How to banish dark circles and bags under eyes
What causes under eye bags?
Eyes have been called our ‘windows of the soul’ and they’re certainly an area to show the first signs of tiredness or too much partying. In Chinese medicine, under-eye shadows and puffiness are also a sign of kidney imbalance, so one of the first courses of action is to drink more water to rehydrate the system and help improve puffiness due to dehydration. Reducing salt levels in the diet can also help as sodium causes fluid retention, and this in turn leads to capillaries under the eyes becoming dilated, resulting in darkened skin tone. Other causes of dark shadows may be more medical as heart, thyroid, liver and kidney problems can all cause blood vessel dilation, so always discuss with your doctor if dark circles under the eyes are ongoing or severe.
As we age, so dark shadows become more apparent. This is because our skin thins and blood vessels are more likely to show through. Accumulative sun damage can also make the problem worse by weakening the fragile skin around the eyes. Make sure you always use a sunscreen around the eyes, and avoid squinting and eye strain by having regular vision checks. If you smoke, or live with a smoker, be aware that this can also lead to very dark circles around the eyes – as well as many other health hazards.
How to get rid of bags under eyes
Quick fixes for temporary circles and bags under eyes include boosting the lymphatics around the eyes to help drain away fluid retention, whilst revitalising and refreshing the skin. My favourite trick is to fill a basin with cold water, adding a few ice cubes for good measure, then splashing the icy water up and over the eyes 10-20 times, before gently patting dry. It is remarkable how quickly this helps improve skin tone, reduce puffiness and generally clear signs of redness in the eyes. Ice cubes wrapped in a muslin cloth are another top tip and can be dabbed around the eyes, even over make-up, so may be a more practical solution. This tip also works well as a long-haul in-flight eye brightener and is useful when crossing time zones (or for lack of sleep due to partying, shift work or nightly baby-feeding).
Several plants possess the power to help brighten the eyes. Top of my list is the alpine herb eyebright, also known as Euphrasia officinalis. This can be bought in tincture form as it is often used by homeopaths and herbalists for treating eye disorders, such as conjunctivitis and styes. For more day-to-day use, I highly recommend Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion, a soothing liquid made with its namesake herb, together with other eye soothers, including aloe vera, witch hazel and cornflower. These traditional ingredients help soothe the delicate skin tissues around the eye and a good trick is to keep a bottle in the fridge, ready to sprinkle onto cotton wool pads to make an instant eye-brightening compress. Simply place over the eyelids, lie back and relax for 5-10 minutes while the botanicals work their magic.
Witch hazel is unusually effective as it contains natural tannins that help temporarily tighten skin tissues, giving an instantly ‘lifted’ and firmer look to the skin. Another tannin-rich remedy for dark circles under the eyes is to use cold, used tea bags placed under the eyes for a few minutes – in a similar way to traditional cucumber slices. Keep a stash in the fridge, pre-chilled and ready to use during any party season. Simple, inexpensive and effective.
For more top tips to achieve smoother, more radiant-looking skin, follow Liz’s advice by eating these fabulous skin-saving foods.
- Under-eye shadows are a sign of kidney imbalance, so the first course of action is to drink more water
- Splash tired, swollen eyes with icy water 10-20 times to help boost lymphatic drainage and reduce puffiness
- Help temporarily lift and firm the under eye area by lying down with two cold tea bags under the eyes for a few minutes