- Baking soda is purportedly an easy at-home treatment for dark circles
- However, its alkaline properties and abrasiveness make it harmful to the skin
- Other at-home and OTC treatments are more effective at treating dark circles
Dark circles come in two forms: brown circles caused by hyperpigmentation and purple circles caused by thinning skin and visible veins below the eyes
Baking soda, the common name for sodium bicarbonate, is sometimes cited as a home remedy to reduce dark circles under the eyes due to hyperpigmentation. However, there are a number of reasons why baking soda should not be used for this purpose.
How Does Baking Soda Treat Dark Circles Under the Eyes?
Theoretically, baking soda’s bleaching and exfoliating properties can lighten hyperpigmentation in the skin just as it can lighten stains on many other surfaces. Whether it can actually do so has not been studied.
DIY baking soda mask recipe
One recipe involves mixing baking soda and water into a paste and applying under the eyes with the back of a spoon, like a face mask.
Another is to mix a tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of hot water, soak two cotton pads in the solution, and place the pads over the under-eye area.
After 10-15 minutes, remove the cotton pads if you’re using them and wash your face thoroughly to remove the residue, then follow up with a moisturizer.
Does It Actually Work?
There is no scientific evidence to support baking soda’s ability to get rid of dark circles under the eyes. It’s not impossible that some people have experienced success with this method, but that evidence is completely anecdotal.
Not only is baking soda ineffective for managing dark under-eye circles, but it can also be harmful to the skin in a number of ways.
Firstly, its alkaline properties can unbalance the natural acidity of healthy skin. The surface of the skin is protected from contaminants like bacteria and viruses by a thin film of sebum and sweat known as the acid mantle. Use of alkaline products like baking soda can break down this skin barrier and expose the skin to irritation and infection.
Secondly, dermatologists say that baking soda is too abrasive to be used regularly on the delicate skin below the eyes. Its exfoliating properties may cause redness and irritation.
Alternatives to Baking Soda
There are more effective at-home options for treating dark circles than baking soda. Both all-natural remedies and over the counter (OTC) products can work well, though the latter might work more quickly.
To treat hyperpigmentation, rose water or lemon juice, which bleaches skin naturally, can be used. Lemon juice can also lighten dark spots and pigmentation elsewhere on your face, as can apple cider vinegar.
If your dark circles are accompanied by puffiness, anything cold (from cucumber slices to a cold compress) may reduce the puffiness and constrict blood vessels to make them less visible below the eyes.
Coconut oil and turmeric may be useful as well for dark circles under eyes, but their effects are not well studied.
These at-home treatments must be administered repeatedly over time; results will appear after a few weeks or months.
For faster results, over the counter topicals like hydroquinone and arbutin can reduce hyperpigmentation.
Under-eye dark circles caused by dehydration and thinning skin can be addressed by incorporating a moisturizer or eye cream containing peptides, hyaluronic acid, retinoids, or vitamin C into your regular skin care routine.
Additionally, dark circles (and the puffy eyes that often come with them) can be addressed changing lifestyle habits such as not drinking enough water and lack of sleep. For an instant fix, an under-eye concealer is always an option, too. Some concealers are even formulated with anti-aging ingredients to treat dark circles in the long term.
Though it may be tempting to try easy “beauty hacks” for dark circles, this one is not worth the risk. The alkaline nature of baking soda can strip the skin of its natural barriers against infection, while its exfoliating properties are too harsh for the delicate skin under your eyes.
Other methods, ranging from simple at-home remedies like lemon juice to specifically formulated beauty products, are safer and more effective than baking soda for treating dark circles.