Reader question: Under-eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) don’t give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

Dark circles

Today we have a very, VERY important reader question to attend to, because it deals with what is maybe the most important makeup task of all time. (Well, other than having properly shaped brows, that is.)

I’m talking about concealing the dark shadows around your eyes. Newsflash: we all have them. Even if you wouldn’t go so far as to say you have actual circles (which materialize in a crescent shape directly underneath your eyes), you’re still going to have some discolouration—maybe purplish, maybe greenish—at the inner and outer corners. (And maybe you’re lucky and have it on your eyelids too. Yay!) This is why I repeatedly say that if you do nothing else to your face, applying concealer to the inner corners is a MUST. People who say they “don’t need” any concealer are clearly either a) 14 years old or b) lying to themselves.

BUT. Makeup companies have been confusing people for some time now with products like YSL’s famous Touche Éclat. Such as reader Roxy, who left this very excellent question in the comments the other day:

“I have to say that I don’t know too much about using illuminators under the eye. I’ve had the YSL counter lady try the Touche Éclat on me once, and I didn’t find that it gave me enough coverage. Would the Éstee Lauder product be the same way?  Perhaps it’s me that needs to get used to having dark circles ‘illuminated’ instead of covered up by matte concealer?”

Boy, do I have lots to say on this topic.

 

woman with dark circles Reader question: Under eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) dont give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

 

First of all, a big fat NON. Roxy, you do not need to get used to having your dark circles “illuminated” instead of covered up.

The biggest misconception about this new-ish category of under-eye illuminators is that you’re supposed to use them instead of concealer. I know beauty brands often bill them as such, but frankly, it’s misleading and downright irresponsible. Even though many of them say they are multi-purpose—eg. concealing, brightening, illuminating, yada, yada, yada—I have found that they rarely deliver on the concealment front.

However, if you take them at face value and use them not alone but IN ADDITION TO a concealer, then everyone can exist peacefully and live happily ever after.

Here’s my step-by-step for bright, wide-awake, “I just slept for nine hours” eyes:

1. Go buy a concealer that is an exact match to your facial skin tone. I can’t stress the “exact” part enough. This may mean that you need a darker one in the summer and a lighter one in the winter. But PLEASE, exercise caution because if you go too light, you risk achieving a sort of reverse raccoon eyes look:

raccoon eyes Reader question: Under eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) dont give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

Or, you know, a reverse panda. Whichever.

panda eyes Reader question: Under eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) dont give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

Also make sure the concealer is neither too thick nor too thin. Too thick and it’ll look all cakey and tug too much (read: cause wrinkles) in that delicate area when you’re trying to blend. Too thin and it won’t do shiz for covering up.

I am partial to creamy concealers that come in pots, such as Nvey Eco Organic Erase (getting difficult to find these days though), TheBalm TimeBalm Concealer, Benefit Erase Paste, Benefit Boi-ing and CoverGirl and Olay Simply Ageless Concealer.

2. Use a brush and/or your fingers to apply it wherever you have darkness, all the way around the eye. I usually start with my eyelids, because since I started using Latisse (more on that soon!), I’ve got some not-so-pretty purple discolouration. (That’s one of the side effects, but I can live with it.) I use my ring finger to gently pat the concealer on, which helps push it into the skin so that it lasts longer. Many concealers (such as Nvey’s) double as eye makeup primers anyway, or you could use something like this dual concealer/primer from Pandora’s Makeup Box.

Once I’m done the lids, I tackle any darkness directly under the eyes (again, usually with fingers), and then use my concealer brush to paint the inner and outer corners. ELLE had a great tip, via vlogger Kandee Johnson, about painting the under-eye area in an upside-down triangle. She starts talking about it at 1:59:

I like this advice, but all I will say is to be very, very careful that you don’t overdo it and end up looking like Kim Kardashian:

Kim Kardashian Golden Globes 2011 after party Reader question: Under eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) dont give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

I just feel like her under-eye area looks very unnatural and not like the rest of her skin.

3. Set it all with HD powder. Just a light dusting is all you need, with a domed eyeshadow brush, of course—this will set the concealer and prevent it from settling into any creases. And because HD powder is so darned SMART (finely milled pigments etc.), don’t worry about it exaggerating your wrinkles. It won’t.

4. Now it’s FINALLY time to apply your illuminator. This will be a clickity, pen-style thing, like the aforementioned Touche Éclat or perhaps one from Elizabeth Arden or Guerlain or the 1,000 other brands that now manufacture then. But you don’t want to just go over the under-eye area willy nilly. If you didn’t bother with the triangle thing when you applied your concealer (which is fine if you don’t have mega-circles), here is where it comes into play.

YSL Touche Eclat Reader question: Under eye illuminators (like, say, Touche Éclat) dont give my dark circles enough coverage. What gives?

Instead of drawing a crescent shape underneath the eyes—which I think is what most of us are inclined to do when wielding an illuminating pen—you’re going to want to draw the inverted triangle, and then blend, blend, blend.

Why do this? Because otherwise, you’re back up at raccoon- or panda-eye territory. Since the under-eye area is a hollow, if you stop with the highlighting at the exact spot where your cheekbone also starts to jut out, then you’re actually drawing more attention there, and not in a good way. The cut-off point is too obvious. By bringing the tip of the triangle down, you’re creating a more seamless, blended look that is infinitely more natural yet, of course, flawless.

An alternative technique is sort of a half triangle focused on the outer edges. This is how I use the Estee Lauder Idealist Cooling Eye Illuminator, due to the shape of its applicator. You would focus the pen just on the outer half of your under-eye area, and create a diagonal line from the top of your cheekbone up to the outer corner of the eye, and then fill it in. Make sense?

Tell me:

Were you using illuminators as concealers? (How’s that workin’ for ya?)
Or did you already separate your concealing from your illuminating? What’s your technique?
What are your favourite eye-area concealing and/or illuminating prodz?

29 Comments

Thomas
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 12:56 pm

This is a really interesting area for me, because I genetically have reallyreallyREALLY dark purple circles under my eyes. Its the one area of my face that I really think looks bad – I just looks tired all the time and people have commented on it. Obviously, I don’t want to be using makeup to solve it, but I’m partial to going somewhere inbetween for something such as this… http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XNY_fgTdS9k/TGsrQSEv-sI/AAAAAAAAF10/e0UrDjDp0aE/s1600/GarnierSkinRollerCollage1.jpg
Would you have any suggestions for anything that could brighten up my under eye area, maybe even in terms of like a home made face mask type thing?

Your faithful fan, Thomas xx

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Thomas
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 4:48 pm

OMG. I had to post an extra quick comment – I was right!!!! Katy Perry HAS gone pink!!! Remember your post about her new yellow hair? Well I said “I am almost expecting her to know go pink or something. It wouldn’t surprise me.” and look at this! I’M PSYCHIC!!!!
http://uk.eonline.com/news/hues_girl_katy_perry_goes_pink/255739

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:10 pm

I did a magazine piece a couple of years ago on dark circles. They’re mainly genetic but can also be related to allergies, food sensitivities, a bad diet (eg. iron deficient, low in fresh veg, not drinking enough water etc.) and of course lack of sleep! So I would probably start there. Am not convinced about how much topicals can really do – although the Garnier thing probably has optical diffusing pigments in it that help to throw light on the area (without looking “makeupy”). The roller function is a bit gimmicky, although in theory it’s supposed to help with circulation.
Here is another drugstore option that’s not makeup but is brightening. It says it’s tinted but honestly it’s super subtle. http://well.ca/products/olay-total-effects-line-dark_31873.html

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Kharina
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 2:16 pm

There is one product that conceals and illuminate. Yes one! I’m talking about ByTerry’s Touche Veloutee. This stuff I love to have in my handbag for those emergency touch up moments. Only issue is that this stuff only comes in 2 colours, and I personally go for the dark as dark circles require more pigment. Otherwise I love and adore Eve Pearl’s Salmon Concealer. I have a friend with serious dark circles under her eyes and this will sort her out instantly and I use it myself on a daily basis.

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Alexis
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 3:02 pm

I heard good things about Touche Veloutee but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Since Sephora stopped carrying it, there’s no retailer that carries By Terry over here in the west coast Canada. If you don’t mind sharing, where did you get yours?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:13 pm

Oh interesting! I don’t believe I’ve tried this one. Did you know Terry herself (Terry de Gunzburg) actually INVENTED Touche Eclat? So maybe she put more pigment in her own version. I don’t know who carries this line anymore in Canada though – where did you buy it? Even Sephora.com doesn’t have it.

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Sophia
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 9:41 pm

The concealer technique used in the video is a no-go for me. I’ve got freckles (especially now that it’s summer) rich across that area and it would look bizarre if they were faded there. I might try a smaller triangle and see how that works but otherwise I’ll be sticking to mostly just the inner corners.

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Sophia
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 9:49 pm

right**, oopsies

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:14 pm

Good call! I don’t think freckles should be hidden! But an illuminator would allow them to show through, right?

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Christina
Tuesday, August 2/2011 at 10:54 pm

Awesome. My undereye circles aren’t particularly dark (actually, they’re not dark at all- just purple as opposed to the rest of my yellow, contrasting skin), but I can never balance between a “natural” look with darker circles and an overdone look with even circles. I’m eager to try this and see if it helps.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:16 pm

Let us know how it goes! The Kandee video has some tips at the beginning for choosing a concealer shade… maybe that’s part of it as well. If yours are purple then you want the opposite shade, yellow, to counteract them.

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Liz (Beauty Reductionista)
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 12:36 am

Forgive me this but I can’t resist: this post was…….. illuminating! ;)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:17 pm

Oooh, I should’ve used that in my headline!

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Melissa
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 2:38 am

Awww… but who wouldn’t want to look as * adorable * as that panda bear??

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:17 pm

I know, right? I even developed a soft spot for the baby raccoon.

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Barb
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 8:23 am

Best post ever! Finally someone who has lid discoloration
too! where do you purchase Nvey Eco Organic Erase ?
I also find that the concealer has to match the foundation or tinted moisturizer exactly.
Illuminators are great-for touch ups during the day,
I am currently using Clinique’s airbrush wand.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:20 pm

I just found it on ebeauty.ca: http://www.ebeauty.ca/Nvey-Eco/Concealers/Nvey-Eco-Organic-Erase-Corrective-Makeup/pages/productdetails?nav=R:955136
Never ordered from there but they’re a Rogers company so totally legit. I used to buy from Pure + Simple and SaffronRouge.com but neither of them carry it anymore.

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Lindsay
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 10:36 am

Such a timely post. I was just researching the two Benefit concealers you mentioned. I’ve been working way too much, and it’s starting to show in my eyes. Barf. Any tips on which one is better?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:23 pm

Both give really good coverage but I think I prefer Boi-ing – it seems to last longer and is more versatile for both eye area and the rest of the face. Erase Paste is much creamier and I find it very easy to load up your brush with too much product. It does however have brightening ingredients which Bo-ing does not.

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Lindsay
Thursday, August 4/2011 at 9:57 am

In other news, I totes tried the triangle technique. Success! I look like I got more than 5 hours sleep. Amazing.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 10/2011 at 7:31 pm

Hooray! So glad it was a success!

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Michelle
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 1:39 pm

This is a great post – so, so, so important! Not surprised people would have luck with ByTerry products – she created YSL’s Touche Elcat back in 92 when she worked for the , before branching out on her own. I know Barney’s sells the line and I believe they ship to Canada…
Thank you for these amazing tips and tricks! Concealer and brows – both must dos in my book!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 7:25 pm
misschris2025
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 8:00 pm

For By Terry, I’d also recommend looking at Space NK, I’ve seen it when I visited the store in SoHo a couple of weeks ago, and it seems like they ship to international destinations, but it looks like you may have to place the order by phone:
http://www.spacenk.com/product/shop+by+brand/by+terry/makeup/touche+veloutee.do
http://www.spacenk.com/product/shop+by+brand/by+terry/makeup/touch+expert.do

As a woman of color with CRAZY undereye circles, it’s still pretty hard to find a) a full-coverage concealer with a perfect color-match (although I did recently discover Eve Pearl Makeup and I think I may have found my HG concealer), but b) it’s even harder to find a good illuminator for darker skintones. I’ve had so-so luck with Touche Éclat #4 and was about to toss it our of frustration, but thanks for the tips, Michelle, I’ll definitely try to paint an inverted triangle and see what’s up!

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misschris2025
Wednesday, August 3/2011 at 8:01 pm
Kharina
Thursday, August 4/2011 at 4:58 pm

Space Nk carry it. Is there no Space NK in Canada? And yup, Terry is the brains behind Touche Eclat. :|

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, August 10/2011 at 7:32 pm

Nope, sadly no Space NK stores here! But glad to hear they ship internationally.

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Gimped
Tuesday, September 13/2011 at 5:16 pm

I’m still a huge fan of mixing my concealer with my eye cream. Learned this at a makeup counter while getting a makeover. I use Benefit’s Erase Paste, but find it a bit too thick. The eye cream helps to thin it out a bit (and match my skin tone better). It’s one of the best make up tricks I’ve learned. See the comments on this post for more info.

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huw thomas
Monday, July 8/2013 at 11:49 pm

blimey, i’m late!! when you’re an oldy like me – 46 and boy 40 + is like you’re on fast forward aging. Correctors like erase paste are too heavy and gloopy for me. Have tried every combination of concealer corrector bb, god knows what. So for older skin, here’s my current fave.

1 spend 1 hour applying dr perricone stuff

2 put sunscreen on and go and have a cup of tea after al the exertion

3 mix stila colour corrector and bronzer primers and apply quite sparingly – makes skin look fantastic but without anything on it. I rub the stila under and around my eyes. This itself is v natural semi concealer. Oh i forgot, i put mac primer gel round eyes before, particularly over lines diagonally down from eye corner.

4 I put clinique new “corrctor” (it isn’t), very liquid and blendable in corners and just down a ittle bit. I put new clinique lid smoothie primer to brighten lids (I use latisse!) If I need any “brightening” my current one is rodial venom and just put tiny dab on inner corner, mid eyelid and outer corner. I have pretty bad dark circles and i think you just gotta go for 70% or so and know your skin. Bad concealer is just awful – orange clay on a young woman or bright white rings on a red faced woman

5 I put a bit of powder oneye area as well as bit on t zone but beware too much in your eye lines!

thats that for now, its fine

cheers
huw

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