I have dark circles under my eyes and I’m not entirely happy with the concealer that I use. Is there plastic surgery available for this problem?

Almost all of us have some degree of circles under the eyes. Some say that it comes with growing older, lack of sleep, or “high living,” but in the majority of cases, it is an inherited trait. The under-eye area is covered with very thin skin so the bluish color of the blood vessels can show through. In our inquiries we could find no type of plastic surgery available for this delicate area.

There is little one can do except to treat the problem cosmetically. What is needed is to lighten or highlight the discolored areas only. The application of the coverup should not be extended beyond the darkened area to the lash line nor to the corner of the eye (unless the discoloration is actually there). There are several products on the market that have been specifically designed for this purpose. They can be liquid, cream, gels, pastes or cream pastes. The application of each is the same but they differ in the degree to which they are effective on the individual skin type.

The more popular type of concealer is the lipstick form or the wand stick for convenience and portability. The concealer, when applied, should remain in place without fading, shifting or creasing. Problems will arise if it is incorrectly applied or if you are using one not suitable for your skin type.

You will have to experiment to get it right.

Concealer is usually lighter than your skin tone or foundation and can be worn under the foundation. The foundation, which is blended over the concealer, hides this difference in shade. There are also concealers that are designed to be used over the foundation. In this case the shades must be exactly matched.

Dot the first under one eye and then the other, leaving small spaces between each dot. GENTLY pat and blend the concealer until a thin even film has been applied. Remember that this area is extremely fragile. Lines and wrinkles form easily here and the skin shouldn’t be pulled. It is important that you learn to apply just the right thickness of the particular product that you have selected in order to get the most even, natural look possible.

I feel, at age 41, that I now need more professional advice as to my particular skin type, its care and treatment. Who, of all the various specialists, do you recommend?

Beauty therapists or estheticians practice either in a skin- care salon or in association with a hairdresser. They offer a variety of services – skin treatments (facials), manicure, pedicure makeup applicaton and advice, hair removal by waxing or electrolysis, as well as advice on products and proper care of the skin. Others may offer various body treatments for firming or slimming. These people have been trained in either a two- year community college course or at a private vocational school for a more intense six-to-10 month period. The course of study includes some anatomy, physiology, in-depth skin analysis, cosmetic chemistry, treatment techniques, basic nutrition, hygiene, makeup, first aid, manicure, pedicure, etc.

Cosmeticians or beauticians, usually working at a sales counter, have a wide range of qualifications. Some have had a one-year training course in cosmetic and retail sales from a community college. They will have studied some of the same subjects as are on the esthetician/beauty therapist courses, although not usually to the same depth. Some will have received on-the-job training with no formal study while others will have been trained by the manufacturer of the particular cosmetic line she/he is selling.

We suggest that you consult a beauty therapist/esthetician, at least initially. In the salon atmosphere you can relax in a private room while she removes your makeup and examines your freshly cleaned skin, usually with the aid of a magnifying lamp. Most are well-trained in the application of makeup as well but you could also choose to consult a makeup artist (at a makeup studio) for this.

Not all people in these jobs are equally qualified. No matter who you decide to consult, make inquiries as to their qualifications so that you find someone with whom you feel confident.