Ah bags. So many brands, shapes, colours, and sizes – to say there is a bag for everyone would be an understatement. Yes, indeed, this accessory is a girl’s best friend, however, there is one type of bag out there that we can all agree will never be loved, and that is… EYE BAGS!
Usually put down to fatigue, it seems that no serum, cream, or mask is ever able to completely get rid of dark circles quite like make-up will. We think that concealer really should be garteful to eye bags for the steady business because without them, they’d have no purpose! haha
It’s a tricky cycle really; with hard work you become busy, then by being busy you become tired, and from being tired you get a glass of wine and foot massage the moment you walk through your door? No. You get dark circles!
So in light of their ever-persistent residence underneath our eyes, we think it’s time to get to know these dark circles a little better, learning what they are, why they’re there, and how on earth we can get rid of them!
What are dark circles under the eyes?
To first understand eye-bags (otherwise known as “infraorbital dark circles” by the medical world), a teensy bit of eye anatomy must first be discussed. Just beneath the lower eyelid is a thin layer of both muscle and fat, with each of these structures requiring a blood supply for their function.
A multitude of anatomical factors can contribute to the presence of dark circles, including bone layout, soft-tissue distribution, and facial ligament structure. Unfortunately, with age, the alignment of your face changes slightly due to a decrease in bone density and adipose tissue. This can make the hollow structures beneath your eyes more prominent, and further stretch the fairly transparent skin that is already present.
The vascular network that resides right behind your eye-lids is provided by little coverage from the thin skin above it, causing it to look dark in appearance. As well as this, a fluid build-up can often occur, causing the eyes to look “puffy”, with some of this liquid containing the breakdown products of haemoglobin (a component of red blood cells), thus playing a part in its colour.
Various conditions (all largely to do with the fun process of ageing!) can enhance the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. The decline of collagen and elastin production from around your mid-twenties reduces skin turgor and elasticity, whereby even though the actual pigment will remain, the skin will be stretched and thinned thus increasing its transparency.
Why are dark circles even there?
There’s nothing worse than waking up, checking the mirror and seeing eye-bags. If you’ve just been asleep, you would at least assume that they wouldn’t appear until later in the day, right? Sadly, that’s not the case. This is because when you lay down at night, the horizontal positioning causes an increase of blood flow to the eyes, thus deepening its colour.
When you are tired and stressed (which we know can feel like always) your blood vessels will dilate so that the body can produce stress hormones to cope with the physical state it is in. This is exacerbated with fatigue as your body will retain excess fluid, particularly under the eyes, causing your bags to seem worse than normal.
How to get rid of eye-bags and dark circles?
As with most issues, the answer is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Darkness under your eyes can appear for several reasons, therefore the steps to fix them will vary from person to person. Below we’ve come up with a list of things you can try at home to help figure out which option will work best for you!
1. Cool and compress
Perhaps the old wives’ tale of putting spoons under your eyes isn’t so old after all! Placing anything cool underneath your eyes will help to constrict blood vessels that are dilated, thus reducing the amount of blood flow to the area. Eye-patches are a great way to do this, as you can just pop them in the freezer and then place them underneath your eyes while you get ready of a morning. The applied cool pressure will also help remove any excess fluid from the area, reducing puffiness and discolouration.
2. Slowdown on the salt
Sodium in the body binds with water molecules, resulting in fluid retention which can be noticeable under the eyes. When you eat a meal that is packed with salt, you are essentially asking the body to hold onto its fluids, which can become particularly problematic overnight. Although dinner is principally a savoury meal, don’t forget that salt is not the only way to add flavour to it! Get creative with garlic and onion bases, or utilise the plethora of herbs and spices available out there. If you can’t seem to get through dinner without constantly reaching for water, less salt should help you (and your eye-bags) out a little!
3. Tea time
Everyone loves incorporating tea into their nightly routine, but what about breakfast we ask? The anti-inflammatory properties found in tea are predominantly due to the presence of tannins, caffeine, and antioxidants. These constituents have been shown to constrict the blood vessels under your eyes when placed topically on the skin. All you have to do is let the tea bags chill in some water in your fridge, then leave them under your eyes for around 15-minutes for the results you need.
4. Pump the potassium
Working in opposition to sodium, potassium is a part of many physiological functions, with one in particular being to reduce blood pressure. In most cell membranes (the outer lining of the cell), there are little sodium-potassium pumps that, you guessed it, pump salt and potassium in and out of the cell. Eating a diet rich in potassium has therefore been shown to reduce eye-bags, as it counteracts the negative, water-retaining effects of salt. Fruits such as bananas, apricots, oranges, honeydew, or grapefruit are perfect breakfast toppers, otherwise, mushrooms, cucumbers, spinach, and other leafy greens are the way to go. Although at the time they may feel as if no instant difference is made, working these fresh foods into your diet will pay off with the long-term benefit of under-eyes that are fresh as a daisy!
5. Let it lift
Sleeping with your head slightly raised has been proven to reduce the accumulation of fluid and other liquids in your eye area while you sleep, as this helps to minimise puffiness and dark circles significantly! Try getting a pillow with a little extra plump to see if this works for you.
6. Fridge it
If like most of us you’ve spent your fair share on eye creams and moisturisers that just won’t seem to work, don’t worry – they still can help! All you have to do is pop those creams into the fridge so that they are nice and cool when you go to use them, that way they will work on the same principle as applying a cold-compress to constrict the associated blood vessels.
7. Hello aloe
We all know to apply aloe vera when we are sunburnt, but what you may not have realised is that this potent anti-inflammatory is also excellent for applying under your eyes to reduce darkness. Applying moisture to the skin, aloe vera gel fights free radical and toxin build-up under the skin thanks to its amino acid profile, even reducing physical signs of ageing, and applying a youthful complexion to the skin.
8. Cucumber eye-masks
Just as every Hollywood film will tell you, cucumbers on the eyes are a beauty essential in their industry. Largely due to their hydrating abilities, placing cucumber underneath the eyes will apply cool moisture to the skin, reducing the darkness and swelling associated with a lack of sleep! Although placing cucumber under your eyes may not be so practical for your everyday routine, they will certainly help if you have a spare 20-minutes to relax and let them work their magic, perhaps on a weekend when you’re going out to dinner!
9. Crank up the collagen!
As mentioned earlier, another fun part of growing up means losing the collagen that provides you with plump, youthful, and radiant skin. By your mid-twenties, enhancing collagen intake becomes more and more pivotal for your skin health, with the skin under your eyes also included in this! For the perfect daily dose that can be added to any hot or cold beverage (or even meal!), we suggest using either our GLOW Marine Collagen Powder, or, our GLOW Hot Chocolate Collagen Powder for ensuring you get enough in – the delicate skin underneath your eyes and over your whole body will thank you if you do!