The eyes are said to be the window to the soul and can tell us a lot about our wellness and health. They can also tell us about our age, since they are one of the first places on the face to show signs of ageing.
‘Eye bags’ are something that many of my patients worry about. The term is not a clinical one but refers to a number of characteristics around the eye area, such as dark circles and puffy eyes. So why do some people get eye bags, whilst others don’t? Experts aren’t sure of the exact cause, however, we do know that certain changes to the skin and the facial anatomy as we age, alongside genetic factors can all play a part.
Here are the 2 main signs of aging around the eyes and how to resolve them, without resorting to surgery.
1. Dark Circles
Nobody wants dark circles around their eyes, do they?! They make us look tired and older than our years but, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just lack of sleep that causes them.
The most common causes are actually:
1. Age - Our skin around our eyes becomes thinner as we age due to loss of fat and collagen. The thinner skin makes the bluish vessels under the eyes more prominent.
2. Sun exposure - UVA/UVB rays can be harmful for the skin, especially around the delicate eye area. Sunlight can also increase the natural pigmentation of the skin, which makes the dark circles even darker.
3. Poor diet - Smoking, dehydration and elevated alcohol and sugar consumption can all contribute to dark circles.
So what’s the solution?
Prevention is better than cure so drink at least 2ltrs of water daily, eat a healthy balanced diet and try to avoid smoking and alcohol. You should also apply SPF 15 as part of your daily moisturising routine and ensure that you wear sunglasses when exposed to the sun.
2. Puffy Eyes
Puffy eyes are caused by a build-up of fluid around the eyes. Whilst some degree of puffiness can be normal it can also suggest an underlying problem such as an allergy to your skin products or makeup, and even hay fever.
Allergy induced puffiness can be treated using over-the-counter anti-histamines such as Cetirizine daily.
So what causes puffy eyes and how can we remedy them?
There are 3 main causes of puffy eyes:
1. Nasal congestion – A blocked nose or sinus congestion can lead to a build-up of fluid around the eyes. Try a decongestant nasal spray to reduce the puffiness.
2. Salt - Water retention in the body and around the eyes can be caused by excessive salt consumption in our diet. Try to use other ingredients to flavour your food such as herbs and spices instead of salt. Avoid adding salt to your food and look for low salt content on your food labels.
3. Alcohol - Like salt, alcohol can increase water retention around the eyes. Try reducing your alcohol consumption or, even better, stop drinking alcohol for 2-3 weeks and notice the difference.
(Note: If you are reducing your alcohol consumption, women should consume no more than 1-2 units per day (<14 units per week) and men should consume less than 2-3 units per day (<21 units per week).)
There are 3 ways to combat dark circles and puffy eyes. The first is to prevent them from occurring in the first place (i.e. by wearing sunscreen, following a healthy, balanced diet, being well hydrated, avoiding smoking and alcohol etc.); however, sometimes we leave it too late. That’s where skincare products and clinical treatments come in. If chosen well, the right skin creams and treatments will rectify the aging effects of the bags and restore your skin's youthful glow. Moreover, treatments do not mean plastic surgery. There are lots of advanced and exciting clinical technologies on the market to rejuvenate the eye area, without going under the knife.
Here are my top 4 to get you started:
1. Choose An Eye Cream With Soothing Plant Extracts
Recent studies show that yeast extract is effective at reducing both puffiness and dark circles; and Aloe Vera is a soothing natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which helps relieve fluid build-up around the eyes.
Dr. Anita Recommends… Nuriss Eye Perfection Contouring Cream (£55)
It’s a rich source of antioxidants, peptides (improves micro-circulation, reduces puffiness and dark circles, and also stimulates collagen), arnica (soothing and healing properties), hyaluronic (collagen boosting and hydrating) and vitamin K (reduces dark circles).
Other top picks include Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Eye Gel (£35).
2. Laser Treatment
There are many lasers on the market but the most exciting technology for me is the Clearlift laser. Perfect for multi-tasking, this superhero laser can treat the whole face and eye area, targeting multiple problem areas in the same treatment. This zero-downtime 20min procedure works by reducing unwanted pigmentation and boosting the collagen around the eyes, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing dark circles and improving the health and radiance of the skin.
(A course of 4 treatments cost £1100 at Nuriss)
One of the top treatments available in dermatology clinics across the UK is the Exilis Elite procedure. Using Radiofrequency and Ultrasound, the skin around the area is lifted and tightened, as the collagen remodelling process is stimulated in the deeper layers of the skin. This FDA approved collagen-boosting technology is painless with no downtime. Treatments take 30-45mins and a minimum course of 4 sessions is recommended for best results.
(A course of 4 treatments cost £1100 at Nuriss)
4. Non-Surgical Blepharoplasty
Using plasma technology, leading aesthetic clinics are now offering a non-surgical solution to treat eye bags and sagging skin in the upper and lower eye area without you needing to go under the knife. There is a period of 5-7 days downtime after each treatment and a course of 3 sessions is generally recommended.
(A course of treatments cost £1500 at Nuriss)