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Puffiness.  Dark circles.  Bags under the eyes.  Call it what you will, this is a persistent issue at my photo shoots.  So persistent in fact that I find myself photoshopping bags out from under the eyes of nearly every other model I work with.  So, I did a little research on the subject and solicited opinions about what can be done to remedy this outside of image-editing.

What causes those irritating and unflattering bags under the eyes?  In a nutshell: lots of different things.  The problem is that skin under your eyes is very thin… much thinner than everywhere else in your body.  That makes them more susceptible to changes in bodily fluids.

Persistent bagginess is sometimes hereditary, the result of naturally thinner skin under the eyes.  Or the result of aging, as that area grows thinner over the years.  The dark circles we sometimes see under the eyes are in fact the blood vessel below the skin, or the structure of the eye socket itself, more exposed due to the thinning of skin.

Temporary causes of bags under the eyes and dark circles are the result of several issues.  Salt is just one of the causes.  Through the process of osmosis, water travels from areas of low salt concentration in your body to areas of high salt concentration.  Eating salty foods can affect these sorts of changes.  So can crying, as our tears contain a high concentration of salt.

Also, anything that irritates the skin under the eyes can cause fluids to pool there.  Culprits include rubbing your eyes frequently, allergies, smoking, drinking alcohol, bad sleeping habits and going to bed with makeup on.

What to do about all this?

In extreme cases, plastic surgery may be the only solution.  More formally known as blepharoplasty, this is the surgical modification of the eyelid.  Obviously that’s something to be discussed with a medical professional and more information on this procedure can be found on the website for the American Socity of Plastic Surgeons:

Prevention is always best, and this starts with better sleeping habits.  Laying on your side or stomach can cause fluids to pool under the eyes while we sleep.  Better to sleep on your back, or with an extra pillow to elevate your head.

A low-sodium diet is not only good for your health, it’s good for dealing with eye puffiness too.  Salt makes us retain water and foods high in sodium complicate the matter.  Drinking plenty of water will help flush salts from your system.  But be careful not to drink too much water, as this can lead to its own set of complications.

For a temporary fix, there are lots of options out there.  Some claim that Preparation-H, and anti-hemorrhoid ointment, will reduce the swelling.   Obviously, putting any sort of ointment near the eyes isn’t a very good idea if it wasn’t created specifically for your eyes.

We’ve all seen the spa treatments like cucumbers or tea bags over the eyes.  While these have their cult following and may profess to have other health benefits aside from removing eye puffiness, truth is all that’s really required is to apply something cool or cold to the affected area.  The coldness causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduces the puffiness.  A cold, damp washcloth will do just fine.  Remember to rinse frequently in cold water and do this for at least ten minutes to see results.  An ice cube, ice pack or frozen spoon can do the trick as well… just be sure to wrap whatever you use in a washcloth or towel so that you are not applying this directly to the skin (you don’t want frostbite).

Makeup can also be used to cover up the bags.  The trick is to use a concealer that is 2 shades lighter than your skin tone.  Do not apply the concealer over the entire area under your eyes.  Only brush into the crease along the bottom edge, where the shadow is.  Brushing outside of the area will only accentuate the problem.

Article & Images:  Jim Jurica Photography