Facts about dark eye circles

Have you ever had dark circles under your eyes? This can be an upsetting problem for many people because it affects your appearance. It can make you look exhausted or even ill.

People are usually very eager to understand the cause of dark circles under the eyes, and there are several different possibilities.

There is no cure for dark circles. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to improve and maintain a lighter, healthier appearance if that’s what you’re looking for.

Dark circles are one of the most common complaints from clients I see as an esthetician.

What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes?

What causes dark circles? Some of the most common reasons include allergies and hay fever. If you’re allergic to something in the air, either generally or in a particular season, you could end up with dark circles and puffy eyes. Dark circles from allergies happen when your immune system has a reaction to an unwanted substance. Mayo Clinic states allergies and hay fever can be a cause of dark circles, I agree. (1) It can cause some inflammation, which can lead to dark circles. If you have Atopic dermatitis or eczema there’s an increased chance in experiencing dark circles. According to Trista Best “Iron deficiency can lead to dark circles under the eyes due to its impact on the body’s oxygenation process. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues and organs. When iron levels are low, the body prioritizes oxygen delivery to critical organs over less vital areas, such as the skin under the eyes.”

Dark circles under the eye do indeed have a hereditary factor. If your parents have this issue, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with a dark circle’s genetic problem. NCBI/NIH research shows this trait begins to exhibit in childhood. (2)

I think fatigue can increase the appearance of puffy and dark eyes, increasing as we age.

The area under the eye is sensitive and thin with blood vessels at the surface, however I don’t believe rubbing your eyes or too much sun exposure is the cause of dark circles. Specifically, the sun causes the release of melanin in the skin, which affects the appearance of your eyes. (1) (3)

dark circles
Dark circles are dark blemishes around the eyes. Image/Shutterstock

Can Dark Circles Go Away on Their Own?

Dark circles can go away on their own in some cases, however, that depends on the cause. (3)

Conversation.com mentions that dark circles may arise due to lack of sleep or rubbing your eyes and if those actions were to stop, this could rid the dark circles. This is simply not true. They also state that using a strong sun block can alleviate dark circles, which is also untrue. (3)

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Dark Circles Treatment at Home

Dark circles can be treated, however not entirely alleviated. The following are ways in which you can improve and maintain the appearance of dark, puffy eyes.

Here are the most popular dark circles remedies available:

Cold Compress – Cold compresses are one of the quicker remedies to alleviate under eye inflammation and discoloration. The cold dilates blood vessels. Take a cold compress, wrap it in a towel, and lay it against your eyes for about 15 minutes. You can do this twice a day.

Extra Pillows – The efficacy of an extra pillow under your head is more of an after-surgery thing, not a diminish dark circles thing.

Egg Whites – Egg Whites applied to the eyes is so temporary, its truly not worth the effort in my opinion.

Green or Black Tea Bags – This is one of the best dark circles under eye remedies that you can do at home. Tea bags applied to the eyes can be moderately effective and worth a shot because it contains caffeine. It constricts the blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow. Make some hot tea, then remove the tea bags and wait until they reach room temperature. Place them under your eyes for 15-30 minutes. If you do this twice a week, it should make a significant impact.

Iron Supplements – Clinical data regarding the etiology associated with puffy eyes and dark circles remain insufficient.

Drink Water – I disagree with some websites as claimed significant improvement with dark circles if you drink water and thoroughly hydrate. Drinking water and staying hydrated certainly isn’t going to hurt but I don’t think its an answer to alleviating dark circles.

Natural Eye Creams – There are a number of eye creams on the market that can help lessen the appearance of dark circles. Some of these eye creams like Instantly Ageless, Meaningful Beauty, and Advanced Dermatology can improve inflammation by topically increasing the blood flow on the upper and lower eyelids. When you are shopping for an eye cream for dark circles, you want to look for 3 ingredients, Caffeine, Vitamin K and Arnica.

Niacinamide can lighten dark circles, however, unless it’s the only corrective in the entire formula, there’s a good chance it won’t allow for long term use. And you’ll want to avoid eye creams with retinol.

I’m a fan of Retinol, however, its best suited to treat wrinkles on the forehead, not around the eyes. The best method with darker eyes is to find a well-tolerated, long- term -use eye cream that can be applied daily and generously.

The following products include Caffeine, Vitamin K and/or Arnica, Mario Badescu-Caffeine Eye Cream, La Mer – The Eye Balm Intense, Nerium, and Clinique – All About Eyes.

Furthermore, ingredients such as Argireline, Peptides, Vitamin E and other antioxidants assist in repairing previous skin damage and maintain the integrity of the skin.

SEE ALSONo. 7 Serum and SIO Beauty

How to Get Rid of Dark Circles: Medical Treatments

There are several medical options for dark circles treatment. These techniques can be highly effective at improving the appearance of dark circles.

Surgery is not one of them. A lower blepharoplasty rids the lower lid of fat, however, it does not address the discoloration. (4)

Fillers placed near the tear trough adds volume and really diminishes the dark appearance under the eye. Although this technique is highly effective, it is only temporary. The dark circle’s injection is usually composed of hyaluronic acid. (5). Skin specialist Raghu Athre says “Volume loss can be repaired via under eye volume replenishment. This can include filler therapies such as Restylane or Juvederm. Other options include fat transfer which transfers your own fat to the area.

Laser – A skilled laser technician using a laser known to successfully treat vascular issues near the eyes could be an option. However, I suggest you do some research on what lasers would be most effective as well as making sure your laser tech is well versed in the intended laser as well as technique.

Chemical Peels – There are a number of different chemical peels, and some are known to temporarily lighten dark circles. These chemical peels range from mild to moderate to deep. A chemical peel uses alpha hydroxy acid, gently spreading it on your face to remove the top layers of skin. There are light, moderate, and deep peels. The deeper peels lead to more redness on the face and a longer recovery period for the skin after the treatment. These can be effective at removing dark circles and making the skin and eyes more youthful, as it has anti-aging benefits. (7)

Topical Creams – There are topical creams that treat a variety of discoloration. Some of those ingredients include hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, retinoic acid and vitamin c. In addition, topical Vitamin C also has lightening properties and is also effective for this purpose. (8) However, I would not use these on the eyes as they most likely will cause sensitivity over time.

People Also Ask

Q: Can Dark Circles Become Permanent?

A: Dark circles can probably become fairly permanent, depending on the particular circumstances. Aging can exacerbate any existing imperfection on the face.

Q: Can Dark Circles Be a Sign of Illness?

A: Dark circles can happen if someone is experiencing allergies of some kind or has a compromised immune system.

Q: Can Dark Circles Go Away with Sleep?

A: Dark circles are usually more prevalent if you lack sleep.

Q: Will Cucumber Reduce Dark Circles?

A: Cucumbers will not reduce dark circles.

Q: Which Dark Circle Eye Cream is the Best?

A: When shopping for an eye cream that addresses dark circles, look for something that is gentle and that can be well tolerated on the eye area. The Ordinary Skin Care and Image Skincare are the most hydrating eye creams I would consider when trying to treat dark circles.

Finally, you should also have a look at the company and see if they are reputable such as Crepe Erase, and Jeunesse Global.

The Bottom Line

Developing dark circles under the eyes is a problem with several root causes.

If you have dark circles there are certainly some treatments that can be performed as well as topical eye creams that can lessen the appearance of the dark circles and maintain a baseline, as well as implementing some lifestyle changes. An eye cream to consider when treating this particular concern would be Clinique’s, All About Eyes.

The following article has been reviewed and additions done by me, Noelani Ganz.

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Noelani Ganz, LE, CLT

By Noelani Ganz, LE, CLT

Noelani Ganz, Licensed Esthetician Phoenix. Los Angeles.


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/dark-circles-under-eyes/basics/causes/sym-20050624
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756872/
[3] https://theconversation.com/ive-always-wondered-why-do-we-get-dark-circles-under-our-eyes-90172
[4] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/blepharoplasty/about/pac-20385174
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3560162/
[6] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laser-resurfacing/about/pac-20385114
[7] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemical-peel/about/pac-20393473
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756872/
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periorbital_dark_circles
[10] https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/dark-circles-under-eyes/basics/causes/sym-20050624