- Baking soda is purported to be an easy at-home treatment for dark circles.
- However, its alkaline properties and abrasiveness make it harmful to the skin.
- Other at-home and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are more effective and safer alternatives for treating dark circles.
Dark circles fall into two groups: 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?
Baking soda is a common product used in the home to lighten stains. Theoretically, its bleaching and exfoliating properties can lighten hyperpigmentation in the skin as well, but whether it can actually do so has not been studied.
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 possible that some people have experienced success with this method, but that evidence is completely anecdotal.
DIY baking soda mask recipe
To use baking soda to treat dark circles, try this recipe:
- Combine 2 tbsp baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste
- Apply the mixture under the eyes using the back of a spoon
- After 10–15 minutes, wash your face thoroughly and follow with a moisturizer
Not only is baking soda not proven to manage dark under-eye circles, it can also be harmful to the skin in a number of ways.
First, its alkaline properties can unbalance the natural acidity of healthy skin. The surface of the skin is protected from contaminants such as bacteria and viruses by a thin film of sebum and sweat known as the acid mantle. Use of alkaline products such as baking soda can break down this skin barrier and expose the skin to irritation and infection.
Second, dermatologists state 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 than baking soda for treating dark circles. Both all-natural remedies and OTC products can work well, although the latter might work more quickly.
At-home remedies for dark circles include almond oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is a sclerosant, meaning it can shrink blood vessels under the skin to reduce their appearance below the eyes.
To treat hyperpigmentation, consider rose water or lemon juice, which bleaches skin naturally; apple cider vinegar may also lighten pigmentation.
If your dark circles are accompanied by puffiness, something cold (such as cucumber slices or a cold compress) may reduce the puffiness and constrict blood vessels to make them less visible.
As an alternative to baking soda, turmeric is also anecdotally considered useful in lightening dark circles under eyes. However, its effectiveness has not been studied.
While coconut oil is sometimes recommended to treat dark circles, its comedogenic or blackhead-causing properties outweigh its potential benefits for most people. If your skin can tolerate the oil, you can massage it into your under-eye area at night, but other treatments are more effective at reducing dark circles.
These at-home treatments must be administered repeatedly over time; if results do appear, it will be after a few weeks or months of consistent use.
For faster results, OTC topicals can also reduce dark circles. Products containing hydroquinone or arbutin can lighten hyperpigmentation below the eyes safely over time.
To address under-eye dark circles caused by dehydration and thinning skin, you can incorporate a moisturizer or anti-aging 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 accompany them) can be addressed by changing harmful lifestyle habits such as not drinking enough water and chronic lack of sleep.
For an instant fix, an under-eye concealer is always an option.
Lastly, there are several noninvasive and minimally-invasive procedures that can quickly get rid of dark circles.
Although it may be tempting to try a method that claims to treat 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 such as lemon juice to specifically formulated skin care products, are safer and more effective than baking soda for treating dark circles.
- Ahmad, Z. (2010). The uses and properties of almond oil. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 16(1), 10–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.06.015
- Pilkington, S. J., Belden, S., & Miller, R. A. (2015). The Tricky Tear Trough: A Review of Topical Cosmeceuticals for Periorbital Skin Rejuvenation. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 8(9), 39–47. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587894/
- Smit, N., Vicanova, J., & Pavel, S. (2009). The hunt for natural skin whitening agents. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(12), 5326–5349. doi:10.3390/ijms10125326