Your plan of attack depends on the color of your circles. Look straight into a mirror in natural light, then lower your chin slightly to expose the shadows under your eyes. This way, you’ll see clearly whether your circles are more blue or more brown.
Blue Circles The cause: Blue circles result from oxygenated blood pooled beneath the under-eye skin. Skin here is very thin and almost transparent, so blood shows through. This is more noticeable in the morning: When we’ve been horizontal for a while, fluids accumulate and the veins expand to hold more blood. Blue circles may get worse with age. “As we get older, we lose subcutaneous fat, which can mask blueness below the surface of the skin,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York City.
OTC treatments: There are a few options that work in different ways, though their effects last only a day at most. Topical creams with stimulating ingredients, like caffeine, can constrict blood vessels and temporarily boost circulation; potent hydrators, such as hyaluronic acid, plump the area, pushing the skin up and away from the pooled blood. Retinoic acid creams thicken the outer layer of the skin to conceal shadows. Another quick fix: products with stainless-steel rollerball-tip applicators. “The cool metal causes vessels to constrict,” says New York City dermatologist Eric Schweiger. To try: Philosophy Miracle Worker Eye Repair, which contains a high-performance retinoid; $65, philosophy.com. Lancôme Génifique Eye Light-Pearl has a metallic applicator; $68, lancome-usa.com. La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Eyes uses firming caffeine and moisturizinghyaluronic acid; $33 at drugstores.
Professional treatments: A few other treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on the rest of the face can effectively treat under-eye circles. One noninvasive solution is a cream with a prescription-strength retinoid. Blue circles can also be significantly diminished by a treatment called Thermage, which involves a high-tech handheld radio-frequency device. It is nonsurgical, requires no downtime, and is thought to increase the production of collagen, which builds up and tightens the skin. One session costs about $1,000, and the results last three to five years. Zeichner treats dark circles by injecting a hyaluronic acid filler, such as Juvéderm or Restylane, to plump the skin and hide blueness; the injections can last a year or longer and cost $700 to $900 a pop.
Brown Circles The cause: Brown circles result from hyperpigmentation, triggered by chronic eye-rubbing, sun exposure, or genetics. They are most prevalent among Asian and African American skin tones.
OTC treatments: Your best bet is daily use of a cream or serum spiked with a skin brightener, like soy or citrus, which can lighten circles over a period of four to six weeks. Avoid hydroquinone, a go-to lightener for sun spots and scars, as most dermatologists agree that it’s too heavy-duty for the eye area. To try: Murad Renewing Eye Cream brightens with citrus-unshiu peel; $75, murad.com.
Professional treatments: As with blue circles, there are treatments dermatologists use elsewhere on the face that can also lessen the look of brown circles. They respond well to low-concentration TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels, which exfoliate. Plan on spending about $100 a treatment, and you may need several over a couple of months. For enhanced results, there are lasers, like the Q-switched or Fraxel, which destroy pigment cells and even out skin tone with a beam of light energy. Most circles lighten after two or three $500 sessions.
Preventive Measures Reason No. 734 to wear sunscreen: It will keep circles from returning after treatment and can also stop them from developing in the first place. Sun protection prevents skin from both thinning prematurely (exposing blueness) and tanning (getting browner).
Do you ever go to sleep with makeup on? Or maybe you bite your lip? Many of us are guilty of at least one bad skin habit. While they may seem harmless, these skin care no-nos can keep us from looking our best.
Fixing a faux pas
Maybe it’s something we suspect we shouldn’t do, such as using old makeup brushes. Or maybe it’s something we’ve never considered before, such as not changing our sheets and pillowcases enough. Nevertheless, no matter what the bad habit is, there are natural ways to get our skin glowing again!
This one falls under the “we know we shouldn’t do it” designation. Not only will tanning accelerate our skin’s aging process, leading to prematurely older-looking skin, but it can also lead to skin cancer—definitely not worth it.
If you crave a golden glow, opt for a natural bronzer or sunless tanner, available at natural health retailers. And always make sure to be sun-smart by using a natural mineral-based sunscreen when spending time in the sun.
Although regular exfoliation can remove dead, dull skin cells, not going overboard is key. Generally, exfoliating once or twice a week with a natural product (such as one made from oatmeal or sugar) is sufficient. And exfoliation should be avoided altogether for those with sensitive skin prone to allergic reactions, or in the middle of an acne breakout.
3: Wearing makeup to bed
Wearing makeup to bed can be tempting on late nights, but it’s a definite no-no. Sleeping with makeup on can clog our pores so our skin isn’t able to breathe, and not removing eye makeup may even lead to an allergic reaction or an eye infection.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser for your skin type, and use a natural eye makeup remover—even on lazy evenings!
4: Biting lips
Licking or chewing on our lips can dehydrate them, leading to dried, cracked, and chapped lips, which can be even harder to leave alone. Although this problem can be exacerbated in the winter, it can happen all year long.
Stop the vicious cycle by investing in an exfoliating lip scrub to remove rough skin, and then keep lips moisturized with a natural lip balm. You’ll be less likely to chew on them if they’re soft and smooth.
5: Using old makeup brushes
Makeup brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria if not properly cared for. Be sure to clean your makeup brushes at least once a month. Use a natural makeup brush cleaner or a gentle Castile soap, available at health food stores.
Other cosmetic TLC tips include always washing your hands before applying makeup and not sharing cosmetics or cosmetic applicators (be especially cautious when trying out colours at the beauty counter).
6: Not caring for neck and chest skin
Don’t let your skin care routine stop at your face. Our delicate décolletages (our necks and upper chests) are exposed to the elements just like our faces, so they can show signs of aging faster than areas we keep covered up.
Incorporate your neck and chest skin into your daily cleansing, toning, and moisturizing routine—and when you’re in the sun, make sure to wear your natural sunscreen on your décolletage as well.
7: Squeezing pimples
We may try to convince ourselves that popping or picking pimples helps, but in reality it only makes acne worse and can cause scarring. Plus, it can spread bacteria to other areas of the face, leading to more pimples.
Help clear up pimples naturally with a gel or wash made with tea tree oil. Another option is herbal preparations for the skin that contain thyme, which may have a greater antibacterial effect than prescription acne cremes, according to a new study.
8: Using too much product
When it comes to skin care, keep it simple. Although all skin types can benefit from a daily skin care routine that includes a gentle cleanser, toner, and lotion, piling on the products can irritate skin, especially when using products that all have differing formulas and purposes. See the sidebar below to learn which skin type you have and how to best care for it.
9: Taking very hot showers
Sure, hot showers can feel great (even this time of year, since—who are we kidding?—the cold weather isn’t over yet) but they can wreak havoc on our skin’s lipid barriers, leading to dry skin. Lukewarm water is also recommended for those suffering from eczema or dermatitis, as it is gentler on the skin. Keep your showers short and the temperature mild.
10: Not changing sheets and pillowcases often enough
Our pillowcases and sheets absorb oils from our skin, and they can reapply these oils and dirt onto our skin later on. Changing pillowcases and sheets frequently is especially important for those with oily, acne-prone skin.
Skin types 101
Our skin type helps us determine how to craft our daily skin care routine.
Skin with visible pores that looks shiny quickly can be classified as oily. Often, oily skin is also acne prone. Cleanse twice daily, but don’t be afraid of using moisturizer—a lightweight oil-free lotion can still benefit oily skin.
If your cheeks are dry, but your T-zone (forehead, nose, and cheeks) is oily, that’s combination skin. A gentle cleanser and midweight lotion works best with this skin type.
Dry skin can feel tight and is often flaky. A mild creme cleanser can help retain moisture, as can applying moisturizer while skin is still damp after washing.
Sensitive skin can often look red, inflamed, and dry, and can react to irritants with itchiness, burning, and blotchiness. Often, those with sensitive skin suffer from allergic or contact dermatitis, or rosacea.
Although each condition requires slightly different treatment, generally, sensitive skin benefits from products with minimal ingredients. Soothing ingredients such as camomile, aloe, and green tea polyphenols can help, but alcohol and fragrance should be avoided.
About the Author After writing this article, alive editor Leah Karpus vows to include her décolletage in her skin care routine and to clean her makeup brushes more often.
Hair By Naomi Burton (TeamWedlock.com)
I have received a few questions lately about what parts of the eye are which, and I thought it would be a good time to re-post this diagram I made last year that I hope is helpful. I always call out where I put each product for every look (because unfortunately, I don’t have time to do a tutorial every time), and when I do, I use the same names for each part of the eye that it is applied to.
Brow Bone/Highlight: Generally, a lighter color will be applied to this area; it may be something that has undertones of bolder colors used on the lid, or it may simply be similar to your skintone. For example, say I do a predominantly green look, I might turn to MAC’s Gorgeous Gold eyeshadow as a highlight color because it will bring out the greens and still allow the color to taper off. Some of my favorite highlight colors are Ricepaper and Shroom.
Above Crease: This is my “blend out” area. There is strong color on the lid and the crease many times, and that strong color needs to be diffused as it moves it way upwards towards the brow. The best way to think about it is as a gradient, going from dark to light, starting on the lid moving towards the brow. Sometimes I use a lighter color than the one I used on my lid to help fade the color upwards, other times I may use the same color I chose for a highlight.
Outer Crease: Luckily my eye was lookin’ a bit tired, because you can really make out the “crease,” which is that fold of skin/wrinkle-like detail you can see. It extends from the beginning of your eye (inside) to the end of your eye (the outside). Most often I deposit color in the outer crease, but sometimes I do bring it inward a touch, more to the “middle” of the crease. I rarely go for darkening the entire length of my crease. A great universal crease color is Carbon, if used lightly, it can darken any look instantly. Soft Brown is also a nice, subtler shade.
Inner Lid: I mentally slice my eyelid into three parts–basically into thirds. There is the inner, middle, and outer thirds. In many looks you will see, a lighter color is put on the inner lid relative to the rest of the colors found on the lid.
Middle of Lid: This is the middle third of the eyelid, and since I typically do similar styles in my looks, this is where a “medium” color in terms of darkness would go. Light, medium, dark is a good way to think of how I deposit and choose what colors go where on the lid. On occasion, I might go medium, light, dark, but not nearly as frequently as I do the former.
Outer Lid: This is the outer third of the eyelid, and this is usually where I put the darkest lid color. Sometimes I will darken the very outermost portion of it (say you split the outer lid third into half, so then it’d be the outer half or the outer sixth of the entire lid) with the same color I would put in my crease.
Upper Lash Line: It is not explicitly labeled in this diagram, but it is where your upper lashes (generally the longest ones, the ones that come from your eyelid) meet your eyelid. This is the actual upper lash line. When lining the upper lash line, many create thicker lines than the natural upper lash line, but the concept is still there.
Upper Waterline: The upper waterline is also not explicitly labeled, but it can be found directly underneath your upper lashes. If you looked up, you would see a tiny bit of space, much like your lower line, and some people line this as well. It is called tightlining, for your reference.
Lower Waterline: The lower waterline is sometimes called the lower rim, because it is essentially the bottom rim of your eye. There are dozens of people who cannot put product on their waterline due to sensitivity, and many others who struggle to find a product that does not fade or dissolve because of the waterline (and the fact that it is…watery!). For those looking for longer lasting products, I know many use gel liners, fluidliners, and some even use liquidlast liners.
Inner Lower Lash Line: Not everyone likes to put color on the lower lash line, which is space directly below the lower waterline. Some prefer just a thin line of eyeliner that expands across both the inner and outer lower lash lines. I often use the 219 brush to apply pops of color; usually, a lighter color that is similar to the colors used on the lids is applied to the inner lower lash line.
Outer Lower Lash Line: Similarly to the inner lower lash line, I again apply a thin line of color using the 219 to the outer lower lash line. There are times where I might even split the lower lash line into thirds, and it just means that there is a middle part of the lower lash line for application. When it comes to smoky eyes, to “smoke out” the look, one applies a darker color to the outer lower lash line or goes for thicker eyeliner and smudges it out around the outer lower lash line.
Upper Lashes: They are not labeled, but I do hope that the majority know where to find these (though explained earlier!). Most makeup users will apply at least one coat of mascara in either brown or black. Brown mascara is more natural and less dramatic, while black can still be natural, but too many coats or using an amplifing mascara will give you dramatic lashes (but hey, I always want these, so there’s no shame in never going au natural on the lashes!). I look up and bring the wand closest to the roots of the lashes and comb it upwards. Sometimes I wiggle, sometimes I turn the brush as I move upwards – it just depends on the mascara.
Lower Lashes: These are the shorter lashes found beneath your eyeball. I always like to give them a quick coat of mascara after I finish doing my upper lashes, because then they’re blacker and stand out a touch. The best way I’ve found to apply mascara to the lower lashes is to use a mascara wand that is not huge and burly – it is a small space, and why do you want to get mascara all over your face? Since I do not even need a super duper mascara, I may use a lesser, but still black, mascara to coat them. Look up and lightly tap the mascara wand to the lashes. I usually just move the wand from side to side, rather than up and down like my upper lashes because I find it coats them to deepen color, slightly lengthen, and that’s all I need.
Temptalia - Christine
There are a plethora of products, ranging from miracle creams to spot treatments and gels to topical prescriptions, that are bought and sold under the premise of reducing the signs of aging. But did you know that there are many habits and things you can do today that will prevent some of those wrinkles (or at least reduce their severity) tomorrow? Here are ten things you should do with products you probably already have, or fine-tuning habits and daily rituals already in your day.
Antioxidants are essential to good health, which also includes helping skin maintain its youthful glow. You’ll notice many anti-aging products market themselves as having antioxidants within them, but you can bolster your regimen by ensuring you consume a few foods that are known to be excellent sources of antioxidants.
Use brushes rather than your fingers to apply makeup. Brushes apply makeup with a light, easy touch, which means less stress and tugging for your skin. When you use your finger, there is more pressure exerted on the skin, even if it feels minute to you.
Cleanse your face regularly and ensure you remove ALL makeup. It is important to wash your face on a daily basis (twice if you can – e.g. AM and PM), even if you don’t wear makeup, because throughout the day your face does get dirty in some aspect. If you go outside, dust and dirt particles may have settled into your face. Make sure when you cleanse your face, you do a thorough job of removing your makeup, too. Residual makeup can rest in pores and on the skin’s surface, clogging it or preventing daily renewal. It’s good to have a package of makeup removing wipes in the house, just because if you ever get lazy or dead-tired, you can opt for using one of those instead of your regular cleansing regimen (not a substitute, but I recognize that we all have days when we just cannot seem to bring ourselves to do things!).
Wear sunscreen everyday. The best policy is to invest in a light sunscreen (e.g. SPF15) for everyday usage, and just get used to having that as a step in your everyday routine–like brushing teeth or showering. It is also a good idea to have a stronger sunscreen (e.g. SPF30+) to use for days when you know you will have increased exposure to sun. You also want to ensure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB, because both can cause problems later in life! Even cloudy days, driving, etc. can cause you to be exposed to harsh rays, so sunscreen everyday!
Exfoliate once a week. Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, which helps bring younger cells to the skin’s surface. As we get older, the cell renewal process slows down, giving skin an uneven or rough appearance. It is important that you don’t overdo exfoliation, and the frequency may depend on the product you choose. Also, don’t forget about body scrubs, because aging doesn’t just show up on your face!
Moisturize and protect your hands. There is the old addage that you can tell a woman’s age by the state of her hands. The skin on our hands is subjected to a lot of activity, from work and utility, but also substantial washes, so it does go through the ringer, so-to-speak. It’s good to remember to moisturize and treat your hands well when they’re not busy working. Try a heavy hand cream and encasing your hands in a pair of light gloves while you sleep to give them a boost of moisture. Sunscreen for your hands is also a great idea, because we know the sun does a lot of damage!
Drink lots of water. It’s an oldie, but it still remains true. Make sure you get your daily intake of water! If you have trouble, try filling up a large jug or thermos of water and keep it by you at all times — you’re more likely to drink it if it’s staring you in the face!
Reduce or remove bad habits from your life, like excessive drinking, smoking, and tanning. Both drinking and smoking can ravage the skin over the time, and reducing both or quitting will serve you well both bodily and skin-wise. Tanning, whether it is in a booth or from the sun, is not at all advisable, especially if you don’t use sunscreen to do it. There are so many self-tanners and sprays these days that you can get your glow without harming your skin in the process.
Make sure you are using your skincare products properly. Some products can multi-task, but some can’t. Don’t use a body scrub on your face because the abrasives in it are too strong for the more delicate skin on your face. Just like a cream for your body may not be good to use on your face. When in doubt, use as intended, because if you aren’t sure, the results may be bad news.
Temptalia - Christine