Maybe the baby kept you up all night. Possibly that happy hour cocktail-and-french-fry combo wasn’t the best idea. Or maybe you can just blame genetics. Whatever the reason, all of us have experienced the early-morning shock of a bathroom mirror that reveals deep, dark circles under our eyes.
What’s causing you to look like the winner in a haggard chic beauty contest? Dermatologists cite many possible reasons, including the composition of the skin, pigment and melanin around the eye area. One or more factors — including thin skin, hyperpigmentation, hollow tear troughs or herniated fat pads (aka eye bags) — can be the culprit.
Let’s break down some of factors that are contributing to your dark circles.
First, stop rubbing your eyes.
Allergy and dry eye sufferers’ frequent eye-rubbing can be a culprit. “That can happen because the rubbing causes an increase in the production of melanin, which leads to dark blotches under the skin,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told HuffPost. “Rubbing the eyes too hard can cause inflammation and pigment production, so that’s one reason why it’s important to be careful how you take off your makeup.”
And, it turns out, there are even more reasons the circles can seem to be getting worse. If you’re not getting enough sleep, smoke, spend too much time in the sun or consume too much salt and alcohol, they may look worse. Finally, none of us is getting any younger, and aging has been shown to exacerbate dark circles, too.
Remedies That Can Help
The good news is that the problem is treatable, at least temporarily. One of the top home remedies is lying down with cold compresses on your eyes. “The compresses help with puffiness by constricting the blood vessels,” dermatologist Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told HuffPost. “Try cool cucumber slices or steeped-and-chilled bags of black or green tea.”
Cosmetics can come to the rescue on a really rugged dark-circle day. “If pigment deposition is the true cause of your undereye circles, then makeup or concealers can definitely be a quick fix,” dermatologist DiAnne Davis told HuffPost. “For a longer-term solution, you can make lifestyle changes that include getting enough rest, staying hydrated and limiting salt and alcohol consumption. You might want to consider putting a second pillow to elevate your head while sleeping, too.”
Here are some top dermatologists’ picks for products that can improve the health of undereye skin and reduce the appearance of dark circles.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Pond’s Rejuveness Brightening Eye Cream
“Think of the skin under the eyes like a pair of Spanx,” Zeichner said. “When the skin gets loose and crepey, it doesn’t hold in the underlying fat as well. This product helps with that since it contains a stabilized form of retinol, along with niacinamide, which is a form of vitamin B3 that helps brighten the skin.”
RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Anti-Aging Eye Cream
“To address hollows under your eyes, look for an eye cream that contains hyaluronic acid,” Zeichner said. “This one contains a combination of hyaluronic acid to plump the skin, along with peptides to help strengthen it.”
Alastin Restorative Eye Treatment with TriHex Technology
“I love this anti-aging eye cream, which is designed to reduce puffiness and reduce dark circles under the eyes,” Graf said. “It promotes the production of healthy, new collagen.”
Bliss Bright Idea Eye Cream
“If your circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, look for a product like this one that contains vitamin C,” Zeichner suggested. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical damage and blocks production of abnormal pigmentation. This product contains a stabilized form of the vitamin, along with a skin-strengthening peptide.”
Charlotte Tilbury Cryo-Recovery Eye Serum
“If you have puffiness and shadows under the eyes, caffeine helps constrict blood vessels to remove excess fluid,” Zeichner said. “This product contains a caffeine complex to minimize the appearance of under-eye puffiness and dark circles.”
Image Skincare Iluma Intense Brightening Crème
“Products that brighten and hydrate the undereye will be effective for dark circles,” Graf said. “This one helps break down the discoloration for a more vibrant and youthful look. It’s good for people with sensitive skin since it’s non-irritant. Use it consistently for best results.”