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Solutions for bags under eyes, dark circles and puffy eyes

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Do you have puffy eyes or bags under your eyes - under- eye circles? Whether the cause is a few long days or too many restless nights, you've probably dealt with both at one time or another.

If your solution is to splash a little cold water on your face or grab a concealer, stop right there. There's more that you can do to unpack those under-eye bags and prevent eye puffiness. These simple tips from skin care pros can get you started.

cucumbers on eyes

What causes dark under-eye circles?

Dark circles, or bags under your eyes, have many causes. These include:

  • Increased melanin (also called hyperpigmentation) also post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to allergies ('allergic shiners')
  • Fat loss beneath the eye or shadowing due to skin laxity
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Hard living - too much caffeine and tobacco and too little sleep - is a less common cause of eye puffiness and bags.

Six solutions for under-eye circles and bags

Try these tips for brightening your baby blues or bodacious browns:

  • Get enough sleep. Sound sleeping is an inexpensive, easy way to help minimise dark under-eye circles, no matter what the cause. Sleep not only helps keep eyes bright, it also aids your body in repairing cell damage to your skin.
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine. Though they may perk you up in the short-term, caffeine and alcohol don't do the same for your skin. They can cause mild dehydration, making dark circles more obvious.
  • Consider skin lighteners. However the British Skin Foundation cautions that many skin-lightening creams contain illegal compounds that can damage your health. To help reputable skin-lightening products work their best, avoid the sun and use sunscreen daily.
  • Check out injectable fillers. A dermatologist or cosmetic skin doctor may administer these if your dark eye circles are due to broken blood vessels. Fillers can also help if fat loss is the cause of hollows or shadowing under the eyes.
  • Look into laser treatments and vitamin K. Laser treatments may reduce the appearance of dark circles due to broken blood vessels. Skin care products containing vitamin K may also help.
  • Go a shade lighter in your concealer. A concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone can help disguise under-eye circles. A concealer with an SPF of 15 or higher provides double benefits. If your skin tends to be oily or acne-prone, use an oil-free concealer.

Six strategies to prevent eye puffiness

Lots of things can lead to puffy eyes - from too much to too little sleep, from eating poorly to getting older. To help reduce the appearance of eye puffiness, consider these suggestions:

  • Sleep. It's as important for preventing puffy eyes as it is for diminishing dark circles. Start by getting at least eight hours of good sleep a night.
  • Drink. Staying well-hydrated can help prevent puffy eyes. Drinking plenty of healthy liquids, especially water, helps keep overall skin tone firm and full looking.
  • Cut back on salt. Retaining body fluid can cause puffy, doughy looking skin. Reducing salt intake helps reduce the tendency to retain excess water. An easy way to cut back on salt? Reduce the processed foods in your diet.
  • Use cool compresses. Some skin experts advocate the de-puffing power of chilled, moist green tea bags. Cool cucumber slices or a bag of frozen peas or carrots wrapped in a cloth on the eyes for 10 to 15 minutes may also help or a gel eye-mask could also do the trick.
  • Consider cosmetic fillers. These can help if collagen and elastin break down causing surrounding skin to puff out. Fillers may reduce the look of puffiness.
  • Learn to accept the look of your eyes. Some people are just more prone to puffy eyes or dark eye circles. As we grow older, skin naturally weakens and becomes less resilient, so puffy eyes or dark circles naturally become more noticeable.

These tips may help you keep your eyes looking their best. But the most effective eye-brightening tip may also be the easiest one to implement: smile!

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Reviewed on April 19, 2016

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