellow-y enough, it stays reasonably well, has good coverage, and is better than most concealer at avoiding settling into lines. The initial cost is on the higher side (like $11.50-13 before any coupons/extrabucks/whatever), but there is a lot of product in the tube. It's 0.6 oz, whereas Fit Me is 0.23, and the Sephora one is 0.14.

    One that I've been wanting to check out is the LA COlors Pro Conceal HD, which has been getting great reviews and is truly cheap as f*ck. Have you tried it?

    (OK, concealer dissertation over!)

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    1. This is really useful, thanks! Thank you for saying that about Fit Me, so I don't have to feel like I'm missing out. I have seen that L'Oreal concealer in stores, but never heard anything about it, so that's interesting. I'm definitely going to do a cost per weight/volume comparison on a bunch of concealers and post it sometime in the near future. I forgot about the LA Colors one, but it was on my list for a long time. I could never find it in a store, though, and I didn't want to spend $5+ shipping for a $3 product. But it is supposed to be very opaque and it comes in a good range of shades.

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    2. Check Amazon, they have a lot of options w/free shipping, especially if you have Prime. I've been on the point of purchasing it there for a while now.... as well as a very intriguing sub-$20 Foreo Luna dupe, because damned if I'm going to pay any more for one.

      The L'oreal concealer got so few reviews, it's weird! And yeah, no need for FOMO on the Fit Me.

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  9. Wow! I have my own concealer woes, so I might have to try this out.

    On a side note... Regarding the one from The Balm if you want to make it work, I know e.l.f. makes a decent hydrating under eye primer that might help with it.

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    1. And, as it turns out... I did go and get this today and rushed home to try it. All I can say is... WOW!

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    2. That means it worked? When I recommend something, I always feel a little paranoid--what if I hallucinated my results and I get chased out of town as a fraud??

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  10. There are times to be tight but I've not found any other concealor as good as it cosmetics. Not even as close second. A far second would be thin lizzy. You may think the concealor you're using is good but your circles are covered at all :)

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  11. They look okay, will check out Sephora however you'venot tried anything until bye bye under eyes

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  12. Am totally going to try this because of your post (and big thanks for linking to the swatches at makeup & beauty - hugely helpful).

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  13. I'm back to reading about this concealer :D I dont' think my local Sephora carries it though, boooooo.

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