In the world of makeup, under-eye concealer is a necessary evil. We're thrilled when we discover a new holy-grail product, but so often our excitement is squashed when a midday glance in the mirror reveals creasing and cakiness. What does it take to achieve the crease-free under-eye we always see on the red carpet—magic? According to Honey makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, the creaseless look we see on celebs isn't actually witchcraft. "Models and actresses have a team of makeup artists and lighting assistants there to smooth away creases, whether it be through makeup or lighting or post-production," she says.
Now, there are a few genius tricks that we mere mortals can use to simulate the flawlessly concealed, fresh-faced look of celebs. But Gerstein urges us to set reasonable expectations. "You can minimize creasing, but being that we are moving, breathing beings, it is not always possible to prevent it altogether," she says. "Remember to go easy on yourself. As much as a crease annoys you, it's usually nothing a couple of swipes of a damp Beautyblender or a fingertip can't fix." Now that we've set our expectations to a realistic level, Gerstein and two other top Honey makeup artists have some pretty brilliant (and simple) tips for preventing those creases as much as possible.
Meet the Expert
- Suzy Gerstein is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist based in New York City. She has worked with a wide variety of talent ranging from supermodel Christy Turlington Burns to actress Christine Taylor and journalist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
- Min Min Ma is a New York City based celebrity and editorial makeup artist. Her clients include actress Tina Fey, singer Grimes, and actress/model Mia Goth.
- Robert Greene is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist. His work has been featured in Vogue Arabia, Marie Claire Italy, and Numéro Tokyo.
Learn 5 Tricks for Using Concealer from MUA Bob Scott
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Set With Powder to Minimize Creasing
Our MUAs agree it's easy to mess up the powder situation with under-eye concealer. According to Gerstein, applying powder on top of your concealer sets the look and minimizes creasing throughout the day. That is, if you don't overdo it. "Use a light powder like this one from Laura Mercier sparingly," says celebrity makeup artist Min Min Ma. This powder contains light-reflecting particles, which are great for brightening dull and dark under eyes, but can appear overly reflective if you load up on the product before a photo session. For best results, apply with a small, fluffy powder shadow brush like the Fenty Beauty Tapered Blending Brush ($24).
Place Your Concealer Strategically
When it comes to concealer, find the sweet spot between too much product and not enough. You want to apply enough to cover the entire area and be able to blend it without making the coverage splotchy or too thin, but you don't want to cake it on the delicate eye area either. "Where you place the concealer is also important," says Ma. "We tend to get most darkness around the triangle part at the inner corner of the eyes, so focus there. The skin around that area tends to be smoother, hence less creasing." Apply the bulk of the product in this darker area, and blend it out toward your orbital bone for a traceless finish.
Choose a Lightweight Formula
According to Ma, the texture of your concealer affects how much it will crease. Dry concealers tend to crease more because they are less flexible and can cling to the folds of your skin. "I tend to go for light and creamy textured ones," she explains. If you haven't found your perfect formula yet, Ma suggests trying this one from Charlotte Tilbury, which offers the perfect balance of setting without drying.
Prep with Eye Cream For a Smooth Finish
A lesser-known tip for crease-free concealer is to prep the under-eye area with an eye cream that absorbs easily, like this pick from Tatcha. If you're the type that typically skips the daytime eye cream to prevent your eye makeup from smearing or running, Gerstein says that the trick is to wait a few minutes after applying eye cream before applying concealer. “I like to do this step first, then apply the rest of the makeup, and then go back to under-eye concealer to ensure that the product has time to absorb," she says.
If you're in a hurry and don't have time to wait it out, Gerstein says to apply your eye cream, then separate a two-ply tissue and press it on your under-eye area. This hack removes any excess cream and readies the under-eye area for concealer.
Avoid Applying Concealer Too Close to the Lashes
You don't need to apply concealer all the way up to your lashes to yield heavy coverage. Just like you should blend the edges of your concealer out toward the orbital bone for a seamless fade, do the same in the other direction. Blend it up toward your lash line rather than apply the product directly along the line. Gerstein explains that if you take the concealer too close to the bottom lashes, it can pool and crease in that area. Alas, accidents happen, so if you happen to get too close to the lash line, you can remedy it by dipping a cotton swab in a tiny bit of makeup remover and gently run it under the lash line. Or, try a multi-purpose skin salve for easy removal—Gerstein likes Honest Beauty's Magic Beauty Balm, ($13). This will “break up the product and bring the area back to life,” she explains.
Choose the Right Tools For Seamless Application
The tools you use to apply your under-eye concealer matters. For a no-makeup makeup look, apply the product only where you need it to look naturally well-rested. "My trick is to use a small, pointed synthetic brush to apply the concealer only to the areas where you see a shadow, then pat into place with your fingertip," says Gerstein. "The warmth of your skin will melt the product and blend it in, making it look like real skin." Make sure to use your ring finger (the finger with the lightest pressure) to avoid pulling at the delicate skin around your eyes.
Dab with Blotting Paper to Remove Excess Product
Remember when you learned to blot your lipstick on a piece of tissue to remove the excess product? Apply that same concept for creaseless, stay-all-day concealer. Here's how it works: After you've strategically applied your concealer with the right brush, gently press a sheet of blotting paper over the under-eye area. This "really blots off excess oil, leaving just the pigment behind, which ensures long wear," says Gerstein. What you'll be left with? The perfect amount of coverage. What you won't be left with? The excess product accumulating in your fine lines and creases.
We're not talking about the next-level baking made famous by the drag community and later adapted by mainstream culture on Instagram. We're talking about an easier version for everyday makeup. Instead of coating the area with a thick layer of powder, opt for a light dusting. Here's how you do it: "Have a loaded setting brush ready with loose setting powder," says celebrity makeup artist Robert Greene. Pat in your concealer in with your fingertips, making sure there are no visible crease lines. Then, tap on some loose powder quickly and lightly over the area you've concealed. “Let the powder sit for two to three minutes,” Greene says. Then gently dust off all remaining powder that hasn't set in, until the look is smooth and set.
Build Up Product Slowly
If you're dealing with creasing concealer around your eyes, try a less-is-more approach. That is, rather than starting with a thick coat of concealer, build it up as you need it. "I like to work in thin layers to achieve a realistic finish and only apply as much as needed," says Gerstein. That way, you don't end up applying way too much product all at once, which means inevitable caking and creasing, especially if you're using a heavy-duty formula.
What is the best way to apply under eye concealer?
Instead of using a heavy-handed approach with your concealer, you should use light layers and build up as needed. Use a small blending brush to blend it out and set with a light layer of under eye powder.
Should I wear eye cream if I plan on wearing concealer?
You don't need to skip eye cream, but to prevent creasing, you should try to let it dry completely or blot using tissues.
What is baking?
Baking is a makeup technique used by drag queens and later adopted by Instagram and Youtube makeup influencers. It involves setting your concealer with a thick layer of powder, letting it sit or "bake" on the skin for a few minutes, and then gently brushing it away.