4 Ways to Banish Under-Eye Bags

Ah, finals week. ‘Tis the season for baggy sweatpants, messy buns and ridiculously late nights spent cramming in the library. And with sleepless night after night comes the unflattering dark under-eye bags. You don’t want to look like a zombie, so what’s a girl to do?

Although genetics and the thickness of the skin around the eye affect how eye bags develop, dark circles can also arise from lack of sleep and moments of stress. When you’re feeling overwhelmed from class and homework, the last thing you want to worry about is under-eye bags. But, if you follow these quick tips, you can look like you got some much-needed shut-eye!


1. Get hydrated

First things first—drink lots of water! The skin around the eyes is super thin compared to everywhere else on your body, and if you’re dehydrated, it will show up noticeably as puffy, dark circles. Lisa Owens, a Metro-Detroit area makeup artist and licensed aesthetician, says hydrating by drinking water and using targeted eye creams can help quickly reduce pesky under-eye bags.

“There are many topical products available for the eye area, [and you should] focus on products which contain hyaluronic acid and vitamin K, if possible,” Owens says. Products with hyaluronic acid and vitamin K as active ingredients will work to reduce skin inflammation and any appearance of puffiness after the first application. Along with reducing puffiness, vitamin K also helps lessen signs of bruising or dark circles that may appear as a result of sleep deprivation.

Although on the pricier side, Peter Thomas Roth’s Power K Eye Rescue ($100 at Sephora) is a viable option, and should be applied twice per day after signs of swelling. According to Owens, the product is well worth the investment and will last for plenty of uses. For more reasonable options, you can also try Clinique’s ‘Even Better Eyes’ Dark Circle Corrector ($39.50 at Nordstrom) or Caudalie’s S.O.S. Morning Eye Rescue ($34 at Sephora).

Owens says these products should be used once under-eye bags and dark circles become a noticeable problem. However, there are options for collegiettes looking to prevent bags from happening in the first place! Bobbi Brown’s Hydrating Eye Cream ($49 at Sephora) or Exuviance Hydrating Eye Complex ($42) both work to keep the under-eye area hydrated and moisturized, which lessens the chance of bags forming. 


2. Stay cool as a cucumber

When you spend long hours staring at your computer, your eyes will definitely show it. Every now and then, your eyes need a break! To help get rid of any puffiness, you should look for a cool compress.

Yes, cucumbers can actually be used for more than a sleepover makeover with your girlfriends! Just place sliced cucumbers over your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning. The moisture and cool temperature will work wonders for relieving the inflammation and tenderness that comes with under-eye bags.

“Whenever I notice that my eyes are getting puffy, I’ll either use a cold rag or fresh cucumbers and just hold them over my eyes,” says Sara Jackowicz, a junior at the University of Michigan. “My roommates think I’m crazy, but I definitely notice a difference.”


3. Exercise your facial muscles

Have you ever heard of facial yoga? Believe it or not, massaging the under-eye area can stimulate your muscles and blood circulation in order to tighten up your skin and reduce the appearance of under-eye bags. Just like exercise is good for your body, the under-eye area needs a pick-me-up sometimes, too! Livestrong.com provides quick and easy exercises for every collegiette to try. Even better, they take five minutes, tops.

Exercise 1

Start at the outer corners of your eyes and use your middle finger to massage under the eye from the outer edge to your nose. Repeat the motion in the opposite direction by working your way back to the outer eye. Repeat four times.

Exercise 2

Use the three middle fingers of each hand in order to pull the lower lids down, holding them onto the cheekbones. Try to tighten the muscle by closing the lower lids, but don’t release them entirely. Repeat 10 times and hold for six seconds each time.


4. Conceal them

If you can’t get rid of the puffy darkness right away, you can always hide it! If it isn’t already, concealer will soon become your best friend.

“Concealer is the best way to hide dark circles on a daily basis,” Owens says. Her favorite is IT Cosmetics’ Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer ($24 at Ulta). “At $24 for a tube, which will last an average user quite a while, it is a really great option for concealing with makeup,” she says.

When it comes to choosing the right concealer, Owens recommends aiming for a color that is a half shade lighter than your skin tone so it doesn’t look unnatural. By going a little lighter, it will help neutralize dark areas while blending in with the surrounding skin.

“The product shouldn't be obvious; if it is, chances are it’s too light for your skin,” she says. “Try to buy [a concealer] with a yellow base [because] the art of concealing comes down to the color wheel at the end of the day. Yellow cancels out purple, so this is a good rule of thumb to follow.”

Once you find the right shade, it’s time to apply! “When applying an under-eye product, it is important to use gentle pressure, and I prefer to apply product with my ring finger or a concealer brush,” Owens says. She likes using the EcoTools Bamboo Deluxe Concealer Brush ($5.29 at Ulta) because it helps to blend the product in nicely without looking too cake-y.

With concealer, “Less is also more [because] too much product can look caked on and make fine lines more noticeable, so start with a lighter application and layer if needed,” Owens says.


With finals and term projects stacking up, the last thing you want to worry about is how presentable you look on exam day. But with little to no effort, you can work to hide those all-nighter eyes. Just promise us you’ll catch up on your Zs once you ace those exams, collegiettes!