Erase them or embrace them.
It's safe to say we've become much more familiar with our eye bags recently, thanks to months of staring ourselves in the face on Zoom meetings and face masks making them the only visible facial feature when out in public. Plus, with anxiety giving us many sleepless nights (not to mention the toll of home schooling and working from home burntout!), we're looking at some pretty impressive eye bags.
The question is: what can we do about them? Well, first off, you could embrace them like many TikTok users seem to be doing. Yes, you read that right - there's a new trend on the social media platform of actually accentuating under eye bags using brown eyeshadow and eyeliner. Instead of covering them up, users are working to normalise eye bags, which we are totally here for.
Not convinced? If you're still keen to diminish your dark circles, you'll need to address the cause behind them. Is it lack of sleep or cold hard genetics (more on that later)? And while an eye cream can most certainly help, they're too often held up as a fix-all solution, when in reality their abilities can be somewhat limited. You know what they say, prevention is better than cure, so below we explore what causes dark circles, how best to keep them at bay and then, what to do when they do crop up...
WHY DO I HAVE DARK CIRCLES?
The best way of overcoming something is to understand its causes. "Dark circles can be caused by multiple different factors," explains Dr Maryam Zamani, Oculoplastic Surgeon and Aesthetic Doctor and creator of MZ Skin. It can be caused by a loss of volume, which happens naturally as we age and results in more pronounced tear troughs. It can be caused by excess pigmentation (known as hyperpigmentation, even your ethnicity can play into it. “There is some genetic component to dark circles," explains Dr Maryam. "Some ethnicities, such as Asian and south east Asians, can have hereditary hyperpigmentation and some individuals have a family history of puffy lower eyelids from fat prolapse," she explains.
Alongside the cosmetic implications, dark circles can point to conditions regarding our health. They're one of the first signs that we're feeling run down or not getting enough of the essentials (sleep, water and nutrients, for example) as we need. But, together with some tactical makeup application and lifestyle tweaks, you should be able to banish the bags.
HOW DO I GET MORE SLEEP?
Start by working on your sleep routine where you can. This could include establishing an earlier and more regular bedtime, ditching the pre-bed blue light and avoiding caffeine in the evenings.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DRINK WATER?
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, plenty of water will do the same for under eye circles. Not only will water flush out toxins like salt (which has been linked to causing eye bags), it also increases blood flow and plumps out dehydrated skin which can appear more thin and fragile. "Hydrated skin is plump and therefore creates more volume, making dark circles less noticeable," says Dr Zamani.
DOES RETINOL TREAT DARK CIRCLES?
We all know retinol for its impressive anti-ageing abilities, but according to clinical facialist Kate Kerr, the gold standard ingredient can also be a godsend when it comes to treating dark circles.
“A retinol eye serum is necessary to help stabilise melanocytes (the pigment-forming cells in skin that contribute to dark circles) in order to prevent hyperpigmentation. It also thickens the dermis, improves texture, smooths lines and wrinkles and hides purple skin tones. I use ZO Skin Health Olluminate Intense Eye Repair,” she says.
DOES CAFFEINATED SKINCARE TREAT DARK CIRCLES?
Caffeine doesn't just help us to feel more awake, it can help us look more awake, too. When applied to skin, caffeine encourages vasoconstriction (the constricting of the blood vessels under our eyes), which can lead to a reduction in puffiness.
WHAT DEFICIENCY CAUSES DARK CIRCLES?
A vitamin-rich skincare regime is always a good idea, but there are certain vitamins that can be beneficial to the skin around your eyes.
"I always recommend a serum that's rich in Vitamin C for clients with dark circles," says Kerr. "It offers powerful antioxidant protection that fights free-radical damage caused by stress and can result in hyper-pigmentation," she continues.
In terms of deficiencies in your diet, dark circles have been linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Try incorporating more oily fish, eggs and milk if you are lacking in this vitamin, or try a dietary supplement.
HOW CAN I GET RID OF DARK CIRCLES PERMANENTLY?
If you've tried every at-home remedy but haven't felt a visible difference, it may be worth considering filler. It can be a safe and effective treatment when in the hands of a qualified and knowledgable professional.
“The fat pads under our eyes shrink over time leading to a loss of volume. This can create a hollow area that in turn, casts a shadow under the eye," explains Kerr. "If this is the cause of your dark circles, the only way to treat it is with a little bit of filler injected under the eye." According to Kerr, the filler lifts the skin and slightly diminishes the shadow-causing hollow. "Additionally, filler will help to hide any purple skin tone due to leaky blood vessels. Dark under-eye circles can be caused by factors including hyper-pigmentation, leaky blood vessels or loss of volume,” adds Kerr.
HOW CAN I GET RID OF DARK CIRCLES INSTANTLY?
According to MAC Senior Artist, Debbie Finnegan, a bit of brightening goes a long way when it comes to covering dark circles. "If you have subtle under eye discolouration and need just a touch of brightening, try adding a highlighter like MAC Prep + Prime Highlighter to your normal skin routine. Apply a few dots starting from the inner corner of the eye right next to the tear duct; this is usually the deepest area and needs the most brightening. Pat the product in lightly using a ring finger or a flat brush, letting the product disappear approximately half way out from the lower eye."
WHAT COLOURS SHOULD I USE TO CORRECT DARK CIRCLES?
For those genetically pre-disposed to the blue bags, concealing and colour correcting is a reliable strategy. Yellow tones will counterbalance the blue-hue of under eye bags so opt for a designanted colour correcting product like Vichy's new Dermablend Colour Corrector in Apricot, or Finnegan suggests a makeup palette that contains a range of shades. "Choose a palette with cool and warm shades of concealer so you can address all skin concerns easily and effectively," she says. "Apply the colour correcting shades first, and add a touch of concealer to mask it."
IS A BRUSH OR FINGER BETTER FOR EYE MAKEUP?
While a makeup brush can provide precision, it's a good idea to ditch the bristles when it comes to concealing dark circles. "The warmth of fingertips helps to heat and melt the concealing product, helping it to blend seamlessly into the skin," says Finnegan.
HOW DO I AVOID UNDER-EYE CREASING?
A setting powder helps to keep your bags concealed all day long without the need for touch-ups. We recommend using a Beauty Blender for ease, as it fits the contours of the eyes so perfectly, and a loose, transparent powder like Too Faced Born This Way Setting Powder.
Feeling awake yet?
This originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK | Elle Turner and Lottie Winter