Is There Actually Anything You Can Do About Your Undereyes?

Photographed by Winnie Au.
When we talk about skin-care issues, after acne, there is another common concern that also gives plenty of people grief: undereye circles. The market is saturated with creams and serums that are meant to dissolve darkness and de-puff bloated skin. But most of time, they under deliver on their promises. So is there anything you actually can do for those pesky undereye problems?

"Dark circles are really caused by three different things," says cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Robert Anolik. These are either pigmentation in the skin, thinning collagen, or hyper-vascularity around the eyes — meaning you've just got super-pronounced veins. "Puffiness is distinct from pigmentary issues," he says. "It can be there because of allergies or it can be folding or the skin which leads to the bags."

When it comes to pigmentary concerns, eye creams and gels aren't going to do a whole lot of good. "Since the issues tend to be under the skin, topicals are fairly ineffective," Dr. Anolik says. Instead, he recommends a series of laser treatments, depending on the cause of the pigmentation. For example, a Fraxel laser could be used to exfoliate an abundance of pigmentation, while a V-beam laser is necessary for vascularity, since it shrinks superficial capillaries.

But for puffiness? Home remedies can provide temporary relief, according to Dr. Anolik. While there's some debate over whether or not it's entirely safe, Dr. Anolik suggests tapping a touch of Preparation-H under your eyes as an in-a-pinch solution. However, he is adamant that you keep the product away from your lashline and to exercise great care in applying, since introducing the formula into your eye can cause a lot of irritation. "There are also products with caffeine in them that can offer relief, like Clinique's All About Eyes Serum," he says. Longer-term treatments include Botox injections to keep the muscles from contracting and creating folds.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to try and stop these issues from happening to begin with. "Some of it is genetic, but in the long run, you want to prevent inflammation under the eye that comes from things like chronic sun exposure," he says. "If you wear a sunscreen every morning and wear some kind of antioxidant serum at night, you can slow down the rate at which you develop the bags."

He also suggests retinol for under the eyes. You can snag some that are safe for the undereye area from your derm. "But the ones that are over-the-counter are also a low enough grade that they're safe, as long as you don't get them directly in the eye," Dr. Anolik says. "Just don't apply them to your lids." He also suggests starting off slowly — every other day — until your skin builds up a tolerance to the retinol.

But the easiest thing you can do? Grab a good concealer and get on with it. We think you look beautiful no matter what.
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