Whether you want to disguise dark circles or fine lines, bookmark these expert application techniques.

By Rebecca Norris
May 19, 2021
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Have you ever applied concealer under your eyes in an attempt to cover up the appearance of dark circles or crow's feet only to accidentally draw more attention to them? You're not alone. Mastering this makeup application method can be challenging. Apply too little and the product won't hide dark shadows; choose the incorrect formula, and it might settle into fine lines if you have them. To help you nail this technique once and for all, we spoke with several makeup artists and asked them to share their best under-eye concealer application tips.

women applied concealer under the eyes
Credit: Nevena1987 / Getty Images

Disguising Dark Circles

If your goal is to cover under-eye circles, Bobbi Brown national makeup artist Michele Shakeshaft advises covering the entire area with product. "Begin your application by placing concealer where you see the most darkness," she instructs. "Using your brush, lightly press or tap the concealer to blend." A pressing motion, she adds, will result in fuller, more even coverage. "This also reduces any tugging or pulling to the delicate skin under the eye," she continues, noting that a "windshield wiper" technique will tug and thin out the concealer.

Still noticing some darkness post-application? Shakeshaft says you might need to start with a color-correcting formula, such as Bobbi Brown's Under Eye Corrector ($29, nordstrom.com); then, press a thinner coat of concealer on top. "Corrector will neutralize the darkness and concealer will brighten and lift," she shares, noting not to worry too much about the corrector "matching" your skin tone, since the concealer will restore those flesh hues.

Minimize Fine Lines

While dark circles are one of the more prevalent under-eye concerns, crow's feet are a close second, especially for those with mature skin. If you want to soften the latter, you might be wondering if your concealer application technique differs from that of the former. Shakeshaft says this has more to do with choosing the correct formula and using a lighter hand. "While the application technique itself won't change, you have to be more aware of the formulas you are using, the amount of product you use, and if layering products is your best option," she says, noting that working in sheer layers is your best bet. "Add concealer gradually and build the coverage as you go. At 50, my under-eye area simply can't handle the same amount of product it did at 20."

Prevent Creasing

Whatever your age, applying product in sheer layers, adds Shakeshaft, is the key to preventing creasing—as is your skin care routine. "If you are not using an eye cream, you should be," she says. "Concealer will always look textured and dry if it is applied to skin that is not moisturized properly." When applying your eye cream, know that less is often more. That way, residue won't sit on the surface of your skin, which leads to creasing. Another way to prevent this? Set you under-eye makeup with powder. "Translucent setting powder is an excellent way to elongate the wear of the concealer and reduce creasing," Shakeshaft says. "The key to applying powder so it doesn't look caked on is to use a fluffier, smaller brush." For the best results, she says to press your tool into the powder, then lightly tap the brush onto the area from the outside to the inner corner. "By doing this, you will get a soft, even distribution versus a heavy, unflattering application," she explains.

The powder method is certainly an option if you prefer a matte complexion, but, according to Chanel makeup artist Kate Lee, it could take the life out of a dewy look. "I am not an advocate for 'baking' at any age. In order to look fresh, you need to maintain [moisture]," she says. "Patting [the product in] with your finger usually takes care of any settling, but concealer that is specifically made for under the eye usually stays malleable enough to pat back into place."

The Right Product

Choosing the correct formula for this area is critical; select the wrong one and disguising dark circles and crow's feet alike becomes difficult. "Using a very pigmented, thick concealer that is meant for blemishes and discoloration is not flattering around the eye," Lee says. "You need two different products [for your face]." As far as color matching goes, she says to keep your under-eye concealer no more than a full shade lighter than your overall complexion to keep the final result as natural as possible.

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