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What’s Causing your Dark Under-Eye Circles

And 12 things that experts swear will help.

What’s Causing your Dark Under-Eye Circles

This article was hand-pick for you from our friends at Well+Good. / It originally appeared over there. Enjoy!

You've got to hand it to dark circles: Unlike many other skin issues, they don’t discriminate. You could start your day with a green juice and a facial and still end up with a serious case of the under-eye blues. Especially when you’re a new mom.

"They're ubiquitous," admits Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, a dermatologist with Connecticut Dermatology Group. "You can find different aspects of [dark circles] in people from their early twenties, onward."

The bad news is that genetics plays a big role (thanks, Dad!), plus the thinnest skin on your face is around the eyes, so you can often see blood vessels beneath it. But many of the other causes—sun damage, allergies, lack of sleep, cocktails, and salty snacks—are within your control. Since pulling a Victoria Beckham and wearing oversized sunglasses for the entirety of the week after your office holiday party isn't a realistic option, we spoke with four top beauty experts who share 12 ways that you can take on dark under-eye circles—and win.

 

  1. Pinpoint your problem. Tackling dark circles is easier when you get a handle on what you’re dealing with. Certainly, if you just pulled an all-nighter, it isn’t hard to determine the culprit. Most of the time, it won’t be that clear, but there are signs that can direct you to possible offenders. Sun damage and visible blood vessels are greater problems for lighter-skinned people, explains Dr. Mraz Robinson, while those with darker skin are prone to inflammation-induced hyper-pigmentation. No matter your skin tone, there's one thing you can't stop and that's aging; as you get older, your skin thins and, in the process, reveals the capillaries and plumbing underneath. But you also get wiser, so... trade-off?

 

  1. Eat well, sleep well, repeat. Heart health, cancer prevention, stress reduction... There are many reasons to chug water in place of alcohol, get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and include as many anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible. And you can add eye de-puffing to that list. “Under-eye circles are a symptom of internal issues in the body,” says Laurel Shaffer, herbalist and founder of skin-care brand Laurel Whole Plant Organics. If you're going for an extra-big wine pour at your family Christmas dinner, make sure your water glass is constantly being refilled, too.

  1. Don’t be so thin skinned. Collagen boosters such as retinols, which are a form of vitamin A, increase cell turnover and generate firmer, thicker skin below the eyes. “The thicker the skin, the less visible those vessels will be,” says Dr. Mraz Robinson. Natural skin-care products often use carrot oil, rosehip seed oil, or tamanu oil, which Shaffer loves for being super-packed with vitamin A. (Laurel Whole Plant Organics’ Eye Serum and Eye Balm, which both include rosehip seed oil, are a good place to start.)

Note: Please check with your doctor about the safety of retinol and Vitamin A during pregnancy.

(Photo: Laurel Whole Plant Organics)

  1. Get your buzz on. Turns out, caffeine might perk up your skin, too. “It functions as a vasoconstrictor—or a tightening agent—that is constricting the blood vessels around the eye area, which in turn makes the dark circle and puffiness less visible,” says Lauren Hoffman, co-founder of eye-focused beauty brand Onomie (whose Bright Concealing Elixir features caffeine as one of its main ingredients). She also points out that, because of its antioxidant properties, the stimulant also excels at “protecting your skin from free radical damage and thus protecting against potential future aging."

  1. Address your allergies. Onomie's Hoffman and Dr. Mraz Robinson note that allergies trigger inflammation, which does no favors for your under-eye area. So it goes without saying that, when you've got something you'd like to look bright-eyed for—a date, a wedding, a New Year's Eve party—your best bet is to steer clear of known allergens altogether. When that’s not possible (because you are human), you can give over-the-counter antihistamines a shot, they say.

(Photo: Alexandro Tudorache/Unsplash)

  1. Be gentle. Abrasive cleansers and makeup removers can further aggravate dark circles. "If you're using something that isn’t taking [product] off very well, then you're irritating the eye and making the darkness worse,” says Christy Coleman, a makeup artist and head of creative design at non-toxic cosmetics brand Beautycounter. She recommends the brand's Routine Clean because "you don’t have to rub, and it removes makeup very well." (These nine cleansers also get the Well+Good stamp of approval.)

  1. Pile on the pillows. It's not just how much you sleep that impacts dark circles, but how you sleep. Ditch those old, scratchy pillows you've been meaning to throw out anyway, and make a pillow pile with the ones you've got left to prop up your head. According to Dr. Mraz Robinson, “If you sleep a little elevated, it helps drain the swelling. When you lie flat, it’s more likely to pool."

  1. Massages are not just for your back. Natural beauty maven Laurel Shaffer advises compressing your face daily with a towel soaked in warm water, salt water, or herbal tea. “Compressing will absolutely reduce under-eye puffiness and improve darkness immediately,” she notes. To achieve similar ends, Beautycounter's Coleman favors light massages around the eyes with your fingers, with jade rollers, or stones. (New to DIY jade rolling? Here's everything you need to know.)

(Photo: White Lotus)

  1. Choose your concealer wisely. The wrong cover-up shade can be particularly problematic when you’re coping with dark circles. “It might actually make that dark circle more pronounced and stand out on your face in a way that isn’t going to seem natural,” says Hoffman. Coleman’s tip? Select a concealer a shade lighter than your foundation, to help brighten the area around your eyes. It always helps to go with an all-natural option, too.

  1. Banish heavy eye shadow to your bathroom drawer. We're not saying you should break up with smoky eyes for life... but maybe put down the kohl and the dark shadows for a little trick of the eye. “You want to keep [your eye makeup colors] brighter, [because] that deflects from the dark circles underneath,” reasons Coleman. She opts for shadows with shimmer or sheen for those occasions when a diversion tactic is necessary, and singled out Beautycounter’s pearl and champagne duo as a good option. “If you use a neutral peach-y beige to line the inner rim of your eye, that also helps,” Coleman adds.

(Photo: Beautycounter)

  1. The bold and the beautiful. Distraction can be a dark circle sufferer’s biggest ally. “If you wear a brighter or a darker lip, people are going to notice that before the dark circles,” promises Coleman. Besides, who doesn't love an excuse to grab your go-to red lipstick on a Monday morning?

  1. And, of course, don’t skimp on the sun protection. Grab a hat whenever you're spending time in the sun, and Dr. Mraz Robinson recommends finding a delicate sunblock that you feel comfortable wearing regularly. “Sun protection is very important because pigmentation can become darker with sun exposure,” she says, noting skin-care products with vitamin C and licorice extract can be applied to combat hyperpigmentation.

Ready to tackle under-eye circles—but also need a quick-fix in the meantime? Here are more of our favorite all-natural concealers ...and 9 foods for amazing skin

This post was written by Rachel Brown for Well+Good.

(Homepage image: Guille Faingold/Stocksy)

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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