How do I fix dark cir­cles?

Con­sider the causes be­fore you reach for the prod­ucts, The Kit’s ed­i­tor-at-large cau­tions

The Peterborough Examiner - - HOMES - Send your press­ing beauty and fash­ion ques­tions to Kathryn at [email protected] Kathryn Hud­son

I am chug­ging cof­fee right now — not sip­ping it, which im­plies a sort of In­sta­gram-branded dreami­ness and con­jures images of fid­dle-leaf fig trees and latte art. Rather, I’m sim­ply try­ing to con­sume a great vol­ume of caf­feine to coun­ter­act the fact that I didn’t get enough sleep and haven’t for a while. (No need to get into the rea­sons for the sleep de­pri­va­tion here, suf­fice it to say since they range from busi­ness to plea­sure, as long as “plea­sure” in­volves chang­ing the pee-soaked sheets of a small sob­bing per­son.)

As a re­sult, I am tired and, like you, I have the dark swaths un­der my eyes to prove it.

“The skin around our eyes is thin, so it re­ally re­flects when we’re ex­hausted,” ex­plains Jac­quie Hutchi­son, a gen­er­ally in­ex­haustible and ex­u­ber­ant hu­man who is both re­gional trainer for skin care brand Neostrata and teaches makeup artistry at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege. “When we’re tired, our eyes also get puffy which then casts a shadow.” So, be­ing tired cre­ates a dou­ble-whammy ef­fect on our eyes.

But there are other po­ten­tial causes for our shad­ows. Let­ting your al­ler­gies get out-of-hand could be the cul­prit. “And when we’re iron-de­fi­cient, dark cir­cles are also one of the signs,” Hutchin­son ex­plains. “I al­ways sug­gest my sis­ters go get their iron lev­els tested when that area turns black — though that’s the ex­treme.”

So you may need to tweak your life­style to ban­ish the shad­ows from un­der your eyes. In that case, fo­cus on re­plen­ish­ing your­self with rest, nour­ish your body and avoid al­ler­gens when pos­si­ble be­fore reach­ing for any skin care saviours.

But you can also be suf­fer­ing from dark cir­cles for rea­sons that are largely out of your con­trol: You can sim­ply be ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed and, some cul­tures, like South Asians, tend to be more prone to them as well. In those cases, skin care and makeup are your best bet.

Be­fore you even open a bot­tle of serum, though, Hutchin­son wants to clear up a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion: “The is­sue isn’t just un­der your eye,” she ex­plains. “It’s lit­er­ally a whole dark cir­cle, so you can’t just ap­ply the cream or the con­cealer un­der­neath.”

With that in mind, your first pri­or­ity should be to hy­drate the en­tire eye area. “Eye­lids are very thin, so they get dried out eas­ily, es­pe­cially as win­ter ar­rives and we start turn­ing on the heat. When the skin dries out, it looks darker,” Hutchin­son says.

If you’ve no­ticed lines around your eyes, reach­ing for an eye cream that might help smooth them will also lessen your dark cir­cles by re­duc­ing pesky shad­ows. Neostrata uti­lizes PHA (poly­hy­droxy acid) as the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent of choice in some of its smooth­ing eye creams, but retinol for­mu­la­tions, which also help with dis­col­oration, can do the tricky nicely.

Just make sure to stop and read the la­bel be­fore slather­ing ac­tive in­gre­di­ents onto your lid. “Un­less (the prod­uct) specif­i­cally states that you can use it on the eyelid be­cause it’s oph­thal­mol­o­gist tested, you should be us­ing it only around your or­bital bone,” Hutchin­son warns. “So start on the bone just un­der­neath your eye­brow and then fol­low the cir­cle all the way around.”

I’ve al­ways heard that one should use the ring fin­ger to ap­ply prod­uct gen­tly on the del­i­cate eye area, but Hutchin­son scoffs. “I don’t have time for all that. Use what­ever fin­ger you’re com­fort­able with. I, for in­stance, use the rude fin­ger be­cause it’s the largest, so it’s quick­est.”

Af­ter giv­ing your prod­uct a mo­ment to ab­sorb, it’s time for a touch of makeup. “Just don’t use a light shade of con­cealer!” Hutchin­son says pas­sion­ately. “It doesn’t work and it of­ten looks crazy. I see it on so­cial media; I see it on the street; and I just won­der, don’t you have a mir­ror or a friend?”

Us­ing a much lighter shade of con­cealer doesn’t lessen shad­ows, she ex­plains, it causes the area to ap­pear ashy and grey. So in­stead, she sug­gests us­ing a shade of con­cealer that nearly matches the un­der­eye area. “Ap­ply it all around the eye, then fade it out so it’s seam­less.” Then ap­ply foun­da­tion over that, if you need it, in a shade that matches your com­plex­ion. It might sound coun­ter­in­tu­itive at first but her strat­egy makes sense when you give it a mo­ment of thought: You’re merely mim­ick­ing the nat­u­ral low­lights of your face for a re­fined but nat­u­ral ef­fect.

The In­ter­net-fa­mous tech­niques like “bak­ing” and “strob­ing” that in­volve us­ing co­pi­ous amounts of light-and-bright high­lighter all over the face have done us all a dis­ser­vice, Hutchin­son says. “A lot of these tech­niques are taken from drag queens,” she ex­plains. “But that’s a man try­ing to make his mas­cu­line fea­tures look fem­i­nine. Our fea­tures are al­ready fem­i­nine; we don’t need to re­struc­ture and change — we only need to en­hance.”

What causes dark cir­cles un­der the eyes and what is the best way to cam­ou­flage them? — Eva, Toronto

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