I was born with dark circles under my eyes.
You can see them in pictures of me as a toddler. Exhausted already, and not yet 4 years old.
Once I discovered concealer as a teen, that was it. Every morning, a thick layer. Without fail.
But lately my undereye regime has been failing me.
It’s partially the wrinkles. The creases around my eyes have gotten deeper, thanks to snubbing eye cream and soaking up sun.
But it’s also the puffiness. The redness. The oldness.
So I asked a friend what to do.
Not just any friend. A friend who used to do makeup for Hollywood.
“There’s this new product I read about,” I told her. “It’s supposed to work as a concealer and smooth out the wrinkles. Should I get it?”
It took her just 5 minutes.
In those 5 minutes, she turned everything I thought I knew about eye care upside down.
Want to know how you should be taking care of your undereye bags and wrinkles?
It’s not how you think…
#1. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.
“So how do you exfoliate?” she asked.
Don’t get me wrong. I exfoliate occasionally. Like once every few months, if I remember.
But she was talking regular exfoliation. An exfoliation routine.
I couldn’t fake it. “I guess I don’t,” I said.
I’m no Cate Blanchett. One of her secrets to amazing skin is exfoliation. She points out that men in their 40s often look younger than women in their 40s—and shaving is to thank for it. 
Shaving not only removes hair; it takes off the top layer of skin. And that’s the essence of exfoliation.
By removing the top layer of dead skin cells, you increase cell turnover and keep your skin from looking dull and patchy. It also helps anyone who’s acne prone.
Obviously, we women aren’t going to shave our faces!
So we’ve got two options to choose from: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.
You can physically exfoliate your face using a Clarisonic brush like Cate or (on the cheap side) a nubby washcloth.
You can also use an exfoliating scrub with micro beads or (on the cheap side) a homemade scrub with oatmeal or sugar.
Physical exfoliation may not work for you if, like me, you’ve got super-sensitive skin. I wash my face using nothing rougher than my fingertips. My skin turns red if I try a facial cleansing brush. I’ve tried cleansing pads made of silicone, but they don’t seem to help.
Luckily, there’s also chemical exfoliation.
Chemical exfoliators dissolve away dead skin cells. Think enzyme exfoliating masks or topical treatments featuring alpha hydroxy acids.
Whichever option you use—and you can use both, just not on the same day—listen to your skin. Start out once a week. Only increase the frequency if your skin is happy with it.
#2. Don’t pull the area around your eyes.
When you apply an exfoliating product around your eyes, be careful. You never want to pull or stretch that delicate skin, or you’ll set yourself up for even more wrinkles.
My friend demonstrated how to do it.
Spread the skin under your eye apart gently, using your index and middle finger. This smooths out any creases.
Then use the index finger of your other hand to gently pat product under your eye, taking care not to get too close to the lid.
As I watched her, a horrible thought hit me.
I was pulling and stretching the area around my eyes every single day.
When I wore eye makeup, including waterproof eyeliner and mascara, it took work to get all that product off. I used makeup remover on a cotton pad, but eyeliner is stubborn stuff. I rubbed my eyes hard … and was creating new wrinkles without realizing it.
My friend suggested using mineral oil to remove makeup. It’s cheaper than makeup remover and does the job just as well.
But I had another idea.
I wanted to try an oil cleanser, inspired by my research on K-beauty.
Oil cleanser is part of a multi-step cleansing routine. It removes makeup without stripping the skin of natural oils.
I found an inexpensive brand and gave it a try. I used it like I’d use my normal cleanser, washing gently around my eyes with my fingertips.
As I massaged the cleanser in, I realized what I’d been missing. Massage has great skin benefits, and it’s relaxing. Reassuring. I wasn’t fighting to rip my makeup off. I was massaging oils into my skin, and the makeup was coming off on its own.
I mentally apologized to my undereye area. I hadn’t treated it well. No wonder my eyes looked the way they did.
Eye cream, you’re my future.
#3. Update your eye makeup.
It wasn’t until I was home that I realized my friend had pulled a sneaky trick on me.
Instead of telling me how to cover up my undereye wrinkles, she’d showed me how to treat them.
I still wanted something to disguise those wrinkles, so I jumped online and checked out my favorite mature makeup guru, Dominique Sachse.
The evening news anchor at KPRC in Houston for over 2 decades, Dominique shares her TV-ready makeup tips on her YouTube channel.
In her video on makeup tips to look younger, she recommends using eyeliner on the top lid lashline only.
This keeps all the attention on the top lid, drawing attention away from the undereye area.
No more mascara on the lower lashes. No more eyeshadow on the lower lid.
And she was right. It made a huge difference.
But seriously? If your eyes are starting to look old and tired, don’t just reach for the makeup. Try to care for them a little more tenderly. After all, they’re the windows to your soul. They deserve some bright and cheery curtains. 😉