- Dark circles under the eyes are caused by visible veins or hyperpigmentation.
- Natural remedies may help reduce their appearance.
- Effective eye cream treatments contain peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and arbutin.
- Preventative measures include ample sleep and hydration, proper diet and SPF skin protection.
Dark circles under the eyes are a common complaint for all ages and skin types. There are a number of factors that contribute to their development and a wide range of options to treat them.
Laser and surgical procedures are used to treat truly stubborn dark circles. But for many the problem can often be solved at home for substantially less cost. Dark circles may also be prevented by adopting good habits.
Why You Develop Dark Circles
Dark circles can appear for a number of reasons, and it is important to understand the reason for their appearance in order to treat them effectively. There are two general categories of dark circles under the eyes.
Purple dark circles occur when veins become visible under the skin below the eye. They are usually caused by lifestyle and aging.
Brown dark circles are the result of hyperpigmentation—the darkening of skin caused by increased production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. These dark circles often extend to the upper eyelid and are more prevalent among people with darker or olive-toned skin.
Can You Get Rid of Dark Circles Overnight?
If you wake up one morning with purplish dark circles that weren’t there previously, chances are you are dehydrated, ill or had a poor night’s sleep.
If that’s the case, returning to proper sleeping habits and drinking plenty of water will resolve your dark circles within a day or two. If you’re sick, the dark circles will likely resolve when your illness does.
Chronic dark circles, however, might take a little longer to eliminate.
How long does it take to get rid of dark circles?
The amount of time it takes to get rid of dark circles depends on the cause. Purple dark circles caused by lifestyle habits should resolve within a few days or weeks of better sleep and nutrition; quitting smoking also helps.
If your dark circles are due to hyperpigmentation, at-home solutions will require several weeks to months to generate noticeable improvement.
Use a concealer
The quickest, albeit most temporary, solution for dark circles is an under-eye concealer. Concealers are available for all skin tones and can effectively brighten your under-eye area for the day.
Start at the innermost part of the socket and work the product outward for a natural look. If your skin is dehydrated, prepare your face first with a good moisturizer and look for a concealer with a creamy, hydrating formulation.
How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Naturally
If you don’t wear makeup or are looking for a more long-term solution, you might consider one of these natural remedies for dark circles.
Lemon juice is formulated into skin-lightening products and can also be used on its own to treat hyperpigmentation. It’s recommended to dilute a teaspoon of lemon juice with a teaspoon of tomato juice before applying to the undereye area with a cotton ball. Leave on for ten minutes before rinsing and repeat a few times a week.
As the bleaching properties of lemon juice are mild, several weeks if not months of consistent use are necessary to remove dark circles.
Rose water contains antioxidants that can brighten dark under-eye circles. It’s mild enough to apply directly to even sensitive skin. Soak two cotton pads in rose water and place over your eyes for 15 minutes once a day to reap its benefits. It may take several weeks to see results.
Green tea has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. As a quick fix for dark circles caused by visible veins, brew two green tea bags and allow them to chill in the refrigerator before placing them over your closed eyelids.
The caffeine in the cold tea bags constricts blood vessels, minimizing their appearance, and the cool temperature will help reduce any puffiness.
Chilled cucumber slices
Another DIY remedy for dark circles due to visible veins is chilled cucumber: the antioxidant properties of the fruit reduces irritation. Cut two thick slices and place over the eyes for 5–10 minutes.
You can also blend or mash up a cucumber. Simply soak cotton pads in the juice and place over the eyes for a similar result.
Milk contains lactic acid which can help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffy eyes. Soak two cotton balls in cold milk and apply over the eyes for a few minutes.
|Lemon juice||Can lighten hyperpigmentation||May take months of regular use|
|Green tea bags||Soothes irritation and inflammation||Can’t treat hyperpigmentation|
|Chilled cucumber||Soothes irritation||Can’t treat hyperpigmentation|
|Rose water||Can be used on sensitive skin||Efficacy not well known|
|Cold milk||Contains lactic acid||Efficacy not well known|
Best Skin Care Products for Dark Circles Under the Eyes
There’s a wide variety of under-eye creams designed to treat dark circles. The following key ingredients found in these creams can help reduce the appearance of veins or hyperpigmentation and can sometimes address both.
This moisturizing acid is naturally produced in the skin, but levels tend to dip as skin ages and is exposed to environmental factors such as the sun.
Regular application of a skin care product containing hyaluronic acid helps skin retain moisture, reducing the visibility of veins below the surface. As an added bonus, hyaluronic acid can reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eye.
Hyaluronic acid is best suited for people with dark circles caused by thin skin and volume loss.
These amino acid chains are receiving a lot of attention in the beauty and skin care world. Peptides promote collagen production, making them ideal for treating under-eye volume loss due to aging. Similar to hyaluronic acid, it can’t treat hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C can benefit anyone with dark circles, no matter the cause. It lightens hyperpigmentation while simultaneously promoting collagen production and protects skin from harmful environmental factors. Store in a cool dry place as it oxidizes rapidly if not stabilized.
Arbutin is a hydroquinone derivative used for lightening hyperpigmentation. Unlike hydroquinone, which has long been used for treating skin discoloration, it is not cytotoxic, meaning it doesn’t destroy living cells.
Arbutin treats hyperpigmentation and isn’t suitable for treating dark circles that are due to volume loss or visible veins.
|Hyaluronic acid||Treats thin skin and volume loss||Can’t correct hyperpigmentation|
|Peptides||Treats thin skin and volume loss||Can’t correct hyperpigmentation|
|Vitamin C||Treats dark circles due to multiple causes||Oxidizes rapidly if not stabilized|
|Arbutin||Treats hyperpigmentation||Can’t disguise visible veins|
Lifestyle Tips to Prevent the Appearance of Dark Circles
In many cases, dark circles are a direct result of lifestyle. By replacing bad habits with good ones, it can be easy to eliminate your dark circles—or narrow down the possible causes of why you’re experiencing them.
Get a good night’s sleep
Lack of sleep is a common factor in developing dark circles. Proper sleeping habits (7–8 hours a night for adults) can help reduce their appearance and prevent dark circles from appearing in the first place.
A diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent dark circles. Vitamin K improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of veins under the eyes from enlarging and becoming more visible.
Protect against the sun
When skin is exposed to the sun, it produces melanin, which can create irregular hyperpigmentation. The skin under the eyes is particularly delicate, making it especially susceptible to darkening under the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Regular use of an SPF-containing cream can help prevent or slow the development of dark circles due to UV exposure.
When to See a Doctor
If at-home remedies and lifestyle changes do not improve your dark circles, seek the advice of a dermatologist to determine what’s causing them and to find a more aggressive course of treatment.
While dark circles are not usually a cause for alarm, they can in some instances, be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. If your dark circles do not improve or worsen over time, see a doctor to address any health issues.
There are many options available to address dark circles under the eyes—from DIY remedies using ingredients from your kitchen—to the vast array of skin care products available at pharmacies and beauty supply stores.
Look for skin care products containing antioxidants such as vitamin C or try DIY options such as cucumber slices and cold green tea. If your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, lemon juice applied topically and skin-brightening skin care products such as arbutin can help lighten them.
Additionally, sleeping and eating well, as well as protecting your skin from the sun with an SPF-containing moisturizer, should be your first line of defense against dark circles.
If your dark circles persist after trying these at-home solutions, there are a variety of options available as a next step.
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