What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes? How to Get Rid of Them

Most people tend to believe that dark circles under the eyes are a telltale sign of a night out and too many drinks. But the truth is that there are many other causes behind this common problem, including tired eyes.

The good news is that those unsightly dark eyes circles rarely indicate a serious health issue. In most cases, they are caused by the normal ageing process or lifestyle choices.

While there are various cosmetic procedures you can use to hide them, if you want to get rid of dark circles for good, you’ll have to address the underlying causes.

What Causes Dark Circles?

Before we get into dark circle treatment, let's have a look at what triggers them. Here are the most common causes of dark eye circles.

Fatigue

Yes, a night out with friends can leave you looking dark under the eyes. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, know that you’re facing the effects of sleep deprivation or fatigue.

Not getting enough sleep makes your skin look pale and dull. The effect is more visible under the eyes where there’s a rather thin layer of skin.

Also, fluid buildup will make your eyelids and the dark circles under the eyes appear puffy, and this explains the dreaded bags under the eyes.

Older Age

Ageing is not just about wrinkles. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity.

That happens because the skin loses fat and collagen production drops. This is most visible on the face, especially under the eyes where the skin is thinner to begin with.

Dark eye circles occur when blood vessels in the eye area become more visible under a thin layer of skin.

Dry and Tired Eyes

If you’ve spent the evening staring at your computer or phone screen, don’t be surprised if you wake up with dark circles under your eyes. Dark circles are more likely to appear under your eyes if you suffer from dry eyes.

young man with tired eyes

In this case, the culprit is putting too much strain on your eyes. This leads to enlarged eye vessels, making the skin look darker.

Eye Drops

Certain eye drops, such as those used for treating glaucoma, may also increase your risk of getting dark circles under the eyes. Avoid overusing eye drops if possible. 

Allergic Reactions

People with allergies often complain about dry itchy eyes. As you rub at your eyes, you only make matters worse by breaking the delicate blood vessels in the area. Also, the area may become inflamed, and you’ll get dark puffy eyes.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Sun exposure makes the skin produce melanin, a pigment that acts as a natural sunscreen and also determines our skin color. Melanin is what gives you a nice tan, but also unpleasant dark circles under the eyes.

Genetic Factors

Some people are simply born with dark circles under their eyes, which can be seen from early childhood or develop later on. If someone in your family has dark circles, chances are you will inherit this trait. Genetic predisposition affects collagen production and pigmentation levels.

Dehydration

Dark circles under the eyes are also one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. When you don’t drink enough water, your skin loses elasticity and appears dull.

The dark circles under the eyes appear because the thin layer of skin in this area reveals the bone structure right underneath.

Anemia

People suffering from iron deficiency and anemia are prone to dark eye circles too. Without adequate iron levels, blood cells are unable to carry enough oxygen around the body.

How to Get Rid of Circles Under the Eyes

Dark circle treatment depends on what’s causing the problem. There are also some quick fixes you can use to make those dark circles less noticeable, so you can head to the office looking your normal self.

Get More Sleep

Whether you like to stay out late or spend too many nights working in front of a screen, you need to change your sleeping habits to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes.

Adults need about eight hours of sleep per night according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But even seven hours can bring a marked improvement if you’re one of those people who usually make do with five hours of sleep and lots of coffee.

Get More Pillows

Sleeping with your head at the same level as your heart favors blood and fluid pooling, something you want to avoid when you have dark circles.

Use one or two extra pillows to elevate your head, but make sure this is a comfortable sleep-inducing position. If you toss and turn for hours, you won’t get the required amount of sleep.

Take Antihistamines

If you suffer from allergies, taking antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Claritin regularly, will alleviate the severity of your symptoms. Antihistamines can reduce puffiness and itchiness, so you won’t feel the need to rub your eyes constantly.

Drink Enough Water

If the dark eye circles are caused by dehydration, the solution is simple—drink more water. If you have a hard time remembering to get up from your desk for a glass of water, try a phone app to remind you of that.

Also, moderate your alcohol consumption, especially at night, as this favors dehydration. If you’re coming home from a party, drink a large glass of water before going to bed.

Use Cold Compresses

This is the quickest remedy for dark eye circles. If you wake up with dark bags under your eyes, grab a few ice cubes from the freezer, put them in a washcloth, and put the compress under your eyes.

This will help constrict the dilated blood vessels under your eyes. After five minutes or so, you’ll look much better.

Avoid placing ice cubes directly on the skin as this can damage it. You might end up trading the black circles for red ones, which is not much of an improvement.

Try Cucumber Slices

Cucumbers contain a lot of water and vitamin C, and this is exactly what your skin needs. Cut some thin slices of cucumber and hold them over the dark eye circles for a few minutes. This way, your skin will be rehydrated quickly.

Also, vitamin C has can reduce hyperpigmentation so the skin under your eyes will appear lighter.

cucumber and slices

Tip: For best results, use a cucumber from the fridge, so it will act as a cold compress as well.

Use Tea Bags

Another type of cold compress you can use to reduce dark circles and puffiness are used tea bags.

Soak two tea bags in hot water for a few minutes, then place them in the fridge for 15 minutes (or put them in the freezer for a couple of minutes). Place the cold tea bags under your eyes for 20-30 minutes.

Green or black tea bags are best as they have a high content of caffeine and antioxidants, which can help constrict blood vessels and reduce puffiness.

PS: Don’t forget to drink the tea while you’re waiting for the compresses to work their miracle.

Apply Makeup

If you suffer from dark eye circles, it might be wise to invest in a professional concealer. Look up tutorials on using concealers like a pro and cover up those dark circles. If you have sensitive skin, make sure the concealer doesn’t contain any compounds that could trigger an allergic reaction.

To maximize effects, use dark eyeliner and makeup, to draw attention to the eyes rather than the circles underneath.

Try Medical Treatments

Home remedies and makeup can help you conceal the dark circles under your eyes temporarily. If this is a constant problem for you, you may want to look into medical treatments to deal with the problem permanently.

  • Laser therapy can help reduce pigmentation in the under-eye area and boost collagen production. This will make your skin look firmer and brighter. Keep in mind that swelling and irritation may occur for a few days after the laser treatment.
  • Chemical peels can reduce fine lines, wrinkles as well as dark circles under the eyes. Talk to an expert to see what type of peeling you need—a light, medium, or deep one. The skin will need a few days to regenerate, so this is not a quick fix for dark circles.
  • Tissue fillers are a method of concealing unsightly blood vessels in the sensitive area under your eyes.

Improve Your Diet

Dark circles under the eyes could be a sign that your eyes are dry and tired. Resting them is a good idea. But don’t stop there.

Vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies can exacerbate your symptoms. Eat more superfoods like blueberries, goji berries, and almonds.

These pack potent antioxidants, Vitamin E, and other vitamins that support both eye and skin health.

Consider also taking a supplement that protects your skin and eyes from UV radiation and damage from free radicals.

Key Takeaways

Dark circles under the eyes can be quite annoying, but they are not a sign of a serious health issue. In most cases, the dark eye circles are caused by common problems such as lack of sleep, putting too much strain on the eyes or excessive sun exposure.

Simple lifestyle changes will help you get rid of the circles and bags under your eyes. If your problems are due to allergies, just take the antihistamines as prescribed.

If you need to get rid of dark eye circles quickly, a cold compress can work wonders. You can use ice cubes, cucumber slices or cold tea bags to make the dark circles go away.