Dark Circles


How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Around the Eyes

Everyone has those days where they wake up and look like they haven’t slept a wink. Sometimes it feels like no matter how rested and refreshed you are, you just can’t get rid of the bags under your eyes. It may simply be that you’re not actually sleep deprived at all and that those under-eye bags are there for another reason entirely.

So what exactly causes dark circles under the eyes and how do you make them go away? Let’s explore the root causes, preventative care, and effective treatments so you can start making changes today and get your confidence back!


What Causes Dark Circles Around the Eyes?

While they don’t usually indicate a medical problem, under-eye bags are a common cosmetic concern that make many people self-conscious. Discolored under-eye skin can make people of any age look old, worn out, and even sickly even though they may not always reflect the way you feel or the quality of your health.

We have a tendency to assume that fatigue is the root cause of eye bags, but this isn’t always the case. There may be multiple factors at play creating tired-looking eyes; the culprit may be any combination of causes in the following categories:

  • Pigmentary
  • Structural
  • Vascular
  • Mixed

[Source: Treatments of Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Systematic Review - PubMed (nih.gov)]

Pigmentary Causes

Sometimes, dark eyes can be attributed to skin pigmentation as a result of:

  • Sun exposure (the skin around the eyes is thin and especially vulnerable to sunlight and can become discolored with prolonged sun exposure);
  • Hyperpigmentation, or discoloration, which can get worse from eczema or allergic skin reactions; or
  • Genetics and ethnicity (Dermatologists say eye bags can be attributed to darker skin pigmentation or genetics, as some families have more prominent eye bags in their genes).

Age-Related Causes

As the thin, delicate skin around the eyes ages, it becomes looser. This looseness causes a shadowing effect, which makes the skin under your eyes appear darker and more sunken when compared to the rest of the face.

Vascular Causes of Dark Circles

The vascular causes of dark circles refer to the blood vessels under your eyes. As your skin ages and thins out, it stops concealing these blood vessels as effectively as it used to. They become more noticeable, especially when blood pools in these veins — and when light reflects off the area, the skin under the eyes appears darker because you’re seeing the blood under your skin.

Mixed Causes of Dark Circles

Aging, lifestyle, and even genetics work together to create the perfect storm for dark circles around the eyes. Here are some additional causes of under-eye circles that you may not have thought of:

  • Salty foods, when consumed in large quantities, can cause fluid retention and increase dark circles around the eyes.
  • Sinus congestion can cause allergic shiners, a condition in which the veins under your eyes become congested and dilated, creating the effect of puffiness and dark circles.
  • Nicotine from smoking causes the skin to lose its elasticity and fluid to accumulate under your eyes, contributing to dark circles.
  • Thyroid conditions promote fluid retention and weigh down the skin under your eyes, creating shadows and a dark circle effect.
  • Eczema is known to cause eye inflammation and hyperpigmentation of the skin around the eyes.
  • Fatigue leads to slower circulation around the eyes, which causes blood to pool in the area and cause under-eye circles.

Dark Circle Treatment

The good news is that there are lots of solutions for concealing and diminishing darker eye skin. Dark eye circle therapies range from quick at-home fixes and makeup tips to specialized skin care routines and a host of procedures, which can include peels, devices, and surgery, in severe cases. If you know the root cause of your dark under eyes, use the following information to treat it accordingly.

Treatment for Pigmentary Causes

  • Topical creams formulated for delicate skin around the eyes
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser treatments

[Source: Treatments of Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Systematic Review - PubMed (nih.gov)]

Treatment for Age-Related Causes

  • Skin care treatments that hydrate and rejuvenate skin around the eyes
  • Injectable soft tissue fillers and autologous fat grafting (both can restore volume to the area, but be sure to go to a dermatologist or other health care professional who is highly experienced in eye injections)
  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery for people with excess eye skin)

Treatment for Vascular Causes

  • Skin care products for dark under-eye circles
  • Laser treatments

Treatment for Mixed Causes

For the conditions listed above, your best bet to get rid of under-eye circles will be to address the underlying condition. See your primary care doctor or dermatologist about your eczema, hyper/hypothyroidism, or sinus problems, as they will prescribe you medications to alleviate the symptoms of these conditions. You should see your under-eye circles diminish as a result.

Try to cut back on the amount of salt you eat — and drink more water so you don’t retain excess fluid around your eyes. Get enough sleep each night and practice a daily skin care regimen with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer. If you smoke, do everything in your power to quit, even if it means seeking help from a therapist or support group. The longer you continue in the habit, the more skin elasticity you will lose prematurely.

Eye-Specific Skin Care Treatments

The skin around the eyes is more delicate than skin on the rest of the face, which is why there are many skin care products now formulated specifically to hydrate and rejuvenate the eyes. Some skin care companies go to great lengths to develop topical products that are formulated specifically for this area. We’ve listed some of the best ingredients for eye-specific skin care that you should look for when shopping for products.


Topical Treatments to Lighten the Skin Around the Eyes

Topical creams and serums with these ingredients have been shown to help bleach, lighten, or depigment the hyperpigmented areas around the eyes:

  • Hydroquinone
  • Kojic acid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Retinoids and retinol
  • Vitamin C
  • Beta-carotene
  • Caffeine
  • Curcumin
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Lycopene
  • Niacinamide

[Source: Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Comprehensive Review - PubMed (nih.gov)]

[Source: Management of periorbital hyperpigmentation: An overview of nature-based agents and alternative approaches - PubMed (nih.gov)]

Remember that it’s not enough just to lighten the skin. When you focus on rejuvenating the skin under the eyes, it will be healthier, firmer, more elastic, and improve your chances of getting rid of your dark eye circles. Keep in mind also that some of the ingredients above, including hydroquinone and retinoids, can be irritating to the delicate skin around the eyes.

Other Quick Tricks for Treating Dark Circles at Home

If you want to exhaust your resources at home before spending money on under-eye treatment, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few best practices for eye skin care and some at-home remedies you can try with items you might have around the house.

  • A cold compress, like a bag of frozen peas applied to the area, can constrict dilated blood vessels under the eyes and reduce swelling, offering a temporary solution to eye darkness.
  • Keep your head elevated with a few pillows when you go to sleep to prevent fluid from gathering in the lower eyelid area. Many notice their dark circles are more visible when they first get up in the morning.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night can improve overall skin tone and diminish the appearance of dark circles.
  • Cold cucumber slices like you see in the movies can actually reduce bags under the eyes.
  • Almond oil and vitamin E contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce eye puffiness and swelling and lighten the skin around the eyes.
  • Regular exercise promotes optimal circulation in the skin, preventing blood pooling and darkness around the eyes by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the area.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Excess drinking can lead to inflammation and free radical damage that lead to dark, tired-looking eyes.

How to Conceal Dark Circles With Makeup

While you should always aim to treat the root cause rather than cover up the problem, you’ll probably want to conceal your dark circles while undergoing treatment. Here’s how you can make those dark circles disappear with makeup!

  1. First, apply your morning eye cream or serum. Let it sit for a few seconds before applying makeup.
  2. Start with a light application of a makeup primer to prepare the skin and prevent makeup from caking. This will ensure lasting coverage.
  3. Choose the right concealer color so you don’t end up with light circles around your eyes. Match the color of your skin while considering that dark circles under the eyes likely look purplish-blue. The color most likely to neutralize that would have a hint of orange or peach.
  4. Apply a light layer of concealer and blend it into the skin.
  5. Apply foundation to the rest of the face.

[Source: How to Cover Dark Circles | Under-Eye Concealer Tips - L’Oréal Paris (lorealparisusa.com)]

Dark Circle Prevention

As with any other skin condition, it’s always easier and more effective to prevent dark under eyes than it is to treat them. Here are some of our best tips for preventing under-eye bags and discoloration.

Sun Protection

Sun protection is a must for protecting the skin around the eyes from sun exposure, pigmentary changes, and accelerated aging. Mineral sunscreens with zinc or titanium dioxide offer UVA and UVB protection. These are good choices for the delicate and sensitive skin around the eyes. Don’t forget to wear hats and sunglasses when outdoors to maximize your coverage.

Healthy Lifestyle

It might go without saying, but living a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious food and managing your stress is key in maintaining healthy skin. Stress often manifests itself as dark circles around the eyes and sallow facial skin. Take steps to reduce stress by taking long walks outside and using breathing techniques and meditation to help your overall health and skin quality. Consider also that sleep is your time to rejuvenate and get at least seven hours per night. The body, including the skin, renews during sleep. [Source: Skin care in your 40s and 50s (aad.org)]

[Source: What Does Stress Do to Your Skin? (clderm.com)]


Have you ever heard of defensins? These are part of the immune system’s first line of defense and occur naturally in the skin. Defensins encourage the body to make new stem cells and create a healthier skin barrier. They’re a well-kept secret in the beauty industry — and they happen to be the center of the DefenAge skin care line. Defensins in DefenAge’s Ultra Eye Radiance Treatment target skin aging around the eyes without the irritation caused by retinoid and retinol skin care products, making them ideal for use around the eyes and lips.

Learn More About DefenAge Skin Care Products

DefenAge is an industry leader in skin care. Visit our blog for information on a variety of skin conditions or contact us to learn about our eye creams that have been specially formulated to resolve your eye skin concerns.

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