Dark circles present as areas of darker skin directly below your eyes. They are one of the most common skincare problems, and their appearance can make you look older and stressed.
You don't have to put up with it though, and there's a few different methods you can use to help you get rid of dark eye circles.
What Causes Dark Circles?
Dark circles appear under your eyes because the skin below your eyes is thinner and more delicate than your surrounding skin. This thin skin allows the blood flow from underneath to be seen on the surface of your skin as a dark blue or purple blotch.
The thickness of your skin is determined by genetics and it's no real fault of your own if a dark color is showing through due to this. In some cases, however, dark circles can be caused by a lack of nutrition, an unhealthy lifestyle, or the medications that you take.
Some of the major causes include:
- Lack of sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Alcohol and drug use
Medications and Dark Circles
The medications you take can contribute to dark circles under your eyes. Any medication that has a vasopressor effect or lowers blood pressure may exacerbate their appearance, and this includes medications like:
- Alpha blockers and beta blockers
- ACE inhibitors
- Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax
- Opiates like morphine and codeine
The condition can also be exacerbated by conditions and medications that affect the quality of your skin. High doses of corticosteroids can thin your skin while also making it looser and more translucent. Medications that make you more susceptible to skin damage from sun exposure can also play a significant role.
Necessary medical treatments should never simply be discontinued except under the guidance of your doctor, but there are ways you can reduce the effect they have on the appearance of your eyes while still taking the medications you need. You also may be able to discuss the impact with your doctor and change medications in some circumstances.
The best way to get rid of dark circles is actually to prevent them in the first place. You may not be able to completely stop them from occurring, but they are much easier to treat if you look at your lifestyle and can determine why you're getting dark eye circles in the first place.
This is even a good way to improve your skin overall because anything contributing to dark circles is also likely negatively affecting your skin as a whole. The skin under your eyes is thin so it shows the signs of poor health and stresses more readily than the rest of your complexion.
In the same way that your eyes may be the window to your soul, the skin under your eyes is the window to your general skin health.
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The first thing you need to look at is your sleep habits. If you barely sleep because you're out late partying or sitting at the computer filling out reports for work, you've likely found the biggest contributing factor to the dark circles under your eyes.
Sleep deprivation causes your skin to appear pale. This, combined with the fact that your skin is already thin under your eyes, leads to more prominent dark circles because the blood underneath is easier to see, and shadows appear harsher on pale skin.
In order to have healthy skin that looks its best, you need to be sleeping at least 8 hours a night. This won't just benefit dark circles either, it will benefit your body as a whole and help you look and feel more vibrant.
Aim to be in bed at a decent time, and have any issues falling asleep or remaining asleep assessed by a doctor and you'll be on the right track towards better health. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule too as it's not just the amount of sleep you get but also the timing that matters.
Another part of your lifestyle that you need to look at is your consumption of alcohol and the types of food you eat. Alcohol acts as a vasopressor, as well as disrupting REM sleep. When you're drinking, you're likely also staying up later at night to do so too.
To reduce the appearance of dark circles, try to cut out as much alcohol as possible. When you do drink, don't go to bed drunk, and try not to stay up too late in order to have quality sleep. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate and this will help to limit the negative effects on your skin.
The food you eat can affect your complexion too, and you need to ensure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals so that your body can produce healthy skin. A deficiency of vitamin A or vitamin C can easily lead to decreased skin quality, as can a lack of other nutrients like protein.
When you provide your body with the right nutrients, your skin is nourished and your complexion is more radiant. Nourished skin is plumper, so the appearance of dark circles is reduced. Proper nutrition helps to maximize collagen production and this itself gives you better skin over time.
Antioxidants are the last part of the puzzle and you shouldn't neglect these either. Many foods or ingredients contain antioxidants but they're found in the highest concentration in fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging your skin and also help to keep it more youthful as you age.
The amount of water that you drink is just as relevant as getting adequate nutrition and limiting harmful practices. You can never get rid of dark circles if you're constantly dehydrated.
Your skin needs water in order to maintain its health and look its best. Dehydration leads to sallow, dull, and thin-looking skin so aim to consume about eight cups of water a day depending on how much hydration you're lacking from your regular diet.
Lastly, as the medications you take can act as vasopressors or thin skin, you need to research all medications you take and know which ones might be making you prone to dark circles.
If vasodilation is the intended effect, as in the treatment of hypertension, you won't be able to change your medication to avoid the dark circles. If blood vessel dilation or thinning of your skin is an unintended side effect, you should consult your doctor and you may be able to change to a medication that doesn't exacerbate your skin.
Dark Circle Prevention Tips
Ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Don't binge drink, and don't drink before bed.
Consult your doctor and change medications if possible.
Treatments for Dark Circles
Prevention can only take you so far, and if your dark circles are mostly influenced by genetics or unavoidable causes, there are a few remedies for dark circles that can help you reduce their appearance:
- Skin-plumping creams
- Topical vasoconstrictors
- Glycolic acid
- Vitamin C serum
- Vitamin A creams
- Dermal filler
A moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated and can reduce dark circles by plumping up the skin. By thickening thin under-eye skin, dark circles are less visible. To use moisturizers, you should cleanse your skin first with a pH-balanced cleanser. This should be followed up with a toner, and then the moisturizer is applied last.
In the same general category, these products are a combination of moisturizing components and other ingredients like hyaluronic acid that make the skin stronger and thicker. Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of skin, and creams that contain it can help your skin look and feel better. Skin-plumping creams should be applied after cleansing and toning, just like regular moisturizers.
Topical vasoconstrictors containing ingredients like caffeine can be applied to dark circles. Because the dark circles are a direct result of thin skin and the appearance of blood vessels under your skin, caffeine helps get rid of dark circles by constricting these blood vessels.
In a topical form, caffeine has a localized action so you don't need to worry about jitters or other side effects that come with consuming caffeine orally. A natural way to get this same effect is to apply a warm teabag to your skin so that the caffeine and tannins in the tea can act to reduce dark circles.
Glycolic acid, which is found in many anti-aging and wrinkle creams these days, is an excellent ingredient to thicken the skin under your eyes over time. This ingredient penetrates the skin, exfoliating it and increasing the amount of collagen. The result is clearer, thicker skin over time, that isn't as susceptible to dark circles.
When using this ingredient, ensure that you use a product specifically designed for under the eyes, as the thin skin here can also increase irritation. Glycolic acid creams designed for around the eyes are formulated to be used on this sensitive skin.
Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C serum is a liquid skincare product that can boost collagen synthesis, even skin tone, and improve the appearance of blemishes. It's also effective for dealing with dark circles, however, because it helps to thicken thin skin and tighten it up.
Vitamin A Creams
Creams containing vitamin A or its synthetic analogs like tretinoin (Retin-A) are one of the strongest products for improving the appearance of your skin. While they can be used under the eyes at low dosage, they often cause too much irritation to be used on delicate areas like this though.
If you don't have sensitive skin, they can be used under the guidance of a dermatologist to make a drastic appearance to the appearance of the skin under your eyes. Just be sure to use a lower concentration than what you would use for the rest of your face and start slowly until your skin is accustomed to the product.
If non-invasive treatments aren't able to get rid of dark circles and you're dealing with a more resistant case, dermal fillers are a minimally invasive and highly safe way to combat your dark circles. These preparations are based on natural ingredients like hyaluronic acid that are injected behind the skin to thicken it.
Because of the way they work, dermal fillers are the most effective and safest way to treat bags under the eyes while still being minimally invasive, so if you have both dark circles and bags under your eyes, this is the simplest treatment to get rid of them. However, dermal fillers should only be applied by a cosmetic surgeon who is experienced with their use.
While these products are incredibly safe and it's highly unlikely for you to suffer an allergic reaction or side effect, they are not without potential side effects. They require professional consultation to ensure they are applied correctly and safely, and that the treatment is the right choice for you. Once applied, they can last as long as a year depending on the type of formula used.
Laser Skin Treatments
Other alternative cosmetic procedures able to treat dark eye circles include laser treatments. Certain kinds of lasers are highly effective for this and they work by boosting collagen production in the area of skin being treated.
This is something that happens over time after each treatment and may require several treatments for the full effect to be realized. It's also something that should be performed by a dermatologist or clinician trained in the operation of this kind of equipment.
Performed correctly, it's highly safe and can be a great long-term way to reduce dark eye circles that haven't responded to more conservative methods.
Hiding Dark Circles
While your dark eye circles are likely to respond when you take preventative measures and follow some of the treatments, sometimes this is unrealistic. If you absolutely must devote long hours to your career or love partying too much to give it up, it may be better to hide them rather than attempt to get rid of dark circles. Luckily, dark circles can be concealed with makeup.
To conceal dark circles, you will need concealer and foundation. The concealer you use should be an orange shade to counteract the blue tones from the blood vessels underneath your skin and normalize your complexion. For foundation, you will require a product that is one shade lighter than your skin tone to brighten up the dark circles.
Makeup Application For Dark Circles
Begin by cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and priming your skin for the best results. Once your skin is prepared, you should apply concealer sparingly to the dark circles, blending it outwards. Follow this up by applying the lighter foundation directly underneath the dark circles, following the line that is formed.
Application of highlighting like this reduces the shadow that appears from bags under the eyes, and brightens up your appearance. You can apply your regular foundation, as usual, taking care to blend it with the lighter shade so that you don't reduce the effect.
See the video below for a great tutorial video demonstrating how you can hide dark eye circles. It will help give you a better idea of how to work with your own skin.
Makeup for Dark Circles
Although ambitious scientists all over the world are searching for a way to change a person's genes for aesthetic purposes, it remains impossible so far. As such, you needn't feel bad about dark circles.
While you can't change your genes to stop them from happening, you can treat them, and take steps to hide them. You can look your best and feel your best by taking care of your skin and many of the guidelines in this article can also help to reduce skin aging and other potential problems in the future too.
Do you have a question about dark eye circles or treatment products? Perhaps you have insight to share with other readers? Leave a comment at the end to share your experience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Maffew James
Browneyedgirl on December 16, 2017:
Any suggestions for dark under eye circles for someone with eczema under eyes? Unfortunately most eye creams cause irritation to my sensitive under eye area setting off my eczema and causing redness, then even darker under eye area. Help!
RosannaTillis on October 18, 2017:
I will keep it short and simple searching for a cure go for....Dermalmd under eye treatment serum..as I was suffering dark circles for 1 year and after using this serum all dark circles vanished out.....
Anchuu on May 02, 2016:
I m having a lot of dark circles besidi using these tips what to do
kavya yadav on June 05, 2015:
i have black dark circles
Nuien Wainwright-Harrower from Malaysia on April 13, 2014:
I am always using moisturizer to prevent myself from getting dark circles under my eyes. But since I became a mother I barely have time just for myself so it's good to find ideas for different alternatives. Thanks
Alfin Loencontre on April 12, 2014:
Useful hub, Thanks.
Maffew James (author) on April 07, 2014:
Well I hope all goes well for you. Let me know how it all turns out :)
Gracie L Sprouse from Virginia on April 07, 2014:
Thank you so much for your response. It is appreciated. No- it never occurred to me to ask my doctor about treating it. I will consider your suggestions.
Maffew James (author) on April 07, 2014:
That's awful! I hope you'll come to see it less as a painful past, and more as your first step into a brighter future.
Have you had it assessed by a doctor at all? You may actually be able to treat it depending on what's causing it. You could have some dark pigmentation that increases the appearance of dark circles, thinner skin due to trauma, or broken blood vessels. Dark pigmentation can be lightened with a laser or skin lightening cream; thinned skin can be plumped up with chemical peels, hyaluronic acid creams, or dermal fillers; and broken blood vessels can be removed with a laser.
I'd recommend seeing a dermatologist for a professional examination and opinion if you haven't already. Most dermatologists offer these kinds of treatments in-house, and you might finally have some closure.
Gracie L Sprouse from Virginia on April 06, 2014:
Really interesting, helpful article. My plight is s little different. One eye becomes very dark when I get tired. It was injured by an ex who smashed my head into a metal car bumper several years ago. Every time I see other people in the day time they question whether or not I have a black eye. I have to constantly answer them. Everyday I have to be reminded of what he did to me.
I don't use make up but I have on occasion used a cover stick to avoid the questions.