Valerie Monroe
Photo: Patrik Andersson
Q: Dark undereye circles make me feel exhausted.

A: I see you were too tired to ask me a question. You need to determine the cause of your dark circles before you can treat them. The main cause for shadows under the eyes is rubbing provoked by allergies—both seasonal and product induced, says Cheryl M. Burgess, MD, medical director at the Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Washington, D.C. The second most common cause is excess pigment that may be hereditary, and the third is visible veins. If your problem is due to allergies (your eyes are itchy and watery; rubbing them causes shadows), you'll want to use a mild, soapless cleanser and a moisturizer for sensitive skin. You might also need a .5 percent hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itching. Dark circles due to excess pigment (press down on the discoloration—if it doesn't disappear, it's pigment) can sometimes be lightened by lotions or creams containing hydroquinone, arbutin, or kojic acid. Three or more treatments with the Fraxel re:store or Fraxel re:fine laser are also an option. And visible veins can be treated with the Nd:YAG 1064nm laser; several treatments are usually necessary.

Keep in mind: Judicious application of concealer can work very well to hide your discoloration. Use a creamy concealer the same shade as your complexion, lightly tapping it on and then blending over the dark areas.

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