Dark circles under the eyes are a common cosmetic complaint that many people wish to get rid of. Medically known as periorbital hyperpigmentation, dark circles are characterized by darker pigmentation and discoloration under the eyes.
While not typically dangerous or indicative of any serious medical issue, dark undereye circles can make people appear tired, stressed or older than they are. Thankfully, there are many proven ways to lighten and reduce the appearance of dark circles, from home remedies to cosmetic procedures. This article will discuss 20 easy ways to get rid of dark circles under eyes.
Symptoms of Dark Circles Under Eyes
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dark undereye circles include:
Darker pigmentation under the eyes compared to the surrounding skin. Can range from bluish-purple to brown in color.
Dullness, paleness and a sunken look in the under eye area.
Mild to moderate puffiness or swollen bags under the eyes.
Dark circles that are more noticeable in the morning.
Thin, crepey looking skin under the eyes.
Discoloration accompanied by redness, itching or irritation from allergies.
Darkening only under one eye, indicating potential medical issue.
Get Rid of Dark Circles under Eyes
What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes?
Numerous factors can contribute to dark circles under eyes. Here are the most common causes:
Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation: Lack of rest often leads to skin paleness, which makes the dark tissues and blood vessels beneath your skin more visible. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body’s circulatory system overcompensates by producing more oxygen-rich blood, whose dark purple or red color can be seen through the skin.
Aging: As we age, our skin naturally becomes thinner and loses collagen, making the blood vessels more prominent. This process is a part of natural aging and is something that every one of us will face at some point in our lives.
Dehydration: When your body is not adequately hydrated, the skin beneath your eyes can start to dull and sink in, creating a hollow area. As this area becomes darker, the dark circles appear more noticeable.
Sun Overexposure: Overexposure to the sun can trigger an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with color. Too much sun — particularly for your eyes — can cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken, leading to the appearance of dark circles.
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: Both smoking and drinking alcohol can contribute to dark circles. They lead to dehydration, which as we’ve already discussed, can darken the skin under your eyes. These activities also lead to sleep disturbances, which can exacerbate under-eye circles.
Poor Diet: Lack of a balanced diet can lead to a nutrient deficiency, causing the skin to look pale and the dark circles to appear more prominent. Foods high in salt can cause your body to retain water, leading to puffiness under your eyes.
Allergies: Allergies trigger the release of histamines in the body, which, in turn, inflame the blood vessels and cause swelling. This can result in dark circles due to the thin skin under the eyes revealing the blood vessels and blood flow beneath.
Genetics: Unfortunately, dark circles can also be the result of heredity. Just like various other traits, they can run within a family and are an inherited trait. If your parents or grandparents have dark circles, you’re more likely to have them too.
20 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Dark Circles Naturally
1. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep each night to allow your body proper rest and recovery. Establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating to help promote sleepiness.
Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and very dark – consider blackout curtains and a comfortable eye mask and earplugs to block out any light or noise that may disrupt deep sleep.
Sleeping on your back can also help prevent fluid buildup under the eyes overnight. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and soothe muscle tension with stretches or massage before bed. Getting sufficient deep sleep is essential for reducing eye fatigue.
2. Apply Cold Compresses
Cold Spoons eyes
Soak a soft, clean washcloth or cotton pads in ice water. Ring out any excess moisture so the compress is not dripping wet. Gently press and hold the cold compress over your closed eyelids and under eye area for 10-15 minutes, especially after waking up.
The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, helping to reduce fluid buildup, puffiness, and darkened color. Continue to use fresh cold compresses daily or as needed to minimize swelling and shadows under the eyes. This can provide immediate results.
3. Use Cucumber Slices
Peel and slice a chilled cucumber. Place the slices in the refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to use. Cucumbers contain mild skin-lightening and astringent properties like vitamin C and caffeic acid which can temporarily brighten dark under eye circles. Carefully place a cucumber slice over each of your closed eyes.
Relax and leave the cooling slices in place for 15-20 minutes to allow the active compounds to work their magic while the cool temperature helps soothe inflammation. Do this daily.
4. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Proper hydration is vital for reducing puffy eyes and dark circles. Try to drink at least 64 ounces (2 liters) of water daily. Also consume antioxidant-rich drinks like green tea, chamomile tea, and fresh fruit or vegetable juices.
Eat plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables too, like cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, oranges, carrots, celery, and berries. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages which can actually dehydrate you. Drinking adequate fluids improves circulation and reduces retention of fluids under the eyes.
5. Apply Aloe Vera Gel
Pure aloe vera gel is naturally rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like polysaccharides as well as antioxidants like vitamin C and E. These healing properties help strengthen the thin skin around the eyes.
Use clean fingers to gently dab a layer of pure aloe vera gel around your eye area. Let it fully absorb into the skin before going to bed. The soothing gel can both reduce inflammation and help constrict tiny vessels that contribute to darkening over time. Use daily.
6. Use Metal Spoons
Keep a few metal spoons in your refrigerator so they stay chilled. The cold metal surface, when applied gently under eyes, provides an instant cooling effect to the skin by constricting blood vessels and reducing fluid buildup and puffiness.
Do not ever place the spoons directly on top of your eyeballs. Simply apply the rounded back of a cold spoon under each eye for 5-10 minutes as needed throughout the day. The cooling sensation can help revive tired eyes.
7. Take an Oral Vitamin C Supplement
Vitamin C plays a key role in collagen synthesis and connective tissue health. Take 1,000 – 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily as a supplement, along with eating vitamin C-rich fruits like oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, and red bell peppers.
Vitamin C helps strengthen blood vessels, capillaries, and the delicate skin around the eyes to minimize bruising and darkening over time.
8. Apply Vitamin K Eye Cream
Look for an eye cream formula that contains vitamin K oxide or retinol as an active ingredient. Vitamin K helps reduce bruising and discoloration by strengthening the tiny capillaries around the eyes that can cause dark shadows.
Gently dab the cream around your entire under eye area after applying face moisturizer at night. Use consistently for best results.
9. Use Hemorrhoid Cream
Some over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams contain active ingredients like phenylephrine that can temporarily shrink puffy eyes or under-eye bags by constricting blood vessels. Very gently dab a rice-sized amount of hemorrhoid cream around the eye contour using your ring finger once or twice daily. Never apply cream inside your actual eyes. Use this treatment only for short-term relief.
10. Massage the Eye Area
Use the pads of your ring fingers to gently massage from the inner corners of your eyes outward in small circular motions. Apply light pressure for 1-2 minutes around the entire under eye region down to the top of your cheekbones. Regular massage can increase circulation, improve drainage of fluids, and minimize pooling of blood and lymph that leads to puffiness and darkened circles.
11. Limit Exposure to Allergens
Allergic reactions can cause eyes to become red, swollen, irritated, and itchy – leading to much rubbing and touching that will only worsen under eye puffiness and dark circles. Try to identify any allergies you may have through testing.
Clean your home regularly, change air filters often, take oral antihistamines as needed, and avoid directly touching or rubbing your face and eyes. Reducing exposure to pollutants and allergens can prevent unnecessary irritation of the delicate eye area.
12. Quit Smoking
Smoking severely damages collagen and elastin, which weakens the thin skin around the eyes over time. Toxins in cigarette smoke also restrict blood flow which can create a hollow, sunken appearance under eyes.
For healthier, brighter eyes, avoid smoking cigarettes or exposure to second-hand smoke which can worsen dark circles and age your skin prematurely. Ask your doctor for smoking cessation aids if needed.
13. Sun Protection
Overexposure to the sun can cause your body to produce an excess of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with color, leading to pigmentation in the surrounding skin that can result in dark circles. To protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, apply a high-SPF sunscreen around your eyes, wear sunglasses, and use a hat or an umbrella when you step out into the sun.
14. Healthy Diet
Including a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A, C, E, and antioxidants can help to nourish your skin from within and fight off the damage caused by free radicals. Foods rich in vitamin E like almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and spinach can help to moisturize the skin and keep it hydrated.
Vitamin A-rich foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins promote a healthy skin complexion. Foods loaded with vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, kiwi, and bell peppers, are known to boost collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles.
15. Tea Bags
Tea Bags For Puffy Eyes
Tea bags can do more than brew a comforting hot drink. The caffeine present in tea bags improves blood circulation around the eyes and also reduces liquid retention, which can help with dark circles and puffiness. Soak two tea bags in hot water, let them cool, and then place them over your closed eyelids for about 10-15 minutes. You can do this daily until you see improvement.
16. Almond Oil
Almond oil is a wonderful source of vitamin E and is an effective natural ingredient that can help to lighten dark circles. Before hitting the sack, apply some almond oil over your dark circles and massage it gently into the skin as a part of your nightly routine. Leave the oil on overnight and wash it off with cold water the next morning.
17. Rose Water
Rose water isn’t just refreshing, but it is also a good remedy for rejuvenating the skin and reducing dark circles. Soak cotton balls in rose water for a couple of minutes. Then, place them on your closed eyelids and leave them for about 15 minutes. Follow this remedy twice daily for a few weeks.
Tomatoes have natural bleaching properties that can lighten skin color to a great extent. Mix one teaspoon of tomato juice with one and a half teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply this mixture to your dark circles and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Rinse it off well with coolwater. Follow this remedy twice a day for a few weeks to notice significant improvement.
19. Orange Juice
A great way to remove dark circles is by using orange juice. Mix some orange juice with a few drops of glycerin and apply this mixture over the dark circles. Not only will it diminish the dark circles, but it will also give a natural glow to your eyes. Follow this remedy daily until the dark circles disappear.
20. Yoga or Meditation
One of the main reasons for dark circles is the increase in stress and anxiety. Yoga and meditation can greatly help to not only reduce dark circles but also to improve your overall health. The practice of certain yoga postures and meditation reduces stress and restores your body’s balance, which in turn improves the condition of your skin.
Medical Treatments for Dark Circles
If home remedies and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to improve your dark circles, it might be time to consider medical treatments. These should be discussed with a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon to ensure they’re the right choice for you. Some of the options include:
Skin Lightening Creams: These creams can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles. They often contain ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, and hydroquinone.
Chemical Peels: Chemical peels, administered by a professional, can help to reduce dark pigmentation around the eyes.
Fillers: Dermal fillers, such as hyaluronic acid fillers, can be injected under the eyes to improve volume and reduce the appearance of dark circles caused by thinning skin and fat loss.
Laser Therapy: Laser therapy can help to stimulate collagen production and improve the overall appearance of the skin, reducing the appearance of dark circles.
Surgery: In some cases, dark circles are caused by excess skin or fat under the eyes. In these cases, cosmetic surgery may be an option. This should be considered a last resort, and you should discuss all the potential risks and benefits with your doctor.
Signs It’s Time to See a Doctor About Dark Circles
You should seek medical advice from a dermatologist or oculoplastic surgeon for dark undereye circles if:
No improvement is seen after diligently practicing self-care remedies for 1 month or longer.
The darkness and puffiness is very pronounced and aesthetically bothering.
You have sudden onset of dark circles along with eye irritation, bruising or rapid swelling.
Discoloration is significantly worse under just one eye rather than both. This can indicate infection, cysts or blocked tear ducts.
Dark circles are accompanied by concerning symptoms like eye pain, numbness, severe headaches or vision changes.
You have a family history of hyperpigmentation disorders or autoimmune conditions.
You have never had dark circles before but they recently developed and are progressive.
Your under eye skin feels rigid, thickened or bumpy, signalling potential skin disease.