Dark circles happen to the best of us, whether hereditary or as the result of a restless night. While we often try to hide them with a heavy-handed layer of concealer, sometimes even our best efforts result in obvious signs of a cover-up. The point is to diffuse the darkness, not replace it with makeup that looks cake-y or settles into fine lines. That’s where under-eye brightening powders come in.
These brightening powders contain light-reflecting particles, such as micronized pearl powder, to lighten the look of dark circles and blur fine lines without adding weight. “Unlike concealer, under-eye brightening powders offer zero coverage, which is kind of the point,” explains makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. “They are translucent, but they bounce light to brighten the eye area.”
“Brightening powder gives the eye area a little extra love,” adds Stoj Bulic, a makeup artist for Streeters. You can apply it over a thin layer of concealer to enhance the coverage and prolong its wear, or by itself for a brightening finish that’s sheer. Either way, she suggests applying the powder with a medium fluffy brush, like the Cozette S140 Highlight Stylist ($23). “Dip the brush into the product, tap off the excess powder, and then lightly dust it under the eye,” she says. Add a little to the inner corner of eyes and down the bridge of the nose for an extra-luminous effect.
Because most under-eye brightening powders are formulated for all skin tones and types, it’s hard to screw up. Just steer clear of super shimmery powders, warns Sotomayer. “If there’s too much shine, you’re actually going to accentuate dips and dark areas of the bone structure and skin below your eyes,” he says. The finer the powder, the better. Be wary of those that contain silver pigments, too, as they can make the under-eye area appear gray, adds Streeters makeup artist Yuki Hayashi.
Check out some of our favorite under-eye brightening powders below.
Becca Under Eye Brightening Setting Powder ($25; sephora.com)
This translucent powder uses super-fine, light-reflecting pearl pigments to blur shadows and lines without settling into them.
Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder ($28; nordstrom.com)
A sheer white pigment instantly lightens the under-eye area while setting the concealer or foundation beneath for longer wear.
KKW Beauty Brightening Powder ($18; kkwbeauty.com)
Silky pressed powders infused with fine brightening pearls add radiance under the eyes for a soft-diffused finish.
e.l.f. High Definition Undereye Powder ($3; target.com)
This loose, light-diffusing powder softens the look of shadows and fine lines at a fraction of the cost.
BareMinerals Well-Rested Under Eye Brightener SPF 20 ($20; bareminerals.com)
This lightweight, loose powder concealer blends into all skin tones to reduce the appearance of dark circles while SPF 20 protects the skin from the sun.