They say the eyes are the window to the soul – but if you ask us, the eyes are the window that reveals exactly how tired we really are. After just one night of sub-optimal kip, our peepers give the game away – add weeks of sleepless nights and we reach hollow-eyed zombie status. We ask experts how we can get rid of dark circles under the eyes and what the best products to use are.
Why do we get dark circles under our eyes?
“The skin of the eye area is one-third the thickness of the skin on the cheek, making it much more vulnerable to damage and more visually affected by lifestyle, illness or stress. This results in us seeing dark circles, puffiness and eye bags,” explains Julia Stewart, head of training for Shiseido.
Bianca Estelle, medical aesthetician and founder of Bea Skincare, adds: “There are lots of reasons why we get dark circles and bags under the eye but the most common is fatigue and more specifically, lack of sleep”.
“When we don’t have enough sleep, our delicate under-eye skin swells and leads to a change in light diffusion, which results in darker looking skin.
“This under-eye skin is thin and so the blood vessels here are closer to the skin’s surface, which again, results in a darker appearance.”
That’s not all. Decreasing collagen levels mean the problem gets worse as we age, creating more wrinkles and telltale eye bags, Estelle explains: “When we get older the area directly under our eye known as the ‘tear trough’ deepens and due to the movement of our skin, a shadow is created.”
Why is some people’s eye baggage heavier than others?
“The trait can run in families,” Estelle says. “Some people’s eye sockets are more hollowed than others’ (making rings more noticeable), whilst some ethnic groups will see more pronounced dark circles.”
So far, so depressing, but on the plus side, there are lots of ways to deal with your exhausted-looking eyes, from simply applying make-up to longer-lasting remedies, including aesthetic procedures.
How to get rid of dark circles under eyes
We asked the experts for their advice on how to treat dark circles and eye bags – here are some suggested solutions…
For a quick fix on a bleary-eyed morning, a good quality cream concealer works wonders.
“For concealing the under-eye area, you should choose a concealer that is one shade lighter than your natural skin tone, to lift and brighten,” says make-up artist Francesca Abrahamovitch.
“I always opt for the triangle shape application because the area under your eyes typically requires more coverage to disguise dark circles and redness.”
Collection’s Lasting Perfection Concealer is a favourite among beauty bloggers, while Armani Beauty and Morphe have new launches this month that promise unbeatable coverage in a wide range of shades.
Lasting Perfection Concealer, Amazon.
Morphe Fluidity Concealer.
Armani Beauty Power Fabric High Coverage Stretchable Concealer, Selfridges.
2. Eye masks
“Treating eye bags and dark circles is dependent on the cause, but a good starting point for those who experience these as a result of fatigue, ageing and sun damage is using a mask,” says Estelle.
Bea Skincare Rejuvenating Treatment Eye Masks.
“Hyaluronic microneedle patches are particularly good as they ensure that the maximum amount of actives are absorbed,” advises Henrik Sandstrom, product manager at Swiss Clinic.
“Microneedle patches help the microstructures penetrate the surface, and dissolve into the skin within 30 minutes after applying the patches.
“They release the actives into the skin layers, replenishing the depot of hyaluronic acid, without damaging the skin.”
Swiss Clinic Hyaluronic Microneedling Eye Patches.
3. Topical creams
Applied daily, a good eye cream or serum can soothe tired peepers and keep signs of ageing at bay.
“In independent clinical trials, Instant Effects Eye Lift increased skin elasticity by 55%, with a 21% reduction in wrinkles and fine lines,” says Richard Mears, founder of Instant Effects.
“As the skin repairs itself at night, I would recommend using the serum for 14 nights consecutively to see dark circles and puffiness diminish.”
Instant Effects Instant Eye Lift, Amazon.
111Skin Sub-Zero De Puffing Eye Duo, Amazon.
If you have a lot of hyperpigmentation around your eyes, you may benefit from a more long-term approach.
“Hyperpigmentation around the eyes has many different causes which can be hereditary or environmental, as well as due to conditions that affect the various layers of tissue in the area,” says Dr Unnati Desai, GP, aesthetics practitioner and founder of Urban Aesthetix in Mayfair.
Dr Unnati treats hyperpigmentation using a topical treatment which includes a prescription-grade cream containing hydroquinone. Applied over three months, the cream gradually lightens dark circles. The treatment costs £800 at Urban Aesthetix.
4. Plasma treatment
To target wrinkles and sagging both above and below the eyes, the Plasma IQ treatment reduces hooded heavy brows and tightens the skin on the upper eyelids.
“It works by ‘zapping’ the excess skin on the upper eyelid with a plasma current, which removes excess skin by a process called sublimation,” explains Dr Leah Totton. “It is a very safe and effective treatment and is a great non-invasive alternative to surgery.”
For the recommended three upper and lower eye treatments, Plasma IQ costs £2,010 at the Dr Leah Cosmetic Skin Clinics and is available nationwide.
“Some people start to develop ‘dark circles’ in the tear trough, giving the appearance of dark hollows that they think make them look tired or older looking than they are,” explains Dr Simon Zokaie. He’s the cosmetic dermatologist and medical director of the Linia Skin Clinic.
“Fortunately, dark circles are easily treated with a low-density hyaluronic acid or filler. The procedure takes about 5 to 10 minutes and the result is an instant, more refreshed look.”
But as this is an advanced technique, Dr Zokaie says it’s very important it’s done by a skilled practitioner in order to avoid complications. “It’s vital that the practitioner you choose is well trained to spot the signs, knows how to deal with them and is available to deal with them.
“Look for Save Face accreditation, ask questions about training, such as have they dealt with complications and what they will do if something does go wrong. And, of course, book from a reputable site.”
Hyaluronic filler treatment costs from £400 at the Linia Skin Clinic.
6. Protect your eyes from the sun
“Sun exposure can often make dark circles worse as it increases the melanin content,” says Dr Simon Zokaie. “So wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is important.”
7. Stay hydrated
“One simple tip is to stay hydrated, as dehydration, especially after overindulging in salty foods and alcohol, can definitely exacerbate the appearance of eye bags,” says Dr Granite.
8. Try natural remedies
You don’t have to spend a fortune to find effective temporary relief for tired eyes.
“Puffy eyes can be a concern when you wake up but they usually settle quickly with eyelid movement which helps to reabsorb any residual fluid,” says Dr Pindolia. “But if you need a little help, there are some quick fixes.
“Some of the more ‘natural’ techniques include the use of cucumber or potato slices, cotton pads soaked in milk, caffeinated teabags or the application of cold spoons. They help constrict the blood vessels, which reduces puffiness and gives a lighter appearance around the eye.”
Penelope Tympanidis, consultant dermatologist and founder of Dermaperfect on Harley Street, says chamomile tea bag compresses can work wonders.
“Make yourself a pot of this soothing tea and, once it has cooled, either use the bag or soak an eye pad in the tea, squeeze off the excess liquid and spend a good ten minutes or so relaxing with them on your eyes.”
Best buys for eyes
These concealers, creams, balms and masks will help disguise or treat tired peepers.
Milani Conceal & Perfect Longwear Concealer, Amazon.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Accomplice Concealer Touch-Up Stick, Harvey Nichols.
Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Eye Fortifier, Amazon.
DHC CoQ10 Eye Cream, Amazon.
L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Eye Balm, Amazon.
Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, Amazon.
No7 Laboratories Dark Circle Corrector, Amazon.
MZ Skin Hydra-Bright Golden Eye Treatment Mask, Amazon.
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