I've Spent My Whole Life Trying to Get Rid of My Eye Bags—This Is What Works

There are some beauty hang-ups that I fully understand are exaggerated in my own head. For example, the way that my brows look more like adoptive sisters instead of twins, the strong crown I have at the back of my head that showcases a bald scalp and my down-turning eyes that prevent me from executing a stellar winged-liner look. I know very well that these small gripes are thought about a million times more intensely in my own head than they ever have been in anyone else's. Having said this, when it comes to my persistent under-eye bags and dark circles, I know they really are as bad as my brain believes them to be.

How do I know this? Because I've been told. With every trip to an esthetician's office, I am offered tear-trough filler. "You're the perfect candidate," they say. Makeup artists often give unsolicited advice on the best under-eye colour correctors for me (it's something peach-toned, apparently). Oh, and friends and family are always telling me about how exhausted I look. And the truth is, I'm not that offended by any of it. I know I have under-eye bags.


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

I'm fully aware that, for the most part, my situation is uncontrollable. In fact, most people that have dark circles and eye bags have genetics to thank. Thin skin, pigmentation and individual anatomy mean that some of us are genetical predisposed to under-eye bags and dark circles. And this is why it's all too easy to feel at a loss when it comes to treating them. The fact is, if your under-eye bags are genetic, there's no eye cream or mask out there that is going to totally eradicate them.

But there are a number of things that can make under-eye bags worse for those that already have them (and can spur them on for the lucky few that don't have to deal with them every day). Everything from lack of sleep to dehydration can turn the eye area puffy, red, and prone to dark circles. The good news is there are some things you can do to help better the situation. Keep scrolling for the only six things I've found to actually answer the £1,000,000 question of how to get rid of under-eye bags.

6 Ways to Help Get Rid of Under-Eye Bags

1. Focus on Sleep


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Beyond DNA, it's important to remember that one of the biggest causes of under-eye bags is simply a lack of quality sleep. When we don't get enough sleep, our blood vessels dilate. This dilation is often visible through redness of the eyes themselves and also the onset of dark circles due to the thin and delicate nature of the skin around the eyes. Similarly, fewer hours of sleep can also turn eyes dry, causing puffiness. Whenever my eyes are looking particularly exhausted, I remind myself that it's likely because I, too, am exhausted. Sleep is without doubt the very best medicine when it comes to treating under-eye bags. If you're not currently getting your full 7–9 hours a night, now's the time to get your schedule back on track.

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2. Protect Eyes From the Sun


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It might seem obvious when I say it, but it's something that many overlook when it comes to the onset of under-eye bags later in life: ageing causes the skin to sag, which naturally contributes to the formation of eye bags. "The skin around your eyes is super thin, and sadly it only gets thinner as you age," explains Lauren Hamilton, cosmetic doctor and co-founder of Victor & Garth. "Skin loses elasticity and has less support, so the delicate area shows signs of ageing faster."

The easiest way of preventing premature ageing of the skin in the eye area? SPF, of course. "I always advise patients to make sure they apply SPF to the upper and lower lids as this helps to protect against harsh UV rays which further degenerate cells," adds Hamilton. The trick for finding an eye-friendly SPF is to look for specialised eye formulas or ensure your facial SPF is 100% mineral based, as chemical blocks (as opposed to physical ones) have a tendency to sting the eye area.

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3. Cleanse With Care


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When it comes to avoiding under-eye bags, it is imperative that you're cleansing the eye area to rid it of the day's dirt and makeup. Sleeping with makeup on or without removing your morning skincare is a surefire way of causing eye bag–inducing irritation. Having said that, it's also important to ensure your cleansing routine isn't causing your eyes upset, either. "Fragrance, alcohol, preservatives and even essential oils can cause issues when used on already-irritated eyes," warns optometrist and founder of Peep Club, Nicola Alexander-Cross.

Look towards gentle or fragrance-free cleansers that have an oily consistency. Using oil-infused cleansers to remove eye makeup will prevent any irritating scrubbing and help you unwind before bed, too—it's a double win.

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4. Find The Right Eye Cream


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Look, even the best eye cream in the world isn't going to totally eradicate under-eye bags and dark circles. What eye creams can do, though, is help prevent a situation from worsening, and provide a little bit of relief. The key to choosing the right eye cream for you is identifying your primary concern. "For dark circles, brightening ingredients and tyrosinase inhibitors such as vitamin C and azelaic acid are useful," says Hamilton.

For puffiness, she recommends caffeine-containing products. "Not only a pick-me-up come morning, caffeine-infused products also work wonders for eye puffiness due to [the ingredient's] vasoconstrictive properties. This means that it reduces swelling and prevents fluid from stagnating around the eyes. Plus it also contains anti-inflammatory properties," she says.

Above all, it's imperative to keep the area hydrated. "As the super-thin skin around the eye appears smoother when adequately hydrated, it’s always useful to apply topical hydration. Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse when it comes to hydrating this delicate area,” Lauren explains.

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5. A Cold Massage Works Wonders


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This, I have found, is the most effective treatment for getting rid of eye bags straight away. While prevention is, of course, key, when you wake up with particularly prominent bags and puffiness, a cooling massage is the quickest and easiest way to reinvigorate eyes. "A gentle eye massage a few times a week will increase lymphatic circulation. This helps to reduce dark circles and minimise puffiness," says Hamilton.

The key is to ensure you're not 'dragging' skin. Because the skin around the eyes is so thin, it isn't as elastic as other areas, meaning any sort of dragging can end up causing more harm than good. Ensure you apply a layer of eye cream first, then take a few minutes to tap the formula into the skin, around the orbital bone.

Personally, I love to incorporate some cryo into this by using cold massaging tools. Rather than dragging the tools across my eyes, I like to apply my treatment and hold my cold cryo tools over my under-eye bags. The intensely cold sensation of the tools helps to divert blood flow from the area, taking down puffiness and reducing the appearance of dark circles in a matter of minutes.

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6. Concealer Is Your Best Friend


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I'm not going to lie to you—while all of the above tips can help minimise the appearance of under-eye bags, nothing is going to eradicate them entirely. That's why a good under-eye concealer should be your best friend when it comes to under-eye despair. Look for creamy, non-drying formulas that help to hydrate the area while they work. Even better, new-gen formulas contain skincare ingredients that help to treat the problem at a deeper level while disguising the purple hue of dark circles.

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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.