Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dark Circles Part 1: CONQUER

dark undereye circles...they are probably the most common skin problem that women suffer from next to acne. you would think by now there would be a concrete solution for this annoying, persistent problem, right? wrong. sure, there are things you can do to try and help them--lasers, allergy medicine, diet changes, getting more sleep, different cosmetic products--but there is no actual cure for them. in the battle to extinguish or even reduce your dark circles, you need to first identify which kind you have, and then proceed accordingly.

first off, there are many different types of dark circles that people suffer from. the easiest dark circles to remedy are those caused by lifestyle: staying out late, partying, not getting enough sleep, etc. if these are the type of circles that plague you, thank your lucky stars! you can easily rid yourself of these by getting more sleep and taking better care of yourself in general. another type of dark circles are those caused by hyperpigmentation, an excess of melanin in the skin that causes the area to darken, most often found in people with darker skintones (Latin, African American, or East Indian people are likely to suffer from this type of dark circles). finally, there are those of us with the type of dark circles that don't respond to extra sleep or allergy medicine, and for us the diagnosis is not so good. many people (myself included) have genetic, inherited dark circles that take up a permanent residence on their face. these can be exacerbated by allergies, anemia, certain medications that cause blood vessels to dilate, and how pale/transparent your skin is (another inherited characteristic). this type of dark circle problem tends to be the most chronic and troublesome with the added benefit of being the most difficult to treat. so what to do if you suffer from dark circles? read on.

when Hylexin first burst onto the market a few years ago, i was literally almost dying to try it. this was the first time an eye cream had been created for the type of chronic, seriously dark circles that i suffered from! it promised to 1. strengthen and thicken the skin, making the circles less visible 2. stop the blood from oxidizing under the skin and prevent the dark blue/purple color from showing and 3. to keep the problem from reoccurring again. i read a few positive reviews in several beauty magazines and that was all the further push i needed to run out and get myself some! thank GOD for Sephora and the fact that the generous employee there gave me two small sample-size pots of Hylexin to try before i forked over the $95 for a tiny tube myself, because it didn't do one damn thing to my circles after two+ months of use. i consider myself pretty level-headed regarding fantastical claims made by cosmetic companies and always expect realistic results, but they really did a number on me with this one because i was expecting considerable improvement in my circles and i saw NOTHING. and it wasn't just a fluke with me, either, check out these reviews on MUA for evidence that Hylexin didn't do jack for almost anyone else who made the mistake of buying it. the only thing Hylexin did do to my undereye area was attract a small amount of light there courtesy of the mica particles that are in the cream, a total smoke-and-mirrors trick to fool a person into thinking the area looks a bit brighter. i can easily do that with some shimmery white eyeshadow and save the $95, thanksverymuch. not only did it not help my circles at all, but Hylexin wasn't the least bit moisturizing, and actually even slightly dried out the delicate skin under my eyes. so i would NOT recommend Hylexin and would encourage you to pass it right up if you ever see it, but your mileage may very, as usual.

now onto brighter pastures...after the Hylexin debacle, i had completely given up on the idea that any cream would ever make a difference in my dark circles. i continued to use the Clinique Repairwear Intensive eye cream i had, just for moisture (which is the only thing this very overpriced eye cream is good for), until i decided to test out a sample packet i had of Elizabeth Arden Prevage Eye Cream, $95, just for fun. i loved it immediately upon first application because of it's rich, smooth, hydrating texture and the fact that it instantly plumped up my undereye area, making it look amazing. i never thought that it would actually make a remarkable difference in the darkness under my eyes, and wouldn't have believed it until i saw it myself. eureka! this very expensive eye cream actually made a very noticeable positive difference in the permanent darkness under my eyes! now, don't get me wrong, i am far from free and clear of dark circles, but they have been reduced by at least 50% over the course of 6 months! i've been using the cream for almost a year now and the results seem to have plateaued, but i continue using it to keep the darkness away and because it's remarkable as a moisturizing, anti-aging product. another thrilling result of usage? before i started using Prevage, i was noticing that when i set my concealer with pressed powder it was highlighting all these formerly invisible, tiny hair-line wrinkles right underneath my lower lashline! i was NOT pleased by this, being only 24 at the time, and cringed every time i attempted to set my concealer without highlighting the lines (an impossible feat). a while into treatment with the Prevage i noticed that i was being more and more careless about where i powdered my undereyes and the reason was that the little lines were no longer visible, AT ALL! completely gone! how amazing is that?! it must be the magic ingredients that Prevage contains, I-Seryl Complex and Idebenone, which is actually clinically proven to fight aging. whatever it is, it works for me!

so far, this is the only product i've found that actually works to decrease the prominence of dark circles. for those with circles caused by hyperpigmentation, lasers have been shown to be somewhat effective, although costly and requiring much research and some downtime. other than that, all you can do is get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and sleep with your head elevated above a few pillows to try and prevent water retention in the undereye area.

next up after conquering your circles? CONCEALING them! stay tuned for part two of Dark Circles where i'll cover various concealers and techniques to hide those nasty circles.

do you know of any products that help with dark circles? ever tried lasers or fat injections? i'd love to hear any information you might have, so don't be afraid to share!


Meredith said...

Thank you so much for post...I too suffer from chronic dark under eye circles that have been untreatable despite my best efforts. I have tried so many products over the course of 10 years, spend hideous amounts of money and have never found a useful product.

And I know exactly what you mean with the tiny little wrinkles that appear due to concealer use. I hate it so much and I'm always worried about how much worse my eyes will get with age (I'm only 26). I feel like your description of your experience is identical to my own, and nobody ever understands! "Get more sleep, stop partying, you look like a racoon with all that makeup, are you sick are you tired"...I've heard all these things for years. I can't wait to try the Elizabeth Arden product you mentioned. Thanks a lot!

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