A young woman touching her undereye area with her left forefinger

Can eye bags be cute? A South Korean aesthetic that started in 2015 made under-eye bags, a facial feature commonly associated with tiredness and aging, sought-after symbols of cheerfulness and youth. Today, TikTokers are faking eye bags using makeup and going viral while they’re at it. While these two types of eye bags have fundamental differences (we’ll get to those later), we nevertheless love it when perceived flaws get their much-deserved redemption arc.

Why “Charming Fat”? 

Play up your eye bags like actress Park Shin-hye.(Credit: instagram/ssinz7))

First, let’s differentiate between the undereye swelling or puffiness that develop with age and the persistent trend that sees eye bags as a coveted beauty trait. The cute kind of eye bags we’re referring to is called “aegyo sal” in the K-beauty world, which literally translates to “charming fat.”

These bags are actually small pockets of fat along the undereye area, which give the appearance of “smiling eyes.” These charming fat pockets are more prominent in our youth because the orbicularis muscle responsible for closing the eyes and blinking is fuller and more developed. As we age, the muscle becomes more relaxed, so we only get aegyo sal when we smile. 

How to Get Aegyo Sal

No need to blink! Korean actress Jisoo works her aegyo sal with a smize. (Credit: Instagram/sooyaaa__)

To achieve this RSF – Resting Smizing Face – people go through a surgical procedure where the doctor takes fat tissue from the abdomen or thighs and injects it to the undereye for volume. You can also get it with a hyaluronic acid filler injection or a procedure called Aegyo Sal, where a graft is surgically inserted under the lower eyelashes to encourage tissue growth in the area. 

If anything surgical is too intense for you, you can always achieve aegyo sal with a matte brown eyeshadow and a highlighter or white eyeshadow if you’re not into shimmer. Stand in front of a mirror and smize. With a small eyeshadow brush, apply the brown eyeshadow just under the natural aegyo sal you get when you smile. Remember, a little goes a long way, and don’t forget to blend. Next, apply the highlighter over the puffy area, concentrating on the inner corners and blending outward. 

Aegyo Sal vs. Good Old Eye Bags

The main difference is the location of the bags and the color. Aegyo sal becomes apparent when you smile; eye bags are there no matter what your expression is. Eye bags can also be darker and tend to sit lower under the eyes. 

If you’re wondering how to remove eye bags, it’s not as simple as drawing on an aegyo sal (although you can still cover the dark circles by applying concealer). The tricks are getting enough sleep, hydration, and eliminating sugary foods in your diet. You can also use an eye cream that brightens and firms the skin around the eyes, making it a better canvass for those little charming pockets of skin. POND’S Age Miracle Eye Cream has an anti-aging formula that combines blur technology and Retinol Complex, which smoothens and firms the skin around the eyes.

Eye bags or no eye bags, be sure to take care of your skin, especially around the delicate eye area. Whether they’re charming pockets of fat or deep, dark tokens of a sleepless night, they’re all yours, and you’ve just got to own them!