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Derm-Approved Ways To Minimize The Look Of Dark Under-Eye Circles

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Photo by Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

If you've ever experienced a stressful work week or a late night (or just too much Netflix bingeing) that resulted in next to zero hours of sleep, chances are you've woken up with under-eye dark circles. The discoloration and puffiness isn't typically a cause for concern medically speaking, but it isn't ideal for many. If you're looking for some dark circle solutions outside of the classic cold cucumber hack, we're here to help.

We enlisted dermatologist Dr. Charles Puza, or Dr. Charles as his more than 620k TikTok followers call him, to find out how to get rid of dark circles once and for all. Below, we'll discuss a few of the leading causes of dark circles, plus some home remedies and professional treatments to get rid of them for good.


About the Expert:

Dr. Charles Puza is a dermatologist and skinfluencer.

What causes dark circles

It's no myth that fatigue and lack of sleep can result in under-eye circles. When your body is deprived of sleep it can cause your skin to become dull and pale, which makes the dark tissue and the blood vessels beneath your skin more apparent. That’s because the skin around your eyes is especially thin. “Consequently, it bears the brunt of a lot of irritating external substances,” says Dr. Charles. Dehydrated skin also has a tendency to look dull and sunken around your eye area, which can make under-eye circles more visible for these same reasons.

But, if you're getting enough sleep, chugging water, and still fighting the appearance of dark circles, there could be other reasons for your eye circles. Here are a few:

• You have an underlying medical condition such as allergies or eczema.

“For the people with allergies or eczema, chronic irritation can lead to skin darkening and thickening around the eyes,” says Dr. Charles.

• It’s just genetics.

If you have thin skin, blood vessels may be more visible. “These blood vessels appear as dark circles as we don't have as much cushion between them and the surface of our skin in comparison to the other areas of the body, like the back,” he adds. Plus, people with dark skin tones are particularly prone to developing under-eye circles because their skin contains more melanin.

• You’re getting older.

Seeing fine lines and eye bags as you age aren’t always fun, but they are normal. “As we age, we all lose fat pads in our face,” explains Dr. Charles. “Fat pads help to give us a youthful appearance. With time, these pads disappear and allow greater visibility of the underlying blood vessels.”

4 Ways to treat dark circles

The best treatments for dark circles are ones that work best for your skin type, skin tone, and regular skincare routine. There’s prevention, of course, such as getting more sleep and wearing SPF every single day. But there are also DIY and professional services that can work.

• DIY Remedies

Dr. Charles cautions not going too crazy with the DIY options or you can actually make dark circles worse—or add to the problem. “I urge caution with ‘natural’ products,” he says. “As we know, many natural products can irritate the skin and actually worsen the hyperpigmentation.” Stick to safe home remedies, such as applying a cold compress to the eye area. Products with caffeine can help as well, including caffeinated tea bags on the eye area, as it constricts blood vessels.

• Medication

Head to the doctor if you think you’re suffering from allergies. Whether it’s seasonal or a daily occurrence, there are OTC antihistamines that can help. But not one medication is right for everyone, which is why it’s important to get a medical assessment. Antihistamines might make you feel better and de-puff your eye bags at the same time. Talk about a two-for-one option.

• Topical Treatments

Given all the incredible things retinol can do for the skin, it’s not surprising Dr. Charles recommends it for dark circles, too. “Topical retinoids, especially those prescribed by your dermatologist, can help to encourage collagen building,” he explains. “With increased collagen, you can theoretically help to thicken the skin and reduce the appearance of blood vessels.” He warns that “caution should be practiced with topicals near the eyes, as that skin is sensitive and any irritation can lead to paradoxical darkening,” so be sure to find a board-certified dermatologist you can trust. In addition to retinol, an eye cream enriched with caffeine and/or vitamin C is a great option, though results will take longer to see.

• Professional Services

When you’re out of DIY and home remedies and your dark circles are seriously affecting your life, talk to your derm about under-eye filler. “Tear trough filler can act as a pillow between the skin and underlying vasculature, greatly reducing the appearance of dark circles,” says Dr. Charles. But the service isn’t without risks so again, do your research to find an experienced dermatologist for injections. If you prefer not to go anywhere near a needle, laser is also an option. “Laser (or fractional CO2) can help to tighten and rejuvenate the periorbital skin,” he adds.

5 Products to help with dark circles

1. Best Moisturizer In an Eye Cream: FEEL BEAUTY 4D Hyaluronic Acid Under Eye Cream

FEEL BEAUTY 4D Hyaluronic Acid Under Eye Cream

Dehydrated eyes will drink up this hyaluronic acid-infused eye cream made with moisturizing squalane for smoothing and plumping the eye area.

2. Best Eye Cream For Depuffing: TULA SKINCARE Rose Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm

TULA SKINCARE Rose Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm

This 4-in-1 eye balm cools, brightens, hydrates, and minimizes the look of puffy eyes thanks to probiotics, caffeine, and plant-based oils.

3. Best Under Makeup: SONÄGE SKINCARE Luster Eye Crème

SONÄGE SKINCARE Luster Eye Crème

Thanks to its sheer, lightweight texture, this hydrating eye cream is a great primer for concealer. It also contains squalane, bisabolol, aloe vera, and panthenol to hydrate, brighten and reduce puffiness.

4. Best for Fine Lines: GLAMGLOW BRIGHTEYES Illuminating Anti-Fatigue Eye Cream

GLAMGLOW BRIGHTEYES Illuminating Anti-Fatigue Eye Cream

If your dark circles come with some fine lines and wrinkles, this anti-aging eye cream will help. Illuminating pigments and de-puffing caffeine minimize shadows on application, while hyaluronic acid draws moisture to your eye area for a plumping effect.

5. Best Retinol Eye Cream: MURAD Renewing Eye Cream

MURAD Renewing Eye Cream

Thanks to a unique mix of peptides and retinol, this lightweight cream boosts collagen production, giving your eye area a plump, just-slept-10-hours appearance.

Want to try a new eye cream? Get in on the IPSY Glam Bag fun! Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated August 21, 2021 12:00 AM