As beauty concerns go, none have been the subject of more myths than undereye circles and bags. While late nights are often blamed, the truth is that they’re due to more than poor sleep habits. There’s not a lot of subcutaneous tissue or fat under the eyes, so the blood vessels show through readily. While alcohol, coffee, tea – and lack of sleep – may result in increased blood flow to vessels, they’re not the main culprits.
THE REAL CAUSES OF CIRCLES AND BAGS
Heredity: Family genes determine your amount of pigment cells and thus, your skin tone. According to dermatologists, some women simply have more pigment under the eyes.
Aging: With time, subtle leakage of red blood cells – and accumulated sun exposure – darken skin around the eye. Age and sun also weaken connective tissue, making skin sag.
Fat and fluid: Bags may be due to fat deposits, water retention or allergy, puffiness exacerbates the look of circles by casting darker shadows.
TREATMENT: CREAMS TO SURGERY
If your eyes are puffy only in the morning, odds are the cause is water retention or a mild allergic reaction to night skin creams, not fat deposits. Reducing your salt intake can help, as can an extra pillow: The angle can keep undereye fluids from accumulating over-night.
To reduce the risk of allergy, use an unscented day cream above the cheek-bones at night instead of perfumed or heavy night creams: Some women’s skin is sensitive to cosmetic fragrances and preservatives.
But don’t expect miracles. Indeed, for women with severe circles or heavy bags due to fat deposits, cosmetic surgery is the only permanent option. To reduce pouches, doctors make a thin incision under or inside the lower eye-lid, remove fat and tuck loose skin.
To lighten circles, they use a chemical solution – trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or phenol – to burn away superficial skin layers and under lying pigment cells. A light, 35 per cent TCA peel, coupled with application of Retin-A and hydroquinone skin bleach, can be repeated to reach the right skin tone. Or you can opt for a deeper one-time peel with double the amount of phenol. Scabs and blisters last up to two weeks; eventually skin fades to normal tone. Note: Unlike a mild TCA peel full-face phenol peels require sedation and an anaesthetic. Also, they carry a risk of causing hear arrhythmias.
THE BENEFITS OF CONCEALER
For most women, though make-up is the solution. The trick is to make it look natural:
Minimizing bags: After applying foundation, lower your head and raise your eyes to the mirror. Use an eyeliner brush to paint with recessed skin under the bags with foundation a shade of two lighter than your base or skin tone. Pat with finger to blend; set with puff of translucent powder.
Hiding circles: Pick an undereye concealer that matches your foundation. With your finger, dab it on the circle. Sponge foundation over the area.