Under-eye bags and dark circles are a concern at any age, as they may be genetic or caused by certain lifestyle choices. But they usually become an everyday problem as we age because the skin in the under-eye area loses elasticity, so puffiness and darkness are more prominent.
There are so many ways to improve the aspect of your under-eye area, starting from special creams and serums to under-eye fillers, which I’ve talked about in different guides. But there is a way to make your under eye area look better instantly, and I’ve got all the secret tips and tricks for you. I am talking about the power of makeup and knowing how to apply concealer in the perfect places.
This article will give you the know-how about the leading causes of under-eye bags and dark circles, so you know what to do to get rid of them, plus ways you can make them look better with concealing makeup. But the best part is a step-by-step guide to my stellar technique of how to apply concealer like a pro!
What Causes Under-Eye Bags & Dark Circles?
The under-eye area can often be puffy or darker, making us look tired and worn out. There are many causes why this happens, from using alcohol and tobacco, getting improper amounts of sleep, diet, allergies or sinus problems, bad makeup removal habits and sun exposure, but the main problems are fat pouches that are no longer supported by the skin’s structure or fluid retention.
These cause all sorts of problems in the eye area, but there are ways to reduce or cover them while looking for the best solution. Often, the answer lies in the reason you are getting them in the first place, so keep reading for a better understanding of what may be happening.
There are many potential causes for under-eye bags or dark circles, but one thing is for sure: we would all love to get rid of them! Some causes may be harder to treat, such as genetics, which can bring a more receded eye socket, and darkness, while others require simple lifestyle changes.
How to Reduce Under Eye Bags & Dark Circles
Unfortunately, most of us struggle with under-eye bags or dark circles, whether it’s a permanent state or one depending on our lifestyle. The good news is that most of the time, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The solutions to these problems usually lie within the cause of lifestyle choices or some health issues that may be causing them.
In some cases, the best answer is using injectable under-eye fillers when dealing with a hollow in that zone. Many of you often complain of not being ready for the more radical steps, such as under-eye fillers. There are solutions to reduce and cover under-eye bags with makeup, so you will find helpful information in this article no matter what your concerns are.
Keep reading to get some of my best tips and tricks to reduce under-eye bags and dark circles:
Cut Down Alcohol and Quit Smoking
Alcohol dehydrates the body, and this causes the skin, including that around the eyes, to become drier and lose elasticity; drinking will also dilate the blood vessels. These effects cause puffiness, redness, and darkness in the under-eye area, so not a very flattering look.
Maybe reduce your alcohol intake to the minimum, and make sure you don’t disrupt your sleeping patterns because of it, as this will only make matters worse when it comes to your under-eye area.
Tobacco causes loss of elasticity as well by affecting the production of collagen. The result will be saggy skin that gets puffy and irritated faster. Smoking affects your whole skin and ages you prematurely, so quitting is a good idea for your general health.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep also has a crucial role in the appearance of the under-eye area. When you don’t get enough sleep, the blood vessels dilate and make your skin look darker; you can see this effect, especially in the under-eye area, because the skin is at its thinnest here.
On the other hand, too much sleep causes fluids to accumulate, making the under-eye area swell up; this is where bags appear. The answer here is getting just the right amount of sleep – most specialists recommend 8-9 hours of sleep for an average adult.
Check With your Doctor for Allergies and Sinus Problems
Sometimes, your immune system perceives substances like pollen, animal hair, or dust as harmful agents. This causes an allergic reaction, with a runny nose, sneezing, and itching around the nose area. But did you know that this also leads to a condition called allergic shiners?
Basically, allergic shiners mean the blood vessels around the nose and sinus area dilate and fill with blood. This excessive blood makes your under-eye swell up and look darker; this leads to under-eye bags and dark circles.
Sinus infection can also cause puffiness in the under-eye area because fluids can’t correctly drain from that zone. If you suspect having any of these issues, talk to your doctor about keeping them under control.
Avoid Salty Foods
Extra salt in your food will cause swelling and fluid retention; this is why diets often specify to lower your salt intake because some of the puffiness may be liquid that is not draining properly.
But salt can also cause puffiness under the eyes, so maybe try to adapt your diet and skip those big Mexican food meals or sushi with too much soy sauce.
Pay Attention to Removing Your Makeup Properly
I’ve always been a big advocate for removing your makeup very thoroughly every night; you can do this by using the double cleansing method (an oil-based creamy product, then a face wash) or with your preferred ways.
Either way, removing the last traces of makeup is essential because leftovers can cause your eye area to swell; the fluids no longer drain properly, and you wake up with under-eye bags. So this is another solid reason to clean your skin well at night, besides removing the grind and pollution of the day and having a clean surface to absorb skincare products.
Recommended products for removing makeup:
Prevent Aging and Saggy Skin with Retinol and Daily SPF
A significant part of under-eye problems comes from aging. In time, the production of collagen and elastin (that hold the structure of our skin) decreases, so the skin loses elasticity. In the under-eye area, the sagging causes a hollow that translates into a permanent shadow there, meaning dark circles.
On the other hand, some people have fat pockets underneath the eyes that lower due to the same aging process. This can cause a hollow right under the eye and then a bulging, puffy area below, where this fat pocket now lies.
For additional information and product recommendations, please check out our articol on the best retinol creams and serums.
Factor in Your Genetics and Consider Under Eye Fillers
For some, dark circles are genetic since they naturally have a sunken eye socket. This causes the under-eye area to be hollow, creating a permanent shadow there. On the other hand, there are people with more protruding fat pockets underneath the eyes, so they always have puffiness in that particular zone.
For in-depth information about the process that leads to these results, please read an in-depth article about under-eye problems and fillers, as explained by a board-certified plastic surgeon.
If you are not ready to go for the more invasive procedures, fear not! There are still a lot of tricks to decrease the puffiness and lift the shadows.
Put Cold Objects On Before Applying Skincare
As mentioned above, under-eye puffiness becomes apparent when the blood vessels dilate; this increase in blood flow causes swelling and a darker coloration of the skin. Applying something cold within that area is a great idea since this will reduce blood flow and minimize inflammation.
You have a few different options here: you can just put on a cold compress, a bag of frozen vegetables, or some spoons that you’ve kept in the freezer. Just keep in mind to only hold the frozen object onto the skin for a few minutes at a time, preferably on top of a towel.
I also love to use the Sio Cryo System that includes a serum and a massage tool; the ending is metallic and very cool, helping to reduce that puffiness almost immediately. The massage itself also helps with better fluid drainage, so it’s a win-win for this great product.
Use a Caffeine Serum in Your Skincare Routine
Caffeine is an ingredient known for its antioxidant properties and constricting blood vessels. Some studies show promising results for the under-eye area because it helps reduce the swelling if used regularly.
There are serums and eye-creams on the market that you can choose from, but you can also go for a bit of DIY. Try putting on caffeinated tea bags on your puffy eyes in the morning, and leave them on for a few minutes. Make those cold tea bags, and you’ve got yourself a double beneficial effect.
While caffeine serums work for everyday use, some people swear by using hemorrhoid cream underneath the eyes because they say this will reduce under-eye bags in no time. These types of creams contain hydrocortisone, a potent anti-inflammatory substance that acts by constricting the blood vessels – and they should never be used daily.
While applying this type of cream in your under-eye area may be a solution once in a blue moon, for a special event when you need results instantly, regularly putting cortisone on your skin is a major no-no. This can cause serious side effects, such as cortisone dermatitis, rashes, or skin bumps. Getting it into your eyes is also a very bad idea, so caution is the best approach here, so keep these old tricks only for very, very special occasions.
Collagen & Iron Supplements
As stated above, skin becomes frailer as we age, mainly because of decreased collagen production. This affects the skin’s structure, leading to saggy skin going downwards. This influences the way our complexion looks, especially the fragile skin around the eyes that becomes saggy and wrinkly, leading to those hollow and dark areas.
Stimulating the natural production of collagen is a great idea, and vitamin C is one of the best ways to achieve that. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb more hyaluronic acid, another skin identical substance that helps maintain the skin’s natural hydration level. So overall, the skin looks and feels more plump, fresh, and youthful-looking.
Increasing your intake of vitamin C is the perfect solution, and you can do this by taking vitamin C supplements and eating foods rich in them (such as oranges, broccoli, or tomatoes). You can also add collagen supplements to your daily routine for added benefits.
Another issue when it comes to dark circles is iron deficiency. The latter can cause anemia, which can affect your skin, too, because the tissues become less oxygenated. This leads to a paler complexion and more fragile skin.
The skin can show through the blood vessels underneath in the under-eye area, so darkness appears here. Taking an iron supplement is the best way to combat this problem and help your skin be firmer.
Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements, and if having any health issues. Please check our in-depth article, for more reviews on the best supplements for women over 40.
How & Where to Apply Under-Eye Concealer for Bags & Dark Circles
Whenever we want to cover something with makeup, we need to know the basics about creating an illusion and tricking the eye into seeing something different there. The main tools for creating illusions are color theory and alternating shadows and lights.
Prep Your Skin
A smooth result when applying concealer or foundations depends very much on the state of your skin. If having a flawless canvas to work with, the makeup application will have an airbrush effect
Instead, when your skin is dehydrated, flaky, or textured, the makeup products will cling to all those problem areas, and the overall effect will be streaky. Mature skin also deals with wrinkles, dryness, and loss of elasticity, so all the more reason to pay attention to how you treat your skin.
So let’s start with the first step, meaning the skin prep, before applying makeup. As a general rule, you should take good care of your skin daily and create a stellar skincare routine for yourself.
An excellent skincare routine starts with gentle cleansers, hydrating serums, potent antioxidants (such as vitamin C), nourishing moisturizers, and great exfoliating products. The latter is crucial for getting that smooth canvas because by reducing the dead skin layer, you stimulate the skin to produce new cells faster and healthier.
When applying makeup, you need to start with a cleansed face, then apply your usual moisturizer, or a lighter hydrating serum, if having more oily or combination skin. Next, apply your sunscreen if doing your makeup during the day, and continue with a primer; or go directly with the face primer if it’s evening time.
Make sure you wait a few minutes between each layer, giving them enough time to absorb and not apply a large amount of products properly. Makeup tends to move around more and disappear faster if you have too many greasy layers on, making it slippery. A good-quality primer is also very efficient in prolonging the lasting power of your makeup throughout the day.
Color Correct with Peach or Yellow Concealer
Color theory is essential in makeup because it can help us identify our undertones, for finding better matches with concealers and foundations, and give us an understanding of what shades suit us best (eyeshadows, lipsticks, or blushes). But color theory can also help us conceal certain areas by color correcting.
The latter is a technique often used by the pros in the business to conceal discoloration on the skin, breakouts, or dark circles. All of these have one thing in common – a distinct color that comes through the foundation, so it is hard to cover.
Colors opposite on the color wheel cancel each other out, so we can use these to conceal certain imperfections on our skin properly. For example, you can neutralize red marks, either from acne or from rosacea, using a green concealer; blue or purple veins, such as those in the inner corner of the eyes, can be covered with a peach or yellow concealer.
Play off Volumes With Shadows and Light
When trying to hide or draw attention to certain areas, volume is also a crucial element to keep in mind. A darker shade will make a site look more receded, while a lighter, sparkly one will make it stand out and add volume.
When sculpting, we always add shadows and highlighters to play with volumes and make the eye believe exactly what we want to achieve there. But this can also be applied to concealers: a hollow under-eye area can benefit from a lighter concealer to lift the shadows, while a puffy one will only look worse with that same shade.
For more details on the actual technique of applying concealer, please watch the video (and keep reading):
How to Use Concealer for Dark Circles
As stated above, understanding what you are dealing with is the first step to covering the under-eye area. If dark circles are your main concern, this means a darker color, from hyperpigmentation or a hollow area; either way, the result is a shadow in your under-eye area that always makes you look tired. So you need to lift that color.
You can do that by applying a peachy or salmon concealer because this will cancel out that darker color. You can take a liquid concealer or a cream (which is usually more pigmented), and apply it until the desired result.
For this demonstration, I am using a Nars concealer after I’ve applied a small layer of foundation in the under-eye area, just to even out the skin tone. I am taking a bit on my brush and lightly tapping it on my inner corner because this is where I have the most darkness. I am blending as I go, so the concealer is melted well into my skin.
How to Put Concealer on Under-Eye Bags
Next, I have to deal with the puffiness from the under-eye bags; here is where that knowledge about volumes comes into play. Puffiness means the central area is protruding, and at the same time, it is surrounded by a darker ridge. We don’t want to highlight that puffy area to make it stand out even more, but rather, we need to make the whole space seem flat (the same volume).
The easiest way to achieve this is by highlighting that darker ridge, thus lifting the shadow and cheating the eye into not seeing the puffiness quite as evident. So I apply the same jar concealer in a lighter shade than my skin tone but in a very targeted area.
For this purpose, I am using a small angled brush (the ones used for your eyeliner or filling the brows), and blending the product with my fingers as I go. The lighter concealer has to be placed in the exact indent areas for lifting the shadows that surround the puffiness while avoiding the actual bags.
When it comes to applying creamy concealers in the under-eye area, my advice is always to use the smallest amount possible. The excess product is going to settle into your fine lines or wrinkles, no matter how well you set it because creamy products tend to move around.
Set the Concealer
Now that you’ve layered your concealer perfectly, it’s time to set it in place so it doesn’t crease throughout the day. Creamy products tend to move around and settle into pores or fine lines, especially in mobile areas, such as under-eye.
I love using Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, a product made specifically for the under-eye area. This will set the creamy concealers into place, stop the creasing, and brighten the area further.
Before actually using the powder, check your under-eye area and assess how the concealer looks: is it still well blended, or has it started to settle into fine lines already? Depending on the product, some may start to crease a bit immediately.
The last thing you want is to set in place a streaky concealer, so start by preparing your powder brush. Swirl it through the under-eye powder, tap off the excess, and keep it on hand. Take the brush you’ve applied the concealer with, or a damp sponge, tilt your head down, and blend the concealer again. Without moving your gaze (so you don’t get the concealer to move around again), apply your powder with the brush you have close by.
Repeat this process for the other eye, and you will get a perfect result every time! You now have a perfectly smooth area and a concealer set correctly in place that will last throughout the day.
The Power of Concealer
Under-eye bags and dark circles are a pain for all of us at some point in our lives or on a daily basis. There are many causes and potential treatments, but makeup is the simplest way to lift them instantly. As always, makeup comes in to save us while waiting for other products and procedures to work their magic.
I am talking specifically about concealer, and for such a small and simple product, the effect a concealer can make on your appearance is truly astonishing. Even when you’re not in full glam, just applying a little concealer to lift those shadows under the eyes can suddenly make you look awake and refreshed.
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