Vitamin A and its derivatives (retinoids) are the most prevalent anti-aging ingredients on the market today. Tretinoin, a retinoid approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is only available by prescription. And although there is ample scientific evidence that shows the ability of retinoids to have a positive effect on cell gene rearrangements, fibroblast activity, and collagen synthesis, studies proving cosmetic benefits with statistical significance are lacking.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, is a skincare essential that’s often forgotten. It can be used to brighten your complexion, reduce inflammation, and keep water from leaving your skin’s protective barrier. Niacinamide helps decrease inflammation of the skin and lower overall redness of the skin, says Dr. Tzu. Research suggests it may also help aid in fading fine lines and wrinkles, amp up your skin’s luminosity, and get rid of dry patches and blotchy areas. Niacinamide has also been found to help prevent and clear up acne, whether it’s hormonal or cystic, research suggests.
The vasoconstriction from products with caffeine can reduce puffiness, and cooling products can help reduce inflammation and promote blood flow. But keep in mind that any benefit you see is temporary. A metal roller ball—either on its own or as the applicator of an eye cream or serum—can gently distribute lymphatic build-up, helping it drain from underneath the eyes while also cooling the inflammation.
What can you do? Topical retinoids may help lighten the look of dark circles, Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in NYC, tells SELF. She says that using a prescription retinoid will help “thicken the skin and increase cell turnover,” which will make the underlying darkness less visible. Experts also recommend creams and serums with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides to hydrate and stimulate collagen and elastin production, plumping up the skin and pushing it away from the pooled blood. Antioxidants including vitamins A, C, and E can help to lighten dark under-eye circles. Try Insta Natural Eye Serum ($18) which is packed with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides and caffeine. Products with caffeine can also help “wake up” tired looking eyes by constricting visible blood vessels.
The classic home remedy of tea bags has been used to treat under-eye bags for years. The caffeine provided by the tea constricts the blood vessels around the eye, reducing puffiness, while the tannins help to decrease swelling and discolouration. Good for removing dark shadows, this treatment is best used when you’re out of product and need a quick fix. Just place two used tea bags in the refrigerator for half an hour before applying to closed eyes for 10 minutes.
This includes the obvious: Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. If you wear heavy eye makeup, invest in a dedicated eye makeup remover to avoid tugging at the delicate skin around your eyes more than necessary. You may also want to explore eye creams, which use many of the same ingredients found in wrinkle creams, but in gentle doses intended for the very thin skin under your eyes.
Puffiness and bags under the eyes that appear in the morning may be caused by your sleeping position. Sleeping only on one side places pressure on the blood vessels under your eyes. The pool of blood that accumulates in this area makes the skin appear darker.7 According to Medical News Today, buildup of excess fluid and weakened muscles may cause dark bags under the eyes as well.8
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