Americans spend between 40 and 50 billion dollars every year on cosmetics that promise to keep the aging process at bay. But experts say you don't have to spend big bucks to see big results. As more and more effective ingredients are discovered, they make their way into lower-cost options. Which means your local pharmacy has effective cosmetics for all your beauty trouble spots at a fraction of department store costs.
Trouble Spot: Bags Under the Eyes
Contrary to popular belief, poor sleep is not the bad guy when it comes to under-eye circles. While lack of sleep can cause capillaries to swell and worsen the appearance of bags, the real culprit is fat. Besides residing in unfortunate places like our hips, fat is also found behind our eyes, and as we age, the ligaments holding it in place weaken and the fat slips down. That, combined with thinning skin and translucency that come with age, creates those bulging unattractive under-eye circles.
Wrinkle products that contain eyeseryl tetrapeptide, which can penetrate the skin beneath the eyes and lessen their puffy appearance by bulking up the surrounding skin.
Allergies can also cause puffy eyes by congesting the sinuses and the veins under our eyes. Given that 80% of us are allergic to something, there's a good chance allergies are contributing to your under-eye circles. Ask your doctor if a generic antihistamine is OK for you to take, which may decrease your eye puffiness overnight. And forget about special "eye creams," they're no different than your regular moisturizer and often contain fragrances that can irritate and puff up your eyes as well. Ice, cool teabags, and sleeping with your head slightly elevated also will help decrease swelling.
Trouble Spot: Laugh Lines
Live your life with laughter and lots of smiles and what do you have to show for it? Deep wrinkles around your mouth. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
Apparently the coffee plantations of Costa Rica are filled with coffee pickers who have sun-damaged and wrinkled faces but hands as smooth as a baby's bottom. Scientists noticed this and realized there was a powerful antioxidant in the fruit of the coffee plant that was decreasing fine lines and wrinkles, and reducing redness in the workers' hands. Now they've isolated that antioxidant and put it into a lotion that can be applied to the whole face. While expensive, it is cheaper than Botox.
Scour your drugstore aisles for products containing antioxidants that have been around for longer and are therefore cheaper, including:
- Isoflavones from soy extract
- Catechins from green tea extract
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Vitamin B3 products
Trouble Spot: Facial Discoloration, Blotchy Skin
Discoloration is often caused by sun exposure, which is why all of us need to wear sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or more.
Sunsreen is the first defense against brown spots and discoloration. It's important to pick one that contains Helioplex, which blocks UVA rays (SPF only protects from UVB) that age the skin. But since sunscreen can be an eye irritant, choose one with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide around your eyes to prevent those dark circles from cropping up again.