The bags under my eyes.

The bags under my eyes officially qualify as suitcases, in case you haven’t had enough overused clichés today. Unfortunately, while trite, the phrase is accurate. The bags are suitcase-y indeed.

I suspect it’s because of all the sleep I’m not getting. I’d take the magic pills, but they’re a transitory fix. The problem is pain, and it doesn’t seem interested in relocating. 

When I was younger, my lack of sleep could be hidden for days. I’d get bags under my eyes when I was dehydrated instead. Which was often: bulimia is a moisture-suck. The fix, however, like most things in your twenties and thirties, was simple. Drink. Hydrate. Add a slap of moisturizer and ten minutes under a dolphin-shaped ice mask, and boom! The radiance, more or less, of youth.

Then comes forty, and you start paying more attention to the promises made by skincare companies. I thought about committing to a regular regimen à la Clinique or SKII, but I’m cheap and easily seduced by shiny new things that share enticing lies.

I wish I’d started back in the day. [i] Not that it would’ve changed much. I got my father’s bags as well as his thighs. [ii] He comes from a long line of people whose skin thins as they age, resulting in basset hound eyes and a problem with stitches. [iii] The problem is made worse by my pain-induced insomnia: the semi-weak nutrition and lack of fresh air also don’t help.

I hit the top four eye bag causes without breaking a sweat: heredity, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and pollution (inside air is pretty nasty) are the main culprits.

I’d use makeup to cover the evidence of sin, but it doesn’t work for me. I follow the instructions in this video or that, but while the host looks stunning with a flawless, pore-free, bag-free face, my results still reflect the sentiments of a “before” shot. Perhaps it’s because you need to do a full face of makeup for that kind of repair, and I generally don’t bother. Which means the whole thing looks strange.

The masks we now sport to stop ourselves from spreading our germ-laden spit are a nice bit of camouflage, but they emphasize the bags and dark circles. They cut the face at an unflattering angle. A balaclava would hide more, but I suspect I’d feel not only claustrophobic but itchy as hell. It’s why I don’t wear hats. My head is not a fan. [iv]

Of course, the cause-list isn’t complete: four is just the beginning.

Other possible culprits include: seasonal allergies (maybe), tobacco and alcohol use (fun is the enemy of perfect skin), salty foods (am I to be left with nothing), not removing your makeup (what am I, a saint), and too much sun. I can affirm that last one. I’ve burned my eyes and near-eyes on several occasions. You spend much of the subsequent week squinting through slits. Once again, I should’ve copied JLo. She took the long game seriously. I was too busy trying to self-destruct.

Assuming you’re more me than miracle, however, what’s left to do? Not that I don’t love looking like I’m on the wrong side of a very long weekend, it’s just that I don’t.

The extreme solution would be surgery. Blepharoplasty removes the need for expensive creams and a lifetime of drinking collagen-fortified water in the shade by applying surgical steel to the problem. Take out any and all excess fat and stitch the situation closed with an extra tuck for tightness. Easy, peasy, in a “you’re having surgery, so there’s a risk of serious complications” kind of way. I’ve been tempted often by this procedure or that, but I’m unlucky and don’t want my obituary to read “death by vanity.” Besides, I have other things I’d rather spend three thousand dollars on.

Therapy, for instance, so I don’t care about under-eye bags.

Improving your nutrition and drinking more water are the cheapest options. Water is basically free, and better choices at the grocery store are often a lateral change in terms of finances. These two things would help not only my eyes but my overall well-being. So many good things come from staying hydrated and well-fed.

That explains why I skimmed over that suggestion and went directly to externals. Don’t give me the reasonable, healthy, non-instant option. I want grandiose promises and an over-the-top price tag, so I have a subject for complaint when the pretty serum fails to perform surgical miracles.

The ice bag to the face works, and you can get eye bag reducing masks in cute colours and styles almost everywhere. Toss them in the freezer and never think of them again. Three years on, throw them away and recheck the plastic surgery price tag.

They may not be effective, but they feel lovely. Especially after too much sun, alcohol, or both. I’ve just never noticed a difference in my pre and post reflection. The bags are still baggy. I’m usually calmer, though, relaxed as a consequence of the eye bath and meditation. Because what else are you going to do when you’re stuck somewhere with self-care ice on your face?

If you find ice too cold (the “official” masks usually solve that problem with a soft fabric side), there’s always the vitamin e option. Proponents love vitamin e. They promise it will fix scars, prop up the immune system, improve circulation, and promote healing. [v] It also attacks free radicals, that source of entropy that races around undoing your body.  To treat puffy eyes, mix a few drops into a cup of water and then soak cotton balls you subsequently apply to the area. 

I will go in a different direction and get the vitamin e nutritionally: I like my vitamin e over-easy.

There’s also massage as an option. It’s the choice I’m most fond of. Not with your fingertips, because they drag and because I read an article years ago that said index fingers basically murder your face with their exorbitant pressure. Step into the seventeenth-century people, and don’t forget to thank the Chinese for another cool invention. Jade rollers traverse this way and that, smoothing lines, draining lymph, and making you feel like you’re doing a good thing for yourself. I went with pink, because why not?

Finally, there’s sleep. If you have bags, get more sleep. That obvious and that easy, of course. Those of us who aren’t sleeping have insomnia because we didn’t realize sufficient sleep was necessary. Now that I know, it’ll be eyes closed and brain off once my head hits the pillow.


[i] I’m exceptionally annoying about the subject of moisturizing and sunscreen. I’m in the face of every twenty-something I know about establishing a good skincare habit. I plan to do it for myself once I get my time machine running.

[ii] An inside “joke.” My maternal grandmother, who could be a sad and angry person at times, made a habit of being passive-aggressive. She loved me, but she also regularly attacked. Such a strange dynamic.

[iii] Fragile skin often can’t be stitched: doing so only results in further tearing. Steri Strips or polyethylene film with acrylate adhesive are a better option.

[iv] Figuratively and literally.

[v] No evidence on the scar issue: I find that very disappointing. On account of my facial scars.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so that things start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

9 comments

  1. I just don’t bother looking in the mirror, and the guinea pigs haven’t said anything, so all is well. My grandma used to do the Clinique thing. I thought the yellow lotion looked rather icky.

    Liked by 1 person

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