There are few things that detract more from a youthful appearance than dark circles and bags under the eyes. Worse still, this is not something that happens only to people in their middle ages and senior years; it is relatively common among young people too. My husband and I met at college and the first thing he ever asked me was whether I worked on our latest assignment through the night. I happily threw the question straight back at him because his circles were, if anything, darker than mine. 16 years later we have both shed the feature that brought us together. If you want to look younger in your mid to late thirties than you did at college, there are certain things you can do when it comes to how to get rid of dark circles under eyes, or eye bags.
What Causes Bags Under the Eyes?
Bags and dark circles actually appear for slightly different reasons, but the treatment is mostly the same.
- The skin around your eyelids is called periorbital skin and it is only a quarter as thick as most of the other skin on your body (about 0.5 mm.) That is why this is the first place where you get wrinkles; it is paper thin and easy to damage. Dark circles appear when your skin is thin and transparent enough so that the blood vessels under your skin are visible.
- The transparentness of your skin is, unfortunately, mostly inherited, which is why dark circles tend to run in families.
- As you age, your skin becomes thinner because it produces less collagen. Collagen is the thick connective tissue below your skin’s surface. If too little collagen is present and your skin is too thin, the dark blue and red blood vessels are pronounced. A lack of collagen also makes your facial skin droop, which is responsible for much of the puffiness that we call bags under our eyes.
- While physiologists are currently not sure why dark circles tend to appear after a lack of sleep, it might be because physical and emotional stress trigger your sympathetic nervous system and the epinephrine (adrenalin) that is released to increase your heart rate and sometimes widen your blood vessels. This is how your ancestors’ bodies prepared them to fight off or flee from their predators. When your heart rate increases and your blood vessels widen, more blood flows through them, which furnishes your body with plenty of oxygen and nutrients for the stress-triggered fight or flight ahead. Dilated blood vessels with plenty of blood in them are almost inevitably visible under your thinnest skin.
- Hormones that dilate your blood vessels may make the circles darker for the same reason. Estrogen is one such hormone, which is why women often struggle with dark circles more than men do. Can we never win on the looks front?
- Any drug or food type that dilates your blood vessels will make dark circles more visible. These include THC (the psychoactive constituent of marijuana), the poppy opium (morphine, heroin, and codeine), alcohol, beta-blockers (often prescribed for high blood pressure), PDE5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis), capsaicin (in chili), theobromine (in cacao and chocolate), and caffeine.
- Your skin becomes pale and transparent when too little oxygen is circulating through your blood, normally because of a lack of iron and vitamin B12, as these are the main oxygen carriers.
- Allergies can cause dark circle for several reasons. Histamines, the chemicals secreted by your immune system in response to an allergen, dilate your blood vessels to allow more blood through them. If you rub your eyes or if they water constantly, you will also end up with puffiness and red-rimmed eyes.
- Hyperpigmentation is when your body deposits too much melanin in one spot. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its color. If there is too much of it around your eyes, you will have dark circles.
Sun exposure prompts your skin to produce melanin, which is why we grow darker when we spend time in the sun. This can also cause dark smudges when there is too much of it on your face and, especially on the sensitive skin around your eyelids. UV rays also break down the collagen support below your skin’s surface.
- The puffiness or bags under your eyes occurs primarily when your skin is too thin and lacks collagen, but it can also happen when fluid builds up around your eyes. Fluid builds up because of long hours of physical inactivity, protein deficiency, an excess of sodium in your diet, a lack of potassium in your diet, histamines (such as during an allergic response), swollen lymph nodes due to inflammation (such as acne), fluid leakage from damaged capillaries often caused by extreme temperatures (hot showers, unprotected face during snow walks), estrogen-containing pills (some contraceptives), cortisone and other steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure), kidney failure, heart failure, and thyroid disease.
How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Eyes
Now that we understand the causes, we are in a good position to start working on some remedies. Some of them require lifestyle changes, while others merely involve refraining from doing things that may trigger them.
- Avoid the regular use of alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs, and medicine that cause them.
- Avoid medication where possible. Eat a healthy diet that contains enough iron, vitamin B12 (for which vegans need a supplement), good plant or lean animal proteins, and all the skin healthy vitamins like A, C, and E. This will keep your blood pressure down, obviating the need for blood pressure medication. Some cases of erectile dysfunction are also caused by high blood sugar, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, all preventable via a healthy diet. Take PDE5 inhibitors only once you have addressed all possible causes of erectile dysfunction. A diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, skinless poultry, lean red meat, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is ideal to give you all the necessary nutrients.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is incredibly stressful for your body, because it has no downtime to maintain and rejuvenate itself. Keep regular bed and wake times so your body gets used to them. Refrain from working or exercising shortly before bedtime. Remove electronic equipment from your bedroom. Ensure that your mattress and pillows are comfortable for your back and neck. Nap in the afternoon if you cannot get enough sleep at night.
- Avoid things that stress you, and do things that relax you. Work consistently, instead of in short exhausting bursts. Make a budget on your smart phone and stick to it to avoid financial stress. This does not rule out pleasurable activities and luxuries, but it specifies an amount you can afford to spend on them. Relaxing activities include meditation, nature walks, five minutes of deep breathing, five minutes of progressive muscle tensing and relaxation one muscle at a time, daydream of something that makes you feel happy, or get a friend or your partner to give you a massage.
Exercise regularly to manage your blood pressure and stress and to keep your blood vessels flexible and healthy. A form of exercise you enjoy will seem like less of a chore, so try dancing, swimming, yoga, walks with your dog, or a cycle through nature. Running and gymming are often so unpleasant that people abandon them before establishing them as part of a routine.
- If you have a major problem with dark circles and you are currently on a contraceptive pill that contains the combination of estrogen and progestin, like Estrostep, Yasmin, Yaz, or Ortho-Novum, ask your doctor to switch to a progesterone injection, or a progestin pill like Micronor, Nora-BE, or Ovrette. An IUD is also a good, long-term form of contraception that contains no estrogen.
- If you have constant allergies, either visit a dermatologist for a skin patch test to identify the substances to which you are allergic, or take a slow-release antihistamine every day.
- Keep your face out of direct sunlight to prevent the destruction of your collagen and the overproduction of melanin.
- Prevent inflammation of your facial skin by finding an acne product that works for you. Exposed Skin Care sells a comprehensive acne Kit that definitely works. Dryness of your facial skin may also cause inflammation.
- To fight water retention, eat plenty of foods that contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, like a green vegetables, nuts, avocados, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes and sweet potatoes with their skins. Further, limit your intake of sodium rich refined foods like potato chips, packaged soups and sauces, pickled products, bottled sauces like tomato sauce and chili, deli meats, and canned meat.
Once you have done all of this, the only thing left to do is to find an eye cream that helps your skin build collagen connective tissue, and that improves your skin tone by promoting the even distribution of melanin. A good eye cream will also moisturize your skin and improve its protective barrier. This is the barrier that keeps potential allergens out.
An Anti-Eye Bag Cream
Revitol makes a good eye cream that fulfil all these requirements. My husband and I use it twice every day, and my teenage son and daughter have both committed to using it if it turns out that they inherited the problem from us.
It costs $40 per jar, unless you use the company’s special offers of buying four, getting two free, buying three, getting one free, or buying two for $70.
The cream works because its ingredients have been scientifically proved to address the causes of dark circles and bags under your eyes. While there are too many to mention, some of the ingredients are the following:
- Ascorbic acid, or vitamins C, has been found to prevent hyperpigmentation, just another way of saying that it prevents your skin from depositing too much melanin in one spot. It improves skin density and elasticity by helping it build connective tissue.
- Sodium Hyaluronate, also called hyaluronic acid, is the main substance that fills the gaps in your skin’s connective tissue. As such, it stimulates collagen production.
- Bisabolol, derived from Chamomile, reduces hyperpigmentation and whitens the dark spots on your skin naturally. It is also a good anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, which makes it a decent solution for acne.
- When mixed with sodium hyaluronate and applied to the skin twice a day over six weeks, researchers demonstrated that it improved the skins of women between ages 36 and 65 by between 14 and 28 percent by reducing wrinkles, lower eyelid bags or sagging, and dark circles, and by improving skin texture.
- Panthenol, A Vitamin B5 derivative, promotes wound healing by stimulating the growth of skin cells and connective tissue. It is a good moisturizer and anti-inflammatory that also relieves itching and irritation due to allergies.
- Tocopheryl acetate, or vitamin E, protects your skin from oxidation, especially the top layer and the fat below it. Oxidation breaks down your skin cells, which is how it becomes so thin as you age. Tocopheryl acetate protects your skin from UV sun damage, which also destroys skin cells.
- Niacinamide, when mixed with tocopheryl acetate and panthenol into a facial cream, improved the evenness of skin tone, reduced hyperpigmentation, and improved skin texture when scientists tested it.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, or aloe vera, is a strong antioxidant that prevents your skin from being broken down by free radicals. It also protects your skin from UV sun rays by blocking the damage they normally do to immune cells in your skin.
- Silica, an essential mineral, helps to build collagen to thicken both skin and bone. When scientists deprived animals of it, their skins and bones thinned significantly. In this 20-week study, shallow wrinkles improved by up to 30 percent and skin elasticity by 55 percent, precisely because, if you have enough collagen, your skin can fill in the wrinkles and is strong enough not to tear from constant smiling, frowning, and other facial movements.
- Potassium citrate is a potassium, so it counters the tendency of sodium to retain an excess of the fluid in your tissue that causes puffiness. It is so healthy for your skin that it can even prevent the growth of skin tumors and heal wounds.
- N-Hydroxysuccinimide is thought to help eliminate the blood originated pigments responsible for some dark circles and for the inflammation that causes the puffiness.
- Caprylic/capric triglyceride is derived from coconut oil. It is a penetration enhancer that ensures that the substances mixed with it can permeate your skin. It has a sun protection factor of around eight.
- Glycerin and Glyceryl Stearate. Glyceryl Stearate is made by reacting glycerin with stearic acid. They moisturize your skin and restore its protective barrier if some toxin has disturbed it, such as is the case in skin allergies and infections.
- Dimethicone can prevent toxins from entering through your skin for 48 hours. Furthermore, when scientists treated women with moderately aged and sun damaged twice a day for four weeks with a moisturizer containing dimethicone and glycerine, their skins grew thicker and the overproduction of melanin stopped.
From this list, you can see that Revitol’s eye cream attacks all the right targets: It thickens and strengthens your skin to prevent transparency, wrinkles, and sagging, it stops the overproduction of pigment that causes dark circles, it builds your skin barrier to prevent allergens from entering, it prevents fluid retention that causes swelling, and it prevents free radicals and UV rays from thinning your skin by destroying its cells.
Apply the cream as gently as you can by dabbing it onto your skin rather than rubbing it on.
Your skin can look great only if you take care of it properly. Most of us don’t, which is why skin problems are so widespread. If you adopt the lifestyle proposed in this article together with Revitol’s eye cream, you will definitely see an improvement. We did. Now that I am in my late 30s, I look as young as I did in my 20s. You can too.