Have you ever taken one good look in the mirror in the morning, and thought “Yikes! Dark circles look adorable on a panda bear, but they’re making me look tired AF!” Yeah...same. So what’s the deal? Why do you have dark circles under your eyes? And, what can you do to lessen the look of dark circles?
Don’t worry, we’re here to tell you what causes dark circles under eyes, how to reduce the appearance of dark circles, the best ingredients for dark circles, the best products for dark circles, plus we’ll answer some of your frequently asked questions.
What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes?
The skin around your eyes is different from the skin on the rest of your face. It’s much thinner, and doesn’t have its own oil glands which means that your eye area is more susceptible to signs of aging and environmental stressors, including dark circles.
There are numerous factors that can lead to signs of aging like:
- Genetics - Unfortunately, if one or both of your parents are susceptible to dark circles, chances are you will be too. Skin color can also be a factor. If you’re paler, the blood vessels in your eye area can be more visible. If you have darker skin, your eye area may be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation leading to the look of dark circles.
- Age - The older you get, the less collagen your skin produces making it thinner and more susceptible to dark circles.
- Allergies - If you’re an allergy sufferer, you know how uncomfortable it is to have puffy, itchy eyes. The best thing to do to treat allergies is to talk to your doctor. But, keep in mind that constantly rubbing your eyes to relieve an itch could irritate your blood vessels and lead to dark circles.
- Eye Strain - When your eyes are strained it can cause the blood vessels around your eye area to get bigger. Unfortunately, looking at a screen all day, like many of us have to, can lead to major eye strain.
- Lack of sleep - Fatigue is one of the major causes of dark circles.
- Lack of water - Dehydration is another major cause of dark circles because it makes your skin look dull.
- Sun exposure and hyperpigmentation - Too much sun can lead to an overproduction of melanin, also known as hyperpigmentation. This in turn can lead to the appearance of dark circles under your eyes.
- Smoking - Dark circles are definitely not the worst side effect of smoking, but smoking can accelerate signs of aging including, you guessed it, dark circles.
- Underlying medical conditions - There are medical conditions, like anemia, that can lead to dark circles. If you’re worried that your dark circles are caused by an underlying medical condition, you should contact your doctor.
How to Reduce the Appearance of Dark Circles: 10 Ways.
Now that you know what may be causing your dark circles, here are some tips for how to get rid of appearance of dark circles:
- Get sleep - Your body repairs your skin as you sleep. An adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to be fully rested. To get the most benefit from your beauty rest try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. You may also want to try sleeping with your head elevated on more pillows to keep your eyes from looking puffy and dark in the morning.
- Use an eye cream - An eye cream should be a staple in everyone’s skin care routine no matter if you’re 20, 50, or 80. Natural eye creams are full of beneficial botanicals that can lessen the look of dark circles in the short-term and long-term.
- Use a concealer - A good concealer is like a magic wand. Applied the right way, it can brighten up your eyes and make dark circles disappear. It’s best to use a concealer that is a shade or two lighter than your skin, and apply it in a triangle shape beneath your eye.
- Drink water - Drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day will seriously improve the look of your skin, including reducing the look of dark circles under your eyes.
- Stop rubbing - Itchy eyes can be so uncomfortable! And it’s super tempting to rub them to get it to stop. Not only will this smear your makeup if you’re wearing any, it can make your dark circles look worse. If you suffer from allergies that cause itchy eyes, talk to your physician for treatment options.
- Wear sunscreen - You should be sure to apply a daily facial sunscreen everyday, even in the winter, and even when it’s cloudy. Protecting your skin from the sun is key to keeping your skin fresh and minimizing the look of your dark circles.
- Cut back on the drinks - Alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation, but excessive alcohol consumption can seriously dull the look of your skin. Try to limit yourself to no more than 3 drinks per day or 7 drinks per week.
- Chamomile Tea - Looking for a quick, immediate fix? Placing steeped and cooled chamomile tea bags on your eyes for 30 minutes can help soothe skin and diminish the look of dark circles.
- Take a break from your phone - We are all constantly staring at screens. Computer screens, TV screens, phone screens, sometimes all three at once. All this screen time can seriously strain your eyes, which we know can lead to dark circles. Give your eyes a break using the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20-minutes spent looking at a screen, glance up to something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Talk to your Dermatologist - If you’re looking for a more intense dark circles under eyes treatment, consult your dermatologist. They can perform and prescribe treatments that aren’t available to you in a store like chemical peels, laser therapy, or skin lightening cream.
Best Ingredients for Dark Circles
A natural, effective skincare routine is one of the best ways to keep your skin looking bright and glowing. When looking for skin care products that will lessen look of dark circles, look for ones that contain the below ingredients:
- Caffeine - It’s not just for your morning cup o’ joe. Caffeine can wake up your mind, and reinvigorate the skin around your eye area. It’s full of antioxidants that can minimize the appearance of dark circles.
- Green Tea - Green tea is another antioxidant powerhouse that will diminish the look of dark circles and keep your skin fresh.
- Cucumber - We’ve all seen people at the spa with cucumber slices on their eyes, it turns out adding it to your skincare products is great too! Cucumbers contain antioxidants and silica which can help to brighten your eye area.
- Chamomile - This natural ingredient is bursting with antioxidants and will help to lighten the look of dark circles.
- Vitamin E - Vitamin E has rejuvenating properties that can help to even skin tone, especially around your eye area.
- Vitamin K - Vitamin K can help to lighten the look of dark circles. Unfortunately, many people are vitamin K deficient, and alcohol consumption can make our bodies less able to store it, so it can be beneficial to add it topically.
- Vitamin C - Vitamin C is one of our skincare favorites, and it can help to even skin tone and keep your eye area glowing.
- Hyaluronic Acid - Hyaluronic acid can help to hydrate and plump the skin which makes dark circles appear less visible.
- Ceramides - Ceramides are fats that mimic your skin’s natural oils. They help to moisturize the eye area and reduce the look of dark circles keeping your eye area looking youthful.
- Retinol - Another term for vitamin A, and one of the key ingredients for minimizing the look of dark circles. Retinol helps to plump and firm the skin.
Best Products for Dark Circles Under Eyes
There are specific products that you can start using that will help diminish the appearance of dark circles, and we’ve put together our list of favorites.
An eye cream is a must-have product in any natural skincare routine lineup if you’re looking to diminish the look of dark circles. Fleur & Bee’s Eyes Eyes Baby Eye Cream is natural, 100% vegan, and cruelty free. It’s full of nourishing, hydrating ingredients like squalane, vitamin B3, and glycerin. But, it also contains caffeine, green tea, and vitamin E to help lessen the look of those dark circles.
Alternatively you may want to go for a retinol cream like Tata Harper’s Boosted Contouring Retinol Eye BalmTata Harper’s Boosted Contouring Retinol Eye Balm which uses three sources of vitamin A to help get rid of the appearance of dark circles.
Finding a concealer you love can be a challenge, and one of the best ways to find one that works with your skin tone and that lasts is to go to a beauty store like Sephora or Ulta that let you test out makeup products. We’ve also included some of our favs all of which are cruelty-free!
“Glossier’s Stretch Concealer goes on really smooth, and comes in 12 different shades, so it was super easy to find my best match. I also love that it doesn’t have any added fragrance.” - Caitlin (Fleur & Bee Customer Service)
“I love Bare Minerals’ Bareskin Complete Coverage Serum Concealer because it’s vegan and great for my sensitive skin!” - Jenna (Fleur & Bee Head of Press)
“My go-to is Urban Decay’s Stay Naked Correcting Full Coverage Concealer. It’s quick to apply and lasts all day!” - Dianne (Fleur & Bee Shipping Queen)
A daily facial sunscreen is also super important for overall skin health and lessening the appearance of dark circles. Make sure to look for a mineral based sunscreen (as opposed to chemical) .
One of our favorites is Bare Republic’s Mineral SPF 30 Face Sunscreen Lotion.
Another great option is C’est Moi’s Gentle Mineral Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30.
A gentle and effective makeup remover is so important because if you’re rubbing your eyes too much to get your makeup off it can make your dark circles worse. Look for a makeup remover that can be applied with a cotton pad – this is a far more environmentally friendly than disposable makeup remover wipes.
Try using a gentler miceller water like Caudalie’s Miceller Cleansing water.
Another option is Origins Fast and Gentle Eye Makeup remover.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dark Circles
Why do dark circles under eyes happen?
Dark circles under eyes happen for a number of reasons, many of which are due to lifestyle issues such as lack of sleep, dehydration, or smoking. Another culprit--eye strain from looking at a computer or phone screen too long. Try to take periodic breaks when working to give your eyes a rest. The final lifestyle factor is getting too much sun, which can lead to an overproduction of melanin causing dark circles under the eyes.
Unfortunately, there are also some factors that contribute to dark circles that we have no real control over like genetics, age, and allergies.
How can I visibly reduce dark circles?
One of the best and easiest ways to visibly reduce dark circles is to get some really great sleep. You should aim for seven to nine hours a night. Additionally, you should use an eye cream and sunscreen everyday. Eye creams are made specifically to help with puffiness and dark under eye circles, and sunscreen will help protect your skin from sun damage.
What do dark circles under eyes mean?
Most of the time, nothing serious or harmful. The skin around your eye area is thinner and doesn’t have its own oil glands. This makes it more susceptible to signs of aging and makes blood vessels under the skin more noticeable. However, if you’re concerned about a possible underlying health issue, you should talk with your doctor.
Are dark circles under eyes normal?
Dark circles under eyes are common, and it generally doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. You can lessen the look of dark circles by making sure you eat right and get enough sleep, but if you’re still worried there may be something more wrong, just talk to your doctor.
Dark circles vs bags vs puffy eyes
Though often used interchangeably, dark circles, bags, and puffy eyes are all different things. Dark circles are the result of discoloration underneath your eyes. Bags are considered genetic, and caused by weakened tissue as you age, whereas puffy eyes are considered temporary and the result of allergies, too much salt intake, or dehydration.