michele@mbenza.com

Sunday, February 17, 2008

AN ANTI-DOTE TO MID-WINTER BLAHS

Now is the time when it seems that winter is endlessly dragging on and the mirror is not so kind. A quick glance and I pale even more at the sight of my pallid complexion. And those dark blue circles around my eyes make me look tired and older and send a shudder up my spine that is not from the cold!

But take heart, there are things we can do to add luster to our complexions and eliminate those dark circles. For one, developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise is a very good place to start, not to mention getting enough restful sleep. And for another, sticking to a daily skincare regimen mornings and evenings with a scrub and mask twice a week is de rigueur!

The skin around the eye is extremely delicate. It is four times thinner and more transparent than on the rest of the face, so the blood vessels are more apparent and can appear to be a deeper shade of blue. This area is particularly sensitive to lack of sleep, alcohol, tobacco and pollution. Dark circles generally are an indication of poor blood flow and people with olive skin and dark hair tend to be more prone to shadowed eyes. Some of us, unfortunately, are also susceptible to puffy bags under the eyes that are due to water retention and fat buildup.

Here are some solutions to consider.

If dark circles are the result of sleep deprivation and/or a meal with too much wine, the solution is simple---lower your alcohol consumption and get a couple of nights of sound sleep.

On the other hand, if dark circles are the norm for you, you may need to examine your skin care program. Are you using an oily eye makeup remover or an eye cream that is too rich for your sensitive skin? These are both no-nos. Change to lighter creams and lotions. Ask for sample eye creams at your favorite beauty counters and experiment. And remember, if any residue from eye makeup remains on your skin before going to sleep, chances are you will wake up with puffy eyes.
My preferred eye makeup remover is from Shades of Hue (www.shadesofhue.com).

A couple of remedies to get rid of dark circles and reduce puffiness are straight out of the pages of grandma’s notebook. Prepare an infusion of chamomile. Once cooled, dip cotton pads in the infusion and apply them over your closed eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you have cucumbers on hand, slice a couple of pieces and apply as above.

Another option is to use an eye cream like La Roche-Posay’s Active C Eyes (www.laroche-posay.com) that drains puffy bags. Use religiously twice a day on clean skin. This anti-wrinkle dermatological treatment contains vitamin C that is great for the skin.

There are many concealers available but because the skin around the eye is so fragile, be very careful when choosing one. Look for those with new improved formulas that not only conceal but also rehydrate the skin by stimulating the blood flow to the area under the eyes. Shades of Hue’s Liquid Mineral Concealer, made from natural ingredients, is a good choice. (Shades of Hue 415-982-4408.) If the laugh lines surrounding your eyes look dry once you have applied makeup like mine do, gently and sparingly dab on some carrot oil, made from carrot seeds, to the area. You will be delighted at how effective this treatment is.

When buying a concealer choose a color slightly lighter than your natural skin tone. If the concealer is too dark it will accentuate your dark shadows. On the other hand if the concealer is too light, it obviously will not cover them. Apply the concealer with a light touch, starting from the inner corner (near the nose) towards the external corner.

Another product I love and use almost every morning is an eye mask. My preference is Guinot Eye Mask (www.guinotusa.com). It is recommended that you keep this mask in the refrigerator. Apply a thick coat on your closed eyes and around the eyes (to the top of your cheekbones), leave for 10 minutes and remove. You won’t believe the difference and the sensation of bien-ĂȘtre.

And finally, there is another option that is a very personal choice and should be carefully considered– esthetic surgery. There are a variety of techniques that you should discuss with a plastic surgeon. An injection of collagen will diminish wrinkles and a small incision underneath the eyelash of the lower lid (Blepharoplasty) will reduce puffy bags. A chemical peel could also refresh the eye area.

As always I thank you for forwarding this message to your friends. If you know of anyone who could benefit from this column, please pass along my information.

Michele Benza
www.michelebenza.com