Dark circles are often associated with aging, stress and lack of sleep. You can also blame your parents, since dark circles can be hereditary. Deep-set eyes, for example, may naturally look darker and shadowed. Or, if blood flows through veins close to the surface of the skin, it can produce a bluish tint. Another inherited trait, transparent skin, can also increase the look of darker circles.
THE FIX: Solutions range from over-thecounter to non-invasive treatments. Dr. Nowell Solish, MD, FRCPC, a Toronto dermatologist, says a new product called Snoxin ($39, at Rexall PharmaPlus) is a cream that thickens the skin and promotes collagen growth, which in turn masks the appearance of dark circles. He also says prescription-grade retinol products like Retin-A ($50) can be used to treat wrinkles, promote collagen and thicken under-eye skin. For a more aggressive treatment, fillers like Restylane can be used to plump the valleys underneath the eye so they don’t look as dark.
RECOVERY: Those who choose Restylane may experience a little bit of swelling for less than 24 hours. Dr. Solish also notes that about 10 per cent of patients bruise after a Restylane treatment.
Although they’re often associated with lack of sleep, you can blame aging and gravity for additional under-eye baggage. Here’s why: the upper and lower eyelids are composed of skin, muscle and fat. With age, the muscles weaken and can’t hold up the skin as firmly. A natural breakdown of collagen also causes the skin to wrinkle and sag. The result is a lack of support of the fat beneath the skin and muscle — the main culprit for under-eye puffiness.
“As we age, fat descends into pockets below the lower eyelids,” says Toronto’s Dr. Philip Solomon, MD, FRCSC, facial plastic surgery, otolaryngology/head and neck surgery. “Furthermore, skin elasticity changes and the descent of the muscular sling around the eye all contribute to lower-eyelid bags.”
THE FIX: Injectable fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm can be useful in blending the eyelid bags to the surrounding cheek structures. “This is a camouflage technique and does not replace surgery,” says Dr. Solomon, who adds that skin resurfacing can also help. “This procedure can tighten the skin and improve the overall appearance of the lower eyelid in patients who have excess or redundant skin under the eyes.”
Surgery is also an option. “In young patients where the only problem is eyelid fat herniation, the removal of eyelid fat from the inside of the eyelid will significantly improve bags. In older patients or patients who have excess skin or muscle laxity contributing to eyelid bags, then blepharoplasty (a more involved surgery involving an incision under the eyelids) is needed to rejuvenate the area.” Dr. Solomon adds that, “In some patients, best results are achieved with surgery combined with laser skin resurfacing.”
THE COST: About $500 for fillers. Surgery starting at about $4,500.
RECOVERY: Redness and minor swelling for 24 hours for fillers; one to two weeks of downtime after surgery.
Unless you’ve lived a miserable life or only come out after dark, there’s a good chance you’ve got at least a few lines radiating from the outer corners of your eyes. Caused by repetitive movements, like smiling and squinting, these lines are known to most of us as crow’s feet.
THE FIX: Dr. Solish says creams like Snoxin and Retin-A help thicken the skin and diminish the look of fine lines. However, for a more effective solution, he suggests Botox. “In addition to the area looking better, Botox is also a preventative measure because it stops the cause — muscle contraction.”
A smoother appearance can also be achieved through laser skin resurfacing, adds Dr. Solish. “It’s like sanding down a wooden table,” he says. “Once it heals, the area will be smooth.”
THE COST: About $300 to $400 for Botox; about $1,000 for laser resurfacing.
RECOVERY: No downtime for creams; a slight chance of bruising for Botox; two weeks for laser resurfacing, which will feel like recovering from a sunburn
If eyes are the windows to the soul, consider sagging eyelids the drapes covering the window. Sagging eyelids are caused by a depletion of collagen and elasticity in the skin. Since collagen bundles are depleted, the skin will eventually develop the lines and furrows of wrinkles and ultimately sag. They can also be caused by a brow descent, which crowds the upper eyelid.
THE FIX: Surgery is your best bet. Dr. Feingold recommends a combination surgery that corrects all the contributing factors of sagging eyelids, including an upper lid lift, lateral brow lift or endobrow (or forehead) lift and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel. “If you do a minimally invasive brow lift, upper eyelid skin incision, lower lid transconjunctival lift and fat removal, and a 35 per cent TCA peel, it will restore all territories to a more youthful anatomy,” says Dr. Feingold.
THE COST: Approximately $7,500.
THE RECOVERY: Five to seven days, with bruising and swelling.
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THE MAGIC OF MAKEUP
Micropigmentation, or permanent makeup, is a great non-surgical, enhancing solution. The process involves instilling natural mineral pigments into the skin with a small, disposable needle. This state-of-the-art procedure, often called “makeup of the future,” has been used by models, actors and entertainers. Today, average women are turning to the process to fill in their eyebrows, create permanent eyeliner or to colour their lips.
The procedure is like getting a mini-tattoo. Prior to the process, a licensed esthetician chooses a colour and shape that suits a woman’s skin tone and face shape. Topical anesthetic is applied to numb the area and minimize discomfort. Clients go home with a topical antibiotic ointment to reduce the chance of infection.
Pierre Ly, owner of Perfecting Touch in Toronto, says out of every 10 clients, seven or eight use permanent makeup to fill in their eyebrows.”People think their eyebrows look real,” says Ly. “Filling in brows gives them a lift without surgery. It makes women look awake and younger.”
Brigitte Biller, certified paramedical instructor with Toronto’s Auriel’s Touch, sees tons of women with misshapen brows come through the door for corrections. “Always use a certified instructor from a reputable school,” warns Biller.
And if eyebrows frame the face, eyeliner sharpens the area. Ly recommends clients do a tiny line between the top lashes to achieve a more defined, sharper look. “The top lifts the eye,” says Ly. “It opens up the eyes and makes them look rounder and bigger.”
The cost of permanent makeup ranges between $400 and $600, and the recovery time is about a week. Some redness can occur, but risks are minimal. But Ly warns if technicians go too deep into the skin, it can scar. Results can last up to eight years, but usually fade between three to six years. Ly notes that regular touchups will preserve colour longer.
Brows and lashes are integral to the eye’s overall appearance. But, sometimes, makeup — be it temporary or permanent — will not completely camouflage a lack of hair in those areas. Due to genetics, over-tweezing or a disorder called trichotillomania — a type of psychological condition that involves strong urges to pull out one’s own hair — sparse brows or lashes can be solved with transplants.
A transplant procedure works like this: a patient’s own hair is taken from the back of the head and is grafted with a small instrument that punctures either the upper lid (for eyelashes) or the brows. Four weeks after the procedure, the hair will shed but then will start to grow back in two or three months. Women can expect their lashes to grow as long as three-quarters of an inch after the procedure, and brows will look fuller and thicker.
“I think a nicely shaped brow or lash is definitely part of a beauty look, because brow and lashes both frame the eyes,” says Dr. Robert Jones, MD, hair restoration surgeon at the Dr. Robert Jones Hair Transplant Center in Oakville, Ont. “It’s hard to talk about the eyes without mentioning brows and lashes, no matter how beautiful the eyes are.”
Dr. Jones says once the transplant is complete, the results last forever. However, women should also know that they’re in for a lifetime of trimming. “That’s the only downside,” he says. Another challenge with lash transplants is that they may not curl up, so women may also sign up for a lifetime of curling lashes in addition to trimming. And with brows, people may have to use a bit of hair gel to hold the hairs in place in case they don’t point perfectly in the same direction. But, explains Dr. Jones, “if done properly — and looked after properly — it looks natural.”
An eyelash transplant will run you about $5,000, while brows cost about $4,000. Risks are minimal, since a metal cap shaped like a huge contact lens is placed over the entire eyeball to protect the globe of the eye during the procedure. Dr. Jones also notes that some women may see small scabs or crusts after the procedure for a week or so, as well as some minor swelling and bruising around the eyes.
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Makeup is an easy, painless and inexpensive way to make eyes appear lighter, brighter and more beautiful — you just have to know what products to pick. And the trick to remember, says Toronto-based Paul Venoit, makeup artist to stars such as Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss and part of the style team on the hit show Look-ALike, is to go light.
For instance, Venoit says to perk up tired eyes, you want to reflect light into the area. “Applying a light-reflecting concealer around the eye area, in the most recessed part of the face, is great for brightening up eyes.” If dark under-eye bags are the problem, Venoit suggests applying a highlighter or eye brightener between the corner tear duct and along the lower eye cavity to the outer corner of the eye and blending it into the top of the cheekbone. For an even brighter look, try using the highlighter underneath the arch of the brow to brighten the whole eye area.
When it comes to eye shadow colour, the keep-it-simple rule still applies. Venoit says shades of silver and light gold are great for women with cool undertones while silver, white and pale blue work well with olive-toned skin. When it comes to eyeliners, Venoit recommends pale yellow or blue on the inner rim of the eye (wet part of the eye) to make eyes stand out. And, lastly, if you want to disguise drooping eyelids, stay away from heavy makeup. “It will make the eye look heavier,” says Venoit. “But a light-reflecting product around the eye will make the eye pop.”
For those women who don’t want to fuss with a daily makeup regime but aren’t ready for permanent procedures, there are also semi-permanent solutions. Eyebrow and eyelash tinting, a hair colour-like service lasting three to four weeks and costing about $30, is one example.
“It’s used to majorly enhance looks,” says Tinku Parmar, owner of Tranquillity Day Spa in Vancouver.
“It can be used to hide the grey in brows, and it saves women time when getting ready. It gives the eye area a more pronounced look and brightens up their features.” Parmar adds that although most women opt for browns and blacks, blue tint is also an option for eyelashes.
According to Parmar, tinting is completely safe and precautions are taken to ensure the dye doesn’t touch and discolour the skin underneath. “There are no precautions to take afterward,” she says. “If someone spends a lot of time in a pool, sometimes it can wear off earlier. But usually it lasts very well.”