Send Your Bags Packing

Those fleshy pillows under your eyes are part of your genetic blueprint, says Rhoda Narins, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University school of medicine and coauthor of Turn Back the Clock without Losing Time. And aging wears away the skin around your eye sockets, which, at 0.00079 inch, is already the thinnest on your body. Eventually, the blood vessels beneath show through, and the waterlogged fat sponges around your eyes start to sag, causing dark circles and bags.

A pearl-sized dollop of eye cream or serum, dabbed under each eye before bed, can take years off your peepers. Most creams contain topical anti-inflammatories—chemicals like caffeine that dehydrate tissue, tightening the skin into a taut, dense layer to hide the dark circles. Serums add antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, to reverse cellular damage from the sun. Both also moisturize the skin to minimize existing crinkles.

Bad behavior can make the bags bigger: Smoking stalls the microcirculation in your skin, causing connective tissue underneath to sag; too much sodium can cause your body to flood with water, fattening the pouches; and sleeping without proper head elevation can cause fluids to pool. So be good, add a pillow, and for particularly bad bags, apply a caffeine-based eye gel to tighten skin.

But if you regularly notice blue circles, see your doctor—it could be a sign of iron deficiency.