Tips to Help Eliminate Dark Circles & Puffy Eyes

We continue to investigate the top beauty issues and remedies – Dark Circles & Puffy under eyes are in the top 3! Let’s get into what causes them as well as some of the best ways to treat them.

Puffy Eyes

What causes them? Fluid retention, lack of sleep, smoking, allergies, aging and lastly hereditary traits all can create puffy eyes. The good news is 4 of the 6 causes can be treated. Getting mild swelling or puffiness under your eyes is common as you age. As we age the tissue and muscles around our eyes weaken this can cause a shifting of fat to the lower under eye area which adds to swelling. Want more details? Check out this Mayo Clinic article.

Home Remedies

If you wake up with puffy eyes and lids there are a few home remedy tips that will help reduce swelling. 

  • Cold compresses: Cooling the eye area decreases inflammation and swelling by reducing blood flow. Anything cold like an ice pack, a frozen bag of vegetables, chilled cucumber slices placed over closed eyes for a few minutes will make a difference.
  • Hemorrhoid creams: I think we’ve all heard about professional make-up artists patting hemorrhoid cream under their clients eyes. Product ingredients such as phenylephrine narrow blood vessels to reduce swelling. These creams can be purchased at your local drug store but you should be careful not to get the cream in your eyes and should use thoughtfully as the under eye area is the thinnest and most fragile skin on your face.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine constricts blood vessels. Many cosmetics companies sell eye creams with caffeine to reduce under-eye puffiness. Try resting chilled tea bags (caffeinated black tea) on closed eyes.

Medical options for under-eye bags

If you have the hereditary under eye bags and/or the home remedies are not working  then you may want to consider some nonsurgical and surgical options.

Nonsurgical options
These noninvasive treatments smooth the under-eye area:

  • Filler: A jelly-like substance is injected in the under eye and cheek area to help smooth the transition on your face. Injections should be performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthetic. Results typically last six to 12 months. 
  • Laser resurfacing: Lasers are used to remove surface layers of damaged skin in the under-eye area. The treatment then stimulates new collagen growth resulting in firmer skin. Typically results can last years, depending on your skin type and sun exposure. 
  • Chemical peel: A chemical solution is professionally applied by a doctor to the skin in order to remove top layers of skin cells helping to reveal tighter and brighter skin underneath. Depending on your skin type, results can last up to a few years.

Surgical option

A lower eyelid lift is an outpatient procedure where the surgeon readjusts the fat in the lower eye area and tightens the muscle and skin to create an improved  smooth appearance. In most cases, a lower eyelid lift gets rid of under-eye bags for life. If you want more treatments for bags under your eyes check this Hopkins Medical article.

Under Eye Circles

What causes them? Under eye circles can be caused by eye strain, age, fatigue, dehydration, sun damage, allergies or genetics. More details from Healthline.

Home Remedies

Under eye circles are no fun. Below are some of the top home treatments that could help reduce them. 

  • Reduce Swelling: A cold compress can help reduce swelling and shrink blood vessels. This can reduce the appearance of puffiness and help eliminate dark circles. 
  • Get extra sleep: Something as simple as getting more sleep can help reduce the appearance of dark circles. When you don’t get enough sleep, your skin tends to appear pale thus emphasizing any dark circles under your eyes. National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  Read more on how much sleep you need here from everyday health.    
  • Elevate your head: How you sleep can effect your dark circles and bags under your eyes. Elevating your head with a few pillows helps to prevent fluid from pooling under your eyes. By adding a couple extra pillows you can make minimize the puffiness and swelling.
  • Soak with tea bags: Applying cold tea bags to your eyes can improve their user eye appearance. Tea contains caffeine and antioxidants that can help stimulate blood circulation which in turn helps to shrink your blood vessels and reduce liquid retention beneath your skin. 
  • Cover it up. Using a concealer does not make the under eye circles go away but they can help you to get through the day feeling more confident. I personally, struggle with under eye circles and have searched high and low for the best makeup. I LOVE the It – Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination : concealer and have shared this products with numerous friends. A tiny, little bit does the trick. Tip: Be sure to use a small amount and use a beauty sponge to blend it in.
It – Bye Bye Under Eye Illumination

Nonsurgical Options

If you’re seeking a more permanent solution here are some of the most popular options.

  • Much like the treatment for bags under eyes a chemical peal can reduce pigmentation which will help to fade the appearance of dark circles.
  • Laser surgery can help to remove the top layers of skin revealing the newer, tighter, less pigmented skin underneath. Depending on your skin type and exposure to sun this treatment can last for several years.
  • Medical tattoos can be applied by injecting pigment into thinning skin areas to help even skin tone. It is important to go to a proven professional for this served as this is a very tender part of the face and proper tattoo color matching is critical.
  • Tissue fillers can be injected to help conceal blood vessels and melanin that are causing skin discoloration beneath your eyes. This treatment typically lasts 6-12 months.

Surgical Option(s)

  • Surgeons can remove fat excess fat and skin from the under eye area which helps to reveal smoother, clearer skin.
  • Fillers and surgical implants of fat or synthetic products can be applied. These treatments typically last for years. More details here on Allure.   

Before deciding on any cosmetic procedure please be sure to discuss your options with your doctor. Invasive medical treatments can be expensive, painful, and often require a long recovery time so planning is needed.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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