It’s happened to all of us. No matter how much sleep you get, and how many bottles of water you drink in a day, you have dark circles under the eyes. They can make themselves known after a late night at work, a long haul flight or simply due to the natural aging process.
Related: Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles
There are a few things that cause dark circles. Some of it is stress and hormonal changes. Genetics also play a part. Olive and darker skinned women simply have more melanin under the eyes, which shows up as dark circles. Another reason is shadows caused by eye contours, which increase with age. The skin around the eyes is three to five times thinner than the rest of the face, so it’s no wonder our bad habits (and genetics) show up here. As we age, skin becomes thinner and loses its collagen, so veins around the eyes are more noticeable and make the under eye area look blue or purple. Sunbathing also accelerates the breakdown of collagen so if you need one more reason to slather on SPF, think of your under eye circles.
Concealer can perform miracles but it’s not the only weapon in the fight against dark circles. Here’s a look at other ways to get rid of dark circles, ranging from natural home remedies to finding the right eye cream.
- Get Cleaned Up Sometimes dark circles can be the result of eye makeup residue. After washing your face, make sure to wipe away any traces of eye makeup using a cotton bud (or cotton pad) dipped in oil-free makeup remover. Be gentle- pat, don’t rub. If you prefer a natural makeup remover, try jojoba or coconut oil. If you use a cleansing towel, don’t rub back and forth, which can irritate the skin. Instead, use gentle strokes in one direction.
- Apply Tea Bags Caffeinated tea can help reduce dark circles under the eyes. Green and black teas have some of the highest concentrations of caffeine. They contain tannins and are natural diuretics, meaning the teas can help shrink blood vessels, thereby minimizing the appearance of dark circles. Here’s how they work. Steep two tea bags in hot water, and then let them chill in the refrigerator. Squeeze out the excess water and place them on the eye, and let them sit for about 15-20 minutes. Or just freeze and ice cube tray of green tea and apply a cube as necessary.
- Reach for SPF The sun’s UV rays can damage collagen production in the skin, leading to fine lines and a hollow look under the eyes. Protect yourself by applying sunscreen every single day. Choose an eye cream with a high SPF so it becomes an automatic step in your skin care routine. Look for one containing zinc oxide, which is a physical barrier against the sun’s rays, or titanium dioxide. Remember to buy an eye cream that doesn’t contain SPF for night time use.
- Destress At The Gym Stress can dilate blood vessels and cause them to break, and when the blood oxidizes, it becomes a dark shade of purple. To minimize these dark circles, try to minimize stress as much as possible. One of the healthiest ways to destress is exercise. Hit the gym, do yoga or go for a run. Exercise releases endorphins, helps with blood circulation and leaves you with a healthy glow while also keeping under eye circles at bay. So go on, sweat it out.
- Massage Gentle massage around the eye area helps to encourage blood flow circulation which can lead to less noticeable dark circles. Be gentle, and use an oil or rich cream to avoid any pulling and tugging of the eye area. Try almond or coconut oil, or double up on your favorite eye cream.
- Quit Smoking If you haven’t already stopped smoking, quit. Today. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body as well as your face. Nicotine restricts blood flow, thereby accelerating the aging process, so smokers tend to have deeper wrinkles, creases and hollower eyes than non-smokers. The chemicals in tobacco damage collagen and elastin, which causes skin to sag and crease. Another reason to quit? The physical act of inhaling, ie pursing your lips, may also contribute to wrinkles.
- Vitamin C Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits as well as some vegetables, helps promote collagen production and blood circulation, which can tackle dark circles under the eyes. The next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on oranges, tangerines, and melon, as well as broccoli, bell peppers and cabbage. Try to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day, not only for vitamin C but for a whole range of vitamins and nutrients.
- Apply a Color Corrector A color correcting palette can neutralize the dark purple, blue tinge of under eye circles. Unlike a concealer, which should match your skin tone, a color corrector works by applying one color to cancel out another. Think back to the color wheel. For example, applying orange and red hues can cancel out dark circles. Start lightly and build layers as needed.
- Take an Antihistamine Many times, dark circles are caused by allergies but many people don’t realize they have them. See your doctor to determine if your allergies are seasonal or food related, but in the meantime, try taking an over the counter antihistamine.
- Try Vitamin K If you feel you need another boost beyond vitamin C, try vitamin K. It helps blood clot and can prevent bruising, so it can tackle purple under eye circles. Vitamin k is found in kale, collard greens, chicken and hard cheeses.
- MicroNeedler A microneedler works by creating tiny wounds to the skin with fine needles, triggering the body’s natural healing process and kickstarting collagen production. Think of it as a controlled injury to the skin to boost the healing process. The result? It can reduce puffy eyes and help brighten skin. A dermatologist or aesthetician can do this, and a numbing cream is applied before the procedure. You can also do this at home by purchasing your own dermarollers- although you won’t be able to go as deep as a pro. If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, it is best to skip this.
- Dab On Concealer Makeup can work wonders on dark circles. Choose a lightweight concealer that closely matches your skin tone; if you go too light, you’ll end up with dreaded raccoon eyes. Start by dotting on concealer with a brush, sponge, or your finger, and work it towards the outer corner of the eye. Gently brush powder on top to set the concealer and give it all-day staying power. Some people prefer a concealer that can blur the area, thanks to micro particles.
- Don’t Touch The skin under the eyes is extremely thin and sensitive, and can be damaged easily. Sometimes over zealous rubbing or tugging at the eyes can cause bruising, make the under eye area look dark and purple. Try not to rub your eyes, even if you’re fatigued. Constantly itchy eyes could be the sign of allergies so see your doctor if you’re concerned.
- Lighten and Brighten If your dark under eye circles are caused by increased pigmentation, use a lightening/brightening cream around the eyes to gently fade the area. Look for vitamin C, kojic acid and licorice extract, which all help to lighten skin pigmentation over time. Clinique’s Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector glides on easily with a metal applicator tip, and helps to brighten the eye area while leaving it refreshed and hydrated. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum’s is lightweight, and tackles dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles while you sleep.
- Pump Iron Many women are iron deficient (check with your doctor though to be sure). Apart from causing fatigue, low iron can also make dark under eye circles look worse. Boost your iron intake by eating dark, leafy greens and red meat. If you don’t eat meat, lentils, figs and tofu are also good sources of iron.
- Apply A Retinol Cream If your dark circles stem from having thin skin, apply a retinoid. This Vitamin A derivative helps to stimulate collagen production, which thickens the skin and helps to improve the appearance of dark circles. Apply the cream gently with a tapping motion. Retinols are powerful so start slowly with a tiny amount, and make sure to moisturize the eye area to combat any dryness or irritation.
- Change How You Sleep If you always wake up with puffy eyes, consider that gravity is working against you. If you sleep face down or on your side, fluid buildup can make dark shadows under the eyes look worse. Try to sleep on your back if possible, or buy a special pillow to help keep your body in position.
- Catch Your Zzzs It’s called beauty sleep for a good reason. We all need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, to give our bodies a chance to heal and repair. Otherwise? We wake up to dark circles, look tired and can have a dull complexion. Our body’s hydration is rebalanced at night, but without adequate time to get rid of excess water, this can lead to puffy bags and under-eye circles, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles. Sleep deficiency can also cause inflammation and an increase breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which give the skin its firmness and suppleness.
- Use Essential Oils Essential oils can help with everything from making you feel relaxed to more alert. They can also work to tackle dark circles and puffiness by tackling inflammation and nourishing skin. Essential oils such as lavender, German chamomile or rosemary essential oil must be diluted to use around the eye area, so blend with coconut or almond oil and gently tap around the eye area.
- Boost Your Collagen Intake Collagen is a protein found in our skin and connective tissues; think of it as a building block for skin, hair and bones. As we get older, collagen production starts to decrease, leadng to fine lines and hollows under the eyes. Although there is plenty of buzz around collagen supplements, it can also be found in bone broth. Fruits and vegetables also help support collagen production.
- Apply The Right Eye Cream The right eye cream should do a little bit of everything. It should hydrate the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as tackle fine lines and help brighten the skin. Advanced Dermatology’s Youthful Boost Eye Cream delivers a quick pick me up to the eye area, and offers long-lasting results. The formula nourishes the skin with jojoba oil, and it also soothes the eye area, thanks to the anti-inflammatory neem leaf extract. Other key ingredients include squalene, an oil that is considered a cure-all it mimics the skin’s natural sebum and improves elasticity.