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Dark Eye Circles

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Tue, Oct 15, 2019

Even if you have healthy skin that’s in top shape, you can have under eye problems like dark circles, bags and puffiness. Under eye problems can be genetic, or they can be a sign that you’re tired, ‘under the weather’ or are retaining fluid. Some causes of under eye circles can be treated or reversed, and others can’t. No matter what, there are things you can do to make them less noticeable.

What causes under-eye circles?

Dark under-eye circles can be caused by,

  1. congestion of your blood vessels,
  2. excess pigment,
  3. shadowing,
  4. a combination of all of these things.

Skin care treatments that help improve dark under-eye circles due to vascular congestion and puffiness.

Skin care products can actually have a big impact on the delicate and permeable under-eye area. Advanced Corrective Eye Repair Cream has ingredients to improve the circulatory issues that contribute to dark circles including arnica, vitamin K, green tea antioxidants, and peptides. 

Cool compresses with chilled cucumber or cool water-soaked wash cloth can help too. 

The best skin care to get rid of hyperpigmentation in under-eye circles.

Hyperpigmentation happens when excessive skin pigment is present in the skin. It can happen under your eyes where it causes a brown discoloration of the under-eye area. Like blood vessel congestion, the tendency for hyperpigmentation of the under-eye skin is often genetic. You can use products to lighten it including skin lighteners such as hydroquinone, and botanical skin lighteners. These help reduce melanin pigment production. My Pigment Fading Pads contain hydroquinone and the best botanical skin lighteners. 

Also creams with retinoids help. Retinol is the best option available without a prescription. Get professional levels in my Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream,  which will help decrease skin pigment. Retinoids have the potential to be harsh, and must be used with care under the eyes. My favorite retinol cream for the eye area is my Advanced Corrective Eye Repair Cream. It has just the right amount of retinol for this delicate area. It also has the peptides, vitamin K, arnica and green tea antioxidants. It helps lighten under- eye pigment and reduce under-eye congestion.

Vitamin C helps to lighten pigment by another mechanism. A great option is my Vitamin C Professional Anti-Wrinkle Treatment Serum. Vitamin C can also be harsh if used too close to the eye. 

Use dermatologist-recommended broad spectrum sunscreen to help fix under eye circles due to excessive pigment.

Use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB mineral sunscreen every day. It is hypoallergenic, non-irritating and gives excellent broad spectrum UV protection. My favorite under eye sunscreen products are Suntegrity 5 in 1 SPF 30 Sunscreen BB Cream and Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte SPF 50+ Sunscreen. Both provide amazing protection and have a very natural skin tinting to help hide dark circles. Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible SPF 50+ Sunscreen is excellent too and has no tinting. All three off these do not contain any organic (aka chemical) sunscreen ingredients which can irritate delicate eye area skin. 

Mineral makeup powders applied on top of your sunscreen will give you added sun protection because the mineral pigments actually deflect UV tanning rays too.

Why does shadowing make under eye circles worse?

Shadowing happens when facial surface contours cast a shadow, accentuating the under-eye area. Like hyperpigmentation and vascular congestion, this can be genetic; some people have more prominent eye bones, or their eye area is more recessed into the eye socket than other people’s. We also loose skin substance volume as we age, and this can cause more shadowing.

What are the 5 best skin care tips to reduce the appearance of under eye circles from all causes.

  1. Use eye creams such as Advanced Eye Repair Cream to help reduce hyperpigmentation and congestion, and brighten the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, crinkles and shadows.
  2. Use products that deeply hydrate the eye area skin to plump skin and reduce crinkles and wrinkles that accentuate shadowing. The best choice is Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum that can be applied first right after toweling skin dry after washing. All other products are applied on top. 
  3. Gently exfoliate eye area skin to brighten skin texture. My Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliation Scrub is an excellent choice. 
  4. Apply concealers and makeup on top of your eye cream and sunscreen. To cover hyperpigmentation or shadowing, use a concealer or makeup shade that is a shade or two lighter than your general skin tone to lessen the color difference. Purple congestion is reduced when you apply a concealer or makeup shade that is slightly more yellow/orange than your natural skin tone. Apply your natural skin tone makeup on top.
  5. Apply cool compresses to help reduce under eye puffiness.

Don't forget - get enough rest, eat well and take good care of yourself - your undereye skin is like a wellness barometer and your under-eye circles are always worse when you are stressed and depleted.