From lifestyle and diet changes to the best products to use, this is how to brighten your eyes...
Causes of under eye bags and dark circles
Though it’s commonly assumed that fatigue is solely responsible for the appearance of under eye bags and dark circles, there are actually a handful of different reasons that can cause them.
Puffy eyes (scientifically known as periorbital puffiness) is minor puffiness you may experience when the tissue around the eyes (known as the orbits) build up with fluid. This can be caused by: hormonal imbalance (including during menstruation or pregnancy), stress, a sodium-filled diet as this can cause water retention, smoking, drinking, ageing, sleep deprivation, allergies and crying (you know, the sign of having a long weep).
Dark circles (scientifically known as Periorbital hyperpigmentation or POH) are a cosmetic concern (though not a medical one) for lot of people as they are the biggest giveaway of tiredness. According to one study, POH is most prevalent in females (81 percent) between 16-25 years old (47.5 percent), due to personal habits and factors associated with the age group, namely stress and hormonal imbalances. However, while puffiness under the eyes can be treated to appear less extreme, dark circles, on the other hand, are commonly regarded as being hereditary. Though this can mean their appearance is harder to lessen, there are ways to conceal the severity of the shadowing.
Dark circles/under eye bags treatment
The main thing to remember about treating puffiness under the eyes is that the orbital skin there is really thin and can be damaged easily] - ten times thinner than the skin on your face, in fact. Therefore, you must be super gentle with that area and never tug at the skin or put too much pressure onto it. As with most superficial skin conditions, the best way remedy your under eye bags is improve your body's inner health.
See five ways to tackle under eye bags from within:
Drink more water. When you are dehydrated the layer of skin under your eyes is less plump so the vessels underneath become more visible. Caffeine is the biggest culprit for dehydration, so cut down on coffee and up your water intake as the day goes on.
Stay out of the sun. We all want to look sun-kissed, but the sun can damage the delicate skin under your eyes more easily than other places, bringing on premature wrinkles and darkening the under-eye area. Remember to load up on the SPF and keep out of UV rays.
Lie on your back when you sleep. If you sleep on your face, you may find that you wake up with puffiness under the eyes, as fluid is more likely to build up there due to gravity. Sleeping on your back or with your head elevated could balance fluid retention and alleviate puffiness.
Cut out salt. Consuming a high-carb, high-sodium diet (or an unbalanced diet in general) will result in a duller complexion and darker skin under the eyes. Instead, eat foods rich in Vitamin A, C and E (all found in dark green vegetables) and cut down on salt.
Wear a sleep mask. Though wearing an eye mask will not explicitly improve dark circles, they will improve your quality of sleep meaning you are more rested and so puffiness/darkness under the eyes is lessened.
Gel masks like the Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Masks from Elemis (£47.50 from Elemis) will cool the skin around the eyes, brighten and widen them by giving the delicate area some much needed TLC.
Eye bags: creams
There's not a miracle, cure-all product for eye bags, especially if yours are genetic or caused by ageing, hormones or stress (factors which are not easily avoided). However, there are eye creams that will widen, brighten and reduce the puffiness of your orbital skin.
Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream
Keeping your under eyes hydrated is the key to alleviating the severity of shadowing. Do this firstly by drinking lots of water, but also use eye creams like this Hyaluronic Eye Cream by Mario Badescu (£15 from Beauty Bay), which restores and retains the skin's moisture to give it a plumper appearance.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery range is a cult favourite, and their eye cream (£26 from Kiehl's) is great for achieving a the appearance of younger, fresher eyes by minimising fine lines. Use nightly, along with Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Oil (£38 from Kiehl's), to see great results.
The Body Shop eye creams
The Body Shop are masters in creating products for the under eyes. Their Vitamin E Eye Cream (£13 from The Body Shop) explicitly targets dark circles, their Vitamin C Eye Reviver Duo (£15 from The Body Shop) is for cooling puffy eyes to reduce the build-up of fluid, and their Drops Of Youth™ Eye Concentrate (£20 from The Body Shop) works to smoothe out lines and bags.
Eye bags: makeup
Whether you stayed out late and drank a little too many cocktails, or you haven't been drinking your 8 glasses of water a day, there are great makeup products that will conceal your under eye bags. We have rounded up the best concealers makeup artists swear by.
Kevin Aucoin, The Sensual Skin Enhancer
The Sensual Skin Enhancer (£38 from NET-A-PORTER) is high coverage so a little goes a long way. Used best on dark shadows under the eyes, this product will instantly brighten your peepers.
Maybelline, The Eraser Eye
This concealer (£7.99 from Maybelline) is one of the best high street concealers on the market. It is moisturising as well as concealing, and quickly hides the sign of a late night.
Yves Saint Laurent, Touche Éclat
This product (£25 from Debenhams) not only conceals pigmentation under the eyes but highlights the skin to create a bright, wide-awake look - a must-have in your makeup bag.
Dark circles: exercises
Over recent years in the beauty world, there has been a lot of experimentation with using face exercises to lift and plump the skin, reduce wrinkles and lessen puffiness under the eyes. This is often referred to as face yoga, and unlike cosmetic eye bags surgery it is not invasive.
Face yoga typically involves lightly stretching the skin and using pressure from your finger tips to increase circulation so that the skin appears more plump and the complexion is brighter.
This video below is an example of the types of exercises that claim to alleviate dark, puffy eyes: