Undereye Concealer Is Dead

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It used to be that I started my makeup by swiping a doe foot loaded with near-white concealer from the edges of my nose all the way out to my temples. That was standard practice in the 2010s; it’s what the beauty YouTubers taught us to do. Now I shudder at the thought, and I’m not the only one. As far as TikTok is concerned, undereye concealer has gone the way of the skinny jean: It’s over as we know it.

Most of the makeup videos that come across my feed these days are about ditching the traditional style of undereye concealer—usually lighter than one’s natural skin tone and oft heavy-handed—in favor of embracing the natural shadow of the undereye. And even when I’m not watching someone bare their shadowy undereyes, I’m getting schooled about coverage techniques that don’t involve concealer, such as subtle color correction and undereye contouring. I’ve even seen a few people who like to wear sparkly eye shadow under their eyes instead of a brightening concealer.

It felt like I woke up one day and suddenly no one—dare I say—hip was wearing undereye concealer anymore, a jarring thing to witness for anyone who came of age in the maximalist makeup era. I’m not just seeing things, I swear. “I have ditched super bright under eye concealer on myself and on my clients,” says Delina Medhin, a makeup artist based in Los Angeles. “The times are changing.”

This cultural shift didn’t happen overnight. This might inspire a few exasperated eye rolls, but this is really the pandemic’s doing. Yes, yes, I know; we’ve all talked circles around lockdown’s impacts on beauty in the past four years. It caused a wave of makeup minimalism, resulting in fresh-faced trends like the clean girl aesthetic. But as New York City-based makeup artist Karol Rodriguez points out, the effects of that are still lingering four years later, especially for younger generations who learned about makeup via TikTok mid-pandemic the same way I learned about makeup via YouTube mid-recession. “Post-Covid, everyone’s been… questioning the true need of every product. Everyone’s trying to achieve maximum impact with minimal effort,” theyexplain. “In the same way I don’t know anyone who wears wired bras anymore, a super bright undereye feels a bit overdressed.”

People started focusing on skin care more and makeup less, making this sudden societal hesitance toward concealer inevitable. They’ve been going hard on the eye cream and gua sha, and now they want to show off the fruits of their efforts, which they can do thanks to a heightened skill set. As Medhin says, “natural [skin] has always been in,” but historically speaking, the general consumer has never had as much access to free professional makeup advice as they do now, thanks to the internet. It makes sense that pre-TikTok makeup trends involved caking on heavy concealers and powdering to death—that method of coverage doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as something like color correction.

Honestly? I think all of this is a great thing. For one, wearing less makeup—especially in an area as mobile as the undereye—presents less chance of caking, creasing, and smudging throughout a day. I think we all got too comfortable doing makeup to be photographed but not to be worn out in the real world. The slow death of the impenetrably bright undereye is a sign to me that we’re all really ready to be out in the real world again, and as Medhin says, “Less makeup looks better in person.”

It’s also a sign, I hope, that people’s focus when it comes to beauty is shifting away from the manufactured perfection that’s been expected of us by capitalism and is shifting toward personalization and authenticity. Rodriguez certainly thinks it is, at least for younger people. “I’m seeing this trend within Gen Z and millennials; both are experiencing a renaissance that challenges the status quo of what it has historically meant for them to be this age and gender in society,” they say. “We’re all about decolonizing beauty standards and creating our own rituals that serve our true selves, and for a lot of us that includes trimming down our makeup routines.”

This downtick in brightening undereye concealer could even be a reaction to a widespread overuse of dermal filler and other cosmetic procedures that can erase the face’s natural definition when taken too far. The natural peaks and valleys that appear when light is cast on a face is what makes it unique and beautiful, and I think people are beginning to understand that covering up all the natural darkness underneath the eye can have the same visual impact as overdone undereye filler. That’s why many makeup artists have historically leaned into those shadows. “Truthfully, I’ve always loved having a little darkness on the bottom eyelid,” Medhin says. Even when she’s doing a heavier makeup look on a client, she’ll use darker eye makeup to create a shadow so the look reads as more natural.

If you have yet to dip your toe into the no-concealer world, Medhina and Rodriquez have some tips—the first being that you don’t have to say goodbye entirely if you don’t want to. “If you insist on less concealer, just put it in the inner corner in the darkest hollow of the eye and the outer corner to brighten up and lift the eye,” Medhin says. “The trick here is make sure the concealer matches your skin tone so it looks like nothing.”

If you’re using a lighter-coverage foundation or skin tint, you can just blend that upwards to your undereye area and call it a day, Rodriguez says. But, “if you want a little more, add in a color corrector. [It] will neutralize any undereye discoloration and help bring balance to the face.” They like Bobbi Brown, Charlotte Tilbury, and Exa Beauty’s color correctors. Allure’s content director Kara McGrath has been covering up her dark undereye circles since she was in middle school; she tells me Caliray’s Hideaway Color Corrector is the first product she’s tried in the past 20 years that actually convinced her to ditch traditional concealer.

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown Skin Color Corrector Stick

Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Vanish Color Corrector

Exa Beauty

Exa High Fidelity Balancing Color Corrector

(As I’ve learned from makeup artists in the past, the color one should use for correction depends greatly on one’s skin tone and depth. We’ve got more advice and recommendations for the best color correctors, but I personally have had great success using the Jones Road Neutralizer Pencil in Fair Pink to cancel out both redness and darkness on my fair skin without a ton of coverage. Alternately, Rodriquez says using a little powder in place of undereye concealer works, too.

Caliray

Caliray Hideaway Under Eye Color Corrector

Jones Road

Jones Road The Neutralizer Pencil

Admittedly, even I, the queen of warning people against trends, have been influenced to put away my undereye concealer in favor of these methods, and it’s changed the way I approach makeup entirely. I no longer need to cover up all the natural peaks and valleys on my face in order to create new ones via eye shadow and contouring—I can just let them peek through lighter-coverage products and speak for themselves. It saves me time, and it feels gratifying that I’m not trying so hard to provide the illusion of having a perfectly structured face. When you’re not spending your precious moments of free time out in the world checking yourself in the mirror and touching up your makeup, you end up feeling more present. You end up enjoying that time more.

Trends are cyclical, which means one day the heavy-handed approach to complexion makeup will be popular once again. Whether or not I’ll even want to go back to it at that point, though, is hard to say.


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