What Causes Sunken Eyes – And How to Treat Them



We’ve all had a morning like this. We wake up, glance in the mirror and see that we are anything but bright eyed and bushy tailed. Perhaps more than any other part of our face, our eyes reflect whether or not we’ve had a good night’s sleep. They also reflect our age and perhaps what we ate or drank the night before. This can often show up as sunken, hollow looking eyes with dark circles. But sometimes even after a good night’s sleep, many of us wake up looking tired with hollow eyes.

Here’s a look at what causes sunken eyes, and how to get rid of them.

Related: Best Eye Creams

What Causes Hollow Eyes?

There are multiple things that can be causing your eyes to look sunken and hollow. The skin under the eyes is delicate and thin, so it is prone to showing the signs of aging (and tiredness). Some people may look like they have sunken eyes but it’s really due to under eye circles – the dark areas can make the eyes look more deep set than they really are. Here’s a look at some of the culprits behind hollow and sunken looking eyes.

Genetics and Bone Structure
Genetics and bone structure play a major role in the appearance of the eyes. Some people simply have deep set eye sockets. If your parents had deep set, hollow looking eyes, you may have inherited this trait from them. Deep eye sockets can also make under eye dark circles look worse due to shadows.

As we get older, it is normal to lose collagen in our skin. Collagen is what gives skin its support structure and keep skin firm and bouncy — just think of a baby’s plump, smooth cheek. As our collagen levels dip, the skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity. One of the first places to show the signs of a collagen dip is under the eyes, which can make the eyes look sunken and deep set.

Allergies and Sinus Infections
If you suffer from seasonal allergies and sinus infections, you not only have to deal with a runny nose and itchy eyes but cosmetic side effects as well. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the blood vessels around the nose and eyes, which can trigger dark circles appear, thereby making eyes look hollow.

Dietary Deficiencies
We are what we eat, and a poor diet can often show up on our faces. One of the symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency is easy bruising, which can also manifest itself as dark looking circles under the eyes. A lack of iron can make the skin look pale, while under eye shadows will look more prominent – which causes eyes to look sunken. Any concerns about your diet and nutrition should be addressed with a doctor.

Extreme Weight Loss
If you have suddenly lost a lot of weight due to illness or dieting, the rapid loss of fat can show up in the face. Losing fat from the face can cause it to look hollow and gaunt, which in turn makes eyes look sunken.

Sunken Eyes Caused By Dehydration
One of the most common causes of sunken eyes is due to dehydration. This can be caused by not drinking enough water and excessive sweating, as well as drinking too much caffeine and soda, which can have a diuretic effect. Some medications may also have diuretic side effects.

Lack of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can show up on the face in the form of deep, sunken eyes and dark circles. If you’re not getting a solid eight hours, or if your sleep is constantly interrupted, this can manifest as dark shadows under the eyes. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, blood and fluid tend to linger around the eye area, causing eyes to look hollow and sunken.

Smoking is one of the most harmful things for your body and your health, as well as the appearance of our face. The nicotine in cigarettes accelerates the aging process, including the loss of collagen and elastin. Without optimal collagen and elastin, the skin starts to sag, which makes eyes look more hollow and sunken.

Can You Have Hollow Cheeks And Sunken Looking Eyes?

Another part of the face that can look hollow and sunken is the cheek area, whether or not your body has a normal amount of fat. This is due to a few reasons. Fat distribution is largely genetic, which is why some people may have high body fat but a slim looking face, and vice versa. Cheeks get their fullness from collagen and elastin, which can decrease with age, which is why hollow looking cheeks become more common as we get older. Other culprits such as smoking, sun exposure, and extreme weight loss can also cause hollow looking cheeks.

How To Get Rid of Sunken Eyes

If your eyes look hollow and sunken, there are plenty of ways to help make them look better, ranging from at home remedies to products and in-office procedures. Here’s a breakdown.

Sunken Eye Treatments:

Catch Up On Your Sleep
If dark circles are making your eyes look hollow and sunken, make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but make sure you are getting enough zzz’s that you wake up feeling refreshed. Creating a bedtime routine can help you wind down, and try to stick with a regular sleeping schedule. And remember- there’s a good reason why it’s called beauty sleep.

Cucumber Slices
If you want your eyes to feel as cool as a cucumber (and just as bright), apply chilled cucumber slices to the eye area. Cucumbers can help boost hydration, and soothe tired, dark and puffy eyes – making sunken looking eyes just a little brighter.

Try An Antihistamine
Allergies, especially seasonal allergies such as pollen and hay fever, can effect the eyes by making them look puffy and dark. If you suspect you have allergies, try taking an over the counter antihistamine which will not only help you breathe but make eyes look better too. Speak with a doctor if your allergies are severe.

Cold Compress
Applying something cold to the eye area, whether it is a chilled tea spoon, a bag of frozen peas or an ice cube wrapped in a cloth can help the eye area look brighter. That’s because the cold helps constrict the blood vessels which means dark circles won’t look as prominent. As a result, sunken eyes and circles may look less noticeable.

Hydrate and Massage the Eye Area
Reach for an oil such as coconut or almond and gently apply it around the eye area with your pinkie to help nourish the delicate skin here. A quick eye massage using an oil not only keeps the eye area hydrated, but also boosts blood circulation which may help with the appearance of dark, sunken eyes.

Use Sunscreen Around the Eyes
Your daily moisturizer may contain a high SPF but what about your eye cream? Make sure you use a day time eye cream that contains sun protection as well. Double up on the sun protection by wearing sunglasses and a hat as well.

Concealer is one of the best makeup products to help lighten and brighten the eye area. Choose a shade with a yellow base that is also lighter than your skin tone; this will brighten the eye area and make it pop. Don’t forget to add concealer to the inside corner of the eye as well.

Although you would never want to scrub the eye area with anything harsh, exfoliating here can help soften the look of dark circles and hollow looking eyes. Reach for a product with retinol (a vitamin A derivative which helps encourage cell turnover) or an alpha hydroxy acid which will help shed old skin cells, leaving the eye area looking brighter.

Drink Up
Make sure you are drinking plenty of liquids to help prevent and fix sunken looking eyes that could be caused by dehydration. Skip the fizzy drinks and caffeine and reach for water, herbal teas or water infused with citrus. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.

Apply Tea Bags
If your hollow looking eyes are caused by dark circles, caffeine may help. Green and black teas contain high levels of caffeine and tannins, which can help shrink blood vessels, thereby minimizing the appearance of dark circles. Just steep a few tea bags in hot water, and then chill them in the refrigerator. Squeeze out the excess water and place the tea bags on the eye area for about 15-20 minutes.

Anyone who wants to a fast, dramatic result for hollow eyes can see a dermatologist for an injectable filler. The sunken area beneath the eye will be “filled” with a soft injectable such as hyaluronic acid. The fillers typically last around six months to a year although results vary.

Fat Injections
A patient’s own fat can be harvested and injected under the eye to “fill” the sunken hollows. In this procedure, fat is removed by liposuction usually from the buttocks or abdomen, and then purified before injecting it into the desired area.

Use a Good Eye Cream

While there is no such thing as a miracle product to erase the look of hollow eyes, choosing the right creams can help. 

Carrot & Stick The Eye Cream
If you want to send your under-eye bags packing, reach for The Eye Cream from Carrot & Stick. It tackles bags and puffiness and dark circles with powerhouse plant-based ingredients, including Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin), which helps tighten and protect the delicate skin around the lids. At the same time, St. Paul’s wort (Sigesbeckia Orientalis) stimulates collagen and elastin to help restore vitality.



Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds. Read More


The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Read More

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