Thursday, 24 October 2013

Dark Circles Under the Eyes

I've had dark circles under my eyes forever.

And when I say forever, I mean it. I was taking a trip down memory lane this morning and I came across this pic:

Just look at the dark circles. Ugh! Does that or does that not look like the world's most exhausted toddler? My God, it looks like they had me running laps around an Olympic distance track for eight days while carrying a refrigerator strapped to my back. With no potty breaks. (That was another issue I had, but luckily it doesn't show in the picture.)

But no, it obviously wasn't a question of being tired. If I scroll through more shots, I see those dark circles, time and again. Every pic, every mood, every age, they're there. And they're pretty much still there today, unless I combat them.

I even tried a higher-end eye cream which is supposed to fight dark circles, and it failed ... well, it helped, but they still say "hi there!" every morning. I shot this video for it:

I've researched the subject (you all know how much I love to do research) and here's what I have found out about dark circles. Hope this helps some of you fellow sufferers out there...there is hope. And hey, if we can't eliminate the look, maybe we can start a new trend: goth-on-the-bottom-of-the-eyes only! Cheers!

Why We Get Dark Circles

Dark circles are generally associated with lack of sleep, and while that can certainly be one cause, it's not the only one. In fact, the problem of dark circles relates to the quality and thinness of the skin.

The skin under our eyes is much thinner than on the rest of our bodies. Depending upon what part we're talking about, it's up to 10 times thinner, in fact. When tiny breakages happen underneath the skin (bruising) or when our capillaries are engorged with blood (a normal occurrence at times), the skin on, say, the leg might cover that up. But because the skin under the eyes is so thin, a blue or purplish effect can be seen right through it.

Certain conditions can also increase the look of dark circles. For example...
  • Allergies. An allergy to a food or to something in our environment can cause fluids to rush to various parts of the body, and the eyes are a prime target. This leads to puffiness under the eyes, as well as higher visibility of capillaries.
  • Dehydration. Paradoxically, when our bodies aren't getting enough water, they compensate by retaining what they do have, and one of the areas where pooling occurs is under the eyes. (See above for the effects.)
  • Rubbing. If you rub your eyes frequently (this is often seen in individuals who spend their work day behind a computer screen), you are encouraging blood to the surface of the area. The blood is seen through the thin skin as undereye circles.
  • Hyperpigmentation. You probably wear sunscreen or an SPF-containing foundation on your face. But do you use it directly underneath your eyes? Most people don't. That's because SPF ingredients often seem to sting and irritate the eyes. (Your sunscreen may even come with a warning about this.) However, when the undereye area is unprotected by sunscreen, it's just as prone as the rest of your skin to darkening.

What You Can Do About Dark Circles
So. What can you do? A few things...such as:
  • Wear an eye gel or eye cream that contains SPF.
  • DO NOT rub your eyes. Period. I know it's a hard habit to get out of, but you're only making the problem worse.
  • Use an undereye product that's formulated to minimize dark circles. These really can work, usually by healing the area and reducing swelling of blood vessels.
  • Get enough sleep. I know, I know: that one was obvious. But many of us really don't get the rest we need (and that causes fluid retention and engorgement). So get your forty winks.
  • Get some exercise. Exercise makes for a better distribution of bodily fluids and better movement of the blood throughout your body. It also tones blood vessels.
  • Drink more water. Again, the point is to get fluid moving along and out rather than accumulating where it can be seen, and not in a pretty way.
  • Make sure you wear a GENTLE concealer. Irritating the area will make things worse.
  • Use an ultra-gentle eye makeup remover. The less tugging and rubbing of the area, the better.
I do hope these tips have helped. Genetics play a huge part in the processes that lead to undereye circles, so treating them may need to be a daily part of your routine. I find it's no problem to make these small changes; they're just part of my day. Let me know if the above ideas work for you...I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Five Great Anti-Aging Eye Creams: The Pros and Cons

Looking for a great eye cream? I've researched five that have been making the news and have received highly positive reviews from real-time users (including, and We've also included the negatives so you can make the choice that's best for you.

Obagi Elastiderm Eye Treatment Cream 

Pros: Contains collagen and Restorative Elasticity Complex. Users say it works wonders for dark eye circles. Additional effects: it reduces under-eye bags and minimizes the look of fine lines. Users say it has a very smooth feel and is absorbed quickly. A few users state it was recommended by their dermatologist.

Cons: The price point is a little high for many users and there doesn't appear to be a trial size, so it's an investment that may or may not work out. Also, because the product is said to take 4-6 weeks for improvement, the whole purchase seems necessary. Though overall the product seems to have worked very well for the majority, make sure you purchase from a retailer who accepts returns just in case it doesn't work well for you.

Directions: Use twice daily under and around eyes.

Price: $72.00 for 0.5-oz. 

Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex

Pros: Contains SPF30, an invaluable factor for any skin care product but particularly for the delicate eye area, which is prone to collagen break-down due to the sun. Users say only a small amount is needed. Reported effects include diminished under-eye circles, diminished lines and wrinkles and a firmer skin feel. The price point ($20 for 0.5 oz; less for 0.3 oz. - make sure you have selected the correct size) makes it one of the lowest-priced eye products we've seen.

Cons: Some users report that the moisturization effect only lasted a few hours, requiring re-application of the product. This means more of the product was needed, making the low price point somewhat less of a draw for buyers.

Directions: Use twice daily around the entire eye area.

Price: $20.75 for 0.5-oz.

Revitol Eye Cream 

Pros: The website contains firm science, including lab studies of several of the ingredients. Users say it reduces the look of dark circles in 2-4 weeks. It is also said to lift the eye area and fills out lines and wrinkles effectively. Most users say only a small amount needs to be used, making the product cost-friendly at $39.95 for 0.5-oz.

Cons: Some users say the product absorbs slowly or has a somewhat oily feel. There appears to be no trial size, so those on a limited budget can't "try before they buy."

Directions: Use around the eye area twice a day.

Price: $39.95 for 0.5-oz.

Skimedica Night Eye Repair

Pros: Contains several natural ingredients, which are a draw for many users. Users report that it is very gentle to the eye area and to the eyes themselves. Firms, lifts and helps reduce the look of fine lines.

Cons: Some users have reported that the consistency of the product differed from one purchase to the next purchase. Some users said it did not absorb as well as other products they tried.

Directions: Apply to the lower eye area (underneath the eyes) only, once at night.

Price: $46.70 for 0.5-oz.

Murad Renewing Eye Cream

Pros: Contains Eye Brightening Complex for a brighter appearance. Users report firming and age-minimizing (i.e. fine lines and wrinkles) effects. Contains some natural ingredients, including soy, for elasticity.

Cons: Some users did not find this formula moisturizing enough. Some users stated that the price point was too high.

Directions: Apply twice daily underneath brow bone and underneath the eyes.

Price: $40.63 for 0.5-oz.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Anti-Wrinkle Eye Creams - Are They Worth It?

Image: evinella
Put down the scalpel! The latest generation of anti-wrinkle eye creams seem to promote near-miracles. How much is fact and how much is straight out of Fantasyland? Today we'll take peek at what today's eye creams could do for you (and whether they're worth the investment).


Bags are cute. For a while. Upsilon Andromedae
They lift, they moisturize, they paradoxically tighten you up while filling you out. And, oh yes: they'll make you look 10 years younger.

And undereye circles? Girlfriend, please. You'll be so monochromatic people will think you're Photoshopped.

That's what today's marketers have to say (well, more or less -- we confess to just a little literary license there) about what are sometimes touted as "miracle" eye creams. Is the investment worth it? And if so, what ingredients actually work? Let's take a closer look.

Eye Creams: They're Not Just for Moisture Anymore

Preparations for lines and undereye circles have been around for literally thousands of years. (You don't even want to know what the ancient Egyptians did in the name of beauty.) But for the most part, they all boiled down to one thing: adding moisture. Simple.

However, today's generation of anti-wrinkle eye creams go beyond simply hydrating and plumping out the skin. Proven (yes, really) ingredients that fade sun spots, temporarily add collagen or elastin to the skin, and help prevent further aging of the area are crowding shelves, from Rite-Aid to the most haute cosmetics counter.

Watch out: you may be paying for the label. Vera Devera

Ingredients That (Really) Work

With so much choice today, there's one sticking point: it's hard to know what long, awesome, chemical-sounding name really works for eye care, and what's just so much fluff.

Here are some ingredients that have real scientific backing. Look for them in your eye cream, hopefully not too far down on the label; the lower the listing, the less of the ingredient in the finished product.

  • Collagen and elastin: These are both already present in your skin, but aging, environmental exposure and even lack of rest or adequate hydration during the day can slow their activity. Collagen is a fibrous protein that literally holds the skin together. Elastin, just as it sounds, adds flexibility to the skin, so that it's less tight and less prone to wrinkling.
  • Retinol/Retin-A: Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. It sloughs off old skin and actually encourages collagen and elastin to be more active, increasing the cell turnover rate to reveal the newer, fresher cells underneath. Retinol also reduces swelling and the appearance of bags under the eyes. Be careful: always use sunscreen with a Retinol product, as it will make the area photosensitive.
  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids: These have a light "chemical peel"-like activity. Again, they stimulate activity of the cells, as the upper layer of skin is being gently exfoliated. Sensing the loss of this uppermost layer, the cells amp up their production -- in other words, they act younger...and they look it.
  • Vitamin C: You can get a similar action using a citrus fruit, but, well, ow. Vitamin C in cosmetic preparations not only feeds the skin and encourages its health, it also fades sun spots and age spots over time.
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin actually helps heal breakage of the tiny capillaries under the eyes. This breakage results in a pooling of blood in the area, resulting in the dark shadows you may be seeing. 
  • Caffeine: It's so simple, it's brilliant. Caffeine tightens capillaries, firming the skin and helping reduce the look of dark circles.
Not sure whether an ingredient does what it says it will do (or not even sure what the heck it is)? Research, research, research! Google is your friend. Look for non-biased, non-affiliate studies to see whether a claim has any real backing.

But I Already Look Gorgeous

We know you do. Want to stay that way? Then start early with a basic anti-wrinkle eye cream. In your teens and early 20s, you probably don't need all the bells and whistles -- and you shouldn't be paying for them. Look for a lower to mid-tier (under $40) eye cream and use it regularly...right now. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of plastic surgery. (Sorry, more literary license there.)

How Much Should I Be Spending?

It may be coincidence, but we've found that the best eye creams are anywhere in the $15-50 range. Pay less, and you're probably getting a prettily packaged moisturizer. Pay more, and you may simply be paying for the label.

As always, research your ingredients, seek our reviews and don't be grabbed in by all the hype. You're already beautiful. You shouldn't have to break the bank to stay that way.


Eye Makeup Tips

Image: FayTakesPhotos
Hey, Beautiful!

As I was struggling to remove a not-so-flattering raccoon look this morning (hey, didn't I remove all this last night?), I thought to myself, "Why don't I ever take my own advice?" Then I had a second thought: "Hey. Why don't I actually give out that advice?"

Call it a written affirmation to get myself back on track. (Yes, you can SO use affirmations for this. I mean come on. We're talking about makeup here. Borders on the sacred for me, I don't know about you.)

So I gathered my HG of eye makeup tips into five simple steps. These really are universal for everyone; you can't go wrong if you stick with them. Enjoy, Beautiful!

Start Light...and Build

Yes, you already know this. Or you think you do. Who isn't rushed in the morning and eager to just get the job done and go, already? I've been guilty on many an occasion of simply digging a bit harder into the shadow or using a heavy hand with my eyeliner.

The problem is, when you really do wind up with too much pigment (or too strong a line), you have to oversmudge or, worse, remove. And since most time-constrained women aren't willing to start all over with the makeup remover, you're undoubtedly grabbing a cotton ball or even a piece of toilet paper and...(shudder) rubbing.

Take the extra few minutes. You can always add. It's harder to remove. Your eyes will thank you.

Go Opposite On the Color Wheel

Such a simple trick, and so invaluable no matter what the season, your age or even what you're wearing: if you want to make your eye color "pop," choose a color in the family opposite your eyes on the color wheel.

My green(ish) eyes go full-on green -- or appear to -- when I stick with reddish-browns or lavenders, for example. And as everyone knows from the experiment stage (ah, middle school) onward, "blue is great with brown eyes."

Yes, I know. It's an old idea, it's not fresh, etc., etc. Know what? It works. Good enough for me, 'nuff said.

Throw Away Your Old Makeup

Yes. Really. Just do it. And this is from the queen of "it's still good, I'm not blind yet." Your eyes are precious. You only get one pair. And besides the obvious bacteria factor (most eye makeup is prone to this after 6 or so months even with preservatives), old eye makeup gets clumpy, crunchy and cakey.

Toss it and treat yourself to some fresh colors.

Waterproof Isn't Always Better

Disclaimer: I'm not hating, I'm just observing. Many, many waterproof products I've used -- especially waterproof mascara -- are a heck of a job to remove. Oh, not initially. You look in the mirror and think, "Hey. That's all gone. Good job, time to go to bed." Eight hours later you're back at the mirror going, "Hey. It came back." (Hence my "raccoon" vignette above.)

Waterproof eye makeup just tends to be harder to remove, even with specially-geared removal products. Let's face it: it's been engineered to stay there. And unscientific as that explanation may be, it's borne out for me time and time again in the morning...when I have to sometimes rub (even with remover) to get those last traces gone from beneath my eyes.

Use waterproof eye products only when you really need them (swimming, planning on crying a lot, etc.). One again, the less pulling and manipulation you'll need for later removal, the better.

Stroke Inward -- Don't Pull!

This applies for applying makeup, removing it, and for applying undereye creams. Move your finger (or your eye pencil or pen) inward...not outward. This makes creating some looks more difficult (a wing look, for example), but welcome the challenge. Find new ways. Moving the skin under the eye outward creates tension that, over time, doesn't always bounce back.

And you know what that means. Eye bags and wrinkles.

If you're using a finger application, use your middle or ring finger, not your index finger. Your touch will automatically be lighter and will pull less if use a non-index finger. Again, this means less pulling, less tugging and less tension.

Until We Meet Again, Beautiful

Hope you've enjoyed -- and I also hope that both you and I are able to take my advice in the future. (Darned raccoon eyes.) Next time: Anti-wrinkle creams -- are they worth it? See you then!

See my blog at Till then!