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.
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.
1. Focus on Sleep
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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With a cooling gel texture to take down puffiness, this helps to visibly reduce the look of under eye bags come morning. It also contains echinacea which works to help brighten dark circles.
When it comes to my beauty routine, for environmental reasons, I have a rule that I should never use single-use products if there is a suitable alternative. One exception, however, is for eye products. The sad truth is, there are just too many under-eye bag–related products that help my situation for me to turn them down—these little guys included. As self-heating chamomile eye masks, you pop them on before bed and the warming sensation and chamomile scent help you drift off into a peaceful slumber. And despite being single use, each mask can be recycled—just tear them open once you're done and be sure to remove the inner carbon. They're expensive and still not ideal for the environment, so it's safe to say I use them very, very sparingly.
Few products fill me with more joy than this super-rich body cream. With lavender and vetiver, it smells like a dreamland. Just slather your limbs with the balmy formula before bed and be astounded at just how quickly you drift off.
2. Protect Eyes From the Sun
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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This SPF has become a new favourite. It's oil-free (so it won't contribute to breakouts), and because the formula dries down clear, you're not left with a dreaded white cast.
Not only does this cream offer very impressive SPF 50 protection, but it also contains a wheat protein to help brighten tired eyes while it's at it.
The truth is, providing your SPF formula is free from strong fragrances and is entirely mineral based, you can probably use it around your eyes without too much grief. This gentle formula for Summer Fridays is my go-to, and I use it all over my face and neck (eye area included).
3. Cleanse With Care
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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Whenever someone asks me for an affordable cleanser that can take off any sort of eye makeup, this is the one I recommend. In my opinion, it's the best cleansing product out there—full stop. Massage into dry skin and watch on as makeup literally melts away without a hint of irritation.
If you like your cleansing routine to come with a touch of luxury, this product will be for you. It gently removes makeup and the days impurities, including pollution particles, while respecting your skin’s pH, all while being incredibly gentle—precisely what you want when removing makeup in the eye area.
With a concoction of skin-loving oils, this gel-to-oil cleanser does a stand-up job at removing the day's dirt (eye makeup included) without drying the skin or causing any irritation.
4. Find The Right Eye Cream
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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Jam-packed with antioxidant goodness, this overnight eye treatment (which, by the way, can also be used in the morning) helps brighten tired eyes, deliver hyaluronic acid–fuelled hydration, soothes the area with vitamin E, and tackles puffiness and dark circles with the help of caffeine. It's a true all-rounder.
A little different to other eye treatments out there (and ideal for those that like their skincare to be luxurious), this stuff has a water-like, gel texture. It utilises the regenerative powers of black tulips to help hydrate, firm, and revive the eye area. Along with high-tech stem cells, it also contains squalane for moisture, hyaluronic acid for hydration, niacinamide to tackle dark circles, and azelaic acid to brighten.
With caffeine, shea butter, and ginseng root, this super-nourishing eye cream is a brightening, depuffing delight. Ideal for those with drier skin, it's rich in moisture and delivers instant radiance-boosting results.
5. A Cold Massage Works Wonders
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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I love the rollerball applicator of this eye serum, which instantly depuffs as you roll it across the skin. It's also packed with ceramides that helps to keep the delicate skin around the eyes both bouncy and bright.
Created by the queen of Hollywood glow (Nurse Jamie's clients included Emily Ratajkowski, the Kardashians, Jessica Alba, and Reese Witherspoon to name a few), these cooling massage orbs deliver pure, depuffing bliss. Pop them in the fridge for an hour or so before use (or overnight if you fancy), and use the smaller orb around the eye area to massage in your eye cream. The intense cooling sensation will take down puffiness almost instantly.
To avoid dragging the skin, I like to use my cryo orbs (or sticks) over an eye mask, like these. Unlike so many other eye masks out there, these ones cover off the entire eye area. Beyond being the perfect cooling partner to cryo massage, they also contain niacinamide and antioxidants to help brighten and depuff.
For those who don't have a huge amount of time in the morning, this eye stick is ideal. Containing a metal rollerball, the hyaluronic acid and caffeine-packed formula can be rolled directly onto the eyes, delivering a cooling massage while it works.
6. Concealer Is Your Best Friend
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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If you go through under-eye concealer anywhere near as quickly as I do, this affordable option will likely be a welcome recommendation. Containing both hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, it delivers brightening hydration while also doing a stellar job at disguising dark circles. The best bit? Skin stills looks like skin, even after layers of the stuff.
No one has to spend £54 on a concealer, trust me. But if you're after an under-eye concealer that eradicates dark circles, this cult favourite is it. Creamy, blendable and with next-level coverage, it's a truly magical makeup product.
I often receive messages in my DMs from people desperate to find the most natural-looking under-eye concealer, and this is the one I recommend most. It's sheer and melts into the skin in the most beautifully blendable way, making it the perfect everyday concealer for those that don't want to bother with a full face of makeup.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
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.