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She was dancing a mean tango with a rose in her teeth. She and her partner then displayed the decisive steps of the cha-cha. An hour later, when the party broke from ballroom dancing into free-style, my sister was forced to quit. A flying elbow from a nearby partygoer landed smack in her left eye, knocking her cold and leaving a purple-blue bruise. That was the end of the New Year's Eve party for Sis. She left with an icepack on her sore eye. I felt so bad for her that the following morning I decided to help find some makeup help. She was feeling a bit sheepish about showing up at work with the big shiner.

First call was to the Mac cosmetics counter at Macy's. "We have a product in Mac called Studio Finish Concealer [ $13.50 for .24 ounce], which tends to be the best product to use for covering any black eye," explained the saleslady. "It comes in two sizes. It is also used as a foundation because it provides such full coverage. Our colors are in two ranges: what we call NC and what we call NW. NW tends to be a little bit warmer, and it's what we would recommend underneath the eye. Because of the warmness in that color, it tends to blend better when you are trying to cover such a dark surface, like a black eye. Sometimes you will have to mix the two," she added.

What are the steps for applying the product?

"When you are putting concealer over any area, especially underneath the eye, you always want to make sure to have that area well moisturized. Make sure to use an eye cream when you have a black eye -- that is going to help take any of the swelling away. Make sure that any area that you are going to cover with makeup is well-moisturized because if it's not, you will be able to see the makeup. The whole point of the makeup is to make it look as natural as possible. So an important key is to have the skin moist. Then put the concealer on. Some people do put powder on over it. My personal preference is not to because I think that is when you begin to be able to tell."

The saleslady answering the phone at the Shiseido counter had another product suggestion. "Shiseido has a product called Optimal Cover Concealer [ $22 for 20 grams at Nordstrom], which is pretty thick. It will even cover a person's mole. If you put that on, dab just a little bit and finish it off with the translucent powder [ $27.50 for a case with powder at Nordstrom]. I had a discoloration after a laser peel. I was walking around trying to find out what product worked the best and nobody could cover my spot better than this Shiseido concealer."

"We would probably use what's called Ideal Light Brush-on Illuminating Concealer [ $24.50 for .07 fl ounce at Macy's]," offered saleslady Michelle at the Estée Lauder counter. "It's a luminating concealer. We would probably use an 07 or something with a pink tone -- because the pink kind of cuts out the purplish and blue tones that a black eye will have -- instead of a yellow which would kind of make it stand out. It is really pinky, so you have to put a foundation over the top of it. The foundation is the Individualist Natural Finish Makeup [ $32.50 for one ounce]. It is our newest one, and it has flawless coverage. The powder goes on top of the foundation and helps to set the makeup and keep it in place. The loose Lucidity Translucent Powder is what I would recommend [ $29.50 for .75 ounce]. And we would also use a concealer brush to apply it, just because it gives a more flawless, even look."

The Clarins Counter recommended "our concealer called Instant Light Perfecting Touch [ $26 for .07 ounce]. That would work for a black eye, and we have three shades."

The Clinique lady pointed me in the direction of a different line. "There is a line called Dermablend," she informed me, "that is specific to covering birthmarks, scarring, that type of thing."

I called Ulta Salons & Cosmetics in La Jolla, which carries Dermablend, to get some info on the product. "It really covers anything -- tattoos, everything," said the saleslady. "There is a foundation and a concealer, but what I put on people with severe dark under-eye circles is a product called Smooth Indulgence Concealer [ $18 for three ounces at Ulta]. It's a little bit creamier, and it covers the dark right up. It comes in four different colors. First moisturize the area and then apply the product and finish with a powder to make it stay. Dermablend has a transparent powder [ $18 for one ounce at Ulta], so anybody with any skin color can use it. In my personal experience, it is the best product for coverage," she added.

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