Q: I Have Dark Circles and Puffiness! Help?

Learn how to solve this skin problem with skin care products from Neutrogena, Olay and more, then ask us your big beauty questions

Several members, ages 25 to 50, on our message boards have asked what they can do to treat and hide dark circles and under-eye puffiness. Here is just one example of their concerns:

"I'm close to my 30s and still have dark circles. I get enough sleep and eat well. I've also tried eye creams of all sorts. I just don't know what to do." -- TotalBeauty.com member cksmith

We asked a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, skincare experts and makeup artists what to do to make these issues bearable. Here's what they said ...

Recognize the Root of the Problem Assuming you're in pretty good health and have been getting enough sleep, hydration and iron in your diet (all huge under-eye circle contributors if neglected), your dark circles or puffiness could still stem from a number of things. Finding out why you're getting them is the first step to potentially treating the problem. Keep in mind: "Some causes of darkness are treatable and some aren't," says plastic surgeon Dr. Garth Fisher. Next: Dark pigmentation Dark Pigmentation If your dark circles stem from dark/brown pigmentation, caused by accumulation of pigment in your skin (melanocytosis), allergy-related inflammation or sun damage, first stay out of the sun. Then ask your doctor if any medications you are using (eye drops, hormones, etc.) could be making your dark circles worse. (If so, discuss changing your medication to resolve that.) To help counteract the problem, Fisher recommends skin-bleaching ingredients like hydroquinone (which may take several months to show results and should only be used under medical supervision). Alternative, over-the-counter treatments include creams containing vitamin K (like Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue, $100 , which also has skin-lightening kojic acid), as well as retinol, which helps stimulate skin cell turnover. (Try RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, $20.99 ). Next: Genes Genes If you have dark circles because of hereditary causes like superficial veins (aka thin skin which shows more veins), "you can't really do anything about them," says Fisher. (In this case, skip to step five for expert concealing tips.) Esthetician and Kinara Spa owner Olga Lorencin-Northrup recommends trying a non-surgical laser treatment (like Fraxel, Thermage or IPL Photofacial) to get rid of these types of dark circles, particularly when they involve genetic water retention. (Fluid retention, which also contributes to puffiness, can dilate the blood vessels under your skin and make them appear more noticeable.) Next: Bags Bags If you have under-eye bags, hollow areas or fat pads that protrude from your lower eyelids and make a shadow, you can remove or modify the fat there via surgery to fix the problem, Fisher says. Some people prefer to use injectable fillers like Juvederm, Restylane and Radiesse to fill hollow areas, although Fisher warns that they can cause lumps and bumps under the thin skin around the eyes. Next: Puffiness Puffiness "If the puffiness around the eyes is persistent even when you eliminate alcohol, sugar and salt, it is hereditary. Some swelling could be reduced by silica [found in cucumber and the herb horsetail, aka equisetum arvense] but it is limiting," Lorencin-Northrup says. (This goes for allergy-related puffiness, too.) Still, you have some temporary options: Dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf says products that contain caffeine can vasoconstrict, or close the blood vessels, in the area, reducing the appearance of puffiness -- and small bags. (Try Replenix CF Serum, $63 .) If you want to go the natural route, try placing wet, cool, caffeinated tea bags on your eyes. Also, the herb eyebright is recommended by Liz Earle of Liz Earle Skincare, for its ability to reduce puffiness. Layering that with cooling organic aloe vera and witch hazel, which is "also rich in natural tannins which have a mildly astringent effect," she says, can be more effective. Next: Expert concealer tips Expert Concealer Tips When all else fails, learn the keys to using concealer effectively. "The trick to hiding [dark circles] is not to glob on a bunch of concealer," says makeup artist Patty Bunch. "Mix a light, hydrating concealer with moisturizer so coverage doesn't look dry and cakey." (Try Neutrogena Skin Soothing Undereye Corrector, $9.55 .) People who have bad dark circles need to heal them with a treatment (like Olay Definity Illuminating Eye Treatment, $29.99 ) underneath makeup, then top with a mixture of moisturizer and heavy-duty concealer (like the balm TimeBalm Concealer, $17 ). Makeup artist Fiona Stiles also recommends using a subtly luminizing concealer (like YSL Touche Eclat, $40 ) under the eye to disguise dark circles. Next: Ask your own question Ask TotalBeauty.com Want more expert advice? Post your beauty questions on our Ask a Beauty Question message board or e-mail them to us at asktotalbeauty@totalbeauty.com, then stay tuned for more answers like these. Quiz: Is Your Eye Cream a Rip-Off? 16 Sneaky Beauty Myths Are You Ready for Botox? Subject Subject Subject Message Message Message http://www.google.com /content/package/c_dark_circles/

Products Mentioned in This Story


Average Member Rating: 6.6

Neutrogena Skin Soothing Undereye Corrector

Average Member Rating: 8.5

Replenix Serum CF

Average Member Rating: 9.0

the Balm timeBalm Concealer

Average Member Rating: 8.3

Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue

Average Member Rating: 7.0

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older comments

good article

by Nicole2814 Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 09:30AM Report as inappropriate

Great article. I have had the Fraxel done on my eyes, just one treatment so far. The down time was a little rough (redness, peeling, puffiness) for a week or so. I loved the results! I will be doing another treatment in a week or so. The aftermath is worth it in the long run.

by watergurl Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 08:13AM Report as inappropriate

Chemicals in skincare products will cause your skin to sag in the long run. That because those chemicals don’t belong there and impact your skins elasticity. I would definitely recommend the Face firming serum, from Made from Earth. I stopped using it after 6 months because it naturally improved my owns skins ability to tighten and heal itself. . . I went through a bottle a month for 6 months and that’s it…. I saw a major difference. . .I highly recommend it to anyone who is tired of trying all the different face creams. . .the website is madefromearth.com and its called the Vitamin Enhanced Face Firming Serum. .

by Nancyw999 Friday, February 6, 2009 at 02:22PM Report as inappropriate

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