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How to Finally Get Rid of Those Bags Under Your Eyes

The non-surgical treatments that may actually help!

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photo collage of eye products to help get rid of under eye bags
Andrea D'Aquino (Source: Getty Images (2), Stocksy)
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If it seems like in the blink of an eye your own eyes are showing signs of aging, you’re probably right. The skin around our eyes is much thinner than that on the rest of our faces. “That’s why it’s susceptible to wrinkles, crow’s feet, discoloration and even under-eye bags,” says Los Angeles board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.

According to their latest data, a survey from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that surgery to correct eyelid and under-eye problems was one of the top five most popular plastic surgery procedures in 2022. But for those of us who prefer to go a gentler route, there are creams, gel eye masks, tools and fillers to help ameliorate these problems.

Notice I said help — nothing besides surgery will totally banish them, but these products and procedures will provide relief.

· First, the things you may already know, but bear repeating: Reduce stress, don’t smoke, get a good night’s sleep and stay hydrated — all of which can make circles and under-eye bags look less prominent. Try sleeping on your back with an extra pillow to prevent fluid accumulation under your eyes. Use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, even in the winter, and wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes from UV waves which create wrinkles.

· If your eyes are puffy and/or red and itchy in the morning you may have allergies. Check with your doctor and try taking an allergy medication such as Zyrtec or Allegra to see if that helps. Foods high in vitamin K, like leafy greens, may help minimize dark circles. Excess alcohol and salt can also lead to water retention, which contributes to puffiness, so limit your intake of both.

· Always use an eye cream — not your facial moisturizer — on your eyes. “The skin around our eyes is thinner and demands a different, more elegant, concentration of ingredients than we apply to the rest of our face,” says Washington D.C. board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sara Hogan, a clinical assistant professor at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The ingredients in a good eye cream? Hyaluronic acid draws in moisture so it’s good for hydration. Vitamin C and Niacinamide both help brighten and improve raccoon eyes. Peptides improve firmness and elasticity. Retinol helps increase collagen production, improve texture and reduce fine lines.

· Some creams to try: L’Oreal Paris’ Revitalift Micro Hyaluronic acid + Ceramides line-plumping water cream and Valmont’s Prime Contour Eye Cream, which is rich in hyaluronic acid and vitamins A, C and E for antioxidant protection. The niacinamide in First Aid Beauty’s Eye Duty Niacinamide Brightening Eye Cream will help improve under-eye circles as well.

· Use your ring finger in a gentle, tapping motion when applying eye cream to this delicate area — avoid rubbing or pulling which might increase puffiness, not to mention break blood vessels or irritate your skin.

· Whether you use an over-the-counter retinol — such as the popular RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream or La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Cream (which is recommended for especially sensitive skin) — or a retinol cream prescribed by your doctor, this vitamin A derivative can be irritating. Start by using it once a week, then every few days and then every other day.

· During a consultation for under-eye surgery which I subsequently chickened out of, New York board-certified celebrity dermatologist Dr. Haideh Hirmand advised patting a very small dab of retinol cream at night over my dark circles, quickly followed by an under-eye moisturizer. And while most creams are best absorbed into the body while skin is still moist, retinol is most efficacious when applied to thoroughly dry skin.

· Under-eye gel patches lock in moisture and help de-puff the eyes. Use them before a special event or for best results, daily. Store the patches in the fridge before using because cooling helps calm inflammation. Peace Out Puffy Under-Eye Patches are soaked in caffeine to reduce puffiness, niacinamide to minimize the look of dark circles and hyaluronic acid to prevent dehydration. Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks are infused with aloe leaf, amino acids and peptides to soothe and de-puff under-eye skin. Or try Hero’s Mighty Patch for Tired Eyes, packed with all sorts of restorative ingredients.

· Gua sha tools and jade rollers are both popular options to help promote lymphatic drainage for people prone to under-eye fluid retention. Gua sha tools come in many shapes, but ones that are knobbed-looking “mushrooms” are the ones recommended for the eye area. Prep by washing your face and applying face oil or moisturizer to the eye area. Holding the tool at a 30-45 degree angle, very gently pull it across your skin, starting at the inner corner of the eye and gliding outwards to the temple. To use a jade roller, again, prep by washing and moisturizing your face and use the larger end of the roller to move around the entire eye area, including the brow bone. Use the smaller roller located at the opposite end of the tool to roll around the orbital bone and target more delicate areas like the inner corners of the eyes. For best results, store the tools in the refrigerator or freezer, as the cold further decreases bags and swelling.

· Can Megan Markle, Gwyneth Paltrow and 2.3 billion TikTok users who follow the hashtag #faceyoga be wrong about the benefits of yoga-based facial exercises? Among those facial exercises aimed at getting rid of dark circles by promoting blood circulation and strengthening the muscles around the eyes: Make a V with your index and middle fingers under both of your eyes. Next, move your eyeballs from right to left and left to right 20 times. Pause and count to 10, then repeat. The repetitions are said to build muscle strength and the gentle pressure creates stimulation that helps reduce dark circles. You can follow up the massage with chilled teaspoons, possibly wrapped in a thin towel to avoid “burning” your skin. See if it works for you, and give it a couple of months. Why not? It’s cheaper than Botox.

· Speaking of which, in-office treatments such as Botox to relax the muscles around the eyes, or fillers, such as Boletero or Restylane to combat dark circles and loss of undereye volume, can be effective. But make sure you pick the right doctor or aesthetician. “You need a provider who really knows anatomy, who won’t inject into the fat pad, who will refuse to treat a patient whose skin is too thin and who won’t overfill the area,” warns Hogan.

· You can also choose from the menu of laser therapies — from Pico to Thermage to Co2 — which can effectively address discoloration and under-eye skin laxity — if handled by the right doctor or technician. Speak to friends about their experiences with various treatments — and discover who are the best doctors.

· Don’t forget the magic powers of a good concealer. Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer, Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Flawless Wear Concealer and Maybelline’s Super Stay Longwear Liquid Concealer will all help hide those dreaded under-eye circles. And if all else fails, there’s always a good pair of sunglasses!

What kind of eye cream do YOU prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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