Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Laura Mercier Concealers: A Beginner's Guide
As I've officially crossed over into my mid to upper thirties, I've tried to exert more effort into evening out my skin tone. While many consider wrinkling to be the landmark of aging, it has also been noted that uneven skin tone can age one's appearance significantly. I'm not looking for the fountain of youth and I'm certainly more comfortable in my skin now than when I was in my twenties but I've learned a few tricks that can improve the appearance of the face without looking so made up.
For some, the secret to even skin tone is the right foundation and/or powder. While a light (as opposed to heavy) foundation is certainly one of my best friends, I've found that the right concealer goes a long way towards giving the skin a more perfected appearance, with or without foundation.
Laura Mercier is perhaps as popular for its Tinted Moisturizer as it is for its concealers. Reading review after review of the various concealers in the line, I've found that a lot of complaints stem from what is perhaps a lack of education in what the products are designed for. I'm not affiliated with the brand. I am not a makeup artist either. But I have been using Laura Mercier products for years. By sharing what I've learned, maybe you'll be able to find the right concealer for you.
If you go to the Laura Mercier website, you'll find three items listed under concealers. There is the Secret Camouflage, Secret Concealer and Eye Canvas. My goal is to differentiate between the three, based on the manufacturer's recommendations and then share my experiences with each of them.
The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is a two-shade compact concealer. There are currently eight shade combinations available. The one I use is SC-3. This product is for use on any part of the face that you want to even out. Two shades give you some leeway to mix the product to match your undertone. The consistency is that of a firm cream. I find that it works very well for spot concealing, like if you have old acne scars. There is a Secret Camouflage Brush (shown with the Flawless Face Kit in the very last photograph on this post) that is designed for use with this product. It helps to pinpoint spots and can lay product discreetly on small areas of the face. You just dot on a small amount and then blend it out lightly with your finger if necessary. There is no need to rub.
Personally, I've dipped a regular foundation brush into my Secret Camouflage compact and spread a thin layer of it over larger areas after I've put on a sheer foundation. It works wonders to even out the skin and it really stays put. Set it with powder and it lasts through the day. I would not use this for the under-eye area. It's too dry for that purpose.
The eye area requires a more emollient product. If I used the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage on it, it just looks dry. The Laura Mercier Secret Concealer, on the other hand, fits the bill rather nicely. It has a much creamier consistency than the Secret Camouflage. It's softer to the touch and is quite buttery. It is very richly-pigmented and comes in six different shades.
I used to think that I needed to match my under-eye concealer to my foundation. Then I read somewhere that you should pick an under-eye concealer that is one shade lighter than your foundation. So far, neither advice has proven correct. The best under-eye concealer for me tends to have more pink pigment than the foundation I use. It isn't necessarily lighter than my foundation. It's just different. Perhaps the key to color correction is addressing what makes the area different from the rest of your face. If you asked me to describe the areas I need to correct, my under-eye area appears to be a darker yellowish shade compared to the cheek area directly beneath it. For some reason, the pinkish concealers seem to work well in making it look even with the center of my face.
I apply the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer with a concealer brush. I tend to favor a slightly wider brush than the Secret Camouflage brush and I thin out the amount that's on the brush by brushing the concealer on to the back of my hand. Then with feather-light strokes, I brush it on the dark areas to lighten them up. Once it's on, you can gently tap the concealer to warm it into the skin and blend it out. The advice of Laura Mercier artists is to set with powder. I say use powder sparingly on this area, if at all. The powder will set the concealer but put on more than is necessary and it just looks terrible. You can also try an illuminating powder as opposed to a matte translucent powder.
The Laura Mercier Eye Canvas is the newest product among the three. This has only been around for a couple of months and currently comes in five shades. The Eye Canvas is meant to even out the eye lid and can be used as an eye primer. The texture seems to fall somewhere in between that of the Secret Camouflage and the Secret Concealer. It's much drier than the Secret Concealer so it's closer to the Secret Camouflage as far as feel goes. It does appear to suck out some moisture from the lid so in theory, this should work well as a base for those with oily lids. As far as my experience goes, it's not my favorite primer. Used by itself or with powder eye shadow, I've found that it creases in a few hours. I am thinking that I still need to tweak the way I apply it or possibly apply considerably less than I normally do to keep it from creasing especially when using it by itself.
Although I've covered the three concealer items that Laura Mercier has on their website, I would like to give an honorable mention to the Laura Mercier Undercover Pot which has actually proven to be my favorite of all the aforementioned products (they lumped this under "flawless extras" and I couldn't find it at first). This little pot contains one shade of Secret Camouflage and one shade of Secret Concealer. At the bottom of the pot is some translucent powder to set it all with. I've seen four different Undercover Pots out. But none of the items in these pots seem to perfectly correspond to actual shades in the individual products. They appear to be custom-blended. On one hand, I have found my perfect under-eye concealer in one of these pots. On the other hand, once discontinued/unavailable, I'm left trying to figure out how to mix concealers to get this shade.
There are more pros and cons to this pot. It would seem handy to have all three products in one little pot but most people would not go through all three items at equal speeds. I generally run out of Secret Concealer even before I've made a dent on the Secret Camouflage side. I'm also not too fond of the delivery system on the loose powder. Something about carrying loose powder in my purse unsettles me. And what am I supposed to apply it with? There isn't exactly room in the pot for brushes. I can, if necessary, apply the cream with my finger but no go with the powder. So this pot stays at home.
I received my first Undercover Pot in a Flawless Face Kit like the one pictured below. The Flawless Face Kit was first released as a Sephora exclusive (the Laura Mercier website now sells them as well). They still carry this kit in Sephora stores and online but the Tinted Moisturizer shade options are limited to Nude and Sand. The Nude kit comes with the Undercover Pot-2 and the Sand Kit comes with the Undercover Pot-3. Although I use the Nude Tinted Moisturizer, the Undercover Pot-3 is actually a better match for me. I love this pot because it has the most perfect shade of Secret Concealer for my under-eye area. I really did have half a mind to grab more of them during Sephora's Friends & Family event but I already have one more pot on standby. When I run out, I may try to stick it out with Secret Concealer 2, which seems closest to the one in Undercover Pot-3.
Just a couple more things before I go. If you can see the brushes included in the Flawless Face Kit pictured above (you can click it to see a bigger version), the brush in front is the pinpoint Secret Camouflage brush. The one in the back is meant to be used on the powder, to set the concealer. Both are synthetic.
I hope my little tour de concealers has helped clarify a few things. I am getting ready to roll out reviews of a few other concealers from other brands, including pen-style ones. If you're looking for the Laura Mercier Secret Brightener in this review, that too was lumped under the "flawless extras" category. It is considered as a color-correcting highlighter pen rather than a concealer. It's certainly something that you can put on top of your concealer to add some illumination to the under-eye area. If all you need is a little light to bounce off mildly darker spots, it's also something you can try instead of concealer. Personally, I find it too sheer and I've found other items to fulfill the same purpose that I like better. More on that in the coming weeks.