Dear LH, How can I get rid of the dark circles under my eyes? I sleep and drink lots of water and it lightens but never goes away completely. My employer has even assumed I'm a heavy-drinking night owl! Any advice? Thanks, Circle Of Dark
Dark eyes picture from Shutterstock
Periorbital dark circles are one of those common ailments with multiple causes -- it could come down to your diet, sleep deprivation, genetics, smoking, age or simply too much rubbing and scratching.
Without knowing the specifics of your symptoms, it's difficult to give any tailor-made advice (your GP should be able to help in this area.) However, here are some basic tips that could help to reduce or conceal the problem.
The first thing you should do is assess your sleeping patterns, which is one of the chief causes of baggy, tired looking eyes. Just because you're not a "heavy-drinking night owl" doesn't necessary mean you're getting an adequate amount of shuteye. The key to improvement is a mix of good sleep habits and understanding the things that keep you from getting the best sleep you possibly can.
A sleep tracking tool is one of the most effective ways of monitoring sleep -- it will log how often you wake up and the amount of 'deep' sleep you get during the night. You can read up on five of the most popular sleep tracking tools here (personally, I'm a fan of the Jawbone Up wristband which covers all areas of fitness.)
Also try to avoid drinking excessive fluid before bedtime. While hydration can improve the appearance of dark circles, water retention has the opposite effect: it can contribute to the puffy bags under your eyes which makes dark circles look more prominent. You can find a stack of other useful sleep hacks via our 'Sleep' story tag. (Note: While lack of sleep doesn't directly cause dark circles, it can make you look paler and more hollow-eyed which draws more attention to them.)
If you're a woman (or a metrosexual dude), it's possible to conceal even the darkest circles with effective makeup application. Our colleagues over at PopSugar recommend the following steps:
- Start off with an illuminising face primer to reflect light all over.
- Next, lightly buff foundation onto your skin, making sure that you carry it all the way up to underneath your eyelids. It can even be a tinted moisturiser, just so you have a little bit of coverage to start. That way you're going to need less concealer.
- Now it's time to conceal with a radiance-boosting product. Look for words on the container that say lightening, brightening, lifting, or illuminating. These are the things that are actually going to bounce light from the eyes, creating more of a halo effect, eliminating the darkness with light instead of covering up with thick, opaque concealer.
In the below video, Smashbox Cosmetics makeup artist Lori Taylor explains some common tricks of the trade that help to hide dark circles and bags under the eyes.
If you're after a quick-fix solution that doesn't involve makeup, this old post may contain a few nuggets worth trying. For example, wetting and freezing a cotton swab before gently wiping under the eyes can help to reduce the appearance of dark rings. Other popular remedies include placing cold spoons, used tea bags, cucumbers or pureed potato on your closed eyes. You could also try reducing the amount of salt in your diet, which can cause the blood vessels under the eyes to appear darker.
Vitamin C is another natural skin care solution that many people swear by. It inhibits the production of melanin which makes it an ideal ingredient for dark spot treatments and under-eye circles. While it may take 24 hours for your body to break down any Vitamin C you eat, there are numerous skin treatments available that purport to give skin benefits fast, which brings us to commercial products.
There are plenty of eye serums on the market that are specifically designed to reduce dark circles. Usually they purport to contain some "miracle" ingredient that has been years in the making. However, it's important to treat these products with a healthy dose of skepticism. Look out for evasive language on the label's description (words like "may" and "could" tend to be used a lot when describing the product's benefits). Treat this stuff like anti-ageing creams and don't expect wonders.
If any ex-raccoon readers have some additional tips of their own, let COD know in the comments section below.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.