By Natalie Serret
Trying to downsize on your makeup routine would be so much easier if dark circles didn’t exist. If you’re like me, you’ve tried 20 different combinations of concealers and foundation but they just aren’t enough to cover them up. It may make up for discoloration but it doesn’t make up for hollowness or puffiness… not even close. Not to mention that heavy cover-up may look great in pictures but in person, it looks cakey. Last month, I tried my millionth peach concealer that claimed to be “the best concealer for under eyes” and once again, came out disappointed. I decided to put my foot down. Enough with the cover up! There must be another way…
After hours of research, I was happy to find out there is a solution! For a month now, I’ve transformed my routine to include less heavy makeup and more skin care. Here’s what I’ve found:
First of all, not all dark circles are created equally. There’s puffy dark circles AKA bags under your eyes, hollow dark circles, dark circles from stress, dark circles from lack of sleep, dark circles from sleeping too much, hereditary dark circles, and more. The good news is there’s preventive measures and ways to remove your dark circles! Before you start trying all the remedies in the book, you must identify why you have bags under your eyes in the first place.
For example, I had puffy dark eye bags in the morning and hollow throughout the rest of the day. They were probably caused because I work long hours in front of the computer, I sleep too much on weekdays and not enough on weekends, and my diet was not the best. Because I know this about myself, I’ve been able to treat my under eyes with appropriate treatments and in just a month, the difference is pretty remarkable. I apply cucumber slices to refresh my eyes whenever I get the chance and apply ice when my eyes are very swollen. In addition to this, I’ve tried a couple eye creams and have found that Clinique All About The Eyes during the day and Shiseido White Lucent Anti-Dark Circle Cream are the most effective for me. They are gentle, unscented (some have such a strong scent it burns your eyes), and the skin really absorbs it. The ingredients increase blood circulation and constriction, attack dark pigmentation by slowing melanin production, and reflect light thus, brightening the skin. These are all common body processes that cause dark circles and they target them all!
I’ve identified 10 common causes and found pertinent solutions for each. Remember that your dark circles may be caused by multiple factors and therefore, you may have to try multiple treatments. Also, because there are so many factors involved dermatologists say you can’t remove them permanently. Unfortunately changing your sleep schedule and controlling mental or physical stress, hormones, or genetics aren’t always feasible solutions if they are your root culprit for puffy dark circles, but these quick-fixes definitely help minimize them. Best part about it is these solutions are natural, they are low to no cost, they’re simple to do and they’re easy to implement in your daily routine!
Cause #1: Dry skin under eyes
Solution: The skin under your eyes is the most sensitive part of your face because it is so thin. Instead of washing your face with hot water, which strips the eye area of essential oils, wash your face with lukewarm or cool water. Steer clear of alcohol-based products such as makeup remover, which is especially irritating and drying to the skin. After your face cleansing routine, don’t forget to moisturize! Again, be sure to avoid applying any alcohol-based product near the eyes, you may want to consider a different, more natural moisturizer for the under eyes such as coconut oil or almond oil. Dabbing it on with cotton pads soaked with the moisturizer is better than using your fingers to apply moisturizer because you’ll be tempted to rub which is detrimental to the under eyes.
Cause #2: Working for long hours in front of a computer
Solution: If you work with computers daily or binge-watch TV (I’m guilty, too), your eyes strain and muscles around the eyes are activated. This causes your eyes to become tired and unable to relax. When you do this, you should take a break at least every 10 minutes to give your eyes a chance to relax and focus on something else. Also, cup your eyes in your palms every hour to relax the muscles around your eyes and improve circulation of the blood. Remember don’t rub! This area is extremely sensitive and rubbing will cause redness, dryness, and puffiness.
Cause #3: Sleep habits
Solution: Lack of sleep and too much sleep can both cause dark circles but this is sometimes inevitable. Something to note is that regularly sleeping on your stomach or on your side causes fluids to pool in your eyes. Try sleeping on your back with your head elevated!
Cause #4: An unhealthy diet (salt, inadequate anti-oxidants,iron deficiency)
Solution: As with most skincare solutions, cleaning up the inside can really reflect in your appearance. A diet high in salt causes fluid retention, you can combat this by not only ensuring your sodium intake is low but also to drink ample fluid to prevent dehydration.
Other foods you should implement in your diet are fruits, green leafy vegetables especially kale, cabbage and spinach which are high in Vitamin K and Vitamin B12, which help with blood circulation. Liver, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach and strawberries are also great for this.
Iron carries oxygen so a lack of it can give the cells under your eyes a dark appearance. Lack of iron also pales your skin which accentuates the darkness of the under eyes even more. Red meat, pork and chicken, beans, and dried fruit, such as are high in iron.
Consume foods that are rich in vitamin E such as nuts, milk, eggs, fish and vegetable oils. Vitamin E’s antioxidant capability serves to protects cell tissues from things like environmental pollutants and harmful sun rays.
Cause #5: Change of medication
Solution: Vasodilators dilate or widen blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily through. The more blood that flows the more you can see through the skin, therefore, showing up as dark circles under your eyes. Common vasodilators are Hydralazine, ACE inhibitors, and Minoxidil.
The best way to constrict the blood vessels under the eyes is with a cold compress. Wrap a washcloth around an ice cube and hold against the lower lid. You can also keep a spoon in the refrigerator and gently hold it against the area.
Cause #6: Allergies
Solution: For some people, dark circles occur when skin under the eyes becomes inflamed as part of an allergic reaction to particular foods such as dairy and gluten. First you’ll want to try to eliminate foods that contain these allergens as much as possible. Touching or rubbing the skin makes it worse, so try eye drops soothe the itchiness. Lastly, try sleeping with retinol eye cream overnight. By stimulating production of collagen, the swelling will be less obvious.
Cause #7: Consumption of coffee and tea
Solution: I found multiple sources that consuming it can cause exhaustion, which in turn contributes to dark circles. That being said, avoid consuming caffeine-rich fluids and replace them with water or non-caffeinated herbal tea. However, applying caffeine-rich products onto your under eyes can actually be helpful! Check out this amazing DIY Coffee Eye mask:
Cause #8: Excessive alcohol intake
Solution: Alcohol dehydrates your skin as much as it dehydrates the rest of your system. The first thing you should do after night out is to drink lots of water so you can get rid of the toxins fast and then moisturize. To fight dullness of the skin, eat foods rich in vitamin C like oranges and grapefruits.
Cause #9: Makeup Routine
Solution: When applying makeup, treat your under eyes with extra care. For example, when applying concealer, pat or dab it on, do not drag. Also, use your ring finger which is the weakest of them all! Sleeping with makeup is also a habit you should aim to get rid of. It’s yet another thing that dries out the skin. Remember, oil-based makeup remover is better than alcohol-based for this same reason.
Cause #10: Excessive exposure to the sun.
Solution: Sun exposure makes your body produce more melanin and causes pigmentation under the eyes. If your under eye circles are blue, it’s probably genetic but if they’re brown, they may be due to excessive exposure to the sun. Try using a cream containing citrus, or even lemon juice, which has brightening properties. And of course, sunglasses and wearing extra sun-block under the eyes every day is the ultimate preventative measure because the older you get, the darker they will get.
Another great treatment for dark circles is vitamin E gel. Clip off the tip of the capsule and use a cotton swab to apply it under the eyes every night. It soothes, moisturizes, and protects the under eyes.
Now remember, there’s dozens more reasons for the dark circles under your eyes, and you can (and should!) try multiple of these treatments. Also, it’s important to be consistent because you’ll see results faster! You should see significant changes within 14 days.
Leave a comment and let us know what worked for you, we’d love to hear how our busy beauties keep fresh-faced and bright-eyed.