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Q. Are there any ingredients that can help to lighten under-eye circles?
A . In the past few years, several ingredients have been developed to lighten dark under-eye circles. Two of the most promising are Haloxyl, a peptide blend created by Sederma, a French ingredient vendor, and REGU-AGE, a peptide and enzyme blend produced by Pentapharm in Switzerland.
To understand the function of each ingredient, it is first important to know the underlying cause of darkness around the eyes. Under-eye circles are created when red blood cells leak from capillaries in the eye area, releasing hemoglobin when they explode in nearby skin tissue. The iron-rich hemoglobin degrades into the yellow pigment—bilirubin—as well as other various colored pigments, resulting in a bruised appearance to the skin under the eyes and sometimes on the eyelids. It still isn’t clear why the capillaries leak, although inflammation—due to stress, genetics, allergies and lack of sleep—is believed to be a key trigger.
Haloxyl is a combination of four components. Hydroxysuccinimide binds to the iron released by the red blood cells, trapping the molecules before bilirubin can be formed and making the iron soluble enough to be eliminated from the skin. Chrysin stimulates a natural enzyme that clears bilirubin that already has been formed. Working with these molecules are two peptides—palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3. They provide support to the fragile connective tissue around the eyes. When it begins to lose its tone and elasticity, the irritation that leads to dark circles can increase.
Studies by Sederma show that 3% Haloxyl lessens the production of the key inflammatory enzyme prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in epidermal keratinocytes by 93% and in dermal fibroblasts by 86% when these cells are exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation—long believed by researchers to be a significant contributor to aging around the eye area. In a two-month clinical study by Sederma of 22 females whose average age was 32.7 years, application of a gel two times a day containing 2% Haloxyl showed an average 63% decrease in under-eye darkening.