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Dark circles around the eyes can make you look tired, sleep-deprived, depressed, or hungover. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, poor diet, facial structure, genes, aging, medications, and medical illnesses can all be blamed for this kind of discoloration.
Dark circles are usually harmless and temporary. In most cases, resting your eyes would suffice to fade the pigmentation.
However, some people may develop stubborn rings around their eyes that are too intensely pigmented to be camouflaged by makeup.
If you are one of them, you can try some home remedies and self-care measures to lighten your dark circles.
Home Remedies for Dark Circles
Lighten dark circles around the eyes by trying these remedies at home.
Cucumbers are water-logged plants that are renowned for their cooling and astringent properties, both of which can help lighten dark circles.
Moreover, cucumber is extremely mild and is therefore unlikely to cause any damage to the delicate skin around the eyes.
How to use: You can safely apply raw cucumber slices over your eyes to help fade the dark circles and bring down the puffiness around your eyes. For this topical therapy to deliver the desired results, refrigerate the slices for a few hours before applying.
Applying raw cucumber or cucumber-based creams can help lighten and moisturize the skin around your eyes while shrinking the oil glands underneath to curb sebum secretion. (1)
2. Caffeine and vitamin K
Caffeine, when used topically, can help diminish the visibility of dark circles by reducing fluid retention and melanin concentration in the under-eye area. (2)
These effects are compounded when used along with vitamin K, which can help reduce hyperpigmentation and also promote skin repair after cosmetic surgery.
The use of eye pads containing caffeine and vitamin K in an emollient base reduces under-eye pigmentation and improves skin elasticity. (3)
3. Tea bags
One of the simplest therapies to lessen the prominence of dark circles is placing soaked tea bags over the eyes. Green tea is preferred for this purpose due to its high tannin and antioxidant content.
The caffeine in tea penetrates the skin to curb the fluid retention underneath it and its abundant reserve of antioxidants and tannins (4) may help lighten the discoloration around the eyes.
How to use: Place damp tea bags over your closed eyes for a few minutes and then rinse your eyes thoroughly.
Note: When applying used tea bags, check their temperature beforehand to avoid burning your delicate eyelid skin.
The skin-lightening properties of potato are much talked about as a lot of general users have reported positive results after using it for their dark circles. However, this remedy remains unsupported by science.
How to use: Place potato slices over your eyes.
5. Coconut oil
Another remedy for dark circles that enjoys considerable anecdotal success but has little to no scientific backing is coconut oil.
How to use: Gently massage 2–3 drops of coconut oil under your eye at bedtime, let it sit overnight, and then wash it off the next morning.
6. Cold compress
If your dark circles are caused by dilated under-eye blood vessels, you can use cold therapy to constrict the vessels and reduce the pooling of blood in the area.
How to use:
- Take a clean, soft paper towel, soak it in cold water, and wring out the excess liquid. Then, hold the towel against the affected area for some time while keeping your eyes closed.
- You can use store-bought cold compresses as well.
- You can also simply place a chilled teaspoon or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a soft cloth over your closed eyes.
Note: The skin around the eyes is extremely sensitive, so you have to be extra careful when using any of the above-listed topical agents. Patch testing the remedy on the underside of your arm before applying it on your face is a must to rule out the risk of any adverse reaction.
Self-Care Tips for Fading Dark Circles
Here are few dos and don’ts to reduce the appearance of dark circles:
1. Sleep it off
Lack of sleep is perhaps one of the most common causes of dark circles.
Thus, you must get 7–9 hours of sleep daily to allow your body to re-energize and repair itself while also giving your eyes a break after all the waking hours.
2. Elevate your head
Another common reason for dark circles is the buildup of fluid around the eyelids, which is worsened by sleeping on your stomach or flat on your back.
Raise the head of your bed by a few inches or prop a few pillows under your head to keep it slightly elevated while you sleep.
The downward force exerted by gravity will keep the fluid from accumulating around your eyes as you catch up on your sleep.
3. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can contribute to the appearance of dark circles. Individuals who are prone to this problem are advised to drink plenty of fluids, preferably 7–8 glasses of water throughout the day.
4. Quit smoking
Smokers are more likely to develop dark circles than non-smokers, all other factors remaining the same. Nicotine shrinks the blood vessels and limits blood flow, speeding up skin aging and darkening.
Thus, people who smoke should consider quitting this harmful habit in the interest of better skin and overall health.
5. Remove your makeup
Do not go to sleep with your makeup on.
6. Be gentle on your eyes
Do not rub your eyes too much or too vigorously.
Most-Asked Questions About Dark Circles
Is an almond and vitamin E oil mixture good for managing dark circles?
Vitamin E is one of the most powerful skin-healing nutrients, which can help in the treatment of dark circles as well. It is touted as the “anti-aging” vitamin due to its ability to repair damaged tissue and prevent skin sagging.
When applied regularly, vitamin E-based skincare products can help keep your skin firm. It may even help in managing atopic dermatitis. (5)
How to use: Mix vitamin E oil with almond oil, and carefully apply this concoction over your dark circles without getting it into your eyes to avoid undue irritation or damage.
Note: This remedy has delivered good results for many users, but there is virtually no scientific research to confirm its benefits. Thus, consult your doctor before using this remedy to know the proper dosage and frequency of application.
Caution: Patch test the remedy on the underside of your arm before application to make sure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients.
Can children get dark circles under their eyes?
People of all ages can get dark circles, including children. While several different causes can lead to the appearance of dark circles, kids usually develop them while fighting colds, allergies, or other forms of nasal congestion.
A clogged nose is a common occurrence during childhood, which can make the veins around the eyes expand and become dark due to the pooling of blood.
Because the skin around the eyes is very thin and relatively see-through, the dilated blood vessels become more prominent, imparting a dark discoloration under the eye.
Moreover, fair-skinned children and those who are born with genetically thinner skin than usual develop dark circles more easily.
Are eye bags, puffy eyes, and dark circles the same?
Dark circles are sometimes used interchangeably with puffy eyes or eye bags, but these conditions are not entirely the same.
It is very common for people to get puffy eyes due to oversleeping, sleep deprivation, sleeping on the stomach, alcohol abuse, high salt intake, dehydration, allergies, excessive crying, and other factors that can cause fluid retention in the front of the face, particularly around the eyes.
Although the typical puffiness around the eyes usually subsides after a short while, some people may develop bags under their eyes due to age-related skin sagging.
As the supportive tissues and muscles around the eyes become weaker with time, the subcutaneous fat in the upper eye shifts below the lid. The under-eye deposits of fat are colloquially referred to as eye bags.
This kind of under-eye discoloration may or may not appear with puffy eyelids.
The swelling in the lower lid due to fluid retention or skin sagging often casts a shadow, which may seem like a dark circle but is not in the real sense of the word.
Genuine dark circles occur due to a variety of causes, such as genetics, facial structure, and medications, among others.
Dark circles are largely a cosmetic concern with no serious health implications, but in some cases, they can point to an underlying medical problem.
If they fail to subside despite proper rest and care at home, you may want to see a doctor about them. The skin around your eyes is extremely thin and delicate, which warrants that you handle it with utmost gentleness.
Excessive or forceful touching, pulling, or rubbing can exacerbate the skin damage and prolong the shadow under your eyes.