Maybe the baby kept you up all night. Maybe that happy hour cocktail and fries combo wasn’t the best idea. Or maybe you can just blame genetics. Whatever the reason, we’ve all experienced the morning shock of a bathroom mirror revealing deep, dark circles under our eyes.
What makes you look like the winner of a haggard chic beauty pageant? Dermatologists cite many possible reasons, including the makeup of the skin, pigments, and melanin around the eyes. One or more factors – including thin skin, hyperpigmentation, tear pits, or herniated fat pads (or bags under the eyes) – may be the culprit.
Let’s break down some of the factors that contribute to your dark circles.
First, stop rubbing your eyes.
Frequent rubbing of the eyes of people with allergies and dry eyes can be a culprit. “This can happen because the rubbing causes an increase in melanin production, which leads to dark spots under the skin,” Ddermatologist Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told HuffPost. “Rubbing your eyes too hard can cause inflammation and the production of pigment, so that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to be careful how you remove your makeup.”
And, it turns out, there are even more reasons circles can seem to get worse. If you don’t get enough sleep, smoke, spend too much time in the sun, or consume too much salt and alcohol, they may seem worse. Finally, none of us get any younger and aging has also been shown to exacerbate dark circles.
Remedies that can help
The good news is that the problem can be treated, at least temporarily. One of the best home remedies is to lie down with cold compresses on your eyes. “Compresses help fight puffiness by constricting blood vessels,” said the dermatologist Jeanette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told HuffPost. “Try fresh cucumber slices or chilled brewed black or green tea bags.”
Cosmetics can come to the rescue on a very difficult dark circle day. “If pigment deposition is the real cause of your dark circles, then makeup or concealer can definitely be a quick fix,” the dermatologist says. DiAnne Davis says HuffPost. “For a longer-term solution, you can make lifestyle changes, including getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and limiting salt and alcohol intake. You may also want to consider putting a second pillow to elevate your head while you sleep.
Here are some of dermatologists’ top picks for products that can improve under-eye skin health and reduce the appearance of dark circles.
HuffPost may receive a share of purchases made through links on this page. Each item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
Pond’s Rejuveness Brightening Eye Cream
“Think of the skin under the eyes like a pair of Spanxes,” Zeichner said. “When the skin becomes loose and crinkly, it also fails to retain the underlying fat. This product helps with that because it contains a stabilized form of retinol, as well as niacinamide, which is a form of vitamin B3 that helps lighten the skin.
RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 anti-aging eye cream
“To treat hollows under the eyes, look for an eye cream that contains hyaluronic acid,” Zeichner said. “This one contains a combination of hyaluronic acid to plump up the skin, along with peptides to help strengthen it.”
Alastin Eye Repair Treatment with TriHex Technology
“I love this anti-aging eye cream, designed to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes,” Graf said. “It promotes the production of healthy new collagen.”
Bliss Bright Idea Eye Cream
“If your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, look for a product like this that contains vitamin C,” Zeichner suggested. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical damage and blocks the production of abnormal pigmentation. This product contains a stabilized form of the vitamin, as well as a skin strengthening peptide.
Charlotte Tilbury Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum
“If you have puffiness and shadows under your eyes, caffeine helps constrict blood vessels to remove excess fluid,” Zeichner said. “This product contains a caffeine complex to minimize the appearance of under-eye puffiness and dark circles.”
Image Skincare Iluma Intense Lightening Cream
“Products that brighten and moisturize under the eyes will work for dark circles,” Graf said. “This one helps break down discoloration for a more vibrant and youthful look. It is suitable for people with sensitive skin as it is non-irritating. Use it regularly for best results.