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The story often goes like this: You run into a friend you haven't seen in ages, and, after the initial catch-up, she looks at you, concerned, and utters three dreaded words: "You look tired." You're not but your eyes are telling a different story. Over time, eyelid skin becomes thinner, more lined, and less toned, creating the impression of fatigue. "I often hear this complaint from women who say their eyes make them look worn out," says Washington, D.C., cosmetic surgeon and laser expert Hema Sundaram, M.D. But treatments and makeup tricks can brighten and wake them up. Here are the best of the bunch.
The Top 4 Issues Solved!
Some puffiness is genetic, and no eye cream will erase or reduce it. But if your bags come and go, fluid retention is probably the cause. Salty dinners, late nights, a cocktail or two they can all make your body hold on to water. "Since lid skin is thinner than elsewhere on your face, you'll notice swelling more," explains Jody A. Levine, M.D., a New York City dermatologist.
To the Rescue: Thanks to the pull of gravity, morning facial puffiness is usually gone by lunchtime. To speed things up, try placing a chilled eye compress, cold water-soaked tea bags, or cucumber slices over lids for five minutes. Cold constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling, says Dr. Levine. The caffeine in many eye creams is tightening, too. "Gently press on the bones around your eyes as you apply it," she suggests. "The pressure helps stimulate circulation and drain excess fluid." Try Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ($13, drugstores) or a Crabtree & Evelyn Gel Eye Mask ($6, Crabtree & Evelyn).
When blood vessels show through skin, they can give the eye area a bluish cast. "Since skin becomes more translucent with age, blood vessels appear more prominent," explains Heidi Waldorf, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. A less common cause of darkness: post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, doctor-speak for clusters of brown pigment that collect underneath the eyes due to heredity or chronic rubbing (often because of allergies or bothersome contact lenses).
To the Rescue: Daily use of any basic eye cream will temporarily plump skin so blood vessels are less visible, says Dr. Waldorf. Eye creams are a better choice for this purpose than regular face creams, because they tend to have a higher concentration of emollients for plumping and a thicker texture, which makes them adhere to the ever-mobile eye area. To improve the look of brown pigment, try an eye cream with botanical skin lighteners like licorice and kojic acid. We like Bioré Daily Recharging Enliven Cooling Eye Gel ($10, drugstores), with mica for brightening, and Cosmedicine Eye Specialist Essential Moisture Treatment with licorice extract ($45, Sephora).
Next: Solutions for lines, wrinkles, and sagging lids