Solutions for Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

Solutions for Dark Circles and Puffy EyesSolutions for Dark Circles and Puffy EyesDo you have puffy eyes or 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.

What Causes Dark Under-Eye Circles

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

  • Increased melanin (also called hyperpigmentation)
  • Fat loss beneath the eye
  • Broken blood vessels

Hard living -- too much caffeine and tobacco and too little sleep -- is a less common cause of eye puffiness and bags.

6 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 minimize 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.
  • Avoid 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 or bleaching agents. If the dark circles under your eyes are due to too much melanin, creams containing lightening agents such as retinol, hydroquinone, kojic acid, green tea, vitamin C, or soy can be helpful, according to California dermatologist Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD. To help skin-lightening products work their best, avoid the sun and use sunscreen daily. Badreshia-Bansal suggests a sunscreen with zinc and a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30.
  • Check out injectable fillers. A dermatologist may administer these if your dark eye circles are due broken blood vessels, says Badreshia-Bansal. Fillers can also help if fat loss is the cause of bags under the eyes.
  • Look into lasertreatments and vitamin K. Laser treatmentsmay reduce the look of dark circles due to broken blood vessels. Skin care products containing vitamin K can 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.

6 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 look of eye puffiness, the pros offer these suggestions:

  • Sleep. It's as important to preventing puffy eyes as it is to diminishing dark circles. Start by getting at least eight hours of good sleep a night.
  • Drink. Staying well-hydrated can help prevent puffy eyes, says Chicago dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD. 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. Florida dermatologist Andrea Cambio, MD, advocates the de-puffing power of chilled, moist green tea bags. Elizabeth L. Tanzi, MD, a Washington, DC dermatologist, suggests gently placing cool cucumber slices or a bag of frozen peas or carrots on the eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. A gel eye-mask will also do the trick.
  • Consider fillers. Thesecan help if collagen and elastin break down -- "causing surrounding skin to pooch out," in the words of dermatologist Fredric Brandt, MD, in his book 10 Minutes, 10 Years. Fillers can actually make puffiness look smaller.
  • Learn to accept the look of your eyes. Some people are just more prone to puffy eyes or dark eye circles, according Brandt. 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!