Farewell, fine lines and dark circles! Here, expert tips and products for a more youthful eye area.
In 2010, the British medical journalBMJ published a study confirming what we already know: We’re just not as pretty when we’re tired. Test subjects were rated as less attractive after being forced to stay awake for 31 hours versus when viewed after a good, normal night’s sleep. And the main aesthetic giveaway? Dark circles. “Stress or lack of sleep can put your body into fight-or-flight mode,” says New York–based dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD. “This means our brain leaches every single molecule of oxygen it can from the blood, so a darker, more deoxygenated blood flows through our veins and is most visible in the transparent skin under our eyes.” Plus, party-girl favorites—nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine—permanently weaken these veins, Gross says, causing “capillaries to leak iron and blood cells into the undereye area.”
Boosting circulation can brighten the eye area by reducing puffiness (which exacerbates the look of dark circles) and flushing out pooled, oxidized blood. The genius inventors behind the Clarisonic cleansing brush applied their sonic know-how to the Opal, a unique, ultragentle eye massager. According to dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD, FAAD, FAACS, “The Opal reduces dark circles with a gentle sonic action that creates enhanced blood flow to the undereye area.” We also love Dr. Brandt Dark Circles Away—an illuminating, depuffing serum delivered via a microcirculation-enhancing massage-ball applicator. If targeting the eye area alone isn’t doing the trick, try getting more exercise—particularly cardio.
As we age, the bouncy, light-reflecting pillow of fat and collagen between our lower lash line and our cheekbone gradually thins (making the dark veins even more apparent) and slides down a few micromillimeters, a minor drop that can produce major shadows. Injectible fillers smooth and plump so light bounces uniformly off the area, says New York–based dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD. Plus, in skilled hands such as Brandt’s, filler can double as a subdermal concealer by creating a layer of diffusive camouflage.
Wu suggests putting circles to the test: “If you gently pull down on your lower eyelid, and the dark circles move with the skin, then circles are likely caused by pigment in the top layers.” She recommends botanical-based brighteners such as Origins Brighter By Natureor a vitamin B–based cream like Olay Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex, which lighten without irritation. New York–based dermatologist Anne Chapas, MD, zaps stubborn pigmentation with a few sessions of either Fraxel Dual or Q-Switched Nd:YAG lasers.
Allergies could be to blame. Histamines, released after exposure to allergens, cause blood vessels to dilate, resulting in puffiness and more prominent dark circles. “Any sinus irritation will cause blood vessels to become more visible,” Brandt says. If a daily antihistamine such as Claritin isn’t enough, sleep with a superhero air cleaner like Rabbit Air BioGS Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifierthat traps airborne allergens.