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Banishing Those Under-eye Bags

My son loves to watch DVDs and can watch the same one every night for weeks. His pick of the moment is Marley and Me, which I also like, but it’s a tearjerker and I’m a crier.

Add these tears to the little amount of sleep I get each night, and, of course, I’m going to have big, puffy eyes.

Cucumbers have an anti-inflammatory effect. Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

According to the Mayo Clinic, bags under your eyes are common as you age because as you get older the tissues around your eyes and the muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. But there also are many other causes for those dark, swollen, saggy eye-bags, such as crying, lack of sleep, allergies, fluid retention, stress and genetics.

Concealer, eye balms, and eye creams are a daily necessity for me. But it’s not just using these products that’s important, it’s also how you apply them.

“Eye cream is one of the most important things a woman and man can own,” says Michael Ann Guthrie, vice president international affairs for skincare company Natura Bisse. “Apply it by dabbing a ‘C’ around (the outside) of the eye, and then go back and dab and roll (versus pulling it across the skin) from the bottom out.”

Here are some other do’s and don’ts for the skin around your eyes from Guthrie:

* Avoid using a coarse washcloth when washing the eye area. Instead, use something soft, such as a cheesecloth. “Every time you touch your eye, you’re going to irritate or pull and challenge the muscles. It’s the most delicate area of the face,” she says. “The best (technique) is to mix the product with a little bit of water so it becomes more solvent, then you won’t put as much pressure. Also, your makeup should actually dissolve within the product instead of you having to pull it off.”

* When applying makeup, use a concealer that you can actually dab on with no pulling motion, and then take a concealer brush (or use your finger) and gently pat and blend.

* When using an eye pencil, choose one that is very soft. “Eye pencils are fine, but remember that you are pulling something around the eye,” notes Guthrie. “I much prefer a cake eyeliner, or a gel is so much gentler to the eye.

“You blink your eye approximately 10,000 times a day, and as you age that skin tends to lose a lot of its elasticity, so if you’re still using the same intensity of application at 50 that you’ve been using since you were 16, it’s going to cause more damage as the years go on.”

* For mascara, select one that also works as a primer and conditioner for your lashes. Also, try not to over-apply. “No more than two should do it or you may need to find another mascara,” says Guthrie. “Another great tip is to set a timer on each mascara of six weeks to two months, and not just for hygienic reason but the consistency of the mascara. No matter how tight it is, every time you pull it out you’re pumping air back in, and it will dry the nature of the product.”

As for using cucumbers to reduce puffiness around your eyes, Guthrie says it’s not a myth. “It’s very calming and has an anti-inflammatory effect,” she explains. “It’ll cool down the eye, so they’re not red. Also, tea bags (such as chamomile or jasmine tea) are good for decon-gesting. They can be warmed and then cooled in your refrigerator, and then put it on your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes.

“With lack of sleep, it’s more of a tired eye with dark circles or depth under the eye. Cucumbers are a great refresher. If you’ve been crying, you have a hot and tired eye, so you want to cool it down by using cool, iced cloths, and those gel eyemasks you put in the refrigerator are excellent.”

The skin around your eyes is extra delicate, which is why it needs extra attention. I can attest that eye creams do make a noticeable difference. But there are many types of eye creams available that range in price, which can make it difficult to choose one.

At Natura Bisse, which is available at Neiman Marcus, there are three types of eye creams: the Cure Sheer Eye ($115), which is a combination of a self-adapting concealer and eye treatment; the Eye Recovery Balm ($95), which is a soothing gel-like cream that helps with hydrating and decongesting; and the Diamond Extreme Eye ($195), which is a rejuvenating eye cream that maintains your own natural hydration and adds hydration throughout the day.

Many of the top skincare brands offer samples at their counters for you to try first.

Bottom line, the skin around your eyes is different from the rest of your face, so it needs to be cared for differently.