“There are many reasons people develop under-eye bags,” says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Oftentimes it’s a temporary swelling caused by poor lymphatic circulation or dietary factors (like high-sodium), which draws water into your skin's tissue, causing puffiness. However, there are also genetic factors that can cause your skin to weaken, which worsens with age, she adds.
Under-eye bags are a common cosmetic condition where dark circles form just below your lower eyelids. Though not particularly stylish, these bags are typically harmless and caused by things like age, allergies, and a lack of sleep. If you want to get rid of your under-eye bags, there are a number of short-term, long-term, and cosmetic solutions at your disposal.
Dr. Engelman likes Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage Anti-Aging Eye Serum ($100), which uses a mix of peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid to reduce puffiness and plump skin away from pooled blood. Another option is Lavido Alert Eye Cream ($49) with plant-based hyaluronic acid and natural oils like rosehip. Dr. Engleman recommends dotting products from the inner corner of the eye moving outwards toward the temple with your ring finger, which is weaker than your other fingers, and so will be more gentle on the delicate area.
When choosing a dermaroller to purchase, you need to pay attention to the needle size. Most experts I’ve spoken to advise anything between 0.2 mm and 0.75 mm for use at home. (Benjamin advises staying under 0.5 to avoid damage.) I’ve only ever used 0.2 or 0.5, since I mainly focus on my lips and underneath my eyes, and those areas are particularly delicate.
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.
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.
We began our search for the best wrinkle cream by pulling top-sellers from major retailers like Walgreens, Amazon, and Target, compiling a list of 112 creams, gels, and serums — everything from high end brands like Estee Lauder and Lancome to drugstore staples like Neutrogena and L’Oreal. From here, we reached out to cosmetic chemists and dermatologists: We wanted to find out which ingredients would help skin look youthful, and which weren’t worth the hype.
While there is an element of genetics and luck associated with how your skin ages, a great deal influence on it is our lifestyle. Smoking, sunburn, drinking and having a poor diet can all greatly affect the resilience of our skin, meaning it is far more likely to age prematurely. So in addition to promoting your skin’s natural collagen productions through applying pro-collagen creams, here are some other ways you can help your skin stay resilient, healthy and youthful.
Four of our remaining wrinkle creams advertised sunscreen built in: L’Oreal, Neutrogena, Philosophy, and StriVectin. Retinoids degrade very quickly in the sunlight, losing their potency. More worryingly, the 2010 handbook of Cosmetic Dermatology Products and Procedures suggests that retinoids may release free radicals as they degrade — molecules that harm your skin rather than helping it. Because of this, the handbook concludes, “it is still recommended to avoid UV exposure when using topical retinoids” (312). Sunblock does slow retinoid degradation, according to a 2008 study, but the retinoids still degrade to some extent. Ultimately, this wasn’t a risk we felt comfortable taking. Until there’s been more extensive research on the topic, we’ve opted to skip all sunscreen-containing products.
“This is the most hydrating and potent wrinkle cream that is an absolute must-do with your nightly anti-aging regimen,” said Karuna Chani, a New York-based makeup artist whose high-profile clients include Caroline Scheufele, co-president of Chopard. “It’s incredibly effective because it's scientifically formulated with an amino-peptide complex that promotes cell turnover, skin elasticity and healing. After 15 years of working with all skin types, I can’t stress enough the importance of a good moisturizer to help keep the skin youthful and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
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The skin-care internet is full of dubious DIY remedies, but the ones that suggest black tea as an under-eye bag treatment actually hold weight. The caffeine in black tea is considered a “vasoconstrictor,” meaning that it’s capable of temporarily shrinking the size of blood vessels. Studies also indicate that the topical application of caffeine smooths skin, which is why caffeine is often found in cellulite creams. These two factors work in tandem to help your eyes look a lot less puffy.
The least expensive of the top trio of eye creams, Eau Thermale Avène Rétrinal Eyes Eye Contour Care was just as moisturizing as our gold winner and earned kudos from satisfied testers for its nongreasy, fast-absorbing formula. However, dermatologists recommend that if dark circles are your primary concern, invest in a good concealer. Topical lotions are ineffective at treating them.
“I've been applying hyaluronic acid to my skin for years. It’s a substance naturally found in the skin and works to maintain water for a fuller, more youthful look. Its unique, moisture-binding feature allows it to hold many times its own weight in water. I used to apply a high-grade version of hyaluronic acid topically to my face, but the molecules were large, making it difficult for them to absorb into my skin. Today, smaller molecules of high-grade hyaluronic acid with better topical absorption capabilities can be found in over-the-counter products, including this gel cream that I apply nightly. Bonus: Its hydrating properties curb the irritation caused by retinols.
Yes, the fountain of youth is one myth that many of us wish we could prove true, but the reality is that we cannot turn back the clock. "With the aging process, the ligaments underneath your eyes that hold back fatty tissue begin to weaken, and the tissue can fall forward to form under eye bags," comments Ryan Nakamura, O.D., a VSP network doctor at Natomas Optometry in Sacramento, CA.
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"It’s also the most cosmetically elegant sunscreen I have ever used. It rubs in easily, doesn’t feel greasy, doesn’t clog pores and is compatible with my moisturizer and makeup. I apply it in the morning to any exposed skin and wear it every day, no matter the weather because I never want to be caught unprotected from the sun. It’s also great to apply before a flight, as UVA rays can penetrate airplane windows,” says Dr. Amy Wechsler, M.D., assistant clinical professor in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Although jade and rose quartz rollers have played a key role in Chinese beauty regimens for centuries, they only recently became a staple in American vanities. Using the smaller stone, gently roll it underneath your eyes in outward motions to promote blood flow and soothe puffy skin. Pro tip: Throw your roller into your refrigerator before each use for the ultimate cooling experience.
I’m not a fan of any Bliss products, they seem harsh. I’ve been spending time researching ingredients and choosing products based on that, not just reviews. We have chemists among us but that does not make them experts on skin itself. Many people’s skin reacts in different ways. I’m loving how gentle Tacha products are and I am seeing real results, something many beauty lines claim but have not really come through for me. Trouble is Tacha is so expensive, however, the travel sizes go a long way and I can afford those. Fantastic line!