The story often goes like this: You run into a friend you haven't seen in ages, and, after the initial catch-up, she looks at you, concerned, and utters three dreaded words: "You look tired." You're not — but your eyes are telling a different story. Over time, eyelid skin becomes thinner, more lined, and less toned, creating the impression of fatigue. "I often hear this complaint from women who say their eyes make them look worn out," says Washington, D.C., cosmetic surgeon and laser expert Hema Sundaram, M.D. But treatments and makeup tricks can brighten and wake them up. Here are the best of the bunch.
The Top 4 Issues — Solved!
To the Rescue: Thanks to the pull of gravity, morning facial puffiness is usually gone by lunchtime. To speed things up, try placing a chilled eye compress, cold water-soaked tea bags, or cucumber slices over lids for five minutes. Cold constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling, says Dr. Levine. The caffeine in many eye creams is tightening, too. "Gently press on the bones around your eyes as you apply it," she suggests. "The pressure helps stimulate circulation and drain excess fluid." Try Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ($13, drugstores) or a Crabtree & Evelyn Gel Eye Mask ($6, Crabtree & Evelyn).
To the Rescue: Daily use of any basic eye cream will temporarily plump skin so blood vessels are less visible, says Dr. Waldorf. Eye creams are a better choice for this purpose than regular face creams, because they tend to have a higher concentration of emollients for plumping and a thicker texture, which makes them adhere to the ever-mobile eye area. To improve the look of brown pigment, try an eye cream with botanical skin lighteners like licorice and kojic acid. We like Bioré Daily Recharging Enliven Cooling Eye Gel ($10, drugstores), with mica for brightening, and Cosmedicine Eye Specialist Essential Moisture Treatment with licorice extract ($45, Sephora).
Lines and Wrinkles
To the Rescue: A few ingredients are essential. The first is retinol, a vitamin A derivative that rebuilds collagen levels and helps smooth fine lines. (Tretinoin, the stronger, prescription-strength version, also known by brand names like Retin-A and Renova, yields faster, more dramatic results but can irritate the delicate eye area.) Antioxidants like green tea and vitamin C, which help skin retain collagen, are effective wrinkle reducers, too. If your skin is especially sensitive, swap vitamin A products for peptides — proteins that also stimulate collagen growth. "Peptides don't sting or cause redness the way retinols and their cousins can, but they are also less potent," says Dr. Levine. Try antioxidant-packed Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Lift and Strengthening Eye Capsules ($52, department stores) or Pure Skin Care Black Rice Eye Cream ($13, CVS).
To the Rescue: No eye cream alone will reverse sagging once skin begins its downward slide. Only surgery gives you truly long-term improvement. But artfully applied eye makeup can make drooping lids less noticeable. "The trick is to define the lashline and neutralize the lid," says celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter. Apply a light, nude-colored shadow (like cream or mocha, depending on your skin tone) from your lashes to your brow. Next, dip a liner brush, such as Jane Iredale Eye Liner/Brow Brush ($12), in a gray, brown, or black shadow, and apply color as close to the base of top lashes as possible. "Shadow creates a softer, more natural look than a pencil liner," says Linter. Finish with dark-brown or black mascara. Try Rimmel Colour Rush Eye Shadow Quad in Smokey Brun ($5.40, drugstores).
What a Doctor Can Do
When you want faster, more dramatic results than even the best eye cream or makeup trick can offer, you'll find plenty of longer-lasting (but costlier) options at the dermatologist's or plastic surgeon's office.
Best for Banishing Wrinkles
Botox injections. The doctor makes tiny injections of botulinum toxin into the muscles that cause wrinkles, forcing them to relax. The injections take effect in a week or so, and the area stays smooth for three to six months. Cost: about $500.
Chemical peels. A medium-depth peel (like trichloroacetic acid, a.k.a. TCA) stimulates collagen growth by removing the top layer of skin. The body senses an injury and cranks out new healthy skin as a way of healing itself. You'll look like you have a bad sunburn for five to seven days, but then facial skin will be smoother and less lined for six months to a year. Cost: about $1,000.
Lasers. Many kinds of lasers are used around the eyes, usually as part of an allover facial rejuvenation treatment. Lasers help reduce wrinkles by resurfacing skin and stimulating collagen production. As with a peel, you'll look badly sunburned for a few days to a week before the smoothing shows up; it'll last for a year or more, until new wrinkles form. Cost: about $2,000 for the face, including eyes.
Best for Hiding Dark Circles
Hyaluronic acid injections. This clear gel filler, known by brand names like Restylane and Juvéderm, is injected directly into the hollows beneath the eyes to even them so they no longer appear as dark shadows. Expect swelling, mild bruising, and tenderness for up to a week afterward (the bruising can be covered with concealer). Results will last three to six months — or more. Cost: about $600.
Best for Lifting Sagging Lids
Blepharoplasty. During this surgery, the doctor makes tiny incisions around or inside the eyelids to remove loose skin and excess fat, which create a droopy, sleepy look. It takes about two weeks before the bruising goes down; you may not want to return to work until then. But the tightening effect lasts for years. "This procedure can make you look 10 to 15 years younger," says Mark A. Codner, M.D., clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Cost: about $6,000.
Next: How to fake looking awake
How to Fake Looking Awake
When morning news anchors pull off the bright-eyed look at 5 a.m., they often have their makeup artists to thank. Here, New York City makeup pro Deborah Bell, who has worked with everyone from Katie Couric and Ann Curry to Soledad O'Brien and Campbell Brown, shares the eye-enhancement tricks she deploys daily before the sun rises.
* Use brightening eye drops. It's the easiest, quickest way to make eyes look more awake. "The drops remove any redness and make the whites seem whiter," says Bell.
* Avoid dark eye shadows. They cast the entire lid in darkness. Use a flesh-toned hue instead to even out skin tone, then top it with a sheer gold shadow, applied from lashline to crease. "Gold's luster makes eyes really shine," says Bell. Try Sonia Kashuk Eye Shadow Duo in Razzle Dazzle ($8, Target).
*Dust bronzer over blush. After applying blush, Bell sweeps bronzer along the cheekbones. "Shimmer high on the cheeks brightens the whole face, including the eyes," says Bell. Her pick: Lancôme Star Bronzer Magic Bronzing Brush ($33, department stores), a bronzing powder with a built-in brush.
*Choose Your Disguise. Pick a creamy concealer (like the kind in a compact). "Creams have a stronger hold than liquids and won't creep into fine lines," says New York City makeup artist Shaun Thomas Gibson. Your concealer should be a shade lighter than your skin tone to counterbalance darkness. We like Physicians Formula Concealer Palette ($8, drugstores), a compact with three shades of concealer, finishing powder, and a tiny applicator brush.
*Perfect Your Technique. Dab on eye cream, and let it soak in for a minute. Then apply foundation (if you wear it), including under your eyes — this will erase some of the darkness so you can use less concealer. A concealer brush will give you the most expert-looking coverage, though a well-placed finger works, too. Paint the cover-up from the inner corner of the eye to the midpoint beneath the eyeball, then feather it out, blending away any obvious demarcation lines.
*Save Your Work. Dust a tiny bit of nude face powder over concealer to hold it in place.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle