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What’s The Difference Between a Concealer and a Highlighting Concealer?

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that Yves Saint Laurent’s beloved Touche Éclat isn’t merely a concealer, it’s actually a highlighter too? I was clueless. For as long as I've been using makeup, I have always thought that anything the color of your skin was purely to mask imperfections. But, as it turns out, highlighting concealers are meant to be a shade or two lighter than your skin tone to reflect light and brighten. Consider this beauty editor schooled.

As someone who primarily uses concealer under my eyes (eight hours is a rarity and seems blissfully indulgent), I wanted to get the scoop on exactly which type of concealer I should be using. So I turned to makeup artist Neil Scibelli for a quick breakdown of the best ways to cover dark circles and look bright-eyed.

Pick a Hydrating Concealer

“When choosing a concealer for under your eyes, look for products that have hydrating properties,” says Scibelli. “They work as binding agents, but also make for a smoother and more flawless application.” A favorite at the Birchbox office is Benefit’s Fakeup, which contains castor seed oil, vitamin E, and apple fruit extract to give the product a silky-smooth texture. As Scibelli notes, “because our undereye areas are prone to creasing from concealers, finding these emollient formulas will be best for those delicate areas.”

To Highlight or Not to Highlight?

Since a highlighting concealer offers both coverage and light-reflecting properties, Scibelli says it’s perfect for minimizing the signs of fatigue and dryness. Use one around your eyes the same way you would with any normal concealer, but if you require more coverage, try applying your regular concealer first and then dabbing the highlighting concealer over it. (Editor tip: For anyone who is a fan of Touche Éclat, Dermablend’s Quick Fix Illuminator is similarly incredible—and for a fraction of the price.) But be forewarned: “If you're puffy under the eyes, I’d stay away from illuminating properties, which can just accentuate that,” says Scibelli.

Use Your Fingers

When it comes time to use either concealer or highlighting concealer, application is the key to getting the results you want. Scibelli’s trick is to always use your fingers—specifically your ring fingers—to pat the product into place. “This way you can layer and control the product,” explains Scibelli. If you prefer to use a concealer brush, that’s OK too, just make sure to blend the product by dabbing. “The sweeping motion of a brush can sometimes move the product away, versus covering, so patting is key.”

Love highlighter? Learn 10 ways to use it here.

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