Dark under-eye circles can be a source of annoyance for many people who experience them. Though they’re commonly thought of as the result of not sleeping well enough, some people find that no matter how much sleep we get, those pesky dark circles are still there!
There’s actually a bit more to dark circles than simply whether or not we’re well-rested. So, let’s explore the cause of under-eye circles and figure out just what they really mean—and if there’s anything we can do about them. (Turns out there is!)
What causes under-eye dark circles?
Contrary to popular belief, dark circles are not just the result of being tired.
The thin skin below our eyes happens to show blood vessels more easily than the thicker skin on the rest of our body. Some people are also genetically predisposed to particularly thin skin below the eyes. And, dark circles tend to worsen as we age and our skin loses elasticity.
Dark circles and under-eye puffiness can be caused or exacerbated by allergies, sinus problems or smoking, all of which affect circulation. (And, because most conventional personal care products contain known allergens, sensitivity to skincare or make-up products may actually contribute to under-eye darkness as well.)
Fortunately, there are a few simple, natural remedies that can help reduce the underlying causes and appearance of dark circles:
Proper nutrition + hydration
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (particularly iron and vitamins K and B12) can worsen under-eye dark circles by reducing the supply of oxygen to our body tissue and making bluish veins more pronounced. (Note: Iron and B12 in particular can be common deficiencies for vegetarians and vegans.)
Gluten and sugar also contribute to the problem, as they’re both inflammatory and inflamed blood vessels are generally more visible.
The most basic way to combat dark circles is to eat a balanced diet rich in whole and anti-inflammatory foods, including plenty of leafy greens (at least a couple servings per day is ideal!).
Dehydration can also make blood vessels more visible through the thin skin below our eyes. So, another simple way to combat dark circles is to stay well hydrated (a general rule of thumb is to drink at least 2/3 of your body weight in ounces of water per day).
It can be especially helpful to stay hydrated with healthy infused water, which also has anti-inflammatory and detoxifying herbs to boot.
As we know, lack of sleep can increase the appearance of dark circles—but that can mean either not enough sleep or not the right kind of sleep.
For many health reasons (not just reducing the appearance of dark under-eye circles!), it’s important to establish healthy sleep patterns that get us both the quantity and quality of sleep we need for optimum functioning. Here are nine natural ways to get better sleep if you think you might need them!
Also, it’s thought that if you sleep on your back (rather than on your stomach or side), your head will be slightly elevated and less fluid will pool in your face, decreasing the appearance of dark circles.
Stress hormones, which can be caused by lifestyle factors (stressful jobs, hectic schedules) or overconsumption of caffeine/sugar/alcohol, increase swelling in the body, including under the eyes.
As unrelated as it may seem, this means that the appearance of dark under-eye circles can be reduced, in part, by learning to manage stress and keep our body in a relaxed, healthy state.
Here are our favorite natural ways to reduce stress for healthy and happy living… with the bonus side effect of reducing dark under-eye circles too. 🙌
Sweet almond oil contains vitamin A, an antioxidant effective in treating dark under-eye circles. Vitamin A is also anti-inflammatory and helps to moisturize and soften the delicate under-eye skin. (And, it can be used as a natural eye make-up remover too!)
Before bed each night, gently massage a few drops of almond oil into the skin beneath your eyes.
For best results, you’ll need to apply almond oil daily. And, a few precautions:
Use sweet almond oil.
Be careful not to get almond oil in your eyes.
Avoid almond oil if you’re pregnant (pregnant women should avoid topical vitamin A in general) or allergic to nuts (it’s made from almonds!).
This common “remedy” for dark circles works because caffeine constricts blood vessels. When applied to the skin under your eyes, the caffeine in tea bags causes dark circles to appear less vivid. Tea also contains antioxidants and tannins that soothe and tighten the skin around your eyes.
Steep caffeinated black tea bags in boiling water for a couple minutes, then cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Lay down and place the damp (not dripping) tea bags over your eyes for 15-20 minutes.
A cold compress can help to reduce under-eye puffiness and dark circles by shrinking the dilated blood vessels causing them.
You can use a cool, damp washcloth, a chilled spoon (put it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before using), or a chilled jade facial roller.
Gua sha is an ancient Chinese facial therapy that reduces puffiness, aids detoxification, and may reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles and fine lines.
Use a carved jade or rose quartz gua sha facial tool to gently massage the skin around your eyes:
Gently sweep the gua sha tool over your under-eye area, all the way out to the hairline at your temple. Repeat three times for each eye.