How I finally got rid of my dark circles at 48

Anna's eyes before (above) and after the procedure
Anna's eyes before (above) and after the procedure

Ask any woman over 40 how she wants to look and she’ll tell you “less tired”. At least, that’s what leading cosmetic doctors say when I ask about the most-sought-after aesthetic among clients of a certain age, which has turned from “younger” to “healthier” seemingly overnight.

If a glowing complexion is deemed the epitome of good health, then dark circles under your eyes depict a sorry existence of sleepless nights and burning the candle at both ends. Which is why, despite a lacklustre social life and a 9pm bedtime, I am about to have my under-eyes injected with hyaluronic acid.

If you’d have told me 12 months ago that I’d be having “tear-trough filler” in a bid to look less like Jack Sparrow, I’d have scoffed – as Coco Chanel said: “Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young.” But when your dark circles are persisting through a thick layer of concealer, it’s time to upgrade from eye cream.

I’ve seen enough bad filler to know it’s not what you have done but who does it that matters most. Dr Marwa Ali at Harrods Wellness Clinic has one of the lightest touches in the business and is renowned for turning away clients who come in with a laundry list of treatments for which they’re not suitable.

Still, I was nervous: the eye area is notoriously tricky to treat and the skin underneath is fragile and prone to damage. Dr Ali uses a cannula (a tiny tube) inserted at cheekbone level – nowhere near your eyes – which is the safest vessel for the gel to pass through.

Dr Ali believes less is more. Hyaluronic acid is a sterling hydrator, making it ideal for plumping up dry, thin skin, but its ability to retain water molecules means too much can leave you with puffiness. Besides, a subtle shadow beneath the eyes looks natural. “Even babies have grooves underneath their eyes,” explains cosmetic surgeon Dr Kambiz Golchin.

Dr Ali injects “micro droplets of filler” at the nose-to-cheek junction in order to merely soften the volume loss that casts a shadow. As for the procedure itself, though the sensation of the solution going in is slightly off-putting, it’s over before you know it. Despite a tiny bruise that dissipated within a couple of days, it wasn’t painful, nor was it noticeable that I’d had anything done.

I returned for a follow-up appointment two weeks later to assess the outcome which, Dr Ali explains, varies depending on how well your body metabolises the hyaluronic acid. As she is extremely cautious on the first round, at the second appointment she may administer more if needed.

It has been two months since I had the procedure and when I look at my face in the mirror, the shadows are still apparent, just less so. I’m thrilled to report that I don’t wear make-up under my eyes anymore – think of it like an invisible concealer that never needs reapplying. I’m told the results can last from six months to two years.

Of course, filler isn’t for everyone: there are numerous reasons for dark circles, some being hereditary, which is why it needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It also shouldn’t be the first port of call – so here are four at-home products that can help perk up tired under-eyes.

Four shadow correctors...

dark circles
dark circles

From left to right: Verso Super Eye Serum, £45 Liberty; Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-ageing Moisturising Treatment, £52 Look Fantastic; Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Radiant Touch, £27 Boots; NARS Radiant Creamy Colour Corrector, £24 Space NK

Tear-trough filler with Dr Marwa Ali at Harrods costs £695; harrods.com