Archive | April 2014

Disguising dark circles under eyes


Dark circles under our eyes may be temporary or permanent. The causes may include feeling tired or stressed, sports injuries, pigmentation, genetics and so on. Whatever the reason for this condition, it can affect our self-confidence as we interact with others around us. If the dark circles are permanent or do not clear up quickly, always consult your doctor for advice. There are also beauty products on the market that claim to minimise the condition, should you wish to experiment with these and test their effectiveness. The other alternative is to camouflage the area with concealer using professional make-up techniques.

Concealer is applied over moisturiser and before applying foundation. In general, concealers designed for the face are not suitable for the delicate area under the eyes as they are heavy in texture or too dry so that the skin can easily be dragged. If a thick texture is applied under the eyes, this can result in a strange raised effect when viewed under lights. The concealer can also build up in fine lines under the eyes with an unflattering, if temporary, ageing effect. The best concealer to use is a light liquid concealer or liquid crème eyeshadow. Another option is to use liquid foundation, which should be a shade or two lighter than the foundation colour you plan to wear. Powder based concealers are definitely not suitable for the under-eye area as these will cake, particularly when foundation is applied over the top. If there is obvious discolouration, such as a purple effect, consider visiting a make-up specialist at your local department store for advice. They may suggest concealers with special tints, such as pink, to tone down the appearance of the discolouration. Only don’t let them talk you into buying any concealer with a heavy texture!

Invest in at least one good quality, general purpose concealer brush or a soft artist’s paintbrush with a curved shape, soft bristles and a pointed tip.  Concealer brushes also come in other shapes such as wedge shapes for other applications. The foam make-up applicators will be too rough for the under-eye area. A fine make-up brush such as an eyeliner brush is also recommended, along with an eyeshadow brush and the wedge shaped sponge described in an earlier article. A mirror is also obviously an essential tool.

Our aim in applying concealer is to introduce light to tone down the shade visible as dark circles. Examine the under-eye area in the mirror to identify where the concealer is needed. Start with a tiny amount of concealer on the end of the brush and gently apply a thin layer to the entire under-eye area without dragging the skin. This will ensure that there are no gaps and variation in the colour. Remember to feather the concealer up and under the lower lashes, trying not to coat the eyelashes while you are doing this. If you do make a mistake and coat any of the lashes, blot gently with a very soft facial tissue. Take the wedge shaped sponge and gently pat the concealer to blend it, encourage absorption into the skin and remove any excess. Carefully add tiny dots of concealer with your brush to the discoloured areas, using the absolute minimum needed to disguise the area. Remember that you will be applying foundation over the concealer so try not to get too carried away. The goal is to achieve translucency as far as possible in this area. Allow a few minutes for the concealer to settle then inspect the results in natural daylight and under lighting. Touch up and blend as necessary.

Many women experience shadowing under their eyes caused by reflection from a prominent eye socket bone. This can become more pronounced with ageing and the under-eye area becomes hollow in appearance. The solution is to take a fine brush such an eyeliner brush and paint a fine line of light liquid concealer just inside (not on) the eye socket bone. When painting the line, follow the half circle from just under the inside corner of the eye to the other side.  Blend the line with the wedge shaped sponge as described above. Blend only as much as you need to so that the line looks natural, but not enough to remove your work. The light colour of the concealer will reflect the shade so that the shadowing is less pronounced or hardly noticeable. This method is more effective when used over foundation.

Another technique disguises shadowing or darkness at the inside corner of the eye. Apply your eyeshadow as required (eyeshadow styles and techniques will be covered in future posts). As a final step, take your eyeshadow brush and lightly coat with white or crème eyeshadow (or a colour a few shades lighter than your foundation), tap off excess then dot in the inside corner between your eye and your nose. Repeat on the other side. Take care not to get the powder in your eyes.  The powder can be gently blended with the brush or a make-up applicator. Yet again, the subtle application of a light colour counteracts the shade.

Extremes of temperature and broken capillaries

Capillaries are the smallest of the blood vessels and play an important role in transporting oxygenated blood to the tissues, releasing waste products such as carbon dioxide and cooling the body down. These blood vessels are so fine that they resemble strands of hair. Networks of capillaries are found throughout the body however, for the purpose of this article, we are most concerned with the capillaries that are close to the surface of the skin. The skin on our faces and necks is much more delicate than the skin on the rest of our bodies and it is constantly exposed to the elements. When we are overheated the capillaries dilate as the blood rushes to the surface of our skin in an effort to release the heat and cool the body down and then recedes. When we are cold the blood circulates through the capillaries to maintain optimal temperature so our skin may appear flushed or paler than usual.  If we move for instance from a heated room to the cold outdoors the natural circulation of the blood to the skin may be more rapid than usual, causing damage to the capillaries. As the capillaries are very fine, they are fragile and susceptible to bruising or breakage. Damaged capillaries on the face are often described as spider veins because of their ‘angry’,  red, web-like appearance.

To prevent broken capillaries, it is important to avoid extremes of temperature that may place excessive strain on these blood vessels. Avoid showering or bathing with water that is too hot or too cold. In particular, avoid a hot shower or bath when your body is cold and avoid a cold shower when your body is overheated. If you subscribe to the European method of alternating your shower temperature from hot to cold to boost circulation, do not use this method on your face or neck. Similarly, if you are feeling hot, do not try to cool down by washing or rinsing your face with cold water. If you are feeling cold, it is not a good idea to warm yourself up by washing or rinsing your face with hot water. Tepid to lukewarm water is always the best for the face and neck area.  If you engage in strenuous physical exercise, take time for your body to cool down before having a shower. Be cautious if consuming alcohol, which can cause pronounced heat and flushing on the facial skin. As always, treat the skin on your face and neck gently and this will also help to avoid damage to capillaries close to the skin’s surface.

If damaged capillaries do become visible there are beauty treatments available but these are often expensive and may result in other issues such as scarring or loss of pigmentation. Another option is to lightly cover the area with concealer before applying your foundation. Green tinted concealer is effective for covering and neutralising the red appearance of capillaries as it is the opposite colour on the spectrum. In summer, wear hats and clothing in light breathable fabrics to prevent overheating.  In winter, dress warmly and wear hats and scarves. In cooler weather consider changing to a foundation with a higher oil content to further protect the skin from extremes in temperature. It is much more sensible to take measures to protect your skin rather than looking for solutions once damage has occurred.