From serums to surgery, there are plenty of options for awakening tired eyes
All credits: PA
The symptoms of the January Blues are manifold – excessive yawning, the desire to hibernate, and a less than sunny disposition are just a few.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, our faces start to show signs of exhaustion in a way that can’t be concealed with multiple cups of coffee.
The most obvious indicators? Our eyes, or more specifically, the area under our eyes, which can appear puffy, sunken and any colour from aubergine to grey. Yuck.
“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,” says Bianca Estelle, medical aesthetician and founder of Bea Skincare.
“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.
We asked the experts for their advice on how to treat dark circles and eye bags – here are five 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 and Collection ambassador Francesca Neill.
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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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, UK.
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.
“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, 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 five 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.”
5. 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.”