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How to Deal with Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

A woman looking at under-eye circles in a mirror.
Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Sure, a string of all-nighters might be the temporary explanation for the dark circles under your eyes, but what about persistent rings? Here’s a pile of tips and tricks to help you look your best.

What Causes Dark Circles?

When someone tells you that you look exhausted, it could definitely be because dark circles are lurking under your eyes. And that could be the reason, but you can’t really get rid of them until you know what’s causing them.

The following are some reasons why you might be dealing with dark circles:

  • Aging: As we age, we lose collagen and fat, causing our skin to thin. This makes the reddish-blue pigments under our eyes more visible.
  • Allergies: They do more than just make you cough and sneeze. They can also cause the blood vessels under your eyes to dilate and create dark circles. Allergies can also make your eyes puffy.
  • Lack of sleep: Another thing that causes the blood vessels under your eyes to dilate.
  • Salt: Sodium makes you retain water. If you have too much salt in your diet, even the skin under and around your eyes can bloat!
  • Dehydration: If you’re not drinking enough water, your skin will appear sunken—even under your eyes.
  • Skin tone: If you have very fair skin, the area under your eyes can appear thinner and more translucent. This makes the veins more visible, causing the appearance of dark circles. On the other hand, darker skin tones produce more pigment under the eyes, which can also cause dark circles.

So, before you try the following tips and tricks, you might want to make sure you’re not ignoring the bigger picture. If lack of sleep or those brutal allergies you’ve been meaning to see the doctor about are the problem, address that first.

Be Gentle

The skin around and underneath your eyes is thin and fragile. It needs a little extra love and care. If you constantly rub or scratch your eyes, you might be breaking blood vessels. The blood pools, which creates dark circles. If your eyes are bothering you, try to keep the rubbing to a minimum.

Eye makeup—especially anything waterproof—can be stubborn and hard to get off. Instead of rubbing aggressively to remove it, put some eye makeup remover on a soft towel, and then hold it against your eye for about 20 seconds. This allows the makeup remover to soak in so you can gently remove your eye makeup.

Using the right remover makes a difference. We recommend Lancôme Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover. It’s made with a lipid phase that removes makeup and emollients that get rid of residue. It works quickly and easily, and eliminates the need to rub.

Preparation H

Yes, Preparation H is a hemorrhoid cream, but hear us out! The cream restricts the blood vessels and thus reduces redness. It also includes hydrocortisone, an anti-inflammatory that can help temporarily reduce the puffiness that contributes to dark circles. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to make dark circles disappear—or at least lessen their appearance.

Just keep in mind Preparation H isn’t made for eyes. There are some ingredients in there that could irritate them, or your skin if it’s especially sensitive. Use it sparingly and be careful.

Eye Creams with Retinol

A bottle of Fab Skin Lab retinol cream on lab sample dishes showing the ingredients.
First Aid Beauty

Since dark circles can be caused by aging, it makes sense retinol would help. It stimulates the production of collagen, which can make your skin appear plumper, and reduce the appearance of dark circles.

There are lots of eye products with retinol out there, but our favorite is First Aid Beauty’s FAB Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream. The retinol supports natural collagen production and delivers it over time, so it’s not a shock to the delicate eye area.

The hyaluronic acid makes your skin appear plumper and smoother. And the micro-pearls have light reflecting properties that make your skin appear more radiant.

This product is also clean, cruelty-free, and made without things like SLS and SLES sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, and more.

Keep Your Eye Cream in the Fridge

If you use an eye cream to start your day, you might want it to be cold. If you keep it in the fridge, when you apply it, it will feel soothing and get rid of any puffiness.

A great one to store in there is Ole Henriksen’s Banana Bright Eye Crème. Made with potent vitamin C and banana powder, this cream lightens up the undereye area while targeting signs of aging and dark circles. It boosts collagen, feels very lightweight, and improves radiance over time.

Use a Color Correcting Primer

The right face primer keeps your skin looking smoother. It also helps your makeup last all day without budging or looking oily. If you’re also trying to get rid of dark circles, choose a color-correcting primer to make your skin look more radiant—especially under your eyes.

Yellow and green offset any redness. Yellow can also get rid of blue or purple under your eyes. Peach and orange help combat the green and blue look; go with peach for light skin and orange for darker.

Stila One Step Correct is a fantastic face primer that combines green, peach, and lavender. Green neutralizes redness, peach brightens and helps with any darkness, and the lavender counteracts sallow undertones.

Altogether, the primer makes skin appear instantly more radiant.

Concealer with Orange Undertones

Woman applying concealer under her eyes.
Vladimir Gjorgiev/Shutterstock

When you can’t actually get rid of your dark circles (or you’re just waiting for it to happen), you can at least try covering them. Concealer is the best way to eliminate the look of dark circles.

Orange hues combat green and blue, so look for a concealer that has an orange undertone. One of the best is Tarte Shape Tape. It comes in 30 different shades to cover any imperfection. It also feels lightweight, and you only need a small amount to get the job done. It also lasts all day.

When you apply concealer, be sure to do so in a triangle shape under your eye, rather than a half-moon shape. The triangle shape brightens and conceals the entire area and really adds more of a lift.

Wear Sunscreen Every Day

Dark circles can be caused by pigmentation issues that occur if your face gets too much sun. It can make them more pronounced. Sun damage on the delicate skin on your face can also cause premature aging and more dark circles. Basically, you should wear sunscreen every single day, even in the winter.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is one of the best facial sunscreens out there. While most higher SPF sunscreens feel thick and oily, Supergoop! is very lightweight. It also doesn’t have that typical sunscreen smell and works for any skin type.

Sleep on Two Pillows

If you notice your dark circles appear more in the morning than any other time, it could be the way you’re sleeping. Try propping yourself up on two pillows so fluid doesn’t pool overnight. It also doesn’t hurt to sleep on your back.

Allergy Medication

If you suspect your dark circles are caused by allergies, you might want to try an allergy medication. An antihistamine can prevent swelling and reduce the look of dark circles and puffiness.

Speak to your doctor before you try anything new, though.

Self-Care

As we mentioned earlier, dark circles can be the result of exhaustion, stress, illness, or dehydration. All of these are mostly preventable or fixable.

Getting more sleep can definitely help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Also, try to boost your immune system by getting plenty of vitamin C, drinking enough water, and maintaining a healthy diet and habits.

More time to relax can also prevent you from feeling too stressed out or getting sick.

Jessica Booth Jessica Booth
Jessica Booth is a freelance writer for Review Geek. She has been working in the editorial world as a freelance writer for over two years and previously worked as an editor for over eight years.  Jessica writes about travel, beauty, wellness, health, food, home decor, and parenting, and has reviewed and tested out products for all of those verticals over the course of her career. Read Full Bio »

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