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The Concealer Quest

January 2, 2011 Reviewed by admin 7 Comments
A couple of months ago, I wrote about my unfortunate dependence on Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer to cover my hereditary dark circles. I don’t mind the dependence nearly as much as I mind the questionable ingredients that this particular concealer contains. Several TIA readers encouraged me to buy a new, cleaner concealer and made helpful suggestions that pointed me in the right direction.  But the process of replacing my beloved Bobbi Brown was no walk in the park.

First I checked out Benefit Erase Paste, which a TIA reader had suggested. I’ve seen much worse when it comes to ingredients (below), and positive online reviews convinced me to give it a go. While I’ve never been allergic to any beauty products before, this one turned my eyes a little red and made me itchy. The reaction was probably due to lanolin (a fairly common allergen), which is the second ingredient in the product.

Next on my list was Jane Iredale Circle Delete Under-Eye Concealer. I was particularly excited about this one, because of its safe, even beneficial ingredients. Avocado oil, sunflower seed oil and castor seed oil are all good moisturizers, while green tea leaf extract makes for a good antioxidant. I went to Spa Nordstrom to test out the concealer; unfortunately, the woman who assisted me couldn’t seem to find a color or even a blend of colors that matched my skin. While the consistency was lovely, everything I tried either didn’t cover my dark circles or was so brightening that it didn’t look natural and gave me that unattractive reverse raccoon eye look.

Next I decided to hop on the mineral makeup bandwagon, as I’ve heard good things in terms of ingredient safety and coverage. Two brands that seem to be popping up everywhere are Signature Minerals and Alima Pure. Signature doesn’t contain talc, parabens, bismuth, fragrance or any sort of harmful preservatives. I ordered a free sampler pack, which came with several concealers and finishing veils. It took awhile to find the right match, but I finally found a concealer (apricot color corrector) and finishing veil (soft radiance) that seemed to do the trick. But by the time I took the thirty-minute train ride from my apartment to the Truth In Aging office, the concealer had already become crepe-like and flakey. Instead of the pigmented, dark color my under eye circles usually are, they developed an ashy grey tinge, thanks to the Signature concealer.

After the intensity of my mineral makeup failure, I had to wonder if I had applied it incorrectly. After watching a couple of online tutorials, I still didn’t trust myself. I didn’t want to repeat my mistakes when applying Alima Pure, so I asked my friend’s mother, a makeup artist, to do the honors. A representative from Alima was kind enough to send over free samples, though she recommended that I use their foundation and not their concealer. Upon opening the first foundation, I could tell that I liked the product’s consistency better than any of the Signature concealers. The minerals were finer and smoother, and seemed to glide on “softly and evenly,” as my friend’s mother said. I thought I found a winner with the Warm 5 shade but, sadly, it became a bit powdery after a few hours before fading completely. I was quite disappointed, as Alima has a fantastically wide range of colors that will surely match any skin type. Still, I was sent several Alima eye shadows, blushes and one eyeliner, all of which I highly recommend. Not only did they stay in place for the entire day, but also they gave me a soft, glowing look that was perfect for daytime, as opposed to the harsher, nighttime look I tend to get with other non-mineral makeup (especially eyeliner).

At this point in my quest for the perfect concealer, I was pretty sure that

  1. My dark circles were particularly bad and freakishly hard to cover

  2. I was no makeup artist

  3. It was time to give up for a while and revert back to Bobbi Brown

All in all, I wasn’t happy. But my sister finally convinced me to go to Sephora and ask someone there if they could recommend a decent concealer. The question had barely left my lips when a Sephora employee guided me over to theBalm timeBalm concealer. There weren’t many shades available, so I was immediately skeptical. What were the chances that I was going to find something that worked for my hard to match skin tone? The very patient Sephora makeup consultant tested several shades on my skin before concluding that I needed a combination of Mid-Medium and Medium/Dark.

I can’t say enough about timeBalm – its creamy consistency allows it to blend completely into my skin, cover my dark circles perfectly and last for the entire day. Both my boyfriend and friend, Preksha, used the word “glowing” to describe my face when I used timeBalm. Needless to say, I’m elated. A TIA writer, Shyema, actually reviewed and recommended timeBalm less than a year ago, praising its anti-wrinkle formulation. That’s right, this concealer is actually good for your skin, which explains why it was also listed as one of TIA’s five best concealers. While timeBalm does contain a couple of parabens, I’d say this is still a good product overall based on the rest of the ingredients (listed below) and price ($18).

Going back to mineral makeup for a moment: I did some research on it, and the consensus seems to be that pure mineral makeup does not always work on dry skin like mine. If I decide to switch to a mineral concealer at some point, it would probably be in my best interest to use a liquid mineral formula in order to avoid a powdery, cakey finish that looks unnatural.

Benefit Erase Paste Ingredients:

Petrolatum, Lanolin, Isopropyl Palmitate, Paraffin, Euphorbia Cerifera ( Candelilla) Wax, Glycine Soja ( Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Propylparaben, Retinyl Palmitate, (+/-)Titanium Dioxide ( CI 77891), Iron Oxides ( CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)

Jane Iredale Circle Delete Under-Eye Concealer Ingredients:

Isopropyl Jojobate, Avocado Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Castor Seed Oil, Beeswax, Silica, Carnauba Wax, Ozokerite, Lilac Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Pine Bark Extract, Bisabolol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Algae, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate. May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides.

Signature Apricot Concealer Ingredients:

Mica, iron oxides, titanium dioxide.

Signature Soft Radiance Finishing Veil Ingredients:

Mica, iron oxides, titanium dioxide.

Alima Pure Foundation Ingredients:

Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947) Mica (CI 77019). May contain [+/-]: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)

Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadow Ingredients:

Mica (CI 77019). May contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510)

Alima Pure Satin Matte Eyeliner Ingredients:

Mica (CI 77019). May contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Ultramarines (CI 77007)

Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Blush Ingredients:

Mica (CI 77019), May contain [+/-]: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

theBalm timeBalm Concealer Ingredients:

Tridecyl Trimelitate, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Dioctyl Adipate, Isoeicosane, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax (Carnuaba), Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, C18 36 Acid Glycol Ester, Panthenol, Tribehenin, Ceresin, Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean), Linoleic Acid, Glycine Soja Sterol (Soybean), Phospholipids, Lauroyl Lysine, Folic Acid (Folate) Vitamin B12, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Propyl Gallate, May Contain (+/-): Talc, Mica, Silica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
  • February 28, 2011

    by marta

    Thank you Eerwina. I've been meaning to look into RMS products, so this is a very timely reminder.

  • February 28, 2011

    by Ervina

    I have been searching for the holy grail of a natural concealer. I just ordered RMS "un" cover up at

    Has anyone tried the concealers from Hourglass or Josie Maran?

  • February 2, 2011

    by Rainee

    I wonder if you have tried Jane Iredale's 'Enlighten Concealer'. That seemed to work better for me than Circle Delete.

  • January 13, 2011

    by kannd86

    I've heard great things about timeBalm concealer, but it's full of parabens and other not-so-natural ingredients. I have tried all the natural concealers at Sephora and nothing works. Can anyone recommend an all natural concealer for dark undereye circles?

  • January 3, 2011

    by Eva

    Another good one is the Vapour Organic Beauty concealer, they do a great foundation as well and all the ingredients are 'food grade'. It's the only make-up brand so far I've found that combines quality make-up with quality ingredients.

  • January 2, 2011

    by Jan

    Great review Sarah. I've suggested before on older posts, to those with under eye circles.....irrigate your sinuses. After performing this daily for about a month you should see a decrease in your undereye shadows. Plus, it helps during winter months to keep your head clear and rinse out nasty bacteria that can lead to a cold.

    I'll definitely check out timeBalm, it sounds dreamy!

  • January 2, 2011

    by Oksana

    so glad to hear, you found the right one!
    I started out using Jane Iredale Circle Delete in #1 (yellow), and recently changed to "peach"-based #2 - absolutely the best match! and I would have never guessed, because my skin has warm tone with strong gold undertones.
    I have been using JR for a while. Out of all concealers of the line, Cirsle Delete provides the best coverage.
    I am still using #1 - for redness around my nose and red spots, as needed.

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