Beauty for Dummies: Concealer? Nah

On concealing my most prized genetic heirloom: the bags beneath my eyes.


On the topic of the bags under my eyes: stop pointing out that they’re there! I am aware. I will continue to refer to them as genetic heirlooms care of my maternal genes. This has only been further propelled by a funny story I cannot believe I’ve yet to share with you.

The summer after my junior year in high school, I moonlit as a secretary at a plastic surgeon’s office on Fifth Avenue in the upper 80s. The job paid $500 a week. This paled in comparison to the sheer pricelessness of the awkward confrontations with a handful of my mother’s acquaintances, who came in for facial augmentation consultations, day in and out. About a week into my job, the surgeon under which I was working asked for a favor. He’d just purchased a new camera and wanted to test it out. He took some quick head shots and dismissed me back to my chamber.

That’s the end of the story.

Until two months after I resigned as secretary to reassume my position as high school student, when my mother’s cousin called to inform her that she’d visited the surgeon’s office for an injection of some sort. She noticed in his office, on his computer screen, a large image of my face blown up.

“Hey! That’s my cousin’s daughter! What is she doing on your screen?” She begged.

“Oh, don’t worry, she’s not summoning my services.” He explained, “This picture is just here to portray that, look, even this pretty 17 year-old-girl has enormous bags under her eyes. They’re totally genetic.”


Though I hate to admit that a man has impacted the way in which I’ve regarded myself, I remember stopping at CVS on my way home from school the following day in pursuit of under-eye concealer. Ultimately though, I forewent the product. Every version clocked in at upwards of $10 and without the additional $500 per week in my pocket, I needed my allowance for California Pizza Kitchen and Zara and far more important things like that.

Instead, I went home and ransacked my mother’s beauty cabinet. Though she’d clearly forewent concealer too, I did come upon a dusty MAC eyeshadow compact that looked like it had never been used. Once I opened it and learned the eyeshadow in question was white, I understood why it sat untouched: the 80s had ended at least ten years prior. But then I thought, hey! Here’s a good alternative to concealer and I never looked back.

Though I am sure most makeup pundits would scoff at my thrifty trick, I will admit that I have since tried the sporadic illuminator or concealer. It just seems like none of them do the job quite as well as white eyeshadow does and while that MAC shadow is long finished, I’ve recently taken to a hue from the new Marc Jacobs beauty line.

Application is easy. Using your middle finger, gently dab the shadow two or three times until you’ve accrued a thick enough coat to apply in pats to the inner corners of your eyes. Smooth the white out through the length of your bags et voila: take that, shady plastic surgeon. And I didn’t even need your services.


As you can see, I have not been very good about filling in my once robust, now miserably stealthy brows

Photographed blouse by Isabel Marant, rings by Khai Khai Jewelry

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  • Jen

    That shirt is very little house on the prairie, I think I need it. Where is it from?

    • Colleen

      I think she did a post on it a while ago… vintage, I think?

      • disqus_kHkQi7Wx5N

        Isabel Marant

  • coffeetoo

    I hate to say it but I see no difference with the concealer. Which doesn’t really matter, I think you’re absolutely stunning, eye bags and all – that manstagram with the pink cups as a telephone – you can see eye bags and all that and you still look amazing.

    Don’t knock it, rock it.

  • Mary

    I can’t believe people are rude enough to point them out to you!!! you look great. they are idiots. 😉

  • Meredith M Howard

    It works. Thanks for the tip!

    – Meredith

  • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

    While I don’t think I can use the same product (unless it works for women of color?), you are a beaute Leandra. I was born w/undereye circles. I’ve thrown out more concealers – samples and full products – than I could ever use. I still imagine having plastic surgery but in the interim, I like my eyes. My eyebrows were almost as full as yours. They’re a little thinner but still frame my face nicely. (You lucky thang.) So, we work w/the lot we have…until we find the perfect concealer or just accept it. And hate to tell you but I also didn’t notice much of a difference. But see here: if you did, then do it.

  • CarolinaG


    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

  • Lauren

    I was at Barney’s recently, perusing the (let’s be honest, slightly harshly lit) beauty floor, and one of the saleswomen literally yelled out to me as I past her, “what are you doing about the dark circles under your eyes??” Um, ignoring you. Thanks.

  • Eugenia

    Never would have thought to use white, and even though I’ve been blessed sans undereye bags/circles, this is still a good tip to keep handy! PS: You look great either way and that plastic surgeon was a douche.

  • This actually looks really good on you!

    Mafalda ❤

  • Interesting tip. I think I just might head to my dresser right now and do that.

    Your Friend, Jess

  • Deanna

    You look like you have white eyeshadow under your eyes. But whatevs, it’s your face, do whatever you want!

    • Leandra Medine


      • Julia

        Yeah girl rub that shiz in a little more

  • Funny how there are so many bags out there we ladies want to do away with … Douche bags, eye bags, saddle bags, one night bags … 🙂

    I think the white powder works well, I do see the difference.

  • I love your skirt! I never thought you could use white powder to conceal bags! This is such a good idea!

  • Alyssa McGladdery

    Whaaaaaaat, I wish I had thought of this. I hope it works as well for me because I dread looking for concealers, then having them not work miracles like everyone says. Eek!


  • Lola O

    To me, you are gorgeous with or without the concealer. I love your self-acceptance. BTW, The blouse you have on is HEAVEN!

  • Love your blouse and love your face!

  • Aubrey Green

    Love the blouse. Love your nose/profile. Love you really. I noticed a difference, but like one girl said, it does look like you have white eye shadow under your eyes :). You should try a highlighter/brightner, I bet that would work really well on you. I don’t have bags, but I do have dark circles (genetics) and they suck, it pretty much looks like I got punched and there is not a concealer that actually conceals, it really just masks the issue and can sometimes make it worse. I hate when they are giving examples of how well a concealer works and the model they use doesn’t even have bags, or dark circles.

  • You look absolutely beautiful! (in both photos) and WHAT eye bags, btw? I don’t see any… but the blouse you are wearing is gorgeous..


  • christine

    i will never forget the time i was watching tv with my male roommates and a commercial for undereye concealer came on. “why would women cover that up? undereye circles are sexy” one said and then they all agreed, as if this was a universally known fact. i think about this nearly every time i put on make up, and usually wear less because of it.

    • Aubrey Green


  • Stacey Freeman

    I just realized I am in need of an under eye concealer (a recent headshot made apparent the purple between my nose and eye) and went on the hunt to Sephora last week. No luck. The items they suggested just looked wrong. But it totally looks like the white eyeshadow you used took away the purple, genius! Back to Sephora this weekend to try your tip:)

  • That is quite a story! That would be hard to take as a 17 yr old girl! Pretty intense. You look great.

  • Wilted Orchids

    $500 a week in High school! That would be good now..for me. Anyways, as you know the bushy eyebrow is in. Refer to Natalie Portman.
    XOXO Thomas

  • Tara

    Growing up Arab meant growing up hairy. When I was 9 my mom asked her friend to wax my arms (I refused to wear tshirts to school because I was being called a ‘monkey’). As if this wasn’t enough, my Mom’s friend picked up my hand to straighten my arm and said ‘oh, you’ve got thick fingers. You’re going to be a big girl’.

    I will never forget that. If it’s not a compliment, just don’t say it, unless you’re saving your friend from looking like the abominable snowman on her wedding day. Even then, it’s questionable. We are fragile creatures.

  • I see the difference and I can understand how an off-white shadow would detract from the discoloration underneath your eyes – similar to how luminizers like Touche Eclat work.

    I have terrible under-eye bags and have tried every concealer and eye cream imaginable. What I’ve learned is that luminizing products are best placed only where the discoloration or “darkness” is under the eye, gently patted with a ring finger or soft brush. Concealers (a more pigmented foundation) can be applied from the sides on the very top of your nose (right next to the inner corners of our eyes) all the way down to the nostrils and then diagonally across the cheek to the outer corner of the eyes in a triangular formation, blended up towards the under eye. This detracts the shadows from your nose that pronounce under-eye bags while also adding additional coverage to the under-eye area. At this point I do both – concealer first with a touch of highlighter on the inner part of the under-eye circle where it’s the most dark. It’s not a complete transformation but it certainly helps!

    Here’s an example of the concealer application I mentioned above:

    • Glory

      Interesting tip!
      Glory’s Closet

    • Leandra Medine

      Ohhhh, thanks for passing this along!

    • Cynthia

      Yes, thanks! Great tips!

  • Ella

    liebe leandra, all i see is one beautiful babe in that dreamy IM blouse. i would have never ever noticed “under eye bagels”. you rock

  • Rebecca

    I was born premature and I have very translucent skin under my eyes, hello bags/veins!

  • Rebecca

    Sometimes I tell myself, ‘hey remember when heroin chic/tired was cool?

  • Brine

    I have the same genetic heirloom passed along by my darling mother. Any tips on what could work for an olive skin tone?

  • Anta Paleoyianni

    I’m totally gonna try this!btw awsome blouse!

  • Kristen

    This is me, pretty much! I have terrible under-eye bags, I’ve had them since I was little, even when I was in grade two. It’s not that I never slept or that I spent too much time in front of a screen or anything, I just have really bad bags. It sucks, but now I know who to blame! Also, does a frozen or cold spoon work on your bags? Concealer isn’t enough to cover mine

  • Lily Asher

    Can’t see any difference. Heard a guy on the radio today define beautiful as “when a person is fully alive in their true nature” – and that is the beauty I see in you Leandra. My friend wears concealer and it makes her eyes look small. My own attempts always failed miserably because when I go to apply foundation over the concealer it all bunches up and makes the skin like crocodile skin. Congrats on your book Leandra!

  • Gizelle

    Funny I see this story today! I was just telling my husband this morning that the only procedure I’d agree to do would be something that removed the dark circle/bags under my eyes. You only have bags but I’m talking dark circles too. And no white eyeshadow is gonna get rid of that. Even a regular concealer won’t help (I’ve settled for shiseido lately since their concealer is thicker than other brands). But I’m starting to see lines under my eyes. I’m not sure if it’s my age (32) or if it’s the excessive use of concealer. It’s an issue man. Serious issue!

  • Luciana Safdie

    considering I have freckles and no concealer ever matches my skin, this is a god-send for my under eye circles!!

  • rhodawong
  • Stina

    Don’t bother doing anything about your eyebrows. I think they look beautiful!

  • Second HandBlog

    omg! your blog is just imazing!!! love it!!!! SECOND HAND BLOG 🙂

  • I know this is a beauty post but I completely adore your blouse and the jewellery matches it so beautifully!


  • Steph

    You are awesome, but you should try la mer! Their concealer rocks and will last forever cause it’s so effing pigmented

  • Chrissabella

    Thanks for sharing that story, I hope you can laugh about it now as this trick is really working for you!

    Greetings from London,

  • Paula McClelland

    Aww – I seriously don’t even see what your’e talking about!? But glad the white eyeshadow is doing the trick. PS that 4th photo looks like a tres chic mug shot >:D

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  • Cornelia Grimsmo

    What a story.. You are lovely! 🙂 and I adore your style!

    please visit my blog 🙂

  • Ellie

    I wasn’t expecting this conclusion to the story. I thought that because you showed that the bags were genetic that it made them natural and you were going to embrace them as a part of natural beauty. Personally I can’t see the difference, only society has made us think of bags under the eyes as a negative, I think it shows that you are a real person. I do understand making yourself look more awake, and I do use concealer under my own eyes on occasion. But this doesn’t mean that you should be embarrassed by them or see them as a flaw!

  • sarahwantstoknow

    hey leandra,
    i just wanted to know if you smoke?
    not trying to sound rude.
    it is just out of personal interest because i just read your book and u mentioned smoking… do u still smoke?
    PS: please reply i would really like to know heart

    • me and you against the world

      same. i just thougth about this too.

  • I want yo blouse!! 😀 uh, and thanks for the concealing tutorial~

  • Lilyrose

    Haha, you’re great!!

  • Quinn

    You’re cute even without that tricky concealer! Okay, random but who makes your gold watch? I would love a manrepeller take on watches—invest in the motherload or buy trendy and keep replacing. do tell!

  • Quinn

    And one more thing: where oh where did you find that simple, ear cuff up in yer cartilage? It’s hard to find good ones that don’t look douchey, tattoo shop. I took my “identity” out because I was sick of trying to find a good earring.

  • heyijustmetyouandthisismyuser

    leandra do u smoke?

  • Susan

    Just had to say, I love that very last photo. Very cool.

  • jrdoog

    Preparation H. Seriously.

  • cyn

    now you have a new problem… your under eyes are white. ?

  • style encore

    #1 Plastic Surgeons have no filter
    #2 you look great
    #3 Not convinced or sold on the product being that it Marc Jacobs makeup line recently launched and it think this is a promotion plug

    • style encore

      Not convinced or sold on the product being that the Marc Jacobs makeup line recently launched and I think this is a promotion plug

  • Lizlizo

    What bags under the eyes, all I see is LUST-WORTHY brows brows brows!!!

  • Alanna Josie Watchman

    I honestly think that these so-called ‘bags’ are one of the features that I really like about your face – it adds character (and not in a ‘oh-look-your-body-shows-signs-of-age’ character, but rather ‘there-is-something-raw-and-curious-about-this-person’ character). I wish I had your baggy eyes! Not saying that I am one of the very lucky ones to not have them until the age of 80, I’ve got bags (ha, such a strange word when you think it over and over), but mine just make me look tired.

  • Jami

    I have bags and dark circles under my eyes too. It’s from severe anemia. If on top of that you also have any of the following – brittle hair, restless legs, nightmares, a desire to chew ice, crankiness, and a few others I can’t remember, get your iron levels checked. Mine were a 7. Normal is 70+.
    Once I had infusions done and my levels were normal, the bags and dark circles went away along with all the other symptoms – including chewing ice.

  • Rosa Hollander

    Give in to beauty hon and make yourself more gorgeous – Laura Mercier concealers are the best

  • Kassy De La Cruz

    I feel that bare is beautiful! I love the tip and I will definitely use it! Most concealers I feel are too thick and extremely noticeable so this is simple and sleek

  • Gabi

    i recently learned from R29 that a great lightweight cover-up for dark circles/bags is the sephora brand pen concealer. at first i was like “bullshit, that model is white and has no circles!” Then I tried it for myself and by golly, the shit worked.

  • librada94

    Learn how to make 75 dollars a day at your own home!! Just simply go to surveymoneymaker dot net

  • Selena Delgado

    I love this, great segue from an awkward comment. Never thought of this but so glad I stumbled over it

  • Actually, I though that Marc Jacobs thingie was a duet of concealer because it’s done a really nice job. It brightens up your eyes really nicely and I might give it a try

  • michealjone

    Look system launder and also bathe solution found at Sephora. Find a broad range for best brow gel, system flushes and also house of cards bath this clean, humidify and also invigorate.

  • Sindia Perez

    I’ve done this too for years!!

  • Nancy Richer

    You are beautiful Leandra Medine, with or without white eyeshadow

  • Jel

    Might be obsessed with that photo of your side profile. So beautiful.

  • abby t

    I’m a little late to this article, but it’s not too late to thank you, Leandra! I, too, have genetic heirlooms that are also visible with all the women on my mother’s side. When I was a kid people asked, “what’s wrong? Did you get punched?” Now that I’m older, if I go without make up people automatically start giving me cold or flu remedies. I’m not sick, I’m free!

    But recently I’ve learned to embrace them…and no one really gives a shit! They come from women I really admire, so if I look sick, I’m okay with looking sick and proud.