While many people are no strangers to dark circles under your eyes, it’s not always clear what the cause is and how to get rid of them. Dark circles are often attributed to stress, fatigue, and the natural aging process. However, other factors may be at play, including genetics, diet, smoking, and alcohol.
We’ve researched the most common culprits, and below are the best 19 tips to get rid of unwanted dark under-eye circles. But, first, it’s essential to know what these dark circles are and why they look so ghastly so you can solve the root issue.
The skin under the eyes is fragile and delicate; in fact, the skin on the rest of your body is four times thicker. The blood vessels underneath the surface are often easier to spot because of this, and some people have thinner skin than others, making their under-eye circles more prominent.
Studies and research have illuminated multiple ways to combat this issue, so if embracing the dark circles isn’t something you want to do, there may be a way to lessen the appearance.
What Causes Bags Under Your Eyes?
When vessels become damaged, blood can leak out causing that familiar dark hue. When blood leakage is combined with fluid buildup, darkness often becomes more visible.
Many issues can cause under-eye circles, and even if you’re genetically predisposed to dark circles, there are ways to diminish and potentially eliminate them without going under the knife.
Lack of Sleep
While a lack of sleep won’t cause the skin under your eyes to whither away, it is still a primary culprit. The reason is that when the body is sleep-deprived, it increases its production of cortisol, a stress hormone.
When cortisol levels rise, the amount of blood in your body does, too. When this happens, blood vessels are forced to expand to accommodate the excess blood, making dark circles more visible.
Smoking can wreak havoc on your skin, robbing it of vital nutrients and causing damage that might exacerbate the appearance of dark circles. Nicotine also contributes to excess baggage under the eyes because smokers often have nicotine withdrawals during the night, which interrupts their sleep, resulting in under-eye discoloration.
Salt causes the body to retain fluid, and fluid can collect under the eyes as well. Fluid retention can also promote the appearance of dark circles because the pressure from excess fluid can push the blood vessels closer to the skin, making the purplish blue hue more visible. Reducing sodium intake could help reduce the appearance of under-eye darkness.
Alcohol can cause dark circles because alcohol dilates the blood vessels, which can cause them to break, allowing blood to pool beneath the eyes. Further, alcohol causes lack of sleep, poor circulation, water retention, and negatively affects overall health— including our appearance.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Sleeping face down can cause fluid to drain and collect in the front of your face. That fluid can lead to puffiness under the eyes because gravity will naturally pull excess fluid towards the earth. Resting on your back or side may help decrease dark circles.
Learn More: Reasons Why Sleeping on Your Stomach is Bad
Medication can be helpful in many circumstances, but may also cause some undesirable side effects as well, including dilated blood vessels, dehydration, or fluid retention. To anyone taking any prescription medications, we recommend talk to your doctor about potential side effects.
Rubbing your eyes repeatedly or vigorously can lead to damaged skin because all that pressure is may be harming blood vessels, encouraging the blood to pool near the surface of the skin.
The skin around your eyes is delicate, it’s wise to be gentle when touching your eyes to preserve form. Even when you’re applying moisturizer or removing makeup, we recommend using your ring finger for any contact with this thin skin. It is the weakest of your fingers, so it’s less likely to exert as much damaging pressure.
As we get older, our skin loses elasticity, and the regeneration process slows. When this happens to the skin, it also becomes thinner, enhancing the appearance of under eye circles. Products known for reversing or working against this process include hyaluronic acid, retinol, and basic sunscreen.
Some people are predisposed to have thin skin that leads to unsightly bags and dark circles, no matter what they do. Genetics play a key role in our appearance, and this feature is no exception.
How to Get Rid of Dark Circles
Retinoid for Removing Under-Eye Circles
A retinol cream containing retinoids helps rebuild the skin’s outer layer of collagen, thickening it in the process. You can spend significant money on creams like Crème de La Mer, or you can get a high-strength prescription from your dermatologist. However, many top dermatologists claim that some drugstore brands work just as well when minimizing dark under-eye circles.
Sleep on Your Back to Reduce Puffy Eyes
You’ve already learned that sleeping on your stomach causes fluid and blood to pool around your eyes, and sleeping on your back could help reduce this occurrence. Bonus points if you add an extra pillow to further encourage the fluid to stay away. Just be careful that you don’t throw your spine and neck out of alignment.
View Our Guide: Top Rated Pillows for Back Sleepers
Lightening Products and Sunscreen to Treat Dark Circles
Sometimes, the darkness is above and on the skin, rather than causing darkness from below. A lightening product containing Vitamin C, licorice extract, and kojic acid can help alleviate some of the darkness because they inhibit melanin production, which is known to cause darker skin. We also suggest wearing sunscreen designed for the face to prevent further sun damage and pigmentation.
Allergic reactions often lead to individuals overly-rubbing their eyes in search of relief. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help when you’re trying to avoid puffy peepers and under-eye circles. An over-the-counter antihistamine may do the trick to prevent the incessant itching.
Be Gentle with Your Makeup Remover
A lot of us are beyond exhausted when it’s time for bed, and we can’t be bothered with an elaborate routine. So when it comes to removing makeup, we may just rub it off with whatever remover we’ve got handy without a second thought.
If you can afford the time, treat the delicate skin around your eyes with extra care. Use a soft cotton pad and rub very gently. Coconut oil tends to feel smooth and allows makeup to come off with ease. Also, when you’re taking off your makeup, don’t rub back and forth. Instead, wipe gently in one direction to prevent excess friction and pressure.
Sleep More to Avoid Dark Under-Eye Circles
This piece of advice works wonders for a variety of beauty ailments. They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. The sweet spot is often between seven and nine hours. Making sleep a top priority could be the difference between tired and rejuvenated skin.
Tea Bags & Caffeine
Drinking caffeine may be bad for under-eye circles, but putting it on your skin could help. Caffeine’s diuretic properties allow it to naturally draw fluid away from the face. For best results, steep two tea bags in warm water for a few minutes. Then allow them to chill in the refrigerator for about five to ten minutes. Finally, lay back and place one bag over each eyelid. Rest and relax for another five minutes or so.
It may seem like a scene from a movie, but cucumber slices are known to help hydrate skin due to their vitamin K content, alleviating dark circles and puffiness. The cool temperature, the vitamin K, and the caffeic acid work as natural anti-inflammatories.
Dark Circles & Excess Salt
Salt causes the body to retain water. If you’ve ever felt dehydrated after a night out of drinking, one of the biggest mistakes is drinking only water or avoiding foods with salt— we need salt to help us retain water.
We all retain water differently, but the region under the eyes is a common area to store it.
Under-Eye Circles & Essential Oils
Essential oils have been hailed as miracles for just about whatever ails us, and for good reason. Depending on the exact result you’re after, you may prefer one type of essential oil over another. Here are the ones we recommend for dark circles and puffiness:
- Rose geranium essential oil: it reduces water retention, eliminating puffy pockets
- Fennel essential oil: it tightens the skin, reducing bags
- Lavender essential oil: not only is it calming, but it’s also a natural diuretic
- Rosemary essential oil: like cucumbers, rosemary also contains caffeic acid
Don’t apply the undiluted oils directly to the skin around your eyes. Instead, dilute the oils with a carrier oil like almond oil, aloe vera, or witch hazel. Depending on the concentration you purchase, the label should provide dilution ratios.
Stay Hydrated to Increase Facial Vibrance
More liquid may seem counterintuitive, but when we’re dehydrated, the body adapts by retaining water, especially around the eyes. Therefore, to reduce the amount of excess fluid in the body, drink plenty of water.
The “eight glasses of water a day” rule is outdated. So, don’t worry, you don’t have to be chugging water all day. Experts today recommend about 11.5 cups of fluids a day for most grown females and 15.5 cups for most grown males.
Vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which is one key factor to maintaining healthy skin. By eating foods that are plentiful sources of this nutrient, you can help prevent puffiness and unwanted circles before they’re a problem.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples, and limes are obvious choices, but a lot of other foods are great sources, too. Vitamin C heavy-hitters include kale, cauliflower, berries, broccoli, mango, tomatoes, and papaya, to name a few.
Avoid Alcohol to Reduce Puffy Eyes
Alcohol dehydrates your body and dilates the blood vessels. As you might guess, this is not an attractive combination. However, parring down your beer, wine, or liquor consumption may help.
Supplements containing collagen can help stimulate collagen production, though some nutritionists argue that the body doesn’t convert it to usable collagen. To ensure you get the full benefit, try taking supplements that allow your body to create its own collagen, like Vitamin C, amino acids, and copper.
An iron deficiency can lead to dark circles because it causes the hemoglobin in the blood to break down, resulting in a lack of oxygen and the appearance of dark bruises under the eyes. An iron supplement could help, similarly to consuming grass-fed or pasture-raised beef and poultry.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then Vitamin B-12 supplements should be just as effective. Other recommended foods include beans, spinach, peas, apricots, and raisins.
Tomatoes, Mint & Under-Eye Circles
Eating tomatoes for their Vitamin C content is helpful, but you can also put them on your skin. Mix equal parts tomato juice with lemon juice and soak some cotton pads with it. Then place them over your eyelids for about 10 minutes. If this doesn’t sound enjoyable, you might try it as a beverage with a few mint leaves.
Milk has been known to be calming and soothing to the skin, but we suggest skipping the milk and opting for an ice pack instead. It’s cleaner and won’t curdle, yet it has the same cooling and soothing effect.
Rose Water and Puffy Eyes
Rosewater may be an old wive’s tale, but it’s been known to work.
If you habitually suffer from puffy eyes, grab some cotton balls and soak them in rose water. Place the cotton over your eyelids and relax for fifteen minutes. For best results, do this once a day for 30 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dark eye circles be removed instantly?
A few favorite techniques use ingredients you have lying around the house and provide nearly instant results. Here are a few favorites:
- Put a frozen spoon over each eye for five minutes.
- Grate a chilled potato, squeeze the juice, and mix it with a teaspoon of raw honey and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing.
- Make ice cubes out of water and lemon juice. Place the ice cubes over your eyes for two minutes, gently rubbing.
- Try our teabag trick from earlier but allow the bags to stay in the freezer for 15 minutes and keep them on your eyes for at least ten minutes.
Can they be permanently removed?
Nothing in life is permanent, but if you follow the general lifestyle habits and find one or more of the minimizing techniques that work for you, you can achieve remarkable results.
Can baggy eyes be caused by a vitamin deficiency?
Yes, an iron deficiency is a top culprit because it affects the body’s ability to transfer oxygen, which could cause dark circles. However, a Vitamin K, D, or B12 deficiency could also be to blame when it comes to puffy eyes.
Sources and References:
-  Sophie Mac-Mary, et al., “Identification of Three Key Factors Contributing to THE Aetiology of Dark Circles by Clinical and Instrumental Assessments of The Infraorbital Region”, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, Dove, December 18, 2019
-  R. Leproult, G. Copinschi, O. Buxton, E. Van Cauter, “Sleep Loss Results in an Elevation of Cortisol Levels the next Evening”, Sleep, U.S. National Library of Medicine
-  “Smoking and the Skin: How Cigarettes Damage Your Appearance”, Forefront Dermatology, January 13, 2017
-  Marilyn Spiller, “Sobriety Makes You Prettier – It's Better than Botox!”, Nature and Science of Sleep, Sanford House, January 26, 2021
-  “Ask the Doctor: Baggy Eyes”, Harvard Health, May 1, 2011
-  Amy Price, Amanda Burls, “Efficacy of Anti-Aging Products for Periorbital Wrinkles as Measured by 3-d Imaging”, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, U.S. National Library of Medicine
-  “Dark Circles under the Eyes: Causes, Treatment, Soft Tissue Fillers”, Mayoral Dermatology, December 22, 2015
-  Rashmi Sarkar, et al., “Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What Is Available?”, Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, January, 2013
-  “Antihistamines for allergies”, Medline Plus
-  “How Much Water Do You Need to Stay Healthy?”, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, October 14, 2020
-  “Can Rose Water Treat Eye Conditions?”, webMD, July 20, 2020