Eye Bags

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The hay fever season, this year, seems to be going on forever – which is just one reason why we get many, many e-mails to www.beautybible.com about the problem of eye bags.

We know they really, really bother women. More so, in some cases, than lines and wrinkles. (We all develop lines and wrinkles, over time, but not everyone is prey to eye bags.)

So, as a little ‘taster’ of what’s in our book The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible, for this month’s VH editorial we thought we’d share with you some of the secrets we’ve learned over – oooh, too many years to count, in the beauty business. Because they really work!

Sleep with an extra pillow. If you can get in the habit of sleeping on your back (not everyone can – and NB it is the sleep position most linked with s-n-o-r-i-n-g), then this extra elevation can help to prevent fluid from building up in the eye area overnight. (Most puffy-prone women find the problem’s worst in the a.m.)

Check out eye products containing caffeine. In our experience (and anecdotally that of our testers), some products containing caffeine as an ingredient can be especially helpful for smoothing away puffiness.

Or give your eyes a drink of tea. Since caffeine has proven useful for banishing dark circles, a low-tech solution is two tea bags (black, caffeinated, rich in natural tannins), kept in the freezer rather than the fridge and placed on the eyes to constrict blood vessels and drain fluid.

Try a roller-ball. It makes perfect sense to us that something which has a physical action can literally smooth away puffiness – and sure enough, metal roller-balls can prove amazingly effective. You literally roll them around the puffy area in a circular/outward motion, to disperse fluid. As a low-tech version, real silver/silver plate teaspoons kept in the fridge can be used to ‘tap’ away fluid.

Have a chilled, gel-filled mask on standby in the fridge. There are quite a few on the market, although we prefer the type that don’t have eye-holes, as they offer more even pressure (and cooling action) on the whole eye area. Place on eyes for 10-15 minutes and let the cool gel work its soothing magic.

Eliminate your eye cream itself from the list of culprits. Sometimes, a product which is designed to deal with lines and wrinkles can, annoyingly, trigger puffiness. If you think there’s any chance at all that your puffy eyes are product-related, stop using the potential culprit for five days and note any difference. If it’s the cream, you’ll know it because you’ll see an improvement. If it’s not, your puffiness will be unchanged. Be aware that eye gels are less likely to ‘travel’ into the eyes themselves than creams; only creams or serums can be applied on the lids themselves, as there’s a risk with any oil-based product of getting into the eye itself – and puffiness, as well as redness, is your body’s sign of rebellion.

Reduce salt intake and drink less alcohol. Oh, we’re a couple of killjoys, but if you’re serious about this, cut down on salt and alcoholic drinks, both of which are notoriously linked with fluid retention. Ditto any foods containing MSG; you can ask in Chinese restaurants for this ingredient to be left out, but it features in a lot of ingredient lists on processed foods, often by different names such as glutamic acid, vegetable protein extract, hydrolysed vegetable protein/HVP, sodium caseinate or even yeast extract. Safest way to avoid it is always to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. By contrast, foods which have a diuretic (water-banishing) effect include celery, cucumber, watermelon, radishes and parsley.

Do plenty of cardiovascular exercise. It revs up your circulation, which helps to eliminate excess water through sweating. In our experience, everything just ‘flows’ better when we’ve exercised – and a brisk 30-minute walk can work wonders for unpacking that eye baggage.

Make like Linda Evangelista. Readers of our earlier books may be familiar with this trick, but it sure as hell is worth repeating: stroke an ice cube over the skin, working in an outwards direction. If you’re prone to broken veins, wrap it in clingfilm first. Jo watched Ms. Evangelista do this on a photoshoot and it was right up there with the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, in terms of transformations.

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