No, I'm not tired...I look this way all the time
September 28, 2007 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone successfully reduced or eliminated puffy eyes/dark circles?

For me I know allergies are a factor, but looking at my family, it seems the general puffiness is genetic. I've tried everything from getting more sleep to a gluten-free diet. Has anyone with this problem on MF ever had any success reducing them?
posted by melissam to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommend make sure you're getting enough iron in your diet (multivitamin, or iron-rich foods). Part of dark circles is hereditary and cannot be reduced (except with make-up!). I have deep set eyes, and large cheekbones - all of my siblings have the same bone structure, and we all have a degree of permanent darkness. Sleep helps for some people. I noticed though, the circles under my eyes get darker between ovulation and my period, as the lining of the uterus builds up. Menstruation after all, is why the recommended daily dose of iron is higher for women than men! And once I get my period, the darkness under my eyes lessens some, immediately. It's weird. But interesting.

So, just another reason to make sure you're taking your vitamins.
posted by raztaj at 12:12 PM on September 28, 2007

Preparation H for puffy eyes, I shit you not. It reduces swelling.

In regards to the dark circles... I have them but it's a genetic thing, my dad has 'em too, nothing you can do except get as much as sleep as you can or maybe wear glasses, it's what I do.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2007

i have dark circles - they're so dark that it looks like i have black eyes. genetics are a bitch.

the only thing that covers mine is prescriptive's camouflage cream.
posted by wayward vagabond at 12:20 PM on September 28, 2007

When I have a tan, they look less awful. Also, I swear they've gotten a little better since I started using Nasonex nasal spray for my allergies.
posted by Eringatang at 12:37 PM on September 28, 2007

Oh my doctor also says they're related to staring at computer screens all day. Something about the strain on the eyes...
posted by Eringatang at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2007

Another person who inherited both from her family. Topical eye cremes do nothing. Diet? Nothing. Chilled cucumber slices? Nada. It is what it is and the only way I'll get rid of the bags is eye surgery--which I'm actually okay with.

Dark circles can be hidden with concealer.

My understanding on the Prep H issue, though, was that the ingredient that worked has long since been removed. Can anyone verify?
posted by gsh at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2007

Mine aren't too bad - but a lack of sleep, allergies, and dehydration can make them really dark.

I hesitate to recommend products, but I've had very good luck with Skin Actives Bright Eye. Mostly, I think it keeps the skin hydrated and looking good so that the circles don't seem as vivid. It has caffeine which should reduce puffiness, but that isn't my problem so I can't comment if that works. If I stop using it for a few weeks, there is an appreciable difference in my darkness of my circles. It's not a miracle, but I'm happy with the product.
posted by 26.2 at 1:04 PM on September 28, 2007

I have had success eliminating foods in the nightshade family. When I'm avoiding those foods my dark purple circles go away almost entirely. In particular avoiding peppers (even though I love them) really helps me.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:07 PM on September 28, 2007

Dark circles, like wayward vagabond says, are genetic. Thin skin around the eyes. I swear byLyin' Eyes by Benefit cosmetics. It is a god-send and doesn't turn my eyes gross and yellow like most eye concealers.
posted by banannafish at 1:09 PM on September 28, 2007

I've found that putting sunscreen on the dark circles helps over time. Holding ice against closed eyes helps with puffiness, temporarily.
posted by yohko at 1:11 PM on September 28, 2007

If you use a concealer, remember not to just use it under your eyes but in the corners of your eyes as well. You'll be amazed at how well it works to help hide the circles. Also, blot, don't rub.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:14 PM on September 28, 2007

I started sleeping with a sleep mask over my eyes, and I think it helps. I do use an Olay eye gel every morning and night, and I've been drinking more water, quit smoking cigarettes and quit drinking, completely. AND I am taking an iron supplement. Each of those things seems to have contributed somewhat.
posted by bunnycup at 1:19 PM on September 28, 2007

gsh: That's probably true.

Forty years ago, there was an herb in there that reduced swollen tissues, since replaced by cortisone cream. (I have no idea if cortisone has any impact on the eye problem.) If anyone remembers what that was, we could lay wet herbal teabags on them.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:25 PM on September 28, 2007

Had the opportunity to ask an eyelid specialist (who mainly does cosmetic surgery) about dark circles. She said many times they are shadows caused by puffy lower lids but in my case -- and apparently many here -- the darkness comes from concentrations of pigment below very thin skin. Nothing to be done except try to hide 'em.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2007

For eye puffiness brew two (caffeinated) tea bags, cool them in the fridge, and place over your eyes for at least five minutes.

I realize it's time-consuming but seriously, it is the only thing that works for me if I have a rough-in-the-face morning. You can actually feel the skin tightening around the eyes -- noticeably brighter and de-puffed.
posted by click at 2:10 PM on September 28, 2007

I was amazed at my family reunion to discover that my dark cirlces and my puffy eyes are distinctively genetic. I'm all for lower eyelid surgery to correct the bags, but there's no real solution to dark circles that I've found so far. I've heard that dark circles are either caused by hyperpigmentation, or by blood pooling under the skin (I think this was in Elle or the like - take their science as you will). If your dark circles get lighter for a moment after you press on them with your finger, they're the latter; if they're the former, I've been told that skin lightening creams can make a difference, but god knows if that's true. In any case, if you do take that route, talk to a good dermatologist... I'd be really wary of putting any kind of lightening cream anywhere near my eyes.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:16 PM on September 28, 2007

Mine are definitely genetic. My paternal grandmother's entire family sports both those and enormous blue veins on the backs of their hands. I've had them since I was a baby and the only solution short of makeup I've found is to wear glasses so there's a distraction.
posted by crinklebat at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2007

Revlon Colorstay Undereye Concealer is great as far as hiding dark circles goes. It's about $10 at the drugstore. Don't spread it on, just tap it on (kind of like you are pushing it in) as others have mentioned. I also found that iron supplements help with dark circles - but see your doctor first if you plan on taking an iron supplement. It's unfortunately easy (and dangerous) to overdose on iron. It's a simple blood test to check if you're anemic, and the doc can tell you the right dose of iron.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:44 PM on September 28, 2007

I've been using Physician's Formula Circle Rx. It supposedly lightens a bit with consistent daily use, but I've never used it daily for two weeks straight as recommended. That said, I think it's an excellent concealer.

I too have fairly deep-set eyes and high, visible cheekbones, so that casts shadows as well. But my grandma had circles, and so do I.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:14 PM on September 28, 2007

I note from some of your comments that you've had a bout of salmonella, and that since then, you limit fatty foods because they tend to go right through you.

This problem with fatty foods is a common symptom of gall bladder insufficiency. In up to a few per cent of cases, salmonella infections can settle into the gall bladder as a chronic condition. This is one view of what was going on with 'Typhoid Mary.'

Dark circles under the eyes can be associated with infections, especially sinus infections.

If the darkness of the circles under your eyes worsened dramatically after the salmonella, I think you should go to a doctor and ask to be tested for chronic salmonella infection. Courses of antibiotics of up to three months are evidently standard treatment for this, and sometimes the gallbladder is removed if that fails to clear it.
posted by jamjam at 6:29 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have this too. I'm Asian, and it's not very common among my particular race ... which greatly annoys me.

I've found that concealer by MAC works very well. The stuff sticks like no other, and doesn't "melt" off the way other concealers do. It's almost ... industrial strength. It doesn't make my dark undereye bags disappear completely, but it helps A LOT. My only beef with it is that it's far pricier than $4 drugstore concealer. Along the lines of $25, I think. But it's been a while. I need to go buy more.
posted by Xere at 8:21 PM on September 28, 2007

Response by poster: I note from some of your comments that you've had a bout of salmonella, and that since then, you limit fatty foods because they tend to go right through you.

Thankfully that problem is resolved...thanks to, of all things, a higher fat diet. Now that I'm eating 40% calories from fat without any stomach problems, I'm not betting on gallbladder. I did have chronic salmonella though and went through tons of antibiotics. It was pretty horrendous, but my looks didn't suffer, except for some lost weight.

I've always had them. When I was little a mean girl told me I looked like Darth Vader. I do wear concealer and it does help, but it can't get rid of the puffiness.

My mom, who doesn't have dark circles, but who does have the puffiness, did have some plastic surgery and it helped a little, but it wasn't dramatic enough to merit the expense.
posted by melissam at 9:15 PM on September 28, 2007

Fluffy: No peppers???? No potato dough pizza? I don't know if I can do that. How long did it take you to see a difference?
posted by Eringatang at 7:56 AM on September 29, 2007

For me the darkness starts going away after a few days and fades more the longer I go without peppers (peppers seem to be the big trigger for me)...I was amazed at lack of dark circles after about a month. I still had faint circles but not the deep dark purple type. However, as soon as I touch pepper they show back up worse than ever. If you're going to cut out nightshade stuff - you'll definitely want to prepare your food from scratch at home.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:17 AM on September 30, 2007

I'll try eliminating peppers *after* farmer's market season is over. I think I can do that as I already do a lot of my own cooking at home.
posted by Eringatang at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2007

Response by poster: As a followup, I think mine have gotten a lot better since I'm eating a paleo diet and exercising a lot. I guess I don't eat many nightshades and I've also lessened the amount of gluten in my diet (only the really delicious treats). I also moved to a different country with a completely different lifestyle: lots of sun, fresh food (including plenty of fish, which has omega-3s, which affect circulation), and exercise. Maybe it's just because I have a tan. No one really notices anymore when I go without makeup.

I've been using the Garnier eye roller too, but I don't think it does anything.
posted by melissam at 9:09 AM on September 23, 2008

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