Dark Circles: What Causes Them and How to Get Rid of Them

13. Inherited Genes For many of us, our dark circles are caused by genetics. This pigmentation under the eyes is routinely passed down from generation to… Trista - August 24, 2019
Credit: FutureLearn

13. Inherited Genes

For many of us, our dark circles are caused by genetics. This pigmentation under the eyes is routinely passed down from generation to generation. Those with deep-set eyes or fair skin have the most noticeable instances of dark circles.

Those who inherit their dark circles may see them developed as early as childhood. They could get worse as you get older or if you’re lucky, disappear. If you have a genetic predisposition to a medical condition like thyroid disease, you may be more susceptible to developing dark circles under your eyes. Your bone structure may also play a part in how prominent your dark circles are.

Credit: Scientific Animations

14. Thyroid Conditions

One of the most important glands in the body is the thyroid. The thyroid is essential for hormone production and function. Without this gland, the rest of the hormones in the body cannot function properly.

Those with a low thyroid condition like hypothyroidism may experience issues with anemia and blood production. The liver, gastrointestinal system, and energy production may all be affected as well. This leads to issues with toxin removal and nutrient delivery in the body. Because of this, the skin under the eyes may appear darker due to stress and sickness. Hypothyroidism may result in darker skin in other areas of the body like the gums or creases of the palms.

Credit: Health Magazine

15. Dehydration

The human body is made up of about 75 percent water. Drinking water is essential to living and can have great effects on your health. On the other hand, not getting enough water can lead to numerous health issues.

A major symptom of dehydration can be written on your face. When you haven’t had enough water, the skin beneath your eyes will look dull, and your eyes will appear sunken. That is because of how close the eyes are to the bone underneath them. To avoid dark circles and sunken eyes, be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day.

Credit: Medical News Today

16. Dermatitis

Inflammatory skin diseases may lead to dark circles under the eyes. The main skin disease that can cause them is eczema. Also known as dermatitis, eczema comes in several forms, all of which cause itching and irritation.

It may seem weird, but you can actually develop eczema on your eyelids. This can be caused by various volatile substances, including insect sprays and lemon peel oil. Most commonly, this condition occurs because of a substance that has been transferred from the hands to the eyes. When you get eczema on your eyelids, it can be extremely itchy and cause you to scratch. This will irritate the skin around your eyes and lead to dark circles.

Credit: Everyday Health

17. Glaucoma Treatment

Glaucoma is a group of several eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can cause a loss of vision. Most of these conditions develop slowly and are virtually painless. If left untreated, a person will most certainly go blind.

The main treatment for the different types of glaucoma is eye drops. There are several different types of eye drops for glaucoma. One of the side effects of glaucoma eye drops is the growth of eyelashes and hyperpigmentation around the eyes. In order to avoid dark under-eye circles from glaucoma medication, wipe the area around your eyes with an absorbent pad after using the eye drops.

Credit: Mount Mercy University

18. Risk Factors

Some people have more of a risk of developing dark circles than others. As we’ve mentioned before, those who are aging may be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation under the eyes. Additionally, genetics may be the cause of seeing dark circles appear as early as childhood. Heredity is also to blame for having thinner skin under your eyes.

Those who have darker skin tones are more likely than white people to have dark circles. The cause of this is most likely due to differences in pigmentation. African American and Asian ethnicities tend to have the most people with dark circles under the eyes.

Credit: LEAFtv

19. Ethnicity

As we talked about before, some ethnic backgrounds are more likely to develop dark under-eye circles than others. Those of Asian, African American, and other non-White ethnicities are more prone to dark circles than paler people. This is thought to be because they have more melanin in their skin.

Irregularities in pigmentation affect Asian and African American people and can cause dark circles under the eyes. This is especially noticeable in the skin under and surrounding the eyes. Another condition that can occur is venous congestion, which is the disruption of blood flow in the vessels underneath the eyes. This paired with periorbital dark circles in common in non-White ethnicities.


20. Genetics

Genetics play a major role in the likelihood of someone developing dark circles. The quality of your skin, bone structure, and blood flow all can determine the pigmentation under your eyes. Genetics and skin tone are the top factors in causing dark circles under the eyes.

People with fair skin have the most apparent dark circles. Thin, translucent skin will show dark blood vessels prominently. Those with very little fat under their eyes will also display extremely dark hyperpigmentation. Genetics can determine whether or not you have a tear trough that makes it look like you have dark circles. Thanks to genetics and bone structure, a tear trough can appear around age 25.

Credit: The Sun

21. Hay Fever

Like allergies, hay fever can lead to dark circles appearing under your eyes. This condition is an inflammation of the nose characterized by sneezing, red, watery eyes, runny nose, and facial swelling. It can take minutes from being exposed to an allergen to developing hay fever.

Because hay fever causes so much facial itching, it’s easy to want to scratch at your eyes constantly during a flare-up. When allergy season is in full swing, those suffering from hay fever may develop visible “smudges” under their eyes from so much irritation. Rubbing and scratching at the skin on your face will make your irritation and dark circles worse. Look for an antihistamine to take that will lessen your desire to scratch at your eyes.

Credit: ThisThatBeauty

22. Treatment

There are many ways to treat dark circles under the eyes. There are plenty of home remedies that have been known to work. Additionally, several medical procedures and topical treatments have been developed for treating periorbital dark circles and hyperpigmentation.

Many times, several types of treatments are necessary to keep your dark circles at bay. Visit a doctor to see if any health conditions may be at the root of the issue. Then see a dermatologist to discover if they have any medications or serums to treat under-eye circles. In the meantime, take care of yourself by drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of sleep.

Credit: Fery Pmu

23. Home Remedies

If you’re a fan of home remedies, there are quite a few options out there for treating under-eye circles. With just a few items you can find around your house, you can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. The best part is most of these items are inexpensive, so you don’t need to spend a lot of money to diminish dark circles!

From applying a cold compress to putting cucumbers on your eyes, there are countless ways to treat dark circles under your eyes. Another way is to elevate your head while you sleep to keep fluid from pooling beneath your eyes. This will also help your eyes from becoming swollen and puffy.

Credit: Pexels

24. More Sleep

Since fatigue is the biggest cause of under-eye circles, getting a good night’s rest is a great way to prevent them. Everyone varies on how many hours of sleep they truly need to get in a night, but aim for seven to eight hours. You will wake up well-rested and will have less of a chance of developing dark circles.

If you have trouble with sleep, try a few tricks to have a great night of rest. Wear earplugs and an eye mask if you are awoken easily. For those who have issues falling asleep, listen to a white noise machine or smartphone app to drown out noises that keep you awake. You can also drink a soothing cup of tea or take a relaxing bubble bath before bed.

Credit: Pexels

25. Cucumbers

In movies, whenever someone goes to a spa, they always get a facial and have cucumbers placed over their eyes. Although it seems like just a funny thing to put in a film, this technique is actually beneficial. Nutrients found in cucumbers can help to naturally reduce circles under your eyes.

Cucumbers contain caffeic and ascorbic acid, which help to reduce water retention. They also contain properties that lighten the skin, which helps to inhibit dark circles. To try this technique, slice a cucumber into thick slices and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then place the cucumber slices onto your eyes for 15 minutes. Once you’re done, rinse your face with cold water. For best results, repeat this method twice a day.

Credit: Allure

26. Facials

Doesn’t a facial sound like a great idea? Having a spa day and going to a facialist is not only relaxing, but it can help reduce your under-eye circles. Additionally, you can improve the rest of the skin on your face with a facial treatment.

By seeing a facialist, you may learn a few ways to keep your dark circles at bay. A professional esthetician will know what types of products work the best with your skin type. They will also try a few techniques to reduce the darkness under your eyes. You may even get to experience an unusual method like facial cupping.

Credit: Medical News Today

27. Cold Compress

A good old-fashioned cold compress is another way to decrease the dark circles under your eyes. With just some cold water and a washcloth, you may be able to refresh your face and feel less tired. This method is great for treating both under-eye circles and puffy, swollen eyes by shrinking dilated blood vessels and reducing swelling.

Take a clean washcloth and fill it with several ice cubes, then apply it to your eyes. Another way to use a cold compress is to get a washcloth soaked with cold water and place on your eyes for about 20 minutes. If the cloth becomes warm or the ice has melted, repeat these steps.

Credit: ThriftyFun

28. Tea Bags

Like cucumbers, many movies and TV shows have portrayed people using tea bags on their eyes. Antioxidants and other properties in black and green tea are not only good for you internally, but they do wonders for your skin. Tea not only soothes the skin, but it helps to tighten it as well.

Black and green tea contain caffeine which constricts small blood vessels in the skin around your eyes. Tannins contained in caffeinated tea help to stimulate blood circulation. For this method, soak two tea bags in hot water for a few seconds and then remove them. Let the bags cool to room temperature and then place them on your eyes for 30 minutes. Doing this twice a week can help tame dark circles and tighten your skin.

Credit: Healthline

29. Almond Oil

Almond oil is loaded with vitamins and minerals that are great for your skin. Vitamin E, niacin, and phytosterols help with skin lightening. Phytosterols help revitalize the production of collagen. When paired with vitamin E, phytosterols dramatically assist with reducing dark circles under the eyes.

To use almond oil for the reduction of dark under-eye circles, apply it to your face at night. Right before bed, gently massage almond oil on the darkest parts of your skin, paying special attention to the areas under your eyes. After massaging in the oil, leave it on your skin overnight. The next morning, rinse your face with cold water and pat dry. This oil is gentle enough to be used on the skin daily.

Credit: Medical News Today

30. Egg Whites

Egg whites are part of a healthy, balanced diet and an excellent source of protein. Additionally, they are also great for your skin. High protein and vitamin E levels found in egg whites help to tighten the skin. The tightening properties in egg whites also help to reduce puffiness and hyperpigmentation under the eyes.

For this method, gently beat an egg white for a few seconds and then apply it to your face using a brush or your fingers. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. You will feel it start to tighten as it tones the skin. When the 15 minutes has passed, rinse your face gently with cold water. This technique is most effective when used every day.

Credit: Pexels

31. Makeup

What many people do to cover under-eye circles is use makeup. There are so many makeup brands out there with a variety of products that are ideal for covering dark circles under the eyes. If you’ve never used makeup to cover your dark circles, there are plenty of tutorials out there to teach you.

The first step is to apply moisturizer. This will help to nourish the thin skin around your eyes and protect it. Next, you will even out any discoloration with a light layer of foundation. Then you will take a shade of concealer that’s two shades lighter than your natural skin tone and put it on over the foundation. Finally, absorb any leftover oil with a dusting of setting powder. It takes only a minute or two to cover your dark circles with makeup.

Credit: Allure

32. Sunscreen

A rule of thumb should be to wear sunscreen every day. Even if you only spend a few minutes outside, you will know that your skin is protected from harmful UV rays. It doesn’t take long for the sun to cause skin damage.

Because the skin around the eyes is so sensitive and thin, choose a lightweight sunscreen. You can find a moisturizer that contains SPF, which is perfect for keeping your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. Many SPF moisturizers contain physical filters that help to bounce UV light away from your skin, which is a great feature for preventing sun damage and dark circles.

Credit: Healthy Beauty Me

33. Medical Treatments

If your dark circles are particularly noticeable or tend to bother you a lot, there are several options. Many dermatologists offer medical treatments to reduce the appearance of under-eye circles. These are more permanent solutions to the issue of hyperpigmentation.

In terms of plastic surgery, there are quite a few methods that work. There is laser surgery that helps to tighten and resurface the skin. Another option is medical tattooing that inserts pigments into areas with thin skin. You could also have fat removal to get a smooth, even surface under your eyes. There is also the process of having surgical implants put under your eyes.

Credit: L’Oreal Paris

34. Topical Creams

If surgery isn’t your thing, you could try applying a topical cream to the skin under your eyes. Many topical creams and gels contain acid that is designed to reduce the darkness under your eyes. Typically you need to be prescribed a topical cream in order to use it.

The most common topical creams for treating hyperpigmentation are tretinoin, hydroquinone, and a combination of the two. Doctors recommend using these products for at least three months before an effect takes place. You can also find eye creams sold over the counter that help keep the skin under your eyes moisturized and hydrated.

Credit: Pexels

35. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that keeps us healthy. Did you also know that it is excellent for brightening the skin? This natural antimicrobial is great for promoting collagen growth as well as halting unusual pigment production. Vitamin C can also help to strengthen the walls of your blood vessels.

While placing pieces of raw cucumber on your eyes works, we wouldn’t recommend doing the same with orange slices. Look for an eye cream that is infused with vitamin C. It’s a bonus if it also includes vitamin E, peptides, and other vital antioxidants. You may be able to see results in just two weeks when using a vitamin C-based eye cream.

Credit: The Pink Notion

36. Kojic Acid

If the dark circles under your eyes are due to hyperpigmentation, then kojic acid may be the right treatment for you. This acid is produced by several fungi species known as koji. Kojic acid is created during the process of fermenting malting rice and the production of the Japanese rice wine, sake.

This acid has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Kojic acid is used in cosmetics to help with skin lightening. Because of that, kojic acid can assist with lessening the dark circles underneath your eyes. Look for creams and serums with kojic acid to aid in diminishing the hyperpigmentation on your face.

Credit: Inspire Pattaya

37. Chemical Peels

Another method for reducing your under-eye dark circles is a chemical peel. During a chemical peel, chemical solutions are applied to the face, hands, and neck that cause the skin to exfoliate. As a result, the skin will appear smoother, less damaged, and less wrinkled.

In addition to hyperpigmentation, chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars, and uneven skin tones. There are three different types of chemical peels to choose from. Superficial peels use mild acids to penetrate the outermost skin layer. Medium peels are ideal for removing damaged skin cells by getting to the outer and middle layer of the skin. The final type of chemical peel is the deep peel, which penetrates all the way into the middle layer of skin using trichloroacetic acid or phenol to eliminate damaged skin cells.

Credit: Allure

38. Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is an organic compound that is typically found in barley, wheat, and rye. It is used in a variety of products, including hair conditioner and cosmetics. This acid is frequently found in acne products and products designed to reduce redness.

Azelaic acid is great for reducing redness, inflammation, and swelling. Additionally, it’s effective at treating hyperpigmentation and dark circles, especially in those with darker complexions. Another plus of using azelaic acid is that it will not affect your normal skin pigmentation. Keep in mind that azelaic acid may cause the skin under your eyes to become itchy, so if you cannot handle that, look for other methods of treating dark circles.

Credit: Amy Bruner, MD

39. Fillers

When concealer, chemical peels, and other treatments don’t work, you may want to consider getting fillers. This method is especially effective for those whose dark circles are a hereditary condition. When your bone structure and skin composition are the reason for dark circles, the filler can help improve the look of your skin.

When getting fillers for periorbital dark circles, hyaluronic acid is injected under the eyes. A small layer of this acid is applied underneath the eyes in order to gently lift the delicate skin up and away from blood vessels. After two days or so of redness and bruising, your skin will appear brighter. Hyaluronic acid fillers can last between six months and one year.

Credit: Sabrina Shah-Desai

40. Surgery

If you don’t mind going under the knife, there are surgical options for treating dark circles under your eyes. The most popular choice is blepharoplasty. Also known as lower eyelid surgery, this procedure treats dark circles and baggy areas around the eye.

When dark circles are caused by the shape of your lower eyelid and how light hits the area, surgery might be your best option. The blepharoplasty procedure may be performed on either your upper or lower eyelids or both areas. During lower eyelid surgery, a plastic surgeon will remove excess skin and repositions excess fat in the lower eyelid. This will rejuvenate your face and make dark circles vanish.