As we get older, undereye circles are an extremely common occurrence among most people. This scenario is one that we all wish to correct, and is one of the main focal points of any skin care routine. However, the term “undereye circles” is often used as a catch-all phrase that is used to refer to specific variations that appear under the eyes. Those variations include:
Natural Pigmentation: Extra pigmentation around the eyes is very common, and is often a result of genetics and the natural aging process. This is especially common among individuals with darker skin tones compared to those with more fair complexions. One way to determine if dark circles are due to naturally occurring pigmentation is to take a finger and move the skin below the eye. If the color stays the same while the skin is moving, this is a sign of natural pigmentation. Inflammatory conditions such as rosacea and eczema can also cause extra pigmentation around the eyes even when these conditions are under control.
Puffy Eyelids: At times, the eyelids can get puffy and swollen, which then leads to the appearance of shadows under the eyes as a result. Reducing the swelling of the eyelids restores them to their natural size and thus diminishes the appearance of shadows. Structural puffiness can be a combination of fat herniation and skin laxity.
Bags Under Eyes: Sagging skin under the eyes can be often mistaken for skin pigmentation or puffy eyes. As we approach our late 20’s and early 30’s the production of collagen begins to slow down and the skin elasticity starts to diminish; as a result, the skin becomes looser and begins to hang. Certain treatments can tighten the skin in this area and restore some of the lost elasticity over time.
Sunken Skin: The skin located around the eyes is the thinnest on the body. As we get older, the skin gets thinner and causes the blood vessels in the area to become more visible, which can lead to blue and purple veins showing. Additionally, the volume loss can create a noticeable discrepancy between the skin connecting the eyes and the cheeks. Treatments that restore lose volume can create a more uniform appearance of the skin in this region.
Being able to address the main causes of this appearance is the key to treating it effectively. Otherwise, this can lead to actions that are counterproductive, and can be a waste of time, money, and energy. One example is using too much makeup to cover it, which leads to a caked on appearance, looks fake, and does very little to address the root of the problem. Here are 9 tips you can use to combat the appearance of undereye circles.
#1: Get Enough Sleep
One of the most common complaints about undereye circles is having a fatigued look and comments that you may look tired. This is because we actually ARE tired due to a lack of sleep. Not receiving enough sleep can cause venous congestion – or a collection of pooled up blood in the blood vessels around the eyes – and causes a puffy appearance. External factors such as times of stress, smoking, and natural genetics can exacerbate this even more. Ensuring that enough sleep is received the night before prevents the blood from pooling up in these areas, thus reducing the appearance of puffy eyes. They do call it “beauty sleep” for a reason!
One thing to note is that oversleeping can cause the appearance of puffy eyes as well. Achieving between 7-9 hours of sleep a night is recommended.
#2: No Eye Rubbing!
As tempting as it can be sometimes, rubbing your eyes is one of the worst things you can do. Because the skin in this area is thin, frequent rubbing of the eyes can cause the skin to become thicker and darker due to the body’s natural defense system. In addition to this, constant rubbing can cause other issues affecting this region such as bruising. It can be a tough habit to break, but rubbing eyes should be avoided. In the event of itchy or dry eyes, gentler methods such as eye drops are a less aggressive alternative.
#3: Stay Hydrated
Being dehydrated has multiple effects on the appearance of the skin around the eyes. Because the body is not receiving enough water, it leads to water retention which can cause swelling of the eyelids. This is usually at its worst in the morning after waking up and typically resolves around the afternoon thanks to the fluid draining with gravity and time. Additionally, the lack of hydration causes the skin to appear thinner and more hollow due to the lack of tissue between the skin and bone. This can cause the blood vessels below the skin to become more visible, and lead to a darker appearance in these areas. Hydrated skin is thicker and decreases visibility of the blood vessels, while also limiting swelling from water retention.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day ensures that the skin is adequately hydrated. Eating foods with too much salt or consuming high amounts of alcohol can also cause dehydration. Limiting consumption of salty snacks and alcohol and drinking water before going to bed will help limit water retention in the morning. In the event that there is swelling in the eyes after waking up, applying a cold compress for 10 minutes can reduce the swelling buildup.
#4: Dermal Fillers
Injectable fillers are an excellent way to counteract sagginess. The fillers elevate the surrounding skin to match the skin levels in other areas, thus providing a smooth and uniform appearance. Sunken skin in the undereye region is plumped up, and can last many months to a couple years depending on the type used.
Some fillers such as Restylane contain hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in the skin that keeps the eye area hydrated and volumized. They are gradually absorbed by the body over time, but they are also reversible and can be dissolved by a special solution in certain situations. Dermal fillers are frequently used with a numbing agent in order to maximize comfort.
Fillers are not universal, and each person will require different amounts or types. Choosing the right type of filler with the right amount requires a board certified physician with an adequate understanding of the facial anatomy, and proper analysis of your unique facial structure and facial movements. Fillers injected by someone without the adequate experience can lead to unfavorable results, and possibly other serious complications.
Dermal fillers are frequently combined with certain laser procedures, which can help dramatically improve the appearance of visible blood vessels that are showing through the skin. In addition, lasers can help the formation of new collagen, and lighten the skin tone to provide an even complexion across the face.
#5: Sun Protection
Unprotected sun exposure over time not only leads to sun damage, possible skin cancer, and discoloration, but can speed up the formation of wrinkles as well. Because the skin around the eyes is very thin, this area is more susceptible to wrinkles and damage from the sun. Limiting sun exposure to this area by wearing sunglasses is one of the best ways to protect the delicate skin around the eyes. Additionally, the use of sunscreen can help block the harmful effects from the sun’s UV rays as well. Wearing sunscreen with a SPF 30 or higher while outside, especially between the hours of 10AM and 4PM, is critical. Be sure to reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours as well.
#6: Chemical Peels
Light chemical peels that contain hydroquinone, retinoic acid, or glycolic acid, can be used to slightly brighten up the dark pigments under the eyes. While natural pigmentation around the eye region is normal, a light chemical peel can diminish the variance in color to provide a more consistent complexion across the face.
#7: Eye Serums & Creams
Overnight skin care is imperative, and must be done consistently on a nightly basis in order to yield results. Applying these before bedtime helps keep eyes moisturized while sleeping. This can minimize the discolorations that are associated with tired eyes. These products are often also mixed with peptides and antioxidants to reduce puffiness and reduce the amount of pooled blood around the eyes.
An effective skin care regimen should include special topical creams specially designed for application around the undereye region. Regular moisturizer for general use around the face is a bit too strong for the undereyes due to the skin’s thinness, and this region can only absorb a certain amount of the product. The excess product then sits and can potentially get into the eye via the blinking of the eyelashes. This can lead to irritation, puffiness, and swelling. Eye moisturizers are lighter and are designed to be absorbed fully.
As you may know, there are tons of products on the market. Many are designed to treat specific issues, and others are simply not as effective as others. It can be overwhelming for those who are new, but is totally manageable as long as you know what types of products you are looking for.
Applying products with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides facilitate hydration, and stimulate collagen/elastin production
Vasoconstriction from products with caffeine can reduce puffiness, and cooling products can help reduce inflammation and promote blood flow
Finally, how you apply the products is just as important as the kind of products you purchase. To apply these with the least amount of pressure to the eyes – use the ring finger (this finger is the weakest of the others), and dot the product starting from the inner corner of the eye and moving outwards toward the temple area.
Seasonal allergies trigger the release of histamines. These can cause swelling and inflamed blood vessels and can lead to other indirect issues such as rubbing the eyes due to itching and dryness. The simple use of over the counter antihistamine medications can help manage the dark circles that appear under the eyes, in addition to directly treating the allergy symptoms.
#9: Cucumber Slices
Placing cucumber slices over the eyes is a beauty technique that has been used for centuries. Multiple studies have been performed over the years, and they have shown that the juice of the cucumber can reduce swelling, relieve skin that has been damaged, and increase the level of antioxidant activity. In addition, cucumbers are naturally rich in Vitamin C which helps the development of new cells. Due to the high amount of water content in cucumbers, it also helps serve as a moisturizer for the eyes.
Before placing these over the eyes, be sure to chill the cucumbers in the refrigerator ahead of time. The skin should be clean and dry before application. The cucumber slices should be about half an inch thick, and it is advised to peel the skin off of the cucumber first to remove any pesticides.
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