Updated November 20, 2020While they’re rarely a cause for serious concern, dark circles under your eyes can make you look old, sick, and tired. They’re often hard to cover up, and, if severe enough, they can seriously impact your self-esteem.Dark circles have many causes, so their treatment methods can vary. Sometimes, it’s easy to knock them out with a couple of cucumbers, but other times, treatment gets more complicated. In our post, we take a look at some of the different ways to get rid of dark circles, from lifestyle changes to medical interventions, so you can pinpoint the right solution for your skin.Home Remedies for Dark CirclesA lot of people want to avoid expensive or invasive procedures for cosmetic issues. So if you’d rather start at home than visit the dermatologist, there are plenty of simple fixes you can try.Cold CompressesIf you’re looking for a quick fix for some mild dark circles, cold compresses might be your best option. Cold water reduces inflammation and constricts capillaries under the eye, and the reduced blood flow can temporarily lighten the translucent skin under the eyes.CucumbersCucumber slices can work wonders on dark circles since they have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce puffiness and discoloration. Slice a couple of thick cuts of chilled cucumber and leave them on for 15 minutes for maximum effect. Flip them over a couple of times so your body heat doesn’t warm them up.Soaked Tea BagsGreen and black teas are loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that decrease the appearance of swelling and pigmentation. Just make sure you soak your tea bags in cold water, as warm water can increase swelling around the eye because heat causes blood vessel dilation. Cold tea bags will have the opposite effect. You can even refrigerate your tea bags to maximize their inflammation-decreasing power.OTC TreatmentsA lot of anti-aging ingredients, like retinoid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, and vitamin K, can help with dark circles. Retinoids increase cell turnover and collagen production, which can fade circles. Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and vitamin K are all skin lightening treatments that can zap hyperpigmentation. Just be careful with these last three ingredients—a little will lighten the skin, but a lot can actually darken it.Tree Nut OilsYou can also use oils like almond oil or coconut oil to soothe under-eye skin. Almond oil and coconut oil have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and incidentally, almond oil also has a lot of vitamin K. You might need to be careful with these greasy solutions if you’re prone to breakouts. You definitely shouldn’t use them if you have tree nut allergies.AntihistaminesA lot of times, if you get dark circles during the annual allergy season or a bout of hay fever, those circles could be caused by histamines or allergy-related nasal congestion. Getting your allergies under control with an OTC antihistamine can help relieve dark circles as well as other symptoms. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new medication.Lifestyle Changes to Minimize Dark CirclesWhile the above fixes are great for temporary relief of dark circles, if you want a more permanent solution, you could take a look at your lifestyle. Sometimes dark circles begin and end with healthy routines. If some less-than-ideal habits are causing your dark circles, a few lifestyle tweaks may be all you need to get rid of them.Get More SleepLack of sleep is one of the most famous causes of dark circles. Sleep deprivation will do a number on your whole body, and your skin is no exception. The delicate skin around your eyes is especially vulnerable to the effects of fatigue. Getting more shut-eye might be all it takes to eliminate undereye blemishes.Elevate Your Head While You SleepWhen you sleep with your face down because you’re lying on your stomach or you don’t have a very thick pillow, gravity pulls blood and bodily fluids down to your face. Blood pools in the hollows under your eyes, darkening the skin. If this is what’s causing your eye bags, elevating your head during sleep can keep blood and other fluids from collecting underneath your eyes at night. To sleep at an incline, we suggest a wedge pillow or adjustable bed frame.Eat a Skin-Healthy DietThere are tons of foods out there that can help your skin look its best. A skin-healthy diet should include a lot of antioxidant-rich foods like eggplants, pumpkins, mangos, grapes, berries, and onions. Also, eat foods high in essential nutrients. Some healthy snacks and foods to try include nuts, leafy greens, brightly colored vegetables, and fatty fish like salmon.Avoid Too Much Sun ExposureToo much melanin in localized areas is another common cause of dark circles. If that’s what’s causing your under-eye discoloration, avoiding sun damage that can worsen the problem is key. Of course, we suggest using a strong SPF every time you go out in the sun, but it’s also helpful to wear large, dark sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to keep your face shaded.Medical Treatments for Dark CirclesIf you’ve tried everything at home and had no success, you may want to seek outside help. There are a few different medical options you can try to relieve dark circles. All these treatments have varying degrees of invasiveness and expense.Chemical PeelsPeels and facials can help speed up cell turnover and reduce unevenness in the skin tone, decreasing dark circles. The great thing about these treatments is they’re comparatively inexpensive and you can get them at the day-spa as well as the dermatologist. Just make sure you’re using a reputable place—you are trusting them with your skin, after all.Soft Tissue FillersThese fillers are normally made of hyaluronic acid. They can treat bags and puffiness under the eyes from age-related tear trough deformity. You will have to go to the dermatologist for these, but they’re not as expensive as some other medical treatment options.A soft tissue injection is also a less invasive choice: a few quick shots at the doctor’s office and you’re out the door. However, the results of these injections are usually more short-lived than other dermatologic procedures.Fat TransferFat transfer helps with sagginess under the eyes by filling in undereye hollowness with fat from your own body. During this procedure, fat is taken from your hip or leg and used to fill in the undereye area to counter the effects of gravity, improving the appearance of bags and circles. Facial fat transfer is an invasive and expensive procedure, so it’s usually better to consider it a last resort for stubborn circles.Laser ResurfacingLaser therapy uses a laser to rejuvenate the top layer of skin by removing dead cells and stimulating collagen growth. As far as price point goes, these procedures are usually somewhere between filler injections and fat transfers.There are two main types of procedures: those with wounding (ablative) lasers and those with non-wounding (non-ablative) lasers. Ablative procedures remove the epidermis and heat the dermis to speed up collagen production. Non-ablative procedures also stimulate collagen growth without first injuring the skin, but their results are usually less dramatic.Causes of Dark CirclesIn order to treat dark circles effectively, you first have to have at least some idea of what’s leading to them. Dark circles become more and more common as people age, but they’re not unheard of in younger people too, since they have so many different causes.A bunch of factors that contribute to dark circles has to do with lifestyle and behaviors. Genetics and inborn sensitivities can play a role as well. Issues that contribute to dark circles include:DehydrationIf you don’t drink enough water during the day or you get too dehydrated, it will eventually start to show, as moisture leaves your skin. When this happens, the space underneath the eyes becomes hollower, creating dark shadows in that area. If your skin is chronically dehydrated (like if you’re not using a good moisturizer), it can also become too pigmented in localized spots.AllergiesAllergies cause your body to release histamines. Histamines dilate your blood vessels. Since the skin is thinnest under the eye, a bout of severe allergies can lead to dark circles because your capillaries are constantly dilated.Another kind of allergy-related dark circle is called the “allergic shiner.” These dark circles are due to chronic nasal and sinus congestion.AgingAs you get older, your skin begins to weaken. Cell turnover slows, elasticity fades, and collagen production starts to break down. The skin underneath your eyes is already some of the most delicate on your whole body, so the aging process can take an even heavier toll, causing your under eyes to develop bags, shadows, sagginess, and puffiness.Fatigue/Sleep DeprivationEven if you just miss a few hours of sleep, it can negatively impact your skin in a couple of ways. First, it can cause your skin to become duller and paler than normal, meaning blood vessels start to show through the thin skin under your eyes. Second, it can cause fluid to build in your eyelids. Puffy eyelids can cast a shadow on the underside of your eye, making the area look darker than it is.GeneticsSometimes, deeper pigment underneath the eyes is hereditary. You usually know if your dark circles are genetic because at least one of your parents or other close relatives has them. You might have even had them since childhood.Rubbing Your EyesWhen you rub or scratch your eyes, you can damage the delicate skin and capillaries underneath them, giving the area a darker pigment. If you rub chronically, you can actually thicken the skin below the eye, causing this pigment to become permanent.Inflammation, eczema, dermatitis, and a host of other problems can cause you to rub your eyes, so it’s important to fix any underlying issues so you can keep your hands away from this injury-prone area.FAQsCan dark circles ever be a sign of something serious?Yes. More often than not, dark circles are completely benign, but sometimes they can be a sign of illness. Dark circles are normally accompanied by other symptoms if they’re related to something serious. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned you may have a more concerning issue than this cosmetic problem.Can vitamin C help my eye circles?Maybe. Vitamin C is great for all your skin, not just the skin of the undereye area. Since it helps increase collagen production, getting enough of it in your diet can reduce the appearance of dark circles. There are also great topical solutions to help even your skin tone as well.If my parents have dark circles, am I destined to get them?Family history does play a huge role in dark circles. So if your parents have them, you’re more likely to be predisposed to them too. While lifestyle changes may be enough for lifestyle-related dark circles, if yours are genetic, they may require a trip to the dermatologist.Are there products made specifically for dark circles?Yes! There are a lot of great eye brightening creams that use some of the compounds we discussed above, like green tea and vitamin K, to help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Just avoid products that aren’t meant for the eyes—topical products can exacerbate problems if they’re not designed to be used around this sensitive area.Can I prevent dark circles if I don’t have them already?Yes! The biggest thing you can do to prevent dark circles as you age is starting preemptively practicing the same skin-healthy habits that help get rid of existing dark circles. Eat a healthy whole-food diet, protect yourself from the sun, stick to a comprehensive skin care plan, and get enough sleep.Bottom LineDark circles are never fun, especially if they mean everyone’s always asking you if you’re tired or sick. The good news is there’s a huge number of treatments you can try to fix them.However, if you don’t already have dark circles, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. No matter how young you are, it’s never too early to start an anti-aging routine that can thwart dark circles and other issues before they strike.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. 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