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polish & prime: what to do about that luggage underneath your eyes

Most people assume dark circles under eyes signify a sign of lack of sleep. While this may be true, there are other reasons why one might be rocking the non-eyeliner induced panda eye.

So why do dark circles exist? 

The skin underneath our eyes is the thinnest skin on our body, and because of the delicacy, it’s prone to showing the blood vessels underneath our skin (which is why dark circles have a bluish tint).  When the diminutive capillaries underneath your skin dilate or are broken, they become more prominent.  Causes of broken and dilated blood vessels can be attributed to lack of sleep, fluid retention, dehydration, anemia, allergies, or being on certain medications. These circles might be more visible due to someone having fair and/or extra thin skin — so you can blame it on genetics, if you feel inclined.

So how do we stop these dark circles?

There doesn’t seem to be one easy fix. Things that may help include: getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, making sure iron levels are adequate, and keeping your paws away from rubbing your eyes. But since the circles may very well be genetic, or a symptom of lack of sleep you don’t have the time to extend, then sometimes it comes down to using  products to treat or cover the skin.

So how do eye creams and gels work?

Eye creams and gels can promise many miraculous things, but do they really work? In my experience, some at least do, but they aren’t something that provides lightning quick results. And what’s the difference between eye creams and eye gels?

Eye creams should be denser than your regular facial night-time cream. You need a different formulation for underneath your eyes because as mentioned previously, the skin there is very thin. Eye creams are very nourishing and moisturising, and are more beneficial for reducing fine lines.

Try: Clinque Ultra Repairwear,  Oil of Olay Regenerist Night Cream

Eye gels tend to be more smoothing and cooling (check the label on yours, but many suggest keeping it in the fridge).  Eye gels are normally applied in the morning and are ideal for demising puffiness.

Try: Clairns Eye Countour Gel,  La Mav’s Anti Dark-Circle and Ultra-Firm Eye Gel

As mentioned previously, rubbing your eyes can cause dark circles, so it’s important to take care when applying your eye products. They can best be applied by dabbing small dots along the bone around your eye-socket (lovely sounding, I know) and then gently patting the product so that it absorbs.

And how to control those stubborn circles when we need to appear immediately impossibly fresh faced?

There are many different products that can do these, namely concealers and illuminators.

It’s important to remember that you can’t use any old concealer for under your eyes — it should be a peach/melon based one as this is what cancels out the blue tinge. The packet of your concealer should indicate its base or undertone, so make sure you take note of this. Concealers are generally heavier than foundations and a small amount goes a long way. Dot the product on the inner and outer corners of your eyes and then blend each one gently so they meet in the middle of your eyes. Concealer can be worn on its own, or is best applied before foundation/powder.

Try: Benefit’s boi-ing (it amazingly comes in five different shades, so you can really pick the one that will work best for you)

You may also come across products that illuminate or brighten under the eyes, which generally come in a very light liquid form or a very fine mineral powder. They contain light reflecting pigments that will create the illusion of  dark circles being considerably lighter (it won’t cover them up entirely – think of it as downgrading your checked luggage for carry on). The method for applying these really do change depending on what product you get, so it’s best to follow the directions on the products.

Try: Benefit’s Oh-la-la lift (conveniently in a lipgloss like container, making it easy to take with you if you need an instant lift) or Benefit’s Powderflage (as the name indicates, this is a loose powder version)

And, oh, cucumbers? Not an old wives tale or something reserved to indicate pampering in a movie. Because cucumbers are traditionally kept in the fridge and have a high water content, they hydrate your skin while reducing the blood flow around the eyes.

As mentioned in one of my previous columns, you may see me mentioning the same brands again and again. It’s not because I’m a spokesperson for any of them, but rather that it’s what I personally use, and once I find something I love, I’m a loyal little puppy. So please let us know in the comments if you know of any great products or if you have any tips!

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