Dark circles are one of the most common signs of ageing. In people who suffer from it, the lower eye-lids and the surrounding area is of a much darker shade, compared to the rest of the face.
Majority of people get dark circles under eyes as they grow older, because the collagen in eyes tends to break down, making out eye-lids and the surrounding area more transparent. It is just a fact of life that most people need to come to terms with. However, there are several other causes of dark circles besides age, such as:
- Genetics: Sometimes it just runs in the family! If your parents or other family members display dark circles, chances are that you would do so as well!
- Seasonal Allergies: Seasonal allergies releases histamines, which swells your blood vessels. If you gently stretch your dark circles and the color does not change, it means that you are displaying dark circles as an allergic reaction.
- Irregularities in Pigmentation: Sometimes more melanin is secreted below the eyes, compared to other parts of the skin. This is more common among people of Asian or African descent.
- Fatigue: If you are over-worked or if you are not getting enough sleep, you will be showing dark circles.
- Behavioral tics: If you are in the habit of fiddling with your eyes, such as constantly scratching or rubbing them, then you are likely to develop dark circles sooner.
- Exposure to the Sun: The sun induces the production of melanin. As the eyelids are already darker than the surrounding area, increased exposure to the sun will induce the formation of dark circles.
- Skin Diseases: Certain skin condition like eczema (atomic dermatitis) or contact dermatitis may cause the formation of dark circles as well!
Home Remedies for Dark Circles
Although a bit of darkening of the skin under the eye is unavoidable with age in some individuals, you can keep the symptom in check with the help of several home remedies that have minimal to no side effects.
- Cold Compress
You can use a cold compress to help constrict the blood vessels in your eyes, which would in turn help you lose your dark circles. This will help the most if your dark circles are caused by fatigue or seasonal allergies. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Take a few ice-cubes, wrap them in a towel and apply them under your eyes. Make sure that the ice-cubes do not come in direct contact with your eyes as it may damage your eyes.
- Another way to go about this would be to freeze a couple of teaspoons for about ten minutes and then applying them to your eyes, till they are no longer cold.
- You can also use a traditional ice-pack or a bag of frozen peas.
- Stay Hydrated
If you do not drink enough water, then collagen (a type of structural protein that acts as a binding agent) breaks down at a faster rate. As your skin is really thin around your eyes, the effects are first noticed in the form of dark circles. Hence it is imperative that you stay hydrated to delay the incidence of dark circles as much as possible.
To stay hydrated, men should have at least 3 liters (a little over 100 oz. or about 13 glasses) and women should have at least 2.2 liters (almost 75 oz., or about 10 glasses) of water per day. People who are overweight or those who live in tropical climates should drink even more water.
- Quit Smoking
Besides causing lung cancer, cigarette smoke also inflames your blood vessels, the effects of which are noticed first around your eyes in the form of dark circles. Quitting smoking will not only prolong your life, but your skin will thank you as well!
- Improve Your Diet
If your body lacks anti-oxidants or Vitamin K, you will lose collagen at a rapid rate, causing you to display pre-mature signs of ageing that are displayed in the form of dark circles. If you are deficient in B vitamins (such as Vitamin B12) and Iron, you can display dark circles as well! Omega-3 fatty acids helps in retaining collagen and improves blood-circulation that is necessary for healthy skin. Make sure that you include the following as a part of a well-balanced diet:
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Vegetables like kale, spinach, cabbage etc. are a great source of iron and Vitamin K.
- Dairy Products: Cheese, milk, yogurt etc. are an excellent source of B Vitamins.
- Seafood: Fish, mussels, clams, oysters, etc. are an excellent source of B Vitamins as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dark Chocolate: It is rich in flavonol, which improves your blood circulation. However, make sure you have this in moderation as over-indulging in it may cause you to gain weight and may also cause you to be constipated. Dark chocolate is not recommended for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
- Tree Nuts: Tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts etc. are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These are ideal for a mid-afternoon snack.
- Caffeine: Caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties that can help constrict inflamed blood vessels. Coffee or green tea are excellent sources. However, they need to be taken in moderation and you should never have more than three cups per day. Over-indulging in caffeine may cause insomnia and constipation. As caffeine is a diuretic (makes you produce more urine than it is normal or necessary) drinking too many caffeinated beverages may cause you to dehydrate as well.
You should also lower the amount of salt that you consume. The sodium in salt causes you to retain water in some of the most awkward places (such as your lower eye-lids) causing puffiness that may result in dark circles.
- Almond Oil
Besides consuming almonds as a snack, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that says that using almond oil as a topical ointment can make your dark circles to fade away naturally. Following is how you should go about it:
- Take a drop of pure, organic almond on each of your ring finger and gently massage your dark circles. Ensure that your motion is in one particular direction only.
- Leave it overnight.
- Wash it off when you wake up in the morning using a cleanser and a cotton ball.
Cucumber has mild astringent and emollient properties and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that it can break up your dark circles as well.
There are a couple of ways you can use cucumber to treat your dark circles.
- Cucumber Slices: Take a couple of slices of cucumber and put them in a fridge for about thirty minutes. Shut your eyes and place the cucumber slices on your eyes for about thirty minutes. Wash your eyes afterwards. For best results, do this twice daily.
- Cucumber Juice: Throw a few slices of cucumber in the blender and squeeze a quarter of a lemon into it. Turn on the blender for a few seconds and extract the juice. Apply the resultant mixture with a cotton ball on your eyelids. Make sure none of it actually enters your eyes because the lemon will make your eyes sting a little bit. Wait for about 15 minutes after you have applied it and then wash it off. This should be done once a day.
Potatoes have natural bleaching agents that can help reduce dark circles. You can apply this treatment the same way you would apply the cucumber treatments.
- Rose Water
Indian women have been incorporating rose water into their beauty regimen for centuries. It is an emollient and has mild astringent properties that improves the skin tone and also reduces puffiness. Following is how you can use rose water to get rid of your dark circles:
- Take a shallow bowl and pour about 10 tablespoons of rosewater in it.
- Soak a couple of eye pads in it for a few minutes.
- Close your eyes and place these pads on your eyelids for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse your eyes with regular water afterwards.
Rosewater is available over the internet or at any Indian grocery store. For best results, apply this remedy twice daily.
Turmeric is renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are a couple of ways by which you can use turmeric to reduce your dark circles:
- Topical Ointment: Take two teaspoons of turmeric powder and use some pineapple juice to make a thick paste. Apply this paste on your eyelids and let it dry naturally. Wipe it off with a wet cloth. Apply this at least once, every day.
- As a part of your Diet: Turmeric is one of the key ingredients while creating the base for a curry, hence you may consider having Indian food more often. You can also add two teaspoons of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk and drink it daily. If neither sounds like an option you want to pursue, then you can always get some turmeric supplements.
Just like cucumber and potatoes, tomatoes have mild bleaching agents as well that can be used to get rid of dark circles. You can place tomato slices on your eyelids, the same would apply as potato slices or cucumber slices. Besides that you can also use tomato juice the following ways to get rid of your dark circles:
- Topical Application: Mix half a teaspoon of lemon juice to one teaspoon of tomato juice. Gently rub your dark circles using this mixture and then let it sit for about ten minutes, then rinse it off with water. For best results, apply this treatment twice every day.
- As a Drink: Take a glass of tomato juice, few mint leaves and a tablespoon of lemon juice and put them in a blender. You may add a pinch of salt, for taste. Drink this twice daily to get rid of your dark circles sooner!
- Lemon Juice
Besides increasing the potency of the cucumber, potato or the tomato treatment, lemon juice is an excellent treatment for dark circles under eyes in its own right because of the high content of Vitamin C. Following are a couple of ideas for you to utilize this treatment:
- Apply some fresh lemon juice under your eyes, leave it on for about ten minutes and then rinse it off. Do this twice, daily.
- Take one tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoon of tomato puree, one teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of gram flour. Mix them together to make a thick paste. Apply it on your eyelids and the surrounding area and leave it on for about fifteen minutes. Wash it off afterwards. For best results, apply this treatment twice, daily!
- Tea Bags
You can use either black or green tea bags, as they are both rich in caffeine and anti-oxidants that can reduce puffiness inflammation and also help get rid of the discoloration. Following is how you can use tea bags to get rid of your dark circles:
- Take a couple of wet tea bags and chill them in your fridge for about thirty minutes.
- Place them on your eyelids for about fifteen minutes.
- Remove the teabags and rinse the area with some fresh water.
For best results, apply this treatment twice daily!
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a natural emollient that can help moisturize damaged skin, reduce puffiness, wrinkles and fine lines. Simply apply some extra virgin coconut oil on your eyelids and the surrounding area and leave it on for a few hours, then wash it off. Apply this treatment three times every day for a few months to notice some visible improvement.
- Get Enough Sleep
Fatigue and insomnia are two very common causes of dark circles. Make sure that you get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping, you may consider certain breathing exercises to help you fall asleep sooner.
- Be thorough while removing your Eye Make-Up
Women have several tricks up their sleeves, such as using foundation or concealers to hide their dark circles. However, one must not forget that make-up is made with some abrasive chemicals and they are especially harsh on the more delicate parts of the skin, such as those under your eyes. Hence to delay the onset of dark circles or to keep them from getting worse, it is imperative that you completely remove your make-up before you go to bed.
It is highly recommended that you use a cleansing oil that would minimize the number of times you rub your skin to remove eye-liners or other products. As discussed earlier, constantly rubbing your eye-lids can damage your capillaries and inflame your blood-vessels, thus making the shade of your eyelids even darker!
- Treat Your Allergies
Allergies, seasonal or otherwise makes your blood vessels swell, causes nasal congestion and makes your eyes puffy. All of these symptoms can cause you to have dark circles under eyes. Hence you need to do what is necessary to stop the allergic reaction. Keep yourself away from the allergens and use an over the counter (OTC) or a prescription-strength anti-histamine to treat your allergies.
- Reduce Stress
Besides causing a wide variety of other ailments, if you are constantly under stress then it will manifest in form of dark circles. You need to find something that can help you relax. Some listen to music or read a book, whereas others use yoga, Pilates, acupuncture or even get a massage to reduce their stress. If your stress is work-related, you may consider having a word with your colleagues or your supervisor.
- Use Sunscreen
Sunscreen not only protects your skin from sun-burn, it also helps reduce the production of melanin. Thus, applying sunscreen under your eyelids will help delay the formation of dark circles.
Over The Counter Treatments
If you do not see any visible improvement in your condition in a couple of months, you may consider seeking some over the counter (OTC) treatments, which usually means using an eye cream to lighten the skin tone under your eyes. There are a couple of options you may consider:
- Bleaching agents: This will help those suffering from hyperpigmentation due to sun damage or genetic factors.
- Retinoid: These creams are usually rich in Vitamin A, which encourages collagen production. This makes the skin less transparent, thus reducing the visibility of dark circles.
Get Some Professional Help
If the OTC treatments fail to provide satisfactory results, then you may consider any of the following invasive procedures, but only after seeking the opinion of a qualified professional.
- Laser Treatment: A qualified dermatologist may use a vascular laser to constrict the visible blood vessels, which will help reduce the incidence of dark circles in a relatively short period of time.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment: This treatment was developed by Dr. Rolando Toyos and received approval from the FDA in 1995. Essentially a high-intensity broad spectrum light source is used to rejuvenate certain layers of the skin. It is a delicate procedure and some say that it is not completely safe, hence you should seek multiple opinions before embarking on this treatment.
- Skin Resurfacing Treatment: This treatment can either be carried out with lasers (known as laser resurfacing) or with the help of chemical agents (known as chemical peel). The goals of these treatments are to increase the production of collagen and reduce pigmentation. Some dermatologists say that both laser resurfacing and chemical peel needs to be combined to achieve optimal results fast.
- Hyaluronic acid Facial Fillers: This is usually recommended by dermatologists if the dark circles are caused by a breakdown of collagen. These injections essentially “fills the gap” in your tear troughs and makes the skin less transparent, thus reducing the incidence of dark circles.
- Fat Injections: Sometimes fat from a different part of the body is injected into the tear troughs to reduce dark circles. This aims to work the same way that the hyaluronic acid treatment does.
- Eye surgery: This should be the absolute last resort, however it does claim to remove dark circles permanently. Any of the following can be suggested by your dermatologist:
- Placement of tear trough implants.
- Removal or re-positioning of eye fat.
- Arcus marginalis release.
Sometimes a combination of the aforementioned procedures may be performed as well for fast results.