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By Julia MacLaird ©2008
Table of Contents
The information in this book is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care, and medical advice and services are not being offered. If you have, or suspect you have, a health problem you should consult your physician.
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Got dark circles under the eyes? You’re not alone. Would it surprise you to know that: Dark circles are the second most common dermatologic complaint? (Acne is #1)
Dark circles under the eyes are the most common non-hormonal skin problem.
Dark circles are not caused by stress, all-night work or partying sessions or fatigue.
Don't feel bad - just about everyone has experienced dark circles under the eyes. For millions of Americans, dark under-eye circles are simply a fact of life. Dark circles under the eyes make you look tired. They make you look old. There's nothing flattering or attractive about dark circles. When you have those big dark crescents under your eyes, objective observers are likely to guess your age at 8-12 years older than without those under-eye craters. Dark circles make you look old, tired, stressed, sick, depressed and just plain unapproachable. Nothing is more noticeable than dark circles. They instantly mar your beauty and alter your expression. Dark circles age the face, create a tired, haggard appearance and cast a deceptively disinterested expression. On the other hand, when you finally get rid of those dark circles, your whole face changes. Your eyes look bigger and brighter. Your skin looks smoother and younger. Your face has that healthy, youthful glow that you remember. This sounds like a big change, and it is. Dark circles under the eyes make a big difference in the way people see you, and the way you see yourself. Self-image is a powerful thing. If nothing else, I want you to know that dark under-eye circles are not your fault. They don't mysteriously appear when you misbehave or are stressed out, only to vanish when you get eight straight hours of sleep. My story
I never had dark circles when I was younger, probably at least in part because I’ve been using Retin-A under my eyes since I was a teenager. But then, after I turned 30, I suddenly developed those tell-tale dark circles along with puffy bags under my eyes. Needless to say, they freaked me out and made me miserable. So I was determined to do something about them. I did as much research as I could and uncovered all the known causes and solutions to dark circles, even some that a lot of doctors aren’t necessarily aware of. I visited plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists, and after implementing many of the recommendations in this book, I am very pleased to say that my dark circles are gone. In fact, I saw my ex recently, and he couldn’t get over how good I look. Because the great thing about many of the solutions here, if you follow them faithfully, is they’ll make you look and feel better all over, not just under your eyes. What’s ahead . . . . In the following chapters, we’ll explore all the possible causes of your dark circles and every possible solution. We’ll hear what top plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists have to say about the problem. And we’ll provide prescription, over-the-counter, and homemade remedies that are guaranteed to provide relief.
What are they exactly? 6
Contrary to popular belief, most dark circles have nothing to do with actual skin color changes, though some do. Rather, dark shadows form when changes in facial anatomy occur. A normal part of the aging process, the infraorbital fat pad (the fatty layer located just above the cheek bone and below the eye) thins, producing a sunken appearance. Light reflects off these hollows creating the illusion of shadowy circles. So while we’re struggling with fat accumulating around hips, tummy and jaw line, the opposite problem is happening beneath our eyes. This is one time that fat is something we really want!
To determine the cause of your under-eye circles, press your thumb on the shadows. If the shadows momentarily lighten, the cause is poor circulation. If they don't lighten, the cause is hyper-pigmentation (a.k.a. melanin deposits). And if you feel a depression, then you know the cause is a shadow cast by slight hollows beneath the eyes, as explained above.
Even though most of the causes of dark under-eye circles are purely cosmetic concerns rather than medical concerns, you should always get checked by a physician. You must exercise more caution if the dark circles appear suddenly and do not go away after you have tried remedies. Your dark circles are probably not connected with a medical problem, but a medical specialist might be able to help you reduce or possibly remove the dark circles that are giving you a tired, sickly, ugly 7
and aging look, making you look your beautiful self again. Please check with your physician before undergoing any course of treatment. He or she is your best guide, and you do need to rule out any serious condition before treating the problem yourself. Why do I get dark circles? Heredity is the primary cause of dark circles. Like so many things - eye color, curly or straight hair, skin tone - predisposition for dark circles is inherited. For instance, you can inherit genes that cause weakened capillaries in the skin around your eyes and also genes that cause increased melanin pigmentation in this area. Skin tone, including transparency of the skin, is also inherited and can make dark circles appear more dramatic. Heredity isn't the only cause of dark circles. A variety of factors, both common and uncommon, can influence or cause the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. They tend to be more noticeable in people with fair skin or deep-set eyes. These people are more vulnerable if they have other habits such as smoking that could aggravate the process. Dark circles can't be removed permanently when they are hereditary, but can be reduced. How are dark circles like bruises?
Scientists now agree that some dark circles may be caused by a complex interaction between your body and the same kind of chemical reaction that produces bruises. This process begins in the capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that web the delicate skin beneath the eyes. The periorbital area (around your eyes) is the thinnest and most delicate skin of your face. Your capillaries are so small that red blood cells sometimes have to line up single file, and sometimes bend in half, to get through. Frequently red blood cells seep through the capillary walls and wander into the surrounding skin. This isn't a problem - it happens all the time and your body has a mechanism to mop up these escapees. Enzymes in your body break down the red blood cells, including their hemoglobin (the molecule that gives them their distinctive red color). Unfortunately, your body's mopping-up process to get rid of that loose blood is what causes some dark circles under the eyes. When loose blood breaks down through the oxidization process known as "hemoglobin degradation," the hemoglobin (the stuff that makes red blood cells red) gets broken up into smaller components, and it turns a dark bluish-red. Since the capillaries are much closer to the surface of the skin here than anywhere else and many people's skin is thinner around the eyes and more translucent, the hemoglobin shows up like bruises. The combination of capillaries near the skin's surface and translucent skin
makes this discoloration much more apparent. However, dark circles are caused by leaking capillaries in only a minority of cases. How do eye creams help get rid of dark circles? Eye creams like Hylexin that claim to treat hemoglobin degradation do a couple of different things. First, and most importantly, they speed up the rate of the hemoglobin degradation. As the loose blood is completely degraded, the dark pigmentation fades. Secondly, dark eye circle creams help to strengthen the capillaries in your skin. This helps to prevent future leakage, and helps to prevent future dark circles under the eyes. Tanning and dark circles Did you know that tanning can make dark under-eye circles even worse? It's true. Some dark under-eye circles are caused by melanin deposits. Tanning is caused by the sun activating the melanin or pigment in your skin. Exposure to the sun increases your natural melanin levels and draws the melanin to the surface of the skin, making it darker. Unfortunately, this same principle applies to the skin under your eyes, too. So tanning, or any exposure to the sun at all, can make those dark under-eye circles even darker, if yours are caused by melanin deposits.
Other causes of dark under-eye circles Allergies Allergies can cause dark under eye circles in two ways. First, the histamine reaction itself can cause smudges in the under eye area. Second, any condition that causes you to rub your eyes can make dark circles worse because scratching or rubbing can actually darken the skin. Remember, it's very delicate, so be gentle with your skin. This is the rare instance when a bleaching agent (in addition to control of the underlying condition) is necessary to solve the problem. Dark circles under the eyes can be the result of allergies to airborne substances, such as pollen, dust, and pet dander. People with hay-fever may notice them at the height of pollen season. Food allergies or sensitivities can also contribute to dark circles as well. Treatment is two-fold. Stop the itching and watery eyes so that the impetus to rub is eliminated. Control allergies/hay-fever with oral antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin. Ask your physician if prescription antihistamines will help in stubborn situations. Brief intermittent use of low potency prescription topical steroids, Protopic or Elidel (each should be kept out of the eyes) can help provide relief. In western countries, the kidneys are related to the adrenal glands and with stress levels in life being so high, these glands are very often
exhausted. When these glands are weakened, allergies are prevalent. Dark circles under the eyes are known as a classic symptom of an allergy. Other signs include edema and fatigue. Fatigue or inadequate rest It’s a myth that not sleeping causes dark circles under the eyes. But being tired generally makes your skin paler. And pale skin makes dark circles look darker and allows the dark pigmentation to be seen more easily. It also allows blood vessels to be more visible through the skin, giving the appearance of bluish or dark circles. You’ve probably noticed that your under-eye circles seem worse in the morning: when we’re lying horizontal all night, fluids can pool under the bottom eyelid due to gravity, causing puffiness and dark circles.
While lack of sleep may not cause dark circles, there are vital functions that only take place when we are asleep. So while lack of sleep may not be a singular cause, it can contribute to other conditions that may lead to dark circles. Nutrients that may be beneficial for insomnia are pantothenic acid, B6, B12, Folic acid, Inositol, Niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, GAB, DMAE, Protein, and L-tryptophan. Age
As we grow, the skin around our eyes becomes thinner. The skin’s support structure (collagen and elastin) breaks down, causing it to sag and make shadows in the orbital hollow. Dark under-eye circles are likely to become more and more pronounced as we age. Colds/Sinusitis If you are suffering from a cold and have just developed dark circles under the eyes, you shouldn’t be concerned. This could be due to increased pressure on the blood vessels under the eyes and will go away with the cold. The veins from the nose drain beneath the eyes, so if the nose is stuffed up due to a cold or sinus congestion, blood is going to pool beneath the eyes and look like dark circles.
Even something as small as improperly fitting heavy frames of your eyeglasses can cause you to have dark circles under the eyes. These frames rest on the delicate skin causing damage to the delicate blood vessels which can result in the dark blue appearance of the skin.
Hyperpigmented under-eye circles can be dark circles often found in women with darker skin tones (African, East Indian or Latin descent). This is caused by the over-abundance of melanin in skin.
As we age, the skin around our eyes thins out, causing the veins underneath to show. This is typical in women with lighter skin.
These under-eye circles tend to be puffy or baggy. This is usually caused by poor blood flow or water retention under the eye. Large bags that don't recede in time are hereditary.
Dehydration Dark circles under the eyes can be a sign of dehydration. If you suffer from under-eye puffiness on a regular basis, check to see if it is related to your monthly cycle. If puffiness appears several days before your period, consider it a manifestation of PMS. Try to use natural diuretics, such as green tea, and eliminate salty foods, most carbohydrates, and excess liquid from your menu about one week prior to your period. Such measures should drastically reduce hormonal-
induced dark circles and puffiness under your eyes, which are caused by premenstrual water retention. Hydration, hydration, hydration. This is so simple and yet so essential. Drinking plenty of glorious water will not only keep your body hydrated throughout the day, it will keep your skin looking refreshed and supple, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Blood vessels under the eyes can become dilated and engorged, which can contribute to dark circles. Excess dietary salt and smoking are common causes. Conditions that cause fluid retention (e.g. heart, thyroid, kidney, liver diseases) or medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor. Your doctor should be aware of any symptoms you're experiencing. Fluid retention sometimes causes the puffy look. This could be brought on by a combination of excessive drinking, eating a lot of salted snacks, and a lack of proper sleep thereafter. If you tend to drink a lot and consume a lot of fried and salted snacks, drink a lot of water. This will help reduce water retention since it will help dilute the alcohol and also flush out the excess sodium through the kidneys.
Smoking reduces oxygen in the blood and causes vascular problems, making blood vessels appear more prominent and bluer beneath the skin. Stop smoking. Aside from making your skin dull and lackluster, smoking also restricts blood flow in capillaries, and depletes and robs your body and skin of essential vitamins and nutrients.
Exposure to the sun can exacerbate your dark circles. Sunlight darkens the skin by raising melanin levels and bringing melanin to the surface of the skin. These boosted melanin levels make dark circles look darker. So if you notice dark circles after a trip to the beach or the tanning bed, you're not alone. Whenever you are out in the sun always wear a SPF 30 sunscreen lotion under the eyes. Wear sunglasses with UV protection. Also drink plenty of water. Whether out in the sun or not, you must always drink plenty of water. This is not only beneficial for your under-eyes, but for your entire body.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. This is a no-brainer. You’ve had it ingrained in your head since youth, but seriously, even in winter it can take just 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to damage the skin. By the way, it's a MYTH that 80 percent of your lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18. Studies indicate we get only 23 percent of total UV exposure by age 18. Of course it gets worse as we age. So you CAN prevent sun-induced aging by wearing sunscreen. Don’t tan. Even if wrinkles haven't shown up yet, you need to stop tanning now because they will. Once signs of aging appear, you'll be spending a lot of money to reverse it—and you won’t EVER be able to reverse it completely. So if you do have sun damage? You can reverse some of the damage with photorejuvenation such as pulsed light treatments. Many spas and dermatologists provide these pricey fixes. The following nutrients that may be beneficial for sun exposure if that is determined as a cause: Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B6, PABA, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Silicon, Potassium, Zinc, Water, Protein, Unsaturated fatty acids, Aloe vera.
The skin under the eyes is thin and delicate to begin with. As we age, skin and the fat pad under the eyes becomes thinner, causing blood vessels to become noticeable. This gives the appearance of dark circles. Sun damage can make it worse because it weakens skin.
The thinning of the skin is noticeable on those areas where the skin is stretched over bony structures without thick layers of fat and other tissues beneath. The skull is typical, especially around the eyes. Another area is the back of the hands, which often show our age even if our faces don’t. Nutrients that benefit the skin include: Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Niacin, Folic acid, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Unsaturated fatty acids, Kelp, Copper, Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc, Water, SOD, DMSO, RNA/DNA, PABA and Brewer's yeast.
Pregnancy and/or menstruation Frequently, our skin becomes pale during pregnancy and menstruation. So the dark circles look darker and are more easily seen. Many people associate dark circles with hormones -- but the hormones don't cause dark circles, just paleness.
Inadequate nutrition If you're not eating a balanced and healthy diet, a lack of key nutrients can contribute to dark under eye circles. Why you have bags under your eyes It’s more than likely that you don’t have bags under your eyes – that what you do have is just your normal, run of the mill puffiness or dark circles, both of which can easily be treated with the few excellent products on the market today. Most bags under the eyes are the result of accumulated fat in the eye area. This happens when the septum surrounding the eyeball weakens, causing the outer layer of fat within the socket to sink forward – making it look like you have literal “bags” under your eyes. Bags emerge as a result of gravity, loss of dermal integrity, hormonal skin changes, allergies, capillary fragility and inflammation from chronic sun damage. Under eye puffiness augments the tired appearance and exaggerates dark circles.
Pooling of excess tissue fluids contributes to bag formation. This edema (fluid buildup) forms as a result of the inflammatory process, leaky capillaries and poor lymphatic drainage.
There’s a surgical procedure called blepharoplasty, which is designed to remove excess fat, skin and muscle beneath the eyes. But surgery is by far the last resort for dealing with this problem: there’s a danger that taking too much fat away will create hollows and even more dark shadows, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid. We’ll explore your non-surgical options further in Chapter 2. Eye Serums to Decrease Bags There are a variety of eye serums that will work on your under eye bags in the same way they work on puffy eyes or dark circles. They won’t get rid of your bags, of course, but they will reduce the appearance of your bags by reducing the discoloration and tightening the skin around the eyes. Plus the cooling effects of many serums made with Aloe Vera and cucumber extracts will help reduce the size of your under eye bags. Other Medical Causes for Bags Under the Eyes Before you begin any treatment, it is best to rule out any underlying medical causes, as bags under your eyes can be a symptom of a larger problem within the body, such as a kidney problem or a slow thyroid. Your bags could also be a result of excess salt intake, cigarette smoking or food sensitivities, which is a good reminder that the greatest beauty secret is a healthy lifestyle. The condition and appearance of a person's face says a lot about what's going in inside her body. And if you have
heavy bags under your eyes, your body might be trying to tell you something. Also, please don’t discount the effects that prescription drugs may be having on your body. It’s quite possible that a prescription you’re taking is causing or exacerbating the dark circles or puffy eyes you’re experiencing. And just because your doctor doesn’t know about that as a symptom doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. But don’t stop taking a prescription drug without the advice of your physician. Kidney Disease The delicate area directly under our eyes correlates with our kidneys (the area directly under that correlates with the large intestine or colon). In some cases, bags under the eyes are a sign of kidney problems. Other signs include a change in the frequency of urination and/or a change in the appearance of urine; swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, face and/or hands; fatigue; itching or skin rashes; metallic taste in mouth; dizziness and trouble concentrating; feeling as though you're constantly cold; and/or leg or flank pain. The early stages of kidney disease often go undiagnosed. If you are concerned about kidney disease or have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.
Hypothyroidism A slow thyroid affects 2 in 100 women or 2% of the female population. If you are experiencing general fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, a dislike of cold weather, muscle weakness or muscle cramps, dry skin and thin hair, heavy periods, a slow resting pulse and bloated tissue, your slow thyroid may be causing those bags under your eyes too. If you think you have Hypothyroidism, consult your doctor. Poor Diet An excess of sodium in your diet will cause you to retain water, causing puffy bags under the eyes, as well as puffiness in the legs, feet, ankles and abdomen. Stay away from fast food and processed foods and make sure you drink plenty of water to flush the excess sodium out of your system. Toxins If you've ruled out the above conditions and still believe the bags under your eyes are a sign of your body crying for help, try detoxing. The large and small intestines are two of the body's most important mechanisms because digestion is one of the body's most important functions. When the intestines get clogged with bile and mucus, they can't function properly. Detox, the process of eliminating the body -
particularly the large and small intestines - of toxins, can help you look and feel better (and lighter) than you have in years. Diet Very often swollen eyes show that your body is lacking dietary proteins, essential fats, B-vitamins, and folic acid. Change your diet by including more ecologically-clean meats, fish, and cultured dairy products from pastured cows. Remember that Vitamin B-12 is only contained in animal products, while Vitamin B-6 is most abundant in raw milk, meat, and fish. Try to find in your area quality raw milk products, especially cheese, and eat frequently traditional raw appetizers, such as steak tartare, kibbeh, or sashimi. Iron deficiency or anemia may also cause a bluish tinge below the eyes.
Aging Skin Facts
Environmental wear and tear and prolonged exposure to the downward pull of gravity rob your skin of its most vital resources: collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are the essential dynamic duo that provide the firmness and subtleness of youthful skin.
As skin ages, its structure and integrity weaken. The production of new collagen slows and existing collagen and elastin break down, similar to a crackling concrete foundation, creating lines and large pores.
Wrinkles or Pigment, which makes you look older?
Though we hate to see a new wrinkle, it’s often the random facial spots and patches of darkness that make us look tired or older. In fact, one study found skin tone and luminosity have a greater impact on the perception of a woman's attractiveness, as well as of her assumed age revealing that wrinkles aren't the only cue the human eye looks for when evaluating age.
A 2006 study used three-dimensional imaging and morphing software to fade out and remove age defining wrinkles and furrows from pictures of women, leaving skin clarity and tone as the only variable. The models with the most even skin tone received significantly higher ratings for attractiveness and health, and were also judged to be younger in age. The models with uneven, blotchy skin tone were judged to be significantly older. In fact, the uneven distribution of skin pigmentation added 10-12 years to a woman's perceived age.
Whether a woman is 20 or 60, the contrast of skin clarity and tone plays a significant role in the way others perceive her age, beauty and health. Most people take skin pigmentation for granted. No matter what color the skin is it is usually fairly regular in shade and tone. However, certain conditions and factors do exist that can cause skin pigmentation changes. The causes of uneven skin clarity and tone are the results of cumulative UV damage from too much sun (freckles, moles, age spots), natural aging (yellowing, dullness) and skin vascularization (broken capillaries, redness).
Practicing anti-aging prevention through skin care and sun protection can help to prevent uneven pigmentation and unsightly wrinkles keeping everyone guessing your true age.
Maybe you're in your 20s or early 30s and you think you can't possibly have aging skin yet. Well, you're wrong. Your skin's 'youthfulness' has less to do with age than how it's been treated, so if exposed to sun, smoke and stress, your skin will start ‘acting old,’ losing collagen, glow and elasticity. Lines will develop and pores can seem more pronounced. It's easier to prevent damage than to repair it but the good news is you CAN reverse skin damage. 25
Age management is a lifestyle practice, not a life altering surgical procedure. The reality is the moment you enter the world is the moment you began aging. The principle of age management skin care is the earlier you begin, the longer you prolong and ideally avoid altogether, invasive cosmetic procedures and surgeries.
The goal in age management skin care is to look fresher in each current stage of your life, and by introducing age management practices at an earlier age you slow down your aging process making you look a decade younger than you are.
The current trend in cosmetic or corrective skin care treatments are not designed to make a woman in her 60's look as though she is 30, but more to tweak and fine-tune with modest enhancements so she looks energized and vivacious in her 60's.
Using products that contain active ingredients to target and improve specific aging concerns is key for achieving results. Vitamins C, E and A are all key ingredients high on the list in anti-aging skin care. Products with active ingredients are necessary to reverse your aging skin, however are not effective if they are not used frequently and consistently. Along with effective products and a consistent skin care routine there are a couple of lifestyle choices to consider.
We live in a world full of constant bombardment of the latest and greatest scientific breakthroughs revealing the next new fond wonders all promising to restore precious youthful skin. But the real secret to fresh, radiant, even skin tone is simply exfoliating on a regular basis.
Buffing away the dead skin cells that accumulate over the course of the day eliminates congestion in the pores seen as blackheads, whiteheads and acne, and polishes the dull lackluster surface improving the appearance of fine lines and diminishes age spots. Using chemical exfoliants such as alpha, beta and poly-hydroxy acids, will transform your looks. These natural acids lift away the top layer of dead skin cells, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes. New evidence shows that in higher concentrations, AHAs may help stimulate collagen production. Don't over-wash your face Tap water strips skin of its natural barrier oils and moisture that protect against wrinkles. Wash them off too often, and you wash away protection.
And unless your soap contains skin-protecting moisturizers, use a facial cleanser instead of soap.
Oil Cleansing Method Perhaps the most important thing I recommend you start doing is the following. And the ironic thing is it’s relatively cheap, and it probably runs counter to everything you’ve ever been taught about your skin. But this single change will probably make a huge difference in how your under-eye skin looks and feels.
Almost every facial soap sold in drug stores contains synthetic chemicals and artificial ingredients, despite the number of brands that claim to be “organic” or “natural.” These soaps can be toxic to your liver and other organs with long-term use - and, even in the short term, they can do real damage to your skin.
Harsh cleansers contribute to acne and outbreaks by adding potentially dangerous chemicals to your face and by cleaning away not only dirt and bacteria, but the oils that your skin needs. When skin’s natural oils have been removed, the body’s reaction is to compensate by producing more oil - causing oily patches and outbreaks and creating a vicious cycle of purchasing yet more products that work against your body’s actual needs.
When cleansing and moisturizing your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil disolves oil. Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not cause you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads and whiteheads are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with, it is there for the benefit of your skin. It is naturally occurring. Oil helps lubricate, heal, protect, and moisturize your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing.
All that’s required to try the oil cleansing method is the right oils, a soft washcloth, and hot running water.
1. Mix up a blend of extra virgin olive oil and castor oil - or any other natural, unprocessed oils that you prefer - see a partial list below. 2. Massage a small amount of the oils gently into your face. Spend a few minutes rubbing the oils into your cheeks, nose, forehead, neck, chin, and gently under and around the eyes, allowing the oils to penetrate into the skin and pull out wastes, bacteria, dead cells and other dirt.
3. Wring out a facecloth or washcloth in hot water, and drape it over your face to steam - it's just like giving yourself a mini facial! 4. After a minute or so, wipe away the oil, along with any dirt, using the washcloth. Your skin should feel clean, soft, and moist with just a little of the OCM oil remaining on your face. If skin feels dry and tight, you can moisturize it using just a touch of the olive oil/castor oil blend.
Personalizing the Oil Cleanse for your skin type
You may want to try combining olive oil and castor in a different ratio, or trying the oil cleanse with only one of the two, or different oils altogether, depending on your skin’s need. Some people substitute jojoba for olive oil, or add essential oils to the oil mixture for the aroma and their skin-healing properties.
If you don't have castor oil already, it can be found online or in the laxative section of your grocer or drugstore - usually bottom shelf. Castor Oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, but is also healing and cleansing, which is why we're focusing on this oil as our primary oil. Castor Oil has been the focus of many books and medical discussion because of its seemingly "magical" healing properties. Though it may be our most important oil, we won't be using it in the amounts that we will the other oil (or combination of oils for those who want to take this a
step further). A little bit of Castor Oil goes a long way and too much will leave you, surprisingly, with dry skin.
Since Castor Oil is so thick and its cleansing properties so strong, we need to dilute it with another oil, thinner in consistency, but no less nurturing to the skin. Sunflower Seed Oil is good, as is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Both are wonderfully caring oils for skin application, but Sunflower Seed Oil has a more luxurious feel for massage. It sinks into the skin better, aiding the castor oil in transportation deep into the pores and allowing it to draw the dirt and grime to the surface of your skin where it can be wiped away. The essential fatty acids, though they are not naturally occurring in the body, are a necessity for the health of our cell membranes. These acids help restore the skins natural moisture balance and help prevent unnecessary dryness. The secondary oil that you choose is entirely up to you and should be determined by your skins needs and the properties of that oil. Choose from natural, cold-pressed vegetable oils, as these have nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids that mineral oil and other refined oils don't. You may even have these oils in your kitchen, as they're used for cooking, as well! For the sake of explaination, from this point on, we'll say "Sunflower Seed Oil" in place of "Secondary Oil." Remember that Sunflower Seed Oil may be replaced by your vegetable oil of choice.
The starting point for creating your own, personalized skin cleansing oil blend is knowing your general skin type. Those with dry skin will want less Castor Oil. Those with oily skin will want to blend in more. Finding your perfect combination of oils will probably take a little bit of trial and error, so start with very small batches. Once you know what your ratio of oils looks like, you'll be able to blend much more at a time for convenience.
Some suggestions in creating your blend of deep cleansing oil:
* Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Sunflower Seed Oil. * Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Sunflower Seed Oil. * Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Sunflower Seed Oil.
You can vary these percentages to match your own skins needs. If your skin feels too dry, you'll need to use less Castor Oil and replace it with more Sunflower Seed Oil. Keep in mind that Castor Oil is the drawing, cleansing, and purging oil for your pores. The Sunflower Seed Oil is to dilute the Castor Oil in viscosity (thickness) and additionally provide moisture, nutrients, and other benefits. My own, personal blend, for my sometimes oily, sometimes dry, frequently flakey, and easily irritated skin is about 25% Castor Oil to 75% Sunflower Seed Oil. I mix and store my
mixture in a clean four-ounce flip-top bottle for convenience. When you go to replenish your oil blend, I suggest cleaning your bottle thoroughly with dish soap or the dishwasher. Better yet, if you can replace the bottle, this is ideal. We want to be extremely cautious in introducing bacteria to the bottle.
Camellia Seed Oil
The oil I recommend the most is camellia seed oil. Praised as the beauty secret of the Geishas, this precious oil has been recognized for centuries in East Asia for its highly restorative and rejuvenating effect on skin. Today, this time-proven oil is used in some of the most distinguished beauty formulas and is suited for all skin types including sensitive and allergy-prone skin.
Camellia oil has outstanding moisture retaining ability and is one of the most rapidly absorbed plant oils. The unique make-up of the oil allows it to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin, much like water, leaving it smooth and supple. The non-drying and non-clogging oil is very rich in mono-saturated essential fatty acids. It is particularly high in oleic acid that exceeds the level of olive oil. Camellia oil contains vitamins A, B, and E and various minerals, P, Zn, Ca, Fe, Mn, and Mg. Furthermore, camellia
oil possesses a unique active constituent known as squalene. Squalene is also an important component of the skin’s natural emollient system. A deficiency of squalene can result in dry skin and premature aging, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin.
Camellia oil is an excellent emollient and wonderful skin moisturizer. Furthermore, it helps to restore proper pH balance and has a buffering quality that acts as an effective shield to protect skin from penetration of environmental pollutants. Camellia Oil protects skin from drying out while replenishing vital nutrients. It smoothes rough and flaky skin, soothes and calms easily irritated skin, and blocks out ultra violet rays. Used regularly, pure unrefined camellia oil will help to maintain and restore harmony, to protect from age-spots and increased pigmentation. Used around the eyes and mouth, it softens wrinkles and tiny maturity lines. For men, camellia oil makes a wonderful skin soother after shaving. Applied regularly it will keep the skin conditioned and aids in preventing shaving burns. Because of Camellia Seed Oil’s extremely high antioxidant content, it’s extremely good at reducing under-eye puffiness, fine lines and dark circles, if applied regularly.
Try topical vitamin C Studies have found that vitamin C can increase collagen production, protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays, correct pigmentation problems, and improve inflammatory skin conditions. The key, however, may be the type of vitamin C used. To date, most research points to Lascorbic acid as the most potent for wrinkle relief. Don’t pull and rub your skin Aging skin has been under attack by UV rays, stress and carbon monoxide so don't stress it more by pulling on it. Don’t forget to moisturize While it's a myth that wrinkles are caused by dry skin, moisturizing can improve the appearance of lines by temporarily plumping them up. Lotions containing ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids (also known as EFAs) are especially helpful. Moisturizers are best used on damp skin. They lock the moisture in. And filtering your showerhead will do wonders for your skin and hair due to the harsh chemicals and minerals found in many city water sources.
Once you start . . . . Once you start an anti-aging regimen, you have to keep it up. The effects of acid peels, AHAs, moisturizers -- all the anti-aging products that remove dead skin cells and make skin look plumper -- won't last forever. You have to maintain them. Now let’s get started . . . . Now that you know the basics of age-management and good skin maintenance, let’s start tackling the problem of those pesky dark circles.
Doctors’ Advice and Cosmetic Procedures
Top dermatologists and plastic surgeons report that dark circles, puffiness beneath the eyes, hollow eyes, and under-eye bags are some of the most common complaints they see every day. This guide does not advocate surgery or cosmetic procedures as a first-line solution to these common problems. However, if you’ve already addressed all the underlying possible causes of your under-eye troubles, a skilled, board certified and experienced cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon might be able to help you. Also, if your problem is significant—holding you back emotionally and keeping you from moving forward in your life— then seeking out a good doctor immediately might be your best bet. She or he might be able to help you find out what’s causing these under-eye issues as well as recommend products or procedures to fix them. Just remember that responsible doctors will try the most conservative fixes 37
first (solving the cause of the problem, as we’re trying to do here, and adding healing elements) before going to surgery. Please, please do your research and find the best doctor you can. Your eyes are way too precious to trust to just anyone. I’m going to add resources for researching doctors to my blog at www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com soon.
While I recommend trying to eliminate the possible source of your dark circles before trying to correct them with a doctor’s help, I’m starting with the doctors’ perspective because they are the authorities here. Ideally you’ve checked with your doctor already regarding your dark circles, but the truth is many doctors don’t know how to treat this difficult problem. My own dermatologist in Beverly Hills who has a very good reputation said “Those are just melanin deposits and they’re purely genetic. There’s really nothing you can do about it.” Well he was wrong wrong wrong. I just refused to accept that I was going to have to live with these dark circles forever. So I went on a mission to find my own answers. The following chapter is the result of advice collected from respected plastic surgeons, cosmetic dermatologists and additional research on their methods.
If you do choose to see a plastic surgeon, choose wisely—the proper surgeon will individualize the procedure to match your facial features.
Choosing the right technique for each patient is also important. If a doctor fails to take into account the bone structure, amount of sun damage, the amount of fat, and the way you looked ten to fifteen years ago, the results could be disastrous. But don’t let that scare you-nowadays there are plenty of good non-surgical procedures that can be performed by plastic surgeons or cosmetic dermatologists that can do wonders to correct your dark circles. Again, choose wisely because experience and training still makes all the difference between a good outcome and a bad one.
Anatomy of Hollow Eyes
Hollows beneath the eyes sometimes cause our dark circles. These hollows may be caused by not enough cheekbone associated with sagging cheek muscles and surrounding fat pockets. With age, the soft tissues of the upper cheek sink downward, and the outline of the rim of bone just below the eye may become slightly visible. This scooped-out area creates shadows when we want light highlighting it smoothly.
An exaggerated under-eye depression in the area between the rim of orbital bone and the side of the nose is sometimes referred to as a "tear
trough." Technically, the tear trough is the "nasojugal fold," and it’s normal.
Confused whether you have an orbital hollow or an upper cheek hollow? Look in a mirror and push your finger against the area. If you hit bone, the problem is on your upper cheek. If you feel the eyeball, the problem is orbital. Of course, if the hollowness developed only after you had cosmetic surgery on your lower lids, your surgeon likely took too much fat from your bags, and it is likely orbital in origin.
The Arcus Deformity
Many plastic surgeons report that the patients who complain of dark circles actually suffer from the Arcus Deformity. This is the dark crescent shaped hollow beneath the lower eyelid starting beside the nose in the corner of the eye and running out toward the side of the face and curving upward towards the outside corner of the eye. A small structure beneath the lower eyelid called the Arcus Marginalis is attached to the bone of the eye socket and also attached to the lower eyelid from underneath. This attachment holds the eyelid close to the bone of the eye socket while the rest of the lower eyelid is loose and free to move. The normal fat beneath the eyeball pushes out against the lower eyelid which creates a visible bulge on the lower eyelid. You can see this by closing one eye and
gently pressing on the closed eye. With your other eye you will see the bulging of the fat against the closed lower eyelid on the other side.
The eyelid skin that is tethered by the Arcus Marginalis cannot move or bulge, and as the fat bulges the lower eyelid above the Arcus Marginalis it creates a shadow or dark circle beneath the eyelid where the Arcus Marginalis is attached to the lower eyelid skin. This is the true dark circle under the eyes.
As we age and our eyelid skin becomes loose or lax, the eyelid skin also falls or sags over the depression caused by the Arcus Deformity and the dark circle gets worse. With aging and excess protrusion of fat against the lower eyelid the Arcus Deformity can become very noticeable.
The Arcus Deformity is different from the Tear Trough Deformity which starts near the corner of the eye in the same location as the Arcus Deformity but runs down into the cheek rather than up toward the outside corner of the eye.
The Tear Trough Deformity is a sign of advanced facial aging and is caused by the sagging or descent of the cheek into the middle of the face. This usually occurs with facial aging in your 50’s and 60’s. Tears
run down the cheek and out the side of the face through the Tear Trough instead of straight down the cheek as they do in a child.
By contrast the Arcus Deformity occurs in much younger patients including children. Most people seeking treatment for dark circles under the eyes are in their 20’s and 30’s. Doctors often misdiagnose the Arcus Deformity as the Tear Trough Deformity which is a major problem if a Tear Trough Implant is used to treat the dark circle. The Tear Trough Implant is designed to plump or correct the depression in the cheek out toward the side of the face, and the Tear Trough Implant cannot adequately correct the dark circle under the eye where it is deepest, near the corner of the lower eyelid near the nose.
The treatment for dark circles under the eyes caused by the Arcus Deformity must include release of the Arcus Marginalis and fat repositioning or fat grafting to plump the area of the dark circle.
The traditional plastic surgery treatment for eyelid rejuvenation called the blepharoplasty, during which fat is removed, can actually make dark circles under the eyes worse and create a hollowed eye appearance.
Treatment of dark circles under the eyes that are caused by the Arcus deformity requires a modern blepharoplasty approach which includes release of the Arcus Marginalis and fat repositioning or fat grafting.
A very specific treatment for dark circles under the eyes called the transconjunctival blepharoplasty involves Arcus release and fat grafting. This treatment is done through a tiny incision on the inside of the eyelid called a transconjunctival incision because it goes through the conjunctiva, the pink tissue on the inside of the lower eyelid. The surgeon will use a laser to make this incision.
Thin Eyelid Skin
The eyelid skin is the thinnest in the body and many people with dark circles under the eyes have extremely thin skin on their eyelids and around the eyes. This thin skin is an inherited trait. Dark circles under the eyes are exacerbated by the fact that the purple color of the underlying eyelid muscle or capillaries shows through the thin skin and creates a bluish or purple color. The color is darkest near the nose and on the lower eyelid near the nose.
Treatment of dark circles under the eyes caused by thin skin is very difficult because it’s tough to make your skin thicker. Retinoid studies
show that prescription-strength retinoids such as Rein-A, Renova, Tazorac or Differin can increase collagen thickness and reduce fine lines. Retinol, their over-the-counter cousin, may also help, though it’s a gentler strength. Frequent microdermabrasion and retinoids such as Tazorac or Retin-A cream over a long period of time will build new collagen in the dermis will thicken the skin and provide some improvement. There are new lasers on the horizon which are very effective at stimulating new growth of collagen in the dermis and these new technologies may prove very beneficial.
Prominent Eyelid Blood Vessels and Veins
Everyone has veins and blood vessels called capillaries in their eyelid skin. In many people however the veins are very prominent and the blood vessels add to the dark color of the eyelid.
To diagnose this cause of dark circles look in a mirror with bright light on your face and gently pull the skin of the lower eyelid tight. You will see many tiny branching red and blue lines that represent blood vessels.
You need blood vessels and veins to keep your eyelid healthy and alive. However, when there is an abundance of smaller vessels which create a bluish or purplish hue to the lower eyelid some new IPL (Intense Pulsed
Light) or laser therapies can be used to treat dark circles under the eyes in people with an excess of small capillaries and blood vessels. The very large veins cannot be treated.
Laser blood vessel treatment is a serious and potentially dangerous treatment for dark circles under the eyes and must be performed by a physician who is experienced in the use of lasers and IPL. Most importantly the eye must be protected by placing a shield over the eye during treatment so that the laser or IPL light cannot hit the eye. The laser and IPL light can damage the retina and destroy vision if the beams hit the unprotected eye.
Pigmentation of the Eyelids
Hyper pigmentation in the skin of the eyelid is a very common cause of dark circles under the eyes. Treatment of dark circles under the eyes caused by hyper pigmentation is very effective, but the pigment frequently returns after sun exposure.
Hyper pigmentation of the lower eyelids occurs because of sun exposure and prevention with sun block, sunglasses, and a hat are the most important first treatment for this type of dark circles under the eyes.
The treatment of hyperpigmentation begins with bleaching creams such as a combination of Retin-A and 4% Hydroquinone, Obagi Blender 5, Epiquin or other prescription bleaching cream combined with microdermabrasion.
After the above treatments have lessened the pigmentation causing the dark circles under the eyes, if necessary treatments proceed to IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments. These treatments do effectively remove pigment causing the dark circle but again experience and eye protection are very necessary to prevent eye injury.
If your dark circles are caused by melanin deposits of the skin under the eyes, this is usually genetic and very difficult to treat. If your problem is caused by pigment deposit, surgery will not help you.
You might try bleaching creams containing hydroquinone or kojic acid sometimes. Combining a topical cortisone cream, a retinoid (Renova, Retin-A), and a sunscreen all at once may help you. Since improvement will appear only gradually over several months, many people give up before ever seeing any result. A good dermatologist can advise you and prescribe these products.
If your problem turns out to be a lower lid problem, an eyelid chemical peel might help you. Since a common side effect of eyelid chemical peel is a slight bleaching effect, some physicians recommend chemical peels or laser resurfacing to treat dark circles. Unfortunately, the lightening effect of peeling agents and the laser is not fully predictable (particularly in darker complexioned patients, the very group that most commonly suffers from dark circles). If your skin tone is fair, however, you may want to consider a medium-depth TCA peel. A skilled plastic surgeon who has handled this issue before should be able to advise you. If pigment deposits are the problem, bleaching agents or skin resurfacing may be the answer. Skin resurfacing can take the form of deep chemical peels or ablative laser (such as CO2 or erbium) treatments.
Fillers If your eye bags are caused by bulging of the skin under the eyes from fat tissue that is "pooching" out, this is usually a surgical issue. Especially if there is a large amount of bulging, only blepharoplasty (lower eyelid surgery) with fat repositioning will really help. However, if there is only a small to moderate amount of bulge, a hyaluronic acid filler like Restylane or Juvederm under the bulge can camouflage the appearance. If you raise
the skin under the bulge with a filler like Juvederm, filling in the valley underneath the bulge, the observer no longer sees the bulge. A "tear trough" under eye area indentation is caused by loss of volume with age in people that are genetically prone to having this problem. A shadow falls into the indentation, causing the dark circles that give a tired appearance. Aging causes an indentation in the "naso-jugal groove" (the area underneath the lower eyelid), a shadow falls into the groove and the person's eyes appear tired. This is easily corrected with a hyaluronic acid filler. This is a technically difficult procedure and should be done by experienced injectors only, so if you're thinking of having this procedure done, you must find out how many the doctor has performed. You want your doctor to have performed at least 1000 injections of this type. On the upside, though, Juvederm or Restylane can be dissolved anytime via injection of an enzyme called hyaluronidase. So, if you do not like the effect or if it turns out lumpy, you can reverse it. Hyaluronic acid, such as Restylane or Juvederm, injected under the eyes works amazingly well to eliminate or significantly reduce the dark circles by plumping up the skin and eliminating hollows under the eyes. This may sound painful, but most people can't even feel it since there are very few nerve endings under the eyes. Topical anesthesia is used as well. Doctors have found that Restylane is superior to Juvederm in this specific
area, as Juvederm has more of a tendency to cause a bluish tint to the skin, known as the tyndal effect, while Restylane does not. However, both work very well for this correction, and they last three times as long in the under-eye area as anywhere else. You can also do a fat transfer, in which your own liposuctioned fat can be used as a filler under the eyes through a process called autologous fat transplantation. Once again, it is imperative that you seek an experienced doctor, as fat is a permanent filler and this is a very delicate procedure. This works similar to the other fillers on the market, including the fact that the thin skin of this area makes flaws readily apparent. Superficial fat injections will disappear quickly while too much will look lumpy. Plastic surgeons and occasionally dermatologists remove fat from the hip, thigh or buttock through a syringe or liposuction cannula from locally anesthetized skin, rinsed and then injected under the skin into the hollow. Added fat instantly plumps up skin and neutralizes shadows. It also helps reduce visibility of veins that peek out from beneath the surface. Botox is not a filler, but as an injectable, it can raise the upper eyelids and reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes. Considering that some dark circles are really shadows cast by overhanging upper eyelids or wrinkles around the eyes, botox can actually help.
Diagnose the Problem
If you apply pressure to the circle or shadow and it disappears, your problem is due to blood pooling under the eyes. If the color doesn’t disappear, the darkness is caused by excess pigment. And if the shadow forms at the inside corner of your eye, where a tear would flow, it’s probably due to a deep tear trough.
A TCA peel can improve the overall color and freshness of your face while evening out your skin tone and texture. It can also help reduce the visibility of age spots and fine wrinkles and improve blotchiness and, in some cases, those dark circles under the eyes.
TCA peels are also safe and can be repeated every three to six months for optimal results. And, since TCA peels are medium peels (as opposed to deep peels), they are safe for people with olive and light brown skin. They have also been successful on darker skin tones, but the risk of discoloration is higher, the darker the skin tone.
While a TCA peel can improve the appearance of fine lines and shallow wrinkles, it will not improve dynamic wrinkles or acne scarring. Also, in order to keep up the improved appearance a TCA peel will give you, you may need to repeat the procedure as often as every three months. With the right skincare regimen, some patients can go as long as a year between peels, but it is much more common to see patients repeat the procedure at least every six months.
What You Can Do On Your Own
Most plastic surgeons call Retin-A; the new UVA-blocking sunscreens such as avobenzone, Mexoryl or Helioplex; and Botox and injectable fillers like Restylane the three greatest advances in cosmetics. But they also point out that while most of aging is genetic, the part we can control is sun avoidance, sunscreen and smoking.
Protect Yourself From the Sun
Ninety percent of aging is caused by the sun. The wrinkles around your eyes, the sagging, the discoloration: all caused by the sun. And the sun still causes damage even when we’re inside on a cloudy day. All day long we’re bombarded with UVA and UVB rays. The only time we don’t need to be wearing sunscreen is when we’re sleeping underneath the covers at 51
night. Plastic surgeons all agree on this matter. They see patients come in to their offices in their fifties who have protected themselves all their lives who look much younger than patients in their thirties who have not. There is no point on spending money on treatments if you’re going to go out in the sun unprotected. Simply put: a good, broad-spectrum sunscreen is the only anti-wrinkle formula that really counts. And hats and sunglasses go a long way as well.
Want to look older fast? Go light a cigarette while you bake in the sun.
Plastic surgeons can always tell when you smoke. Even when you lie.
Smokers’ skin is tinted yellowish and ashy from the toxic chemicals in the smoke that surrounds them every day. They get more blackheads; their collagen decreases and their pores become enlarged. The dirtiness of smoke lands right on their faces (whether they think it does or not). They have crow's-feet around their eyes, from squinting. And they have fine lines around their lips from all the pursing activity, so the area around their mouths and noses usually looks pretty awful. Studies have found that current smokers have a higher degree of facial wrinkling than nonsmokers and past smokers. Fortunately, heavy smokers who finally stopped smoking had fewer wrinkles than current smokers, but 52
microscopic, or as yet unseen, superficial wrinkling was found in smokers age twenty to thirty-nine. The best way to deal with smoking is to treat it as you do sun exposure: Don't start in the first place. If you smoke now, try hard to quit. See your doctor for help: there are a variety of options now that help tremendously. Smokers who manage to stay off cigarettes notice improvements in their skin almost immediately. And don’t feel like there’s no hope if you do smoke: your body begins to heal itself 12 hours after your last cigarette. Just think of how good you’ll feel.
Everyday stress can be even more damaging to you than a major trauma like losing your job or getting divorced. Chronic stress wears you out continuously over time, causing long-term injury to your body’s cells in the form of inflammation. Inflammation is how the body starts to heal itself. When an area is injured or under attack, the body sends more immune activity to that area through inflammation. But it’s such a powerful mechanism, and it’s got such destructive potential, that it’s very important that inflammation stay where it’s supposed to stay and end when it’s supposed to end. Researchers now think that chronic low-level inflammation might be the cause of most degenerative diseases. When inflammation is not needed but goes on, it causes tissues destruction. In the skin, one of the most common signs is redness. Over time, that
inflammatory process causes loss of elasticity and tone in the skin. A major control is through diet, which is why an anti-inflammatory diet is very important. In general, what you eat is more important to your skin than what you put on it. When you start taking essential fatty acid supplementation, such as fish-oil capsules, you can see, within six weeks, noticeable improvements in skin, hair and nails. The same changes happen through anti-inflammatory agents, such as ginger and turmeric supplements, and Co-Enzyme Q10, an antioxidant that occurs naturally in the body. It’s even better if you do both. Regular stress reducers such as exercise, meditation, or just calling friends can also buffer some of the effects of inflammation. Keep your blood pressure normal, eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, stay at a healthy weight, and eat less than 20 grams of saturated and trans fat every day, and you’ll slow your aging process way down. Taking a baby aspirin every day will make most women look and feel younger, as long as the doctor approves (it thins the blood so those already taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin or mega-doses of fish oils should not take aspirin). Aspirin decreases inflammation in your arteries, helping ensure increased blood flow to all organs, including the skin. The other supplement that has the same effect is omega-3 fatty acids (found in Fish Oil).
If you want to change your habits, spend time with people who have the habits you want. Your outside reflects your inside. By improving your health, you’re going to improve the way you look. Sleep While it’s true that lack of sleep does not cause dark circles, getting enough good-quality sleep does affect your overall health, which will show up in your skin. Shoot for at least 8 hours of restful sleep a night, in a calm, cool, allergen-free room. If you’re at all concerned with wrinkles around the eyes—or face for that matter—sleeping on the back is essential. Elevating the head will also help prevent puffy eyes, as it will prevent fluids from settling in the capillary-rich tissues beneath the eyes during the night. Sleeping on the side or face-down just reinforces face and eye wrinkles for 8 hours a night, every night, doctors tell us.
Some doctors point out that some dark circles are the result of a type of bruising: when tiny capillaries break and flood the area beneath the eyes and they do not drain, the results are dark circles. As we age, we lose the fat just beneath our skin that protects our blood vessels from trauma. Following are tips for dealing with bruises:
Eliminate dairy (substitute other calcium sources). Eat more fruits and vegetables (make sure they are organically grown).
Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils, all foods (such as deepfried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Take two to three grams of fish oil a day. Several supplements can also help:
Take anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger and turmeric. Take Zyflamend, a combination of ginger, turmeric, and other botanicals with anti-inflammatory properties.
Consider taking grape seed extract, a source of powerful antioxidant compounds called OPCS (oligomeric proanthocyanidins). Research has shown these compounds to be useful in protecting blood vessels, making them more elastic and less likely to leak.
Try some form of mind/body treatment - hypnosis may be especially helpful. Psychotherapy, biofeedback and guided imagery are other good options.
Try consulting a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Cut down on aspirin, ibuprofen, steroids, and vitamin E. (With the permission of your doctor, of course.) These medications can thin the blood and make you more susceptible to bruising.
Take 1500 mg daily of vitamin C. If you’re taking vitamin C supplements to reduce bruising, the recommended dosage is 1500 mg daily, but your kidneys must be fully healthy and functional; check with your doctor if there is any question. Vitamin C can strengthen collagen in the blood vessel walls, making bruising less likely.
Take 500 mg twice daily of bromelain. Bromelain, an extract from the pineapple, may help discolored areas heal more quickly.
Use a vitamin K cream. However, pregnant or nursing women and patients on Coumadin (warfarin) should avoid the use of topical vitamin K.
Wear sunscreen. Cumulative sun damage thins the skin, and blood vessels are more easily ruptured. By wearing sunscreen, you help prevent the loss of collagen, and hence keep your skin from thinning for longer.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to begin addressing your dark circles is to make absolute certain you’ve eliminated all possibility of allergens from your environment.
Your dark circles could very likely be caused by allergies. If your dark circles appear suddenly, they could be a symptom of an underlying condition. You could be experiencing an allergic reaction or even malnutrition. In this case, speak to your doctor about your dark circles and be sure to include a list of any recent changes in your life to help your doctor determine the cause of your dark circles.
Don’t discount the possibility that allergies might be the underlying cause of your under-eye problems just because you’ve never been diagnosed with allergies before. Many allergists are reporting that more and more people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are experiencing allergies for
the first time due to environmental changes brought on by global warming. All types of allergies are increasing—food, respiratory and seasonal. The increase is due to a number of factors, including our culture’s obsession with cleanliness, meaning we’re exposed to less microbes so our immune systems aren’t getting properly conditioned to them. And researchers have found that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grow plants that are 10 percent bigger but produce 60 percent more pollen. Health officials issue warnings when the pollen count is around 150 grains per cubic meter, but current levels in cities can soar to the thousands due to higher levels of carbon dioxide. Higher levels of carbon dioxide also make each pollen grain more allergy-potent. Add that to the fact that spring arrives earlier and earlier every year thanks to global warming, and we’ve got superpollen surrounding us longer and longer each year. Allergies could very well be causing your dark circles.
Consult a good allergist and find out what exactly you’re allergic to, if anything. You may want to consider an antihistamine, though allergenreducing techniques expose your body to less chemicals and remove the problem at the source. Although uncommon, food allergies may also be to blame, but this would need to be confirmed by an allergist. However, while food allergies are relatively uncommon, food sensitivities may be less rare and may be contributing to your problem. City pollution can get
to your eyes by the day's end, too, so you may want to use a HEPA filter in your home or office.
Allergic shiners get their name because they look like black eyes. They look more like black eyes in kids, but adults can get them as well. Veins from the eyes drain into veins in the nose, so when the nose gets congested, these under-eye veins back up, causing the dark bluish circles we all know and love. When your nose is blocked up, the veins around your eyes aren’t draining properly so they become larger and darker. Nasal congestion is often caused by nasal allergy or hay fever, chronic sinus infections, recurrent colds, or blockage of the nose by large adenoids. The nutrients that may benefit nasal congestion are Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, Vitamin E, Calcium, Potassium, Zinc gluconate, Germanium, Coenzyme Q-10, Protein, Proteolytic enzymes.
You might notice allergic shiners when you begin eating a new food. The most common food sensitivities include wheat, dairy, corn and newfangled foods, such as commercial pasteurized milk from hormonetreated cows, processed grains, fruits and veggies with residual pesticides, and other products that people had never eaten until just 60
several generations ago. Try a rotation or elimination diet to figure out if it is something you are ingesting, meaning eliminate one thing from your diet each week to see if your symptoms improve. Allergies can also be caused by commercial beauty products, such as under-eye creams or mascaras. The problem might also be environmental allergies, like dust mites, mold, pet dander, ammonia, perfume, new carpet, or many other things you are breathing. You should strongly consider applying some allergy-reduction techniques to your environment such as cleaning up indoor air pollution. (Such techniques follow at the end of this chapter).
Allergies make the eyes itch, and rubbing them can break the tiny capillaries that are dense beneath the thin skin in the under-eye area. Capillaries can be weak due to poor nutrition as well. The following nutrients may benefit capillary health: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Potassium, Calcium chelate, Magnesium Zinc, Protein, Essential fatty acids, Lecithin, Brewer’s yeast and water.
Poor Blood Circulation
If your dark circles are the result of stagnant blood pooling in the veins under the eyes due to nasal congestion or sinusitis or for whatever reason, exercise may help by increasing blood circulation. Veins can even stretch when blood pools, which is why it’s very important to increase circulation. The following nutrients may help circulation: Bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, Lecithin, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B6, Choline, Inositol, Vitamin E, Iodine, Niacinamide or nicotinic acid, Coenzyme q10, Germanium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc chelate, Copper chelate, Lipotropic factor, L-cysteine and L-methioine, Garlic tablets, Digestive enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes, Essential fatty acids.
If your dark circles under eyes are caused by sinus problem, then sinus cleansing might help you. Sinus cleanse is actually a process that cleans your sinus by letting warm salt water to pass through your nose and wash the nasal passages.
You can purchase Neti Pots online and at many health food stores. To perform the sinus cleanse, you fill the Neti Pot with warm water and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of non-iodized salt to the water. You then place the spout in one nostril, lean over the sink, tilt your head so the water travels through the plugged nasal passage and exits through the free nostril.
Gently blow your nose to get any leftover salt water out and do the other side.
It’s believed that the practice of nasal irrigation helps to clear allergens, dust, mucus and other irritants from your nasal passages. If you feel any discomfort during the process, blow your nose more gently after the wash and please seek professional advice if necessary.
Allergy-Proof Your Home
If you are suffering from dark circles, under-eye puffiness, eye bags, etc, taking steps to allergy-proof your environment is crucial to help isolate the source of your problem. Below please find recommendations on allergy-proofing your environment. Allergy Prevention
The best way to prevent an allergy is to recognize that you have one (see Signs of an Allergy below). Often people confuse an allergy with a cold or flu. Remember colds are short-lived and passed from person to person, whereas allergies are immune system reactions to normally harmless substances. Allergies are best prevented by avoiding exposure to
allergens in the first place. A good first step to avoiding allergens is to follow the various PREVENTIVE STRATEGIES outlined for each allergen or irritant. Signs of an Allergy Sneezing, watery eyes or cold symptoms that last more than 10 days without a fever.
• • • •
Repeated ear and sinus infections. Loss of smell or taste. Frequent throat clearing, hoarseness, coughing or wheezing. Dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses (allergic shines).
A crease just above the tip of the nose from constant upward nose wiping (allergic salute).
Dust mites are tiny microscopic relatives of the spider and live on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and curtains. These tiny creatures feed on the flakes of skin that people and pets shed daily and they thrive in warm and humid environments.
No matter how clean a home is, dust mites cannot be totally eliminated. However, the number of mites can be reduced by following the suggestions below. Preventive Strategies Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain relative humidity at about 50% or below.
Encase your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers (available from specialty supply mail order companies, bedding and some department stores).
Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in hot water (at least 130 - 140°F) to kill dust mites. Non-washable bedding can be frozen overnight to kill dust mites.
Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials and traditional stuffed animals with washable ones.
If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms with bare floors (linoleum, tile or wood) and remove fabric curtains and upholstered furniture.
Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth since this just stirs up mite allergens.
Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter to trap allergens that pass through a vacuum's exhaust.
Wear a mask while vacuuming to avoid inhaling allergens, and stay out of the vacuumed area for 20 minutes to allow any dust and allergens to settle after vacuuming.
Mold Several molds that grow both indoors and outdoors produce allergenic substances. These allergens can be found in mold spores and other fungal structures (e.g. hyphae). There is no definite seasonal pattern to molds that grow indoors. However outdoor molds are seasonal, first appearing in early spring and thriving until the first frost. Indoor molds are found in dark, warm, humid and musty environments such as damp basements, cellars, attics, bathrooms and laundry rooms. They are also found where fresh food is stored, in refrigerator drip trays, garbage pails, air conditioners and humidifiers. Outdoor molds grow in moist shady areas. They are common in soil, decaying vegetation, compost piles, rotting wood and fallen leaves. Preventive Strategies Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain relative humidity below 50% and keep temperatures cool.
Vent bathrooms and clothes dryers to the outside, and run bathroom and kitchen vents while bathing and cooking.
Regularly check faucets, pipes and ductwork for leaks. 66
When first turning on home or car air conditioners, leave the room or drive with the windows open for several minutes to allow mold spores to disperse.
Remove decaying debris from the yard, roof and gutters. Avoid raking leaves, mowing lawns or working with peat, mulch, hay or dead wood. If you must do yard work, wear a mask and avoid working on hot, humid days.
Pets & Animals
Many people think animal allergies are caused by the fur or feathers of their pet. In fact, allergies are actually aggrevated by: proteins secreted by oil glands and shed as dander proteins in saliva (which stick to fur when animals lick themselves) aerosolized urine from rodents and guinea pigs
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Keep in mind that you can sneeze with and without your pet being present. Although an animal may be out of sight, their allergens are not. This is because pet allergens are carried on very small particles. As a result pet allergens can remain circulatlng in the air and remain on carpets and furniture for weeks and months after a pet is gone. Allergens may also be present in public buildings, schools, etc. where there are no pets.
Preventive Strategies Remove pets from your home if possible. If pet removal is not possible, keep them out of bedrooms and confined to areas without carpets or upholstered furniture.
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If possible, bathe pets weekly to reduce the amount of allergens. Wear a dust mask and gloves when near rodents. After playing with your pet, wash your hands and clean your clothes to remove pet allergens.
Avoid contact with soiled litter cages. Dust often with a damp cloth.
Ragweed Pollen Ragweed and other weeds such as curly dock, lambs quarters, pigweed, plantain, sheep sorrel and sagebrush are some of the most prolific producers of pollen allergens. Although the ragweed pollen season runs from August to November, ragweed pollen levels usually peak in mid-September in many areas in the country. In addition, pollen counts are highest between 5 - 10 AM and on dry, hot and windy days.
Preventive Strategies Avoid the outdoors between 5-10 AM. Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.
Keep windows in your home and car closed to lower exposure to pollen. To keep cool, use air conditioners and avoid using window and attic fans.
Be aware that pollen can also be transported indoors on people and pets.
Dry your clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside. Otherwise pollen can collect on clothing and be carried indoors.
Grass Pollen As with tree pollen, grass pollen is regional as well as seasonal. In addition, grass pollen levels can be affected by temperature, time of day and rain. Of the 1,200 species of grass that grow in North America, only a small percentage of these cause allergies. The most common grasses that can cause allergies are: Bermuda grass Orchard grass
Johnson grass Kentucky bluegrass
Sweet vernal grass Timothy grass
Specifically: If you have a grass lawn, have someone else do the mowing. If you must mow the lawn yourself, wear a mask.
Keep grass cut short. Choose ground covers that don't produce much pollen, such as Irish moss, bunch, and dichondra.
Trees are the earliest pollen producers, releasing their pollen as early as January in the Southern states and as late as May or June in the Northern states. Trees can aggravate your allergy whether or not they are on your property, since trees release large amounts of pollen that can be distributed miles away from the original source.
Of the 50,000 different kinds of trees, less than 100 have been shown to cause allergies. Most allergies are specific to one type of tree such as: catalpa elm hickory olive pecan sycamore walnut
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or to the male cultivar of certain trees. The female of these species are totally pollen-free: ash box elder cottonwood date palm maple (red) maple (silver) Phoenix palm poplar willow
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Some people, though, do show cross-reactivity among trees in the alder, beech, birch and oak family, and the juniper and cedar family. Preventive Strategies If you buy trees for your yard, look for species that do not aggravate allergies such as crape myrtle, dogwood, fig, fir, palm, pear, plum, redbud and redwood trees or the female cultivars of ash, box elder, cottonwood, maple, palm, poplar or willow trees.
Avoid the outdoors between 5-10 AM. Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.
Keep windows in your home and car closed to lower exposure to pollen. To keep cool, use air conditioners and avoid using window and attic fans.
Be aware that pollen can also be transported indoors on people and pets.
Dry your clothes in an automatic dryer rather than hanging them outside. Otherwise pollen can collect on clothing and be carried indoors.
Some doctors tell us that we can affect our skin more profoundly by what we eat than what we put on it. How often have you improved your diet and noticed a change in your skin, or started taking supplements and been told that you’re glowing? I know I have.
Sugar should be avoided by anyone suffering from dark circles. If you’re still eating sugar, you must stop now. I was raised on sugar, taught to turn to it for emotional reasons, celebration, in times of stress, loneliness, joy, anger. I spent thirty years eating it compulsively, addictively, even though I knew it had no nutritional value and was sending my body on a hormonal roller coaster. But now I truly regret my lifetime of eating sugar: experts now believe that sugar ages the skin just like sun damage and smoking.
In a natural process called glycation, the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (or, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. The AGEs accumulate in your bloodstream and attack adjacent proteins, like collagen and elastin, which keep skin firm and taut. Damaged collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging. These aging effects start at about age 35 and increase rapidly after that. A high-sugar diet not only damages collagen, but it also affects what type of collagen you have. The most abundant collagens in the skin are types I, II, and III, with type III being the most stable and longest lasting. Glycation transforms type III collagen into type I, which is more fragile. And what’s perhaps worst of all: AGEs neutralize your body's natural
antioxidant enzymes, leaving you even more exposed to the main cause of skin aging—sun damage. But don’t panic! It’s never too late to change your ways and start turning back time. You can either build new collagen with the help of products or procedures or stop the glycation process by cutting sugar out of your diet. Limit added sugar in your diet to about 10% of total calories or around 10 teaspoons a day. However, most of us eat much more than that, most of it hidden in non-sweet foods. Read labels and find out the sugar content in the foods you are eating. Many foods contain large amounts of sugar hidden under names like “barley malt,” “corn syrup,” “dextrose,” “fruit juice concentrate,” “maltose,” maple syrup,” “molasses,” and “turbinado.” Avoid high fructose corn syrup, which produces more AGEs than other types. There are approximately 4 g of sugar to a teaspoon, so a nutrition bar with 12 g of sugar per serving equals 3 teaspoons of sugar. If you do eat sugar, eat it right after a meal and not on an empty stomach. The damage to proteins is worse if eaten on an empty stomach. Supplement your diet with at least 1 mg of vitamins B1 and B6, which have been proven strong AGE inhibitors. Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits, nuts and vegetables, and apply topical antioxidants.
Everyone knows that too much sodium in the diet can cause fluid retention, right? The dense network of blood vessels beneath the eyes can become engorged if we indulge in too much salt, increasing the pressure in the small capillaries in your eye area and causing puffy eyes and dark circles. It’s very important to know what an acceptable level of sodium is and how much you should cut from your diet in order to see improvements in your dark circles.
Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. And people with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than people with normal blood pressure. Not to mention the fact that high blood pressure leads to puffiness under the eyes and the tell-tale dark shadows we’re trying to avoid.
When most people think of salt, they think of shaking it on their food, or adding a pinch to cooking. But the salt we add ourselves makes up just a quarter of the salt we eat. Three-quarters (75%) of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy.
Lots of people think they don't eat a lot of salt, especially if they don't add it to their food. But don't be so sure!
In the US, 85% men and 69% women eat too much salt. And remember that three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from foods that already contain it. So you could easily be eating too much salt without realizing it. Here is a quick way to tell if a food is high in salt by looking at the nutritional information on the label.
Look at the figure for salt per 100g.
High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
If the amount of salt per 100g is in between these figures, then that is a medium level of salt.
Remember that the amount you eat of a particular food affects how much salt you will get from it.
Tips for cutting down
Here are a few practical tips to help you cut down:
* Check the labels on foods such as soups, sandwiches, pasta sauces and ready meals, so you can choose those with less added salt. * Add less salt to your cooking. * Get out of the habit of adding salt to your food. Try to remember to taste it first. * Cut down on salty snacks such as crisps and nuts, and heavily salted foods such as bacon, cheese, pickles and smoked fish. * Choose prepared foods that say 'no added salt'. * Choose lower-salt stock cubes, make your own stock, or add herbs and spices for flavor instead. * Watch out for soy sauce, brown sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup because these can be high in salt.
As I’m sure you already know, some fats are pretty good for you, and some are pretty bad for you. Without enough fat, we run into problems, such as skin inflammation, hair loss, and susceptibility to infection. Skin needs essential fatty acids in order to work properly and it's been proven that omega-3 fatty acids (found primarily in fish, but also in flaxseed and olive oils and walnuts) can boost our skin health. Going on a mega-dose
of fish oil supplements (3 grams a day) did wonders for my skin and dark circles, not to mention the cardiovascular, brain, and numerous other benefits. However, omega-3 fatty acids are a blood thinner, so it is essential for you to check with your doctor before starting a regimen of increased doses of this—or any—unregulated supplement. Once you’ve gotten your doctor’s approval, I would highly recommend taking up to 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of pollutant-free fish oil) a day. Probably no other single change you will make will make as dramatic a difference to the way you look and feel as quickly as this will. Omega-3’s reduce hollow eyes, puffiness and dark circles by plumping and firming the skin, giving your skin a dewy glow, expanding cardiovascular capacity so that pooled blood doesn’t stagnate, and reducing inflammation. And the benefits don’t stop there, but you can find out more about omega-3 fatty acids’ cardiovascular and mental health benefits online and at the book store. Once you start, you’ll wish you’ve been doing this for years.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in humans. Since it carries oxygen from the lungs to all areas of the body, an insufficient amount of iron can often cause fatigue and increased paleness in the skin. It’s possible—though unlikely--that your dark circles could be
related to anemia, but you should check this out with a doctor. Red meat, beans, fortified cereals and spinach are some examples of iron-rich foods.
Only 34% of Americans drink enough water according to an independent research group. Considering 75% are aware of the recommended amount of water intake per day, this number is shockingly low. 10% of Americans even admit that they drink no water at all. In addition to keeping our bodies functioning properly, drinking enough water can improve skin's appearance. When our bodies are well-hydrated, they perspire more efficiently, leaving skin clean and unclogged. Doctors advise drinking 810 glasses a day and more if you exercise or the weather is extremely hot.
If you're not getting enough fluids, or your sodium and alcohol intake is out of proportion to the amount of water you drink each day, you could be dehydrated. Dehydration can result in reduced circulation, too much salt can make your body retain water in strange areas, and both can result in the skin under your eyes looking blue and puffy. Drink at least eight glasses (64 oz.) of water a day (more if you have alcohol) to reduce
and get rid of dark circles under your eyes. The following nutrients may help alleviate or prevent fluid retention: Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Kelp, Silicon, SOD, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Potassium, Protein, L-taurine, L-carnitine, Low sodium, Garlic.
Inflammation is a normal part of the body's healing system. It shows up on the skin as localized redness, heat, swelling, and pain. What it means is the body’s sending increased immune activity and nourishment to an area of the body that is injured or under attack. Normal inflammation also occurs internally, and is not perceptible. But it is so powerful and potentially destructive that it must stay where it's needed in the body and end when its work has been accomplished. Otherwise it can cause tissue damage and disease. The body regulates the inflammatory process very carefully, using families of hormones that either intensify (upregulate) or diminish (downregulate) it. These hormonal controls need to be balanced in order to allow inflammation to occur when it is needed to repair injuries or defend against infection and stop it when the job is finished. The key
here, and what many people don't know, is that the foods we eat greatly influence these hormone levels and in turn either activate or inhibit internal inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet encourages the latter state in order to prevent damage to tissue and to promote basic good health. A healthy anti-inflammatory diet should include a wide variety of foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables and as few processed foods as possible. Each meal would ideally have some carbohydrates, some fat, and some protein. The basic goals are balance, variety, and freshness; meeting these requirements will ensure that you get all the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, and fewer of the unhealthy elements that are prevalent in many Americans' current diets. The body manufactures the hormones that control inflammation using essential fatty acids as building blocks. Essential fatty acids must be obtained from the diet; the body cannot make them. In general, hormones made from omega-6 fatty acids upregulate inflammation, while those made from omega-3 fatty acids downregulate it. Therefore, you should seek out foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include salmon, herring, black cod, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and omega-3 fortified eggs. You could also take a fish oil supplement.
The importance of inappropriate inflammation as a cause of age-related disease is a new concept in medicine, so not much attention has been given recently to designing an anti-inflammatory diet. Most of us are eating pro-inflammatory diets, primarily because we eat far more omega6 than omega-3 fatty acids, and also because of our choices of carbohydrate foods, our increasing consumption of refined and processed foods, and our failure to consume enough of the protective compounds in fruits and vegetables. Margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated oils are all pro-inflammatory. The best fats to eat are monounsaturated ones like those found in nuts, avocados, and extra-virgin olive oil. People are right to believe that saturated fat (found in real butter, for instance) is basically unhealthy; it can increase production of cholesterol in the body and should be consumed in very small amounts. Studies have shown that an anti-inflammatory diet produces optimum nutrition and health. People who follow it will feel better and have more energy; they will have better immune function, better looking skin and hair, and better mental and emotional health. Weight will tend to normalize on this diet as well, especially if people also get sufficient physical activity.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is a perfect example of an anti-inflammatory diet. It’s all about fresh, healthy food: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood, yogurt, olive oil and small amounts of wine. Food is locally grown and eaten in season, and Mediterraneans don’t eat processed food. They also focus on small portions of high-quality food. And healthy fats like olive oil and nuts keep them feeling fuller longer. In fact, Mediterraneans use olive oil in almost everything they eat, so they get the full benefit of oleocanthal, a compound in olive oil that may reduce inflammation and help revent conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases, as well as certain cancers. Their diet also contains a great deal of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the incidence of heart attacks, blood clots, hypertension, and strokes; and may prevent certain forms of cancer and lower the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. The traditional Mediterranean diet is practically vegetarian, with lots of fish and very little meat. As for vegetables, Mediterranean people feast on tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, capers, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, white beans, lentils, and chick peas. Many Mediterranean people drink a glass or two of wine each night with dinner. But portions are small, generally about three ounces (a third of a small wine glass or two shot glasses). When taken in small amounts, wine
has been linked to lower rates of heart disease, likely due to the presence of antioxidants like transresveratrol and oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC), which keep blood circulation healthy and prevent blood clots from forming. Whole grain foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, polenta, rice, and couscous are a key part of the Mediterranean diet. In their natural state, grains are full of cancer and heart disease-fighting fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. But stripping the grain’s outer layers to make white flour and white rice eliminates these benefits, reducing the healthy whole grain to little more than empty calories. Whole grains provide energy and calories with little fat, and because they’re slow to digest (thanks to their high-fiber content), they help you feel fuller longer. Fresh fruit is the typical daily dessert. You gain the fiber and nutrients in fruits like apples, grapes, and oranges, and you lose the added sugar, calories, chemicals, and unhealthy fats in sweet, processed desserts. Research supports the health boosting qualities of the Mediterranean diet. In a 12-year study of close to 2,500 people, researchers found those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a significant decrease in body weight, blood pressure, blood fats, and blood sugar and insulin levels -health benefits that contribute to a longer life expectancy than that of people who follow a Western diet. The Mediterranean diet is more than a diet—it’s more like a way of life. Walking instead of driving. Sharing meals with friends and family.
Spending time outdoors. Celebrating every day. These are the Mediterranean ways of life that have kept these people young and healthy and content for thousands of years. It’s about nurturing your life as a whole.
You know the deal about antioxidants, right? The sun, pollution, anything that damages us causes our skin (and other tissues) produces free radicals in our skin and our bodies, which are very destructive and aging over time, but which can be wiped out by antioxidants. So these guys are very important, both to eat and to slather on our skin at every opportunity.
Lycopene Wanna know what gives tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and pink grapefruit their brilliant red hues? It’s lycopene, one of the strongest antioxidants and a member of the carotenoid family - which also includes beta-carotene and lutein. Recently, a German study named another lovely red fruit as good source of lycopene: rosehips. The rosehip, the fruit of the rose plant (Rosa canina), has long been touted as an excellent source
of vitamin C. In fact, according to Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, rosehips contain more vitamin C, ounce for ounce, than oranges. Beta-Carotene Studies have also shown that the color orange can stimulate the appetite. So, the same color that draws us to that bag of crunchy cheese puffs can also attract us to a wide selection of nutritious fruits and vegetables, including oranges, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and apricots. In fact, the pigment that produces the varying shades of orange in these and other healthy foods is partially what makes them so healthful. Part of the carotenoid family, of which lutein and lycopene are also members, beta-carotene is a phytonutrient that functions as a powerful antioxidant. Pumpkins are an excellent source of beta-carotene, as well as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C, the pumpkin is a low calorie food that is high in fiber. In addition to keeping the digestive system functioning properly, fiber can help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Bromelain In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, pineapple contains bromelain. This enzyme not only aids in digestion, but helps to decrease inflammation. Implicated in a number of diseases, including arthritis, inflammation is also responsible for sagging skin, wrinkles, and the loss of muscle mass according to Dr. Nicholas Perricone.
Chlorella Growth Factor Chlorella is a rich source of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and lipoic acid. One of the most intriguing aspects of chlorella, however, is what is known as the Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF). In a study conducted at the Inje University, scientists found that CGF may promote the production of new keratinocytes, skin cells responsible for manufacturing keratin. A major building block of skin, hair, and nails, keratin helps to protect the skin. Anthocyanin In a study conducted by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, researchers discovered that mice that were fed blueberries performed better in motor skills and memory tests than mice who were not allowed to indulge in the juicy blue fruit. It seems that the compound that gives blueberries their characteristic blue hue, anthocyanin, is also a powerful antioxidant that protects neurons, cells in the brain and nervous system that are responsible for communicating important information to other cells of the body. Cinnamon Cinnamon was in ancient and medieval times thought more precious than gold. In The Perricone Promise, Dr. Perricone praises cinnamon for its ability to help regulate blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin
receptors. According to Dr. Perricone, high insulin levels create inflammation, which is a major factor in premature aging as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Supplements As you’ve probably surmised by now, supplements can be tremendously helpful in your overall nutrition and your fight against dark circles. Don’t think that supplements can replace good nutrition: whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes have complex enzymes and nutrients that work together in ways that scientists don’t even understand yet. Taking supplements is not in any way an acceptable replacement for eating a wholesome nutritious diet. However, supplements can add nutrients in amounts that would be impossible to get in a normal diet. For instance, you’d have to drink 12 glasses of red wine to get the amount of Reservatrol in a single Reservatrol supplement.
As we age, the fragile skin around our eyes starts to lose its elasticity. Fortunately, supplements can help us in the fight against aging. You need vitamin C in your system to form collagen. Vitamin C also helps strengthen blood vessel walls. Taking the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 60 mg of vitamin C per day will not achieve much – it will only prevent scurvy. To assist in collagen formation and re-vitalizing the fragile skin around the eyes, please consider taking an extra vitamin C
(ascorbic acid) supplement, after checking with your medical practitioner. I’ve started taking 3 grams of Vitamin C a day, but please check with your doctor to find out how much would be safe for you given your state of health and other medications. When taking a vitamin C supplement, look for one that contains bioflavonoids (vitamin P) as well, as these bioflavonoids add to the potency with which the vitamin will perform its work.
The dietary supplements grape seed extract and pycnogenol contain antioxidant pigments that may help to strengthen blood vessels. They should be used under medical supervision by people on "blood-thinning" drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) and aspirin. Certain foods, such as cranberries, blueberries, bilberries, tea (green and black), black currant, onions, legumes, and parsley also contain antioxidant pigments.
Include a multivitamin with iron tablet in your diet. Eat at least one green leafy vegetable a day. Eat vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin E and rich in vitamin A for the treatment of dark circles. I really believe in eating at least 10 fruits and vegetables a day.
To prevent dark circles take 2 magnesium tablets per day, especially if you're taking calcium.
The following supplements can make a tremendous difference in the way you look: Fish Oil 3 grams/day
Zyflamend (a natural anti-inflammatory supplement made up of potent antioxidants) Lycopom (a supplement made up of concentrated lycopene and pomegranate extracts) Vitamin C 3 grams/day
Grape Seed Extract Bromelain Asthaxanthan Multivitamin Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc/Vitamin D CoffeeBerry Green Foods (A mix of Spirulina, Algae, Chlorella, Bee Pollen, etc.) Soy Green Tea (ECGC) Aspirin
Please remember to always check with your doctor before beginning any supplement regimen. Everyone’s medical condition and age gives them different needs, and different medications interact differently with these supplements. Of particular concern are blood-thinners such as Comoudin: if you’re taking blood-thinners, check with your doctor before taking anything like fish oil or aspirin which will thin your blood even further and may cause internal bleeding. And if you’re suffering from dark circles, you may want to stay away from blood-thinners. While antiinflammatories generally improve your skin, there’s a chance they may make your dark circles worse by increasing bleeding in the capillary bed under the eyes. I also realize how expensive these supplements are, since I take them myself and I’m hardly rich. There are cost-effective sources online as well as in your neighborhood (I recommend Costco and Trader Joe’s). I’m going to post sources on my blog at www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com soon. However, if you can only afford to do a few of these, I’d start with the fish oil, calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D, multivitamin, and Vitamin C. That should get you off to a great start. Dairy
If you have been maintaining a healthy lifestyle, tried home remedies and eye creams and still had no success of getting rid of dark circles, then you might want to consider whether you have food allergy or food intolerance.
Dairy has been reported as one of the most common foods that causes allergies. A number of people find that when they eliminate dairy from their diets, their dark circles fade as well.
You can try a 30 day trial on dairy free recipes and closely record your dark circles condition. If the dark circles improve, dairy probably might be one of your forbidden foods. If that’s not it, resume dairy and try other foods.
The following herbs and teas come from the Indian ayurvedic tradition and are said to empower the body’s immune mechanism, detoxification
and cleansing abilities. Indian healers suggest you use the following for dark circles: *Make ginger tea * Eat raw garlic with your salads * Eat raw leaks and raw onions *Drink rosehip tea *Drink nettle tea and dandelion *Try catnip, nettle, dandelion, mint, spearmint. Add them to salads! *Eat some raw hot peppers with your salads. *Eat as many green leafy veggies as possible but avoid carrots *Eat lots of cucumber *Drink thyme tea *Make pumpkin seed milk - mix pumpkin seeds and water (not distilled or tap). Then blend together add some honey to taste. Make regular tea using this milk but not dairy
Using products that contain active ingredients to target and improve specific aging concerns is key for achieving results. Vitamins C, E and A are high on the list in anti-aging skin care. Products with active ingredients including water-binding ingredients, anti-irritants, cellcommunicating ingredients, and antioxidants are necessary to reverse your aging skin. However, they’re not effective if they are not used
frequently and consistently. You will find links to sites where you can purchase all the products I recommend below on my blog at www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com. Hydrocortisone You may have heard the trick of putting Preparation H under your eyes to tighten up your under-eye bags. It supposedly works because it contains hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory topical steroid that shrinks swollen tissue by constricting blood vessels, which is often used to stop the itching caused by chronic skin conditions like eczema and contact dermatitis. It's also an ingredient in vaginal and hemorrhoid creams. OTC topical steroids can contain just 1 percent hydrocortisone, which should be safe. Be careful, though, when applying the creams to sensitive spots such as the eyelids. Skin is thinner and more folds exist here, so skin hits skin often, which can cause medications to penetrate more deeply. This area is also prone to irritation and a crinkly, cigarette-paper appearance -- a good reason to avoid using hemorrhoid cream to de-puff eye bags. In fact, last year the makers of Preparation H issued a warning cautioning consumers to avoid applying hemorrhoid cream, which contains hydrocortisone, to the face. Besides, using too much topical steroids containing hydrocortisone can cause the skin to develop a resistance (called tachyplaxis) to the medication. Vitamin K
Most early products designed to get rid of dark circles were based on the long-held belief that Vitamin K cured under-eye circles. When taken internally, Vitamin K reduces the symptoms of blood clotting disorders. It is thought to strengthen the walls of veins and capillaries. However, so far no studies have definitely shown that Vitamin K has any effect on dark circles or other eye area symptoms when applied topically. But experts believe some dark circles are caused by veins and capillaries showing through the thin under-eye skin—which is why vitamin K, which appears to constrict capillaries, seems to help. If you want to try it for yourself, here are a few excellent products that are otherwise well-formulated (meaning they contain cell-communicating ingredients, antioxidants, effective moisturizers in stable packaging): Bioelements Multi-Task Eye Cream $35.00/.5 ounce
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. Factor-A Eyes for Dark Circles $77.00/60
NeoStrata (Exuviance) Bionic Eye Cream PHA 4 $50.00/.5 ounce
Perhaps the most important ingredients in a well-formulated eye cream are antioxidants. These skin-care nutrients fight aging by destroying free radicals, the unstable molecules that occur from sun exposure or pollution and that can literally gobble up the skin’s collagen supply. Antioxidants are nutrients that, when topically applied, disarm and neutralize free radicals before they harm skin -- so they can play an important role in antiaging skin care. Scores of studies demonstrate the power of topical antioxidants (particularly CoQ10 and vitamins C and E) to rejuvenate and protect skin.
Small proteins that stimulate the production of collagen, peptides have been on the cusp of antiaging skin care for a while. The excitement began several years ago with NIH-backed research on the ingredient Matrixyl (palmitoyl pentapeptide-3), showing its ability to stimulate collagen production in skin. Today, further studies on additional peptides continue to generate research news. Studies on formulations such as Argireline (acetyl hexapeptide-3) show they can produce a mild, Botox-like effect, inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters that keep facial muscles from forming wrinkles. Even newer peptide formulations act like growth factors, stimulating skin cells 100
to make a quicker turnover, much like young skin. Newer formulations seem to yield even more impressive results. Researchers are learning how to stabilize the peptides and at the same time inhibit the breakdown of collagen so we have better, more tailored peptide products. Products containing the newest versions of that peptide technology include:
Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Face Lifting Serum $75/1 ounce
Emerge Bio-Peptide Night Repair Cream with 10% peptides $43/1.12 ounces
Among the most medically studied topical antiaging treatments are retinoids -- derivatives of vitamin A. They are offered as prescription treatments such as Retin-A or Renova, but also available in weaker strengths in over-the-counter products, listed as the ingredient retinol. Retinoids are thought to work on aging skin by increasing collagen
production and decreasing collagen breakdown, and a ream of studies backs this up. But while many doctors believed only the prescription-strength retinoids were powerful enough to cause significant change in the skin, a 2007 study found that 0.4% retinol lotion applied three times a week for 24 weeks yielded significant difference in skin wrinkling when compared with a similar lotion without retinol used on a separate group of people in the study. The average age of study participants was 87, meaning it’s truly never too late to look younger. Over-the-counter products containing retinol include: Vichy Reti-C Intensive Corrective Care $31/30 milliliters Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensives $16.99/.5 ounce RoC Rein-OL Correxion Intensive Nourishing Anti-Wrinkle Care for Dry Skin $44.00/30 ml RoC Retinol Correxion Multi-Corrective Eye Cream $32.00/15 ml
If you are using Retin-A or any other retinoid prescribed by your physician (I like Tazorac), it is important that you treat your skin very gently. I urge you to continue using extremely gentle products on your skin. I will be posting a list of gentle cleansers on my blog www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com. Retin-A, although a wonderful
agent in many ways, can create its own problems including redness, flaking, peeling and itching. And don’t use any cleansers containing sodium lauryl or laureth sulfates. These two ingredients are entirely too harsh for the delicate skin of the face and body. Unfortunately, many products are filled with them, so please get into the habit of reading labels, just as you would with food.
If you’re suffering from crow’s feet or fine lines around the eyes, a prescription-strength retinoid such as Tazorac would be most helpful to turn back time. While over-the-counter preparations containing retinol or retinoic acid can help, prescription-strength creams will make the biggest difference. However, if your skin is too sensitive for Retin-A or its cousins, then an over-the-counter product containing retinol may help you. Retinoids boost cellular turnover and thicken collagen and elastin, causing skin to look and act younger. They erase facial lines and wrinkles, blotchy age spots and dark pigment caused by sun damage. The inserts say to avoid the delicate skin around the eyes, but I’ve been using Retin-A around my eyes for years, with great results. Again, ask your doctor, go slowly, and don’t substitute my judgment for your own. Many people’s eye areas are too sensitive to tolerate retinoids, and everyone needs to build up to using retinoids—a very little spread over the skin every other night, or even every three nights at first, until you’re used to it. Only a very small amount of Retin-A (pea-sized dab) is needed
to cover the entire face. It is normal to experience some redness, irritation, itching, stinging, or skin dryness when first using retinoids. These symptoms gradually disappear as the skin becomes acclimated to the treatment. Please note: Retinoids thin the very top layer of skin, which can make you more sensitive to sunlight and to procedures like chemical peels, laser treatments, or even a simple eyebrow waxing. Always tell your doctors or technicians prior to procedures that you’re on retinoids. If you're scheduled for a waxing or a peel, it's a good idea to stop using any Vitamin A-based products one week prior; and don't resume for another week. Also, avoid blackhead-removing strips, which can remove a top layer of skin more easily while on such medications. And check in with your doctor to be on the safe side. If you’re using any kind of retinoid or retinol-containing product, you must wear sunscreen at all times, no matter the weather. Your skin has even less natural sun protection than normal and must be protected in order to prevent aging. While retinoids do build collagen and elastin in the dermis, the deep layers of the skin, they do thin the epidermis, the top layers of skin, peeling it away. There’s a chance that the veins, capillaries and eyelid muscle beneath will show through even more when this happens. If so, this is probably a temporary effect: while the top layer peels relatively quickly, it takes a few months of regular use to thicken the lower layers.
But it’s worth it, because by doing so you’re literally making the skin beneath your eyes younger with more collagen and elastin than you would have otherwise had. I will post a full list of products containing retinoids and retinols on my blog www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com.
Just like retinoids, alpha, beta and poly-hydroxy acids can help the skin around your eyes. You have to be careful, because if this delicate skin isn’t accustomed to acids it can burn or sting. Go slowly and check with your doctor first. Use a lower concentration at first if you have sensitive skin—once again, your skin builds up tolerance. But once you’re up to speed, peels and eye creams with alpha- or polyhydroxy acids can aid in speeding the turnover of skin cells, helping to reveal smoother-looking skin underneath.
Consultants at cosmetics counters will try to convince you that you need to pay top dollar for tiny jars of super-premium eye creams that are specially formulated to treat that special area. Well don’t buy it. It’s all 105
marketing. Eye creams are all identical in ingredients to facial moisturizers—the only differences are the price, the packaging and the marketing. However, if you’re convinced you need an eye cream, the ones I recommend below all contain excellent ingredients and are wonderful options (even if they could be used anywhere on the face).
Dotting a little cream under the eye, mid-afternoon, can wake up a tired and sad looking eye. Some products use ingredients that have lightreflecting elements to brighten up the eye zone. If you use a gel eye moisturizer as opposed to a cream, it’ll have a cooling effect. Anything cool, like a refrigerated cucumber will help reduce puffiness.
The following eye moisturizers combine antioxidants, anti-irrritants, cellcommunicating ingredients, water-binding ingredients and other sophisticated anti-agers to form outstanding skin mimicking formulas.
Aveda Tourmaline Charged Eye Crème $30.00/.5 ounce Bioelements Multi-Task Eye Cream $35.00/.5 ounce Cosmedicine Opti-mologist Eye Cream with Light Diffusers $45.00/.5 ounce DDF – Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula Nourishing Eye Cream $45.00/.5 ounce Dr. Denese New York HydroShield Eye Serum $44.00/.5 ounce
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment $98.00/.5 ounce Estee Lauder Idealist Refinishing Eye Serum $48.00/.5 ounce Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. Factor-A Eyes for Dark Circles $77.00/60 Capsules Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair $125.00/.5 ounce Kinerase Pro+ Therapy Ultra Rich Eye Repair $85.00/.5 ounce MD Skincare by Dr. Dennis Gross Continuous Eye Hydration $45.00/.5 ounce N.V. Perricone M.D. Advanced Eye Area Therapy $95.00/.5 ounce N.V. Perricone M.D. Alpha Lipoic Acid Eye Area Therapy $50.00/.5 ounce N.V. Perricone M.D. Vitamin C Ester Eye Therapy $50.00/.5 ounce NeoStrata (Exuviance) Bionic Eye Cream PHA 4 $50.00/.5 ounce Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum $18.99/.5 ounce Pevonia Botanica Evolutive Eye Cream $44.00/.7 ounce Sense Skin Care by Usana Eye Nourisher $30.00/.4 ounce Shiseido Bio-Performance Super Eye Contour Cream $52.00/.53 ounce Skinceuticals Eye Cream Firming Treatment $55.00/.67 ounce Wei East China Herbal Eyes Alive $35.00/.7 ounce
Serums are a great way to deliver concentrated antioxidants and antiirritants to your skin so long as they are packaged in ways that don’t harm the delicate active ingredients. For example, many products containing antioxidants are packaged in jars that you have to screw and unscrew every time you use it. Antioxidants break down and lose their effects when they’re exposed to light and air, so once you’ve been using the jar for about a week, you’ve pretty much ruined the product. The following serums are mainly marketed for use on the face; however, most eye products differ little in formulation from those created for the face. The only difference is they’re put in smaller packaging, and they cost more. Please don’t substitute my judgment for your own. If you’re unsure about using a product near your eyes, don’t do it. Don’t ever put anything in or near your lashes. Ask your doctor if you’re uncertain about using products near your eyes. The following serums all meet my high standards of containing state-ofthe-art ingredients that will communicate with your skin and will not break down in their packages.
DDF – Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula C3 Plus Serum $62.00/.5 ounce. All the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C with the tightening benefits of peptides. Especially good for someone with acne-prone skin.
Dr. Denese New York Hydroseal Hand & Decollete Serum $35.00/3 ounce. An impressive mix of silicones, plant oil, skin-identical ingredients, retinol, antioxidants. For normal–to–dry skin. Good Skin All Firm Rebuilding Serum $25.00/1 ounce. Intriguing mix of ingredients, including plankton extract. Silky texture works for many skin types. Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum, Fragrance Free $18.99/1.7 ounces. For normal to slightly oily skin. Clinique Repairwear Deep Wrinkle Concentrate for Face and Eyes $55.00/1 ounce. A state of the art product with 72 cell-communicating ingredients. Suitable for oily skin. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrate Recovery Boosting Treatment $85.00/1 ounce. Contains a strain of bacteria found in the human body called bifidobacteria supposed to enhance immunity and decrease bad bacteria. Also contains five times as much antioxidants as original ANR serum. Estee Lauder Diminish Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Treatment $80.00/1.7 ounces. Contains the same amount of retinol as most products but loaded with antioxidants and other sophisticated ingredients. For normal to dry skin.
Estee Lauder Perfectionist [CP+] with Poly-Collagen Peptides Correcting Serum for Line/Wrinkles/Age Spots $55.00/1 ounce. With peptides and skin-identical ingredients. Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Serum $60.00/1 ounce. Her bestselling product, and for good reason considering its potent ingredients in stable packaging. MD Formulations Vit-A-Plus Illuminating Serum $65.00/1 ounce. The benefits of AHA’s at the right PH with retinol and a variety of antioxidants in stable packaging. Not for acne-prone or sensitive skin, but recommended for normal to dry skin. MD Skincare by Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Radiance Renewal Serum $95.00/ 1 ounce. Great for pigment issues caused by sun damage. Contains arbutin and uva ursi leaf extract as well as numerous antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients. MD Skincare by Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Serum $90.00/1 ounce. Contains an impressive amount of Vitamin C and other antioxidants such as quercetin, willow bark, and kudzu. Nu Skin 180 Night Complex $64.60/1 ounce. Supports skin’s structural integrity and supplies antioxidants. For normal to dry skin.
Nu Skin Celltrex CoQ10 Complete $47.50/.5 ounce. Supplies several antioxidants and anti-irritants for all skin types. Prescriptives Super Line Preventer Xtreme $48.00/1 ounce. Loaded with potent ingredients for all skin types. Shaklee Enfuselle C+E Repair P.M. $49.95/1 ounce. Vitamins A, C and E help protect and repair all skin types.
Readers’ Recommendations You’ll find a form on my blog www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com where you can write in your best recommendations. Please include details and why these products or techniques work so well for you. In return, I’ll send you a free advance copy of my next book. “Serious Skin Care Phase Out really works to diminish circles. It's a daily under-eye moisturizer, also available from the Home Shopping Network. It took me 30 years to find these products, but they work well for me. Good luck!”
“Amy Michelle Cosmetics Eye & Throat Creme is what I use to lighten my dark circles and let me tell you, it really does work! It has a carrot extract
in it and something called eye bright that is supposed to safely lighten your dark circles over time. I can definitely tell a difference!”
“To battle crow's feet you'll want to use a retinoid wrinkle reducer that hydrates. I like MD Forte Skin Rejuvenation Eye Cream. Another great option is Estee Lauder Perfectionist Power Correcting Patch.”
“I have been using Prevage Night Cream under my eyes and it has lightened my dark circles. I use it morning & night. It seems to be helping my fine lines as well but not the deep ones. I will keep using it.”
“I have used the Prevage eye cream and really noticed an increase in firmness around my eye area as well as diminished darkness. “
“I've been getting good results with Hylexin. It takes some time to see the result, so you've got to be patient and don't expect it to disappear overnight. I've recently topped it with StriVectin-SD Eye Cream. I find the results even better. I'll stick to this regime for the time being.”
“I have tried the ROC product and I didn't like it at all, so I switched to Kate Somerville...it took a little bit but I now see some pretty good results, dark circles? What dark circles? I now say.”
“I *had* very dark circles under my eyes all my life. I discovered this product: Alyria Anti-dark circle night serum almost six months ago and it has transformed my eyes. I have a little bit of purple left but I'd say my eyes have improved 80%. I use most of the Alyria line. It is fantastic, the best I've ever used.”
Considering that some people’s dark circles are caused by melanin pigmentation which is switched on by sun damage, it is imperative to both prevent further damage and protect the damage that you’ve reversed with treatments with proper sun protection. If you want healthy, younger looking skin, the first thing any dermatologist will tell you is stay out of the sun, especially during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) as much as possible). And the second thing they will say, sunscreen is without a doubt a must if you want to prevent and improve aging skin. You also have to reapply it every two to three hours since it breaks down in heat. Use enough sunscreen—most people don’t. That means a teaspoonful on your face, every morning. Wear a hat and tint your car windows.
A good sunscreen must contain antioxidants which studies have shown increase sunscreens’ efficacy. All the sunscreens I recommend below do contain beneficial amounts of antioxidants. And of course sunscreens won’t help your eyes unless you use them around your eye areas. Some people are hesitant to do so for fear of irritating this sensitive area, but just experiment, don’t go too close to the lash line, and try products formulated for sensitive skin if you really have a problem. As always, ask your doctor. And while we’re on the subject, never go outside without big broad spectrum-protecting sunglasses that cover all the area around your eyes—both below the eyes and wrapping around the crows’ feet. This will do as much to protect aging of the skin as any creams you could buy.
Most of us know about the dangers of burning UVB rays, but you might be less aware of the damaging and aging effects of UVA. These are the ones that go deep -- UVA rays cause the deep collagen and elastin damage that contributes to aging skin. You can remember the difference with this mnemonic device: UVA means you AGE, UVB means you BURN. While most sunscreens effectively protect against UVB rays, only sunscreens containing the ingredients titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Parsol 1789 (otherwise known as avobenzone), Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) or Helioplex will protect against damaging UVA rays.
Helioplex is composed of avobenzone, oxybenzone and the solvent 2-6diethylhexyl naphthalate, a solvent that’s supposed to make avobenzone more stable. Helioplex provides good UVA protection, but both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide screen a greater range of light (all the way to 700 nanometers)—UVA rays are only 320-400 nanometers. I recommend the following sunscreens containing Helioplex: Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 45 Daily Moisturizer $11.99/1.7 ounces Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SunBlock SPF 70 $9.99/3 ounces Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30 $9.99/4 ounces Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock SPF 45 $9.99/4 ounces Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock SPF 70 $9.99/4 ounces
Mexoryl SX Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is an overly hyped but effective UVA –protecting sunscreen developed by L’Oreal. Again, it is not more effective than zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or even avobenzone (if stabilized), but it does the job. I recommend the following sunscreens containing Mexoryl, though it should be noted neither one contain antioxidants:
LaRoche-Posay Anthelios 15 Sunscreen Cream SPF 15 $29/3.4 ounces Lancome UV Expert 20 $35/3.4 ounces
Titanium dioxide and Zinc Oxide Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the unsung heroes of the sunscreen game. Great for people with sensitive skin, they screen the broadest spectrum of light. They’re physical blocks, meaning they block the light with ground mineral particles instead of absorbing the light the way chemical screens such as avobenzone and others do. They’re considered more “natural” than chemical blocks. I recommend the following sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide: Almay Sun Protector for Body SPF 30 $8.99/4.2 ounces Almay Sun Protector for Face SPF 30 $8.99/4.2 ounces BeautiControl Cell Block-C New Cell Protection SPF 20 $28.50/1 ounce Blue Lizard Australian Suncream Sensitive SPF 30 $13/5 ounces Clinique Super City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 40 $17/1.4 ounces
Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF 15 $16.50/1.4 ounces Clinique Sun-Care Body SPF 25 Sun Block $18.50/3.4 ounces Good Skin All Bright Hand Cream SPF 15 $16.00/1.7 ounces Good Skin All Calm Gentle Sunscreen SPF 25 $12.00/1.7 ounces Jason Natural Sunbrellas Active Sunblock SPF 40 $11.00/4 ounces Jason Natural Sunbrellas Complete Sunblock SPF 26 $11.00/4 ounces Jason Natural Sunbrellas Family Sunblock SPF 36 $11.00/4 ounces Jason Natural Sunbrellas Kids Sunblock SPF 46 $11.00/4 ounces Keys Solar Rx Broad Spectrum Sunblock SPF 30+ $22/3.4 ounces Kiss My Face Sun Screen SPF 18 $9.00/4 ounces Mary Kay TimeWise Day Solution Sunscreen SPF 25 $30.00/1 ounce NeoStrata (Exuviance) Daytime Protection Cream SPF 15, PHA 10 $33.00/1.75 ounces NeoStrata (Exuviance) Oil Free Lotion SPF 15, PHA 4 $30.00/1.75 ounces Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 $8.99/4 ounces
Obagi Nu-Derm Physical UV Block SPF 32 $40.00/2 ounces Physicians Formula Sun Shield Extra Sensitive Skin SPF 25 $9.95/6 ounces Prescriptives All-Weather Friend Daily UVA/UVB Sun Protection SPF 40 $26.50/1 ounce SkinMedica Solar Care Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 30+ $39.00/3 ounces Stila Petal Infusions Skin Visor SPF 30 $24.00/2.5 ounces
There’s some lingering uncertainty about the stability of avobenzone resulting from a story that appeared in Health magazine (May/June 1998) reporting on research conducted by Robert Sayre, a physicist in photobiology at the University of Memphis, suggesting that avobenzone may break down in as little as 30 minutes when exposed to sunlight. But those results have never been replicated after years and years of rigorous testing. Avobenzone is absolutely stable and there is substantial research showing that to be the case. There is absolutely no reason to avoid
avobenzone when shopping for effective, broad-spectrum sunscreens unless you have a known allergy to it. I recommend the following sunscreens containing avobenzone: Almay Daily Moisturizer for Normal/Combo Skin with Grape Seed SPF 15 $11.99/4 ounces Artistry by Amway Moisture Rich Protective Moisturizer SPF 15 $28.65/2.5 ounces Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Treatment SPF 15 $19.00/1 ounce Avon Ageless Results Renewing Day Cream SPF 15 $14.50/1.7 ounces Avon Anew Advanced All-in-One Max SPF 15 Lotion $16.50/1.7 ounces Avon Retroactive+ Day Defense SPF 15$25.00/1.7 ounces Avon Hydra-Radiance Moisturizing Day Lotion SPF 15 $12.00/4 ounces Clinique Sun-Care UV-Response Face Cream SPF 30 $15.50/1.7 ounces Coppertone Ultra Sheer Faces Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 $9.69/3 ounces DDF – Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula Moisturizing Photo-Age Protection SPF 30 $28.00/4 ounces Dove Essential Nutrients Day Lotion SPF 15 $6.59/4.05 ounces
Good Skin All Right Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 $12.00/1.7 ounces Good Skin Clean Skin Oil-Free Lotion SPF 15 $15.00/1.7 ounces Kiss My Face Face Factor Face + Neck SPF 30 $10.00/2 ounces Mary Kay SPF 30 Sunscreen $14.00/4 ounces Neutrogena Active Breathable Sunblock SPF 30 $9.99/4 ounces Neutrogena Active Breathable Sunblock SPF 45 $9.99/4 ounces Neutrogena Healthy Skin Visibly Even Daily SPF 15 Moisturizer $13.09/1.7 ounces Neutrogena Pore Refining Cream SPF 15 $14.99/1 ounce Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30 $9.99/3 ounces Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 45 $9.99/3 ounces Neutrogena UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 45 $8.99/4 ounces Nu Skin Sunright Body Block SPF 15 $13.97/3.4 ounces Nu Skin Sunright Body Block SPF 30 $13.97/3.4 ounces Olay Regenerist Enhancing Lotion with UV Protection SPF 15 $18.99/2.5 ounces
Olay Regenerist UV Defense Regenerating Lotion SPF 15 $18.99/2.5 ounces Peter Thomas Roth Uber-Dry Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 $26.00/4 ounces
You’ll find links to where you can find most of these products on my blog at www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com.
Take two pieces of cotton wool, large enough to cover your eyes, and soak them in rose water (an inexpensive product that you can buy at the drug store) and place them over your closed eyelids while lying down. Close your drapes and switch off your lights. I find that doing it in the dark really gives your eyes a relaxing break for both your eyes and your stressed out body. Switch off your television during this period of rest, 122
and instead listen to your favorite soothing music. Relax your eyes for at least 20 – 30 minutes.
Eye exercises may be of great benefit to the general health of your eyes, but first check with your optometrist or eye specialist before starting such a program.
* Sit relaxed and while breathing normally but deeply, and look at a spot between your eyes, above the bridge of your nose. Keep looking at this spot for a count of five, and then relax the eyes. Next look at the tip of your nose, also to the count of five and relax.
After doing these two exercises try the following:
* Relax and look straight in front of you. While inhaling look right as far as possible, without turning your head, and when exhaling, return the eyes to the front position. Relax and when inhaling again look left as far as possible without turning your head, and when exhaling return your eyes to the front again. Repeat three times.
*Sit up straight and look down while inhaling and slowly roll your eyes to the right and then to the top, in a circular movement. When your eyes have reached the top, looking towards your eyebrows, start exhaling while moving your eyes left and downwards in a circular movement. Repeat three times. This exercise can also be done by cupping your palms over your eyes to block out the light – but take care that the inside of your palm does not touch your eyes or eyelashes.
Fluid retention can be a major cause of swollen eyes, and here you will have to look at your general health and any other underlying medical condition. Diuretic pills (to remove excess water from your body) can be helpful, but many people do have side effects from them.
Vitamin C is a natural diuretic and an increase in this vitamin will not only assist in removing excess water from your body, but will also assist with collagen formation as discussed above. I am sorry to keep harping on the importance of vitamin C, but it is one of the most amazing and underrated vitamins around and can have a great effect on your general well being.
If the issue is too much water retention, then taking diuretics will be helpful. Sometimes you can’t take diuretics. Taking 1 teaspoon of baking soda reduces constipation. Of course, if you want to rid of a lot of water, which I don't recommend except for emergency, you can take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to 1/2 glass of water. This could cause loose stools. Once that happens you can drink more water, but stay away from fried foods, salty snacks, etc. Taking some electrolyte drinks, sometimes called Oral Rehydration therapy, can also restore electroytic imblance as well.
In Chinese Medicine, dark circles are a sign of kidney exhaustion due to working too much. If you don't slow down, your body will slow you down with illness. You need to be balanced and eat right and get enough sleep. Otherwise all the creams in the world are not going to resolve those dark circles.
Although orthodox medicine does not always believe in the benefits of going on a detoxifying diet, I have personally witnessed the effect such a cleansing diet can have on the general health of a person, and particularly on dark circles under the eyes.
It would be best to check with your medical professional before going on such a diet, but a break in your normal diet pattern, and giving your body a bit of a break, could do you a world of good.
Some natural healers do believe that dark circles under the eyes and bags under your eyes are indicative of a toxic build-up in the body – and although some people might not agree with this belief, a cleansing diet now and again, is not a bad idea. You could try a 21-day cleanse by giving up animal products, alcohol, sugar, gluten, dairy, in other words everything that stresses the body. Some people argue that quitting dairy can rid you of your dark circles. However, if that’s too much for you, there are a variety of other cleanses that would be beneficial. Check with your doctor and find a plan that suits you.
Reduce Toxic Buildup
Reducing toxic buildup is something like a Yin and Yang approach. You need to reduce toxic buildup both ways to really work. First the Yin, which requires oxidative therapy, such as 1 glass of water, to which you add 5-6 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Take it a couple of times until you begin to notice increased energy and circulation and notice that your skin starts clearing up. A longer term cleanse, at least for me, required I
drink it for a couple of days, or you can do shorter term, like only a day. So this is just the Yin of it. Hydrogen peroxide is well known for detoxification of various insecticides, pathogens, bugs, chemical toxins that buildup in your body for sometime. It destroys them by oxidation. There was an outstanding underground video from Taiwan which demonstrated that insecticide no longer exists upon ozonation of meats and vegetables in water for only a couple of minutes. So not only can you try peroxide, you can also ozonate your room.
Now the Yang of it. This requires a mild detoxification by reduction, as opposed to oxidation. The simplest one I can come up with is the following:
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda + 1 whole lemon + 1/2 glass of water taken twice, once in the bedtime and once in the morning. Or use ascorbic acid of 1/2 teaspoon in place of whole lemon is up to you. This is a simple method of detoxification.
Colon cleansing may be beneficial if you believe your dark circles are a result of toxic build-up and system blockage in the body. Practitioners
believe that colon cleansing allows the body to strengthen, heal and fortify itself. The following are great colon cleansing recipes:
Colon Cleanse Drink:
1 tablespoon psyllium seed husk 1 tablespoon bentonite clay 1/2 cup fresh non-citrus juice 2 cups of water
Mix all in blender or shaker and drink as fast as possible.
Colon Cleanse Bath: 1 cup sea salts 2 cups baking soda 1 cup Epsom salts 1 to 2 tablespoons glycerin per bath
Makes one jar. Add a handful to a hot bath.
Colon Cleanse Tea:
¼ inch Ginger Root (grated)
1 tsp Honey 1 tsp Chamomile 1 tsp Peppermint
Steep in boiling water for a few minutes. Strain and enjoy.
Colon Cleanse Juice:
6 oz Celery juice 1 oz Wheatgrass Juice 1 oz Spinach juice 1 oz Cabbage juice 1 oz Parsley or Alfalfa Sprouts Blend in a blender and enjoy.
You might not smoke yourself, but even secondary smoke can affect the way your eyes look. Most people will have a violent reaction to smoke, such as the eyes turning bloodshot or watery, while others will manifest their allergy as swollen eyes.
If smokers surround you, try and introduce as much fresh air as possible, and if you yourself smoke, take extra vitamin C, as smoking kills off large amount of this vitamin, every time you light up.
If you find that your eyes are more swollen in the morning, look at increasing the height of your pillows and sleeping on your back. The raising of your head could assist with draining excess fluids as well. You could also try placing a cotton ball with lavender essential oil on it inside your pillow case, since lavender is a natural sleep-aide. And allergyproofing your bedroom is essential for sufferers of dark circles, even if you don’t think you have allergies. Most people are at least sensitive to dust. Allergy-proofing my bedroom made the biggest difference to my eyes of anything I did.
Massage around the eyes can assist the drainage of the under-eye tissues. But it must be done correctly, with concentration and not be
rushed through. Clean your face well and then use a very good, light eye cream or textured oil (I recommend Camellia Seed Oil as it’s rich in antioxidants) as massage medium to prevent stretching or stressing this fragile skin. If you can’t find camellia seed oil, you might want to look at almond oil, since this oil is wonderfully emollient, without being heavy and greasy. You might want to try putting 4 drops of lavender essential oil into 1 oz of sweet almond oil for a fragrant treat. Another oil that you might consider is jojoba oil, but because of the high cost of pure jojoba oil, it might be a bit expensive.
Whenever you touch the skin around your eyes, please use your ring finger (your weakest finger), keep your touch SOFT and do not stretch the skin. You don’t want to pull or tug the skin at all because any stretching damages the collagen and elastin—the very fibers you’re trying to preserve.
If you have long hair, tie it away from your face before doing any facial massage to prevent the oil or cream getting into your hair. When you’re finished, remove the oil from your eyes by gently washing the area with a very gentle cleanser, or remove the excess oil by blotting it with a tissue. Make sure to remove excess oil or cream from the corners of your eyes,
otherwise you might land up with eyes that are even more baggy or swollen. Ideally, the massage should be done at night, and the eyes can stay closed and rest until morning. So, eye massage should be performed when going to bed.
* Massage # 1
Place the ring finger (because it is not too strong) of each hand into the inner corners of each eye and press down gently to the count of three seconds, relax and then slide the fingers gently underneath your eyes towards your temples. When reaching the temples, gently massage in a circular movement. Slide your fingers back gently to the inner corners of your eyes again and repeat seven times.
* Massage # 2
Place the tip of your right hand middle finger gently where your nose starts (point # 2) and slide it up and down to the tip of your nose (point # 3) and back 10 times. Then, by using the fingertips of both the middle fingers, gently press towards your face on the point on your cheek and nostrils meet (point # 4). Release the pressure, and with small circular movements, softly massage all the way up to your temple, following the bone structure under your eyes – taking about 10 seconds to do so.
Massage your temples for 5 seconds and then slide your fingers, going back the same way, back to the starting point and repeat the exercise 5 times.
And while you’re at it, the acupressure point for eyes is on the mount below the index finger of your palms. Pressing this mount may help.
Green tea contains an anti-inflammatory, called EGCG, that reduces the fluid build-up that causes dark circles and under-eye bags. Brew two green tea bags, let them cool and then use them as a compress on your eyes for 10 minutes. For maximum benefit, I recommend you buy the green tea in loose-leaf form and place the green tea leaves in a separate non-bleached tea bag. The higher quality green tea has much more of the catechin, EGCG.
Cover your eyes with cotton soaked in luke warm milk for 15 minutes everyday to help remove the dark circles around your eyes.
Cut two slices of apple and keep them on your closed eyelids for about ten minutes.
Dip cotton pads into freshly extracted mint juice, flatten them and place them on closed eyelids for 10 to 15 minutes. Or, apply crushed mint around the eye.
Mix one teaspoon flour, one teaspoon milk, a pinch of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon honey and squeeze half lemon juice. Apply it on face and under the eyes and remove after 10 to 15 minutes.
Make a paste of turmeric powder with pineapple juice for dark circles under the eyes.
Dip some carrot leaves in hot water and leave for a few minutes. Drink the liquid 3 times a day before meals.
Dip cotton balls in rose water or cold water and keep under the eyes for 10 minutes.
Freeze parsley in an ice-cube tray filled with water. Use the parsley cubes instead of eye creams to reduce the dark circles and puffiness. Parsley is packed with chlorophyll which helps fade darkness, while the ice cubes reduce the swelling.
Takes vasoline, put it on a metal spoon and freeze it for 15 minutes. Then apply it to the eyes for a few minutes.
The peel of a potato can also be placed on the eye. Do this every night before going to sleep. Since potato peels can attach better to the eyelids, this method is preferable over cucumber slices. Slice one small piece off of a potato, and cut the slice in half. Put each slice under your eyes and leave them under your eyes for 20 minutes. Prepare a mixture by adding equal quantity of potato and cucumber juices. Dip a cotton swab in this mixture and put the cotton on eyelids and keep for 20 minutes. Wash your eyes with cold water.
Prepare a paste of nutmeg in milk. Apply this on and around the eyelids before going to bed.
This may sound too cliche to be true, but slices of cucumber (or cucumber juice) applied to the skin around the eyes can help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Cucumber slices help to lighten the skin and also have a soothing, refreshingly cool sensation when applied. Lie down with the cucumber slices on your eyes for at least 5 minutes, up to 10 minutes. Cucumbers don't just help dark eye circles - they also help soothe your eyes after a long day of staring at the computer screen. But if you get cucumber juice in your eyes, they'll sting like crazy. So be careful. Cucumber is very beneficial in reducing dark circles due to its cooling effects. Cut thin slices of cucumber and place them directly over the eyes. Keep them for about fifteen minutes. Do this every night before going to bed. It will give a restful sleep and will reduce the dark circles in the morning. Cucumber slices are very beneficial when the dark circles are caused due to stress. Grate some cucumber and freeze in an ice tray. Massage frozen cucumber cubes onto eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles. Slices of cool cucumber are also very good as they not only soothe tired eyes but also have a natural bleaching effect on that area.
Take out the juice of the cucumber. Prepare a mixture of lemon juice, lanolin cream and cucumber juice and apply around the eye for 10-15 minutes.
This nifty little remedy for dark eye circles works very well for some people, and not at all for others. Take a Vitamin E capsule and carefully pierce it with a pin or needle. Dab a bit of the oil on your fingertip and pat it into the skin under your eyes. This remedy can help reduce dark eye circles and puffiness as well. Wash off with a mixture of honey and egg white if you want.
When you're done, swallow the rest of the capsule with a glass of water.
The Indian remedy for dark eye circles
This recipe comes from a fashion model in India. She uses this particular preparation on her dark circles every morning before covering them up with a thick concealer. 138
You will need: 1 tsp tomato juice 3-4 drops of lemon juice a pinch of turmeric powder enough white flour to make a paste
• • • •
Mash these ingredients together into a medium-thick paste and dab it under your eyes. After fifteen minutes, wash the paste away. This should lighten the dark circles and address puffiness to some degree. And it should be noted that turmeric is a potent antioxidant.
When washing your eyes after using any of these remedies for dark eye circles, use a washcloth soaked in cold water. Cold water helps to constrict the blood vessels under the eyes and can also reduce puffiness. Close your eyes and cover them with a cold washcloth for about five minutes, several times throughout the day. That will help constrict your blood vessels, minimizing darkness, and it may help minimize tissue swelling and eliminate some of the darkness. Put hot and cold clothes alternatively under eyes for 10 minutes. Then apply some almond oil on the dark circles before going to bed.
Buy a box of unflavored gelatin (such as Knox) from the grocery store. Add 1 teaspoon of the gelatin mix to a bowl, and mix it with one tablespoon of boiling water. Stir for one minute. Test it on your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot. Using a cotton ball, pat it under your eyes as you would an eye cream. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Then just rinse it off. Gelatin is very high in Vitamin K & Biotin. It will not remove your dark circles on the first application (but you may notice a difference), but if you do it daily for a week, and then 2-3 times a week for maintenance, you should notice a reduction in dark circles.
Yoga’s practitioners believe that restorative yoga positions, or asanas, help relieve the effects of illness and chronic stress in several ways. First, such asanas provide a supportive environment for relaxation. Second, each restorative sequence is designed to move the spine in all directions. Third, a well-sequenced restorative practice also includes an inverted pose, which reverses the effects of gravity on blood and lymph fluid, improving heart function. Fourth, restorative yoga alternately stimulates
and soothes the organs, improving the exchange of oxygen and waste products across cell membranes.
Yoga’s practitioners believe the body is permeated with energy, including prana, the masculine energy, which resides above the diaphragm, moves upward, and controls respiration and heart rate; and apana, the feminine energy, which resides below the diaphragm, moves downward, and controls the function of the abdominal organs. Yogis believe restorative yoga balances these two aspects of energy so that the practitioner is neither overstimulated nor depleted.
Yoga will leave you feeling both stimulated, refreshed and relaxed. Regular practice can boost circulation and improve lymphatic drainage, which might help reduce your dark circles.
Rest Your Eyes
The most important thing to remember is that you must not stress your eyes too much. Even when you are working throughout the day, take some time out (even ten minutes will do) to wash your eyes with cool water and then keep them shut. Do not think about any stressful
thoughts when your eyes are shut. Divert your mind in thinking about beautiful things in nature. When you open your eyes after the ten minutes are over, you will feel as refreshed as though you have had a siesta.
Chapter Seven Conclusion
I realize I’ve just thrown a lot of information at you, and it might seem overwhelming. However, if you apply just some of the recommendations in this book, you’ll begin to see a difference with your dark circles. Once you become accustomed to those changes, you can gradually fold in more and more, and before you know it, dark circles will become a thing of the past for you. And as an added bonus, since many of the recommendations you’ve read about here benefit your skin, looks and over-all health inside and out, you’re going to be looking and feeling great all over in no time. While the practices I recommend are not difficult, it might take some will power and some time to establish new habits. Now I’m going to share some psychological strategies that may help you stick with it.
Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn this vision of the future into reality.
The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly spot the distractions that would otherwise lure you from your course.
The right goals can be incredibly motivating, and as you get into the habit of setting and achieving goals, you'll find that your self-confidence builds fast.
Achieving More With Focus
Goal setting techniques are used by top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields. They give you long-term vision and short-term motivation. They focus your acquisition of knowledge and help you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.
By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals. You can see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. By setting goals, you will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognize your ability and competence in achieving the goals that you have set.
Starting to Set Personal Goals
Goals are set on a number of different levels: First you create your "big picture" of what you want to do with your life, and decide what largescale goals you want to achieve. Second, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit so that you reach your lifetime goals. Finally, once you have your plan, you start working to achieve it.
We start this process with your Lifetime Goals, and work down to the things you can do today to start moving towards them.
Your Lifetime Goals
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or by a time at least, say, 10 years in the future)
as setting Lifetime Goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.
To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of these categories (or in categories of your own, where these are important to you).
Starting to Achieve Your Lifetime Goals
Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a 25 year plan of smaller goals that you should complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Then set a 5 year plan, 1 year plan, 6 month plan, and 1 month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.
Then create a daily to-do list of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals. At an early stage these goals may be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.
Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.
Staying on Course
Once you have decided your first set of plans, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your to-do list on a daily basis. Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience.
Goal Setting Tips
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective goals:
* State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively - 'Execute this technique well' is a much better goal than 'Don't make this stupid mistake.'
* Be precise: Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
* Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
* Write goals down: This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
* Keep operational goals small: Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. Derive today's goals from larger ones.
* Set performance goals, not outcome goals: You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more dispiriting than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control. In business, these could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, for example, these reasons could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and draw satisfaction from them.
* Set realistic goals: It is important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (employers, parents, media, society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. Alternatively you may set goals that are too high, because you may not appreciate either the obstacles in the way or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:
* S Specific * M Measurable * A Attainable * R Relevant * T Time-bound
For example, instead of having “to sail around the world” as a goal, it is more powerful to say “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!
When you have achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress you have made towards other goals. If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve!
With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:
* If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goals harder. * If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goals a little easier. * If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so. * If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.
Failure to meet goals does not matter much, as long as you learn from it. Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting program.
Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, then let them go. Key points:
Goal setting is an important method of:
* Deciding what is important for you to achieve in your life; * Separating what is important from what is irrelevant, or a distraction; * Motivating yourself; and * Building your self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals.
If you don't already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you'll find your career accelerating, and you'll wonder how you did without it!
Here is what you can do to increase your motivation:
1. Tell others what you are about to do. That will engage your ego. If you don't take action you will feel bad because there will be a conflict between what you declared (action) and what you did (lack of action). There will be some stress involved that will help you to motivate yourself to follow through.
2. Analyze your goals. That is the basis of all motivation. If you know what is really important for you it will be easier to start doing it. When you know you are doing something important for you - the action you take will be a reward itself and almost no motivation from the outside will be needed.
3. Plan to reward yourself for completing the task. It's easy to plan some kind of reward. This will direct your thoughts to the prize instead of keeping you focused on how the task is complicated or hard. Your positive thoughts about the prize can replace the emotions connected with the task - this is one of the most powerful motivational techniques ever known.
4. Vizualise completion of the task. This will enable you to use a full power of your subconscious mind to get the job done fast and in the right way.
5. Analyze the negative consequences of not achieving the goal. People don't like to fail and lose so this can also be a source of your motivation. Works great, especially for people that are very focused on others.
6. Analyze the positive consequences of getting the job done. To be aware of all the advantages of completing the task usually means to be motivated to perform it.
7. Give it a chance for just 5 minutes. Then you can stop. Usually it's very hard to start off with the task but after you start - you will keep on going naturally.
8. Start with something simple. If you succeed with something small it will probably encourage you to try something more complicated etc.
9. Divide your work to small tasks that you can preform almost mechanically. Then do them anytime during the day when you get some free 5 or 10 minutes that are needed for this particular task.
10. Learn something new about the subject. The task you don't know how to perform is the easiest to be put off. While you are learning about the subject your motivation will increase as the competence level goes up.
If you follow just some of this helpful advice, I promise you will alleviate your dark circles. But it takes commitment and follow-through, and you have to stick with it. You’ve got to maintain your anti-aging regimen, dedicate yourself to eating healthfully and taking supplements, and living well. If you do so, I promise you’ll be rewarded with the beauty you deserve.
Please join me on my blog at www.darkcirclesmiracle.blogspot.com and I’ll keep you updated with all the latest beauty developments. Thanks for reading, and please stay in touch! Julia
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