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Here's How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Your Eyes — and Never Look Tired Again

We called in an expert for a solution to the wintertime beauty woe that affects the most of our readers
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"You look tired." It's probably a woman's least favorite thing to hear, because it tells us we did a miserable job of hiding our puffy eyes and dark circles this morning.

Whether you're perpetually sleep-deprived, genetically "gifted" with dark circles under your eyes, or spend your nights watching cry-fest marathons, we've all had to deal with under eye bags or circles. In fact, when we asked our Total Beauty Facebook followers what beauty question they want answered, "What can I do about my dark circles?" was the No. 1 reply. Identifying dark circles under your eyes is easy — you see them staring back at you in all their purple glory. But figuring out how to get rid of dark circles under your eyes is much less transparent.

Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist," says that dark circles affect people of all ages. "Dark under eye circles can make even young people look old and tired," says Jaliman.

Wanna know what you can do about your extra (eye) baggage? We consulted Jaliman to find out how you can minimize your dark circles — by altering your lifestyle and your makeup application.

Image via Imaxtree

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Why the Raccoon Eyes?
In order to treat those dark circles under your eyes, it helps to know where the pesky circles comes from. Those with perpetual under eye circles probably inherited them from their parents (thanks, mom and dad). Because the skin underneath the eye is so thin, it's transparent enough for the underlying blood vessels to show through.

It can also be caused by excess melanin (pigment) production in the area, which is hereditary. Age is another factor that contributes to dark circles. Over time, under-eye pads thin, creating a hollow, which casts a shadow under the eyes. "Many women have dark circles because the eyelid skin is so thin to begin with, and it thins even more as we age," says Dr. Jaliman. She also notes that environmental factors (hello, cold, dry weather) and daily habits can contribute to that pair of dark circles under your eyes.



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Blame Under Eye Circles on Alcohol (and Cigs)
The Problem: While you can't do much about your genes, they may not be all that contribute to your dark circles. When trying to get rid of dark circles under your eyes, take a look at your lifestyle. Turns out, some of your vices may have just as much of an effect on your dark circles as your genetics. Can you guess which ones I'm talking about? That's right, smoking and alcohol. Those two are in cahoots to ruin your skin any way they can, it seems.

"Smoking can definitely produce dark circles, as it interferes with the blood flow to the skin under the eyes," says Jaliman. Smoking breaks down your collagen, which makes your skin thin and weak. Not only will this encourage wrinkles, it also thins out your already-thin under eye area.

Research also shows that smokers are four times more likely than non-smokers to feel unrested after a night's sleep, and it ain't called beauty rest for nothing. All that tossing and turning doesn't allow your skin to repair itself overnight, and instead of leaving you rested, it leaves you with bags under your eyes.

"Dark circles can also come from alcohol, as alcohol dehydrates you so you can more easily see the vessels under the eyes," says Jaliman. Like cigarettes, alcohol — even one drink before bed — can sabotage your sleep efforts. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it doesn't help you stay asleep. In fact, in the wee hours of the morning, it makes you toss and turn, so that your sleep is anything but restful.

The Solution: The good news: Studies have shown that blood flow improves within months of quitting smoking. Over time, damage to blood vessels is repaired. That's no excuse to keep it up now, promising you'll quit "one day," though. Those "smoker's lines" (from constantly pursed lips) can't be reversed. Someone, knock that weekly American Spirit out of Gwyneth Paltrow's hand!

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Your Allergies Are Giving You Under-Eye Bags
If you find yourself waking up with puffy eyes every day, it may be due to allergies. Pollen, dust mites, mold and animal dander can cause a pooling of blood underneath your eyes, giving you puffy dark under-eye circles. Jaliman encourages those with dark circles and allergies to identify the allergen with an allergist or dermatologist. Placing tea bags or ice packs on the area are effective at-home remedies, but not everyone has the time (or patience) to Zen out for 20 minutes while they take effect. For a quicker fix, Jaliman says taking an antihistamine will help reduce eye bags. In addition, sleep with an extra pillow to elevate your head and minimize pooling.

Related: These Women WANT Bags Under Their Eyes



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What is the Crème de la Eye Crème?
How do you get rid of dark under eye circles? You find the best beauty potion out there, that's how. According to Jaliman, sunscreen is your best defense against dark circles -- or their getting worse. She recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen (which blocks out both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30, with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient (Many dermatologists recommend EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+). Sun exposure breaks down collagen and brings dark pigment to the surface of the skin (aka dark circles under your eyes), so try to avoid it.

As for an under-eye cream or serum, Jaliman says to think high-octane: "Choose those with caffeine, [because it will] constrict the blood vessels under the eyes, decreasing blood flow and darkness." Other ingredients that will make or break your under eye cream:

• Peptides, which stimulate collagen production and thicken the thin skin under the eye.

• Retinol is another ingredient that encourages cell turnover and collagen production. It should be used at night, because sunlight makes retinol ineffective.

• If you're choosing a retinol product, Jaliman recommends it contain hyaluronic acid so your skin retains moisture.

Skin-lightening products are another choice for those with perpetually dark circles.

• Arbutin is a skin-lightening ingredient that is found naturally in bearberry fruit that inhibits melanin.

• Kojic acid, licorice extract, and vitamin C also have skin-lightening properties and are safe for use on the skin.

See our roundup of the best eye creams now.

"You look tired." It's probably a woman's least favorite thing to hear, because it tells us we did a miserable job of hiding our puffy eyes and dark circles this morning.

Whether you're perpetually sleep-deprived, genetically "gifted" with dark circles under your eyes, or spend your nights watching cry-fest marathons, we've all had to deal with under eye bags or circles. In fact, when we asked our Total Beauty Facebook followers what beauty question they want answered, "What can I do about my dark circles?" was the No. 1 reply. Identifying dark circles under your eyes is easy -- you see them staring back at you in all their purple glory. But figuring out how to get rid of dark circles under your eyes is much less transparent.

Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist," says that dark circles affect people of all ages. "Dark under eye circles can make even young people look old and tired," says Jaliman.

Wanna know what you can do about your extra (eye) baggage? We consulted Jaliman to find out how you can minimize your dark circles -- by altering your lifestyle and your makeup application.
BY EMILY WOODRUFF | JAN 20, 2016 | SHARES
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