We’ve all got baggage, some more damaging than others. Sometimes your baggage remains hidden to the outside world, known only to your therapist or failed romantic conquests. Other times, you wear it right on your face. Dark bags or circles under your eyes can make you look like you’ve spent a lifetime indulging your vices, but the only thing you’re truly guilty of is having thin skin.
It turns out that the skin under your eyes is some of the thinnest on your body. And so, it does a poor job of covering up what lies beneath it. (A better barrier would be the skin on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, which is about eight times thicker.) “The darkness is from the underlying blood vessels,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman. The delicate tissue in this area can become even thinner when damaged by excess sun exposure or from smoking. The natural ageing process further weakens this sensitive region, as the fat and collagen that sit underneath the skin deteriorate and shift position. Genetics play a similar role; puffy, dark under-eye areas can run in the family.
Then there’s the usual suspect—sleep. Not sleeping enough has a number of undesirable side effects, including making the skin under your eyes dark and puffy. Additionally, under-eye bags are exaggerated by retaining extra fluid in your face, which can be caused by sleeping without elevating your head—like, on a pillow. (A salt-heavy diet or allergies are to blame for excess fluid, too.)
Here’s the good news: Under-eye bags might look scary, but they’re a purely cosmetic issue, with remedies ranging from topical creams to surgery. The best solution, however, is to make the look work for you and turn that weak under-eye skin into gold.