In our new series, Skincare SparkNotes, we’re going to break down your most burning skincare questions in easy, digestible pieces of information. Similar to when you “read” The Taming of the Shrew in high school (we’re not judging), our Skincare SparkNotes cards will help to quickly lay out all the key information you need to know on the subject. Except instead of “cutting corners,” per se, this series brings you fast, definitive answers to your skincare problems so you can get back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Next up in this quick and easy skincare skim is a hot topic we'd all like to be fluent on how to treat (or, more appealingly, be completely unfamiliar with): dark circles. They're a tell-tale sign of being tired (or bad genetics) and are more easily covered than diminished. Countless bottles of serums and creams that deplete our bank accounts more than the purple tone in our undereyes seem moot at this point. In our busy everyday lives, we don't have time to sift through piles of products; we need to know how to get rid of them stat. That's why we turned to a panel of dark circle experts: DC-based dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, and celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas.
Says Vargas, "The skin around the eye area is super thin. For some women, this is more pronounced, so you can see under the skin easier. Additionally, another huge cause is coffee drinking. Coffee, even two cups a day, can make dark circles more pronounced." You mean coffee is actually contributing to one of the most cursed beauty issues? Oy vey.
Adds Tanzi, "Undereye puffiness and dark circles can be caused by many factors. Lack of sleep, allergies, genetics, and the natural aging process all conspire to create dark circles. There are different treatment approaches, depending on the problem."
As far as staving off under-eye darkness, Vargas tells us more of what we don't want to hear. "Coffee drinking is a big no-no if you tend to get dark circles. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. The term, 'beauty sleep' isn’t just an old wives tale. When the body is deprived of sleep, it generates stress hormones that can increase general inflammation in the body. That inflammation leads to breakouts, blotchy skin and dark circles under the eyes."
Adds Tanzi, "Also, some dark circles develop after rubbing the eyes frequently, so be sure to treat seasonal allergies appropriately if you have them, rather than rubbing itchy eyes." She also suggests switching up your diet to combat puffiness. "You should also look for foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids (Ed. note: Think salmon and walnuts)."
If the dark circles are caused by lack of sleep, as mentioned before, sleep is an obvious solution. But Vargas has a few more tricks up her sleeve. "For dark circles and puffy eyes due to lack of sleep, spend 10 minutes in the morning with your head propped up on pillows and chill out with either a frozen gel eye mask ($7) or spoons that have been chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes. For dark circles due to pigment, look for an eye cream with kojic acid or licorice extract to lighten the areas."
Similarly, adds Tanzi, "To improve the look of tired, puffy eyes, try a cool gel mask or even cucumbers to reduce fluid build-up. Seasonal allergies can also cause eyes to swell up and get congested, so daily use of an over-the-counter antihistamine like Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra will help within two weeks." Tanzi adds that in some cases, you may have to reach for heavier artillery. "For the most severe cases, laser treatments can be performed to gently lift the pigment."