Where is the thinnest part of your skin? It’s right under your eyes. How to get rid of dark circles and bags under eyes?
Mitigate your lifestyle habits through sunscreen, lightening products, massage, and other simple methods to take on a well-rested appearance. This under-eye area is more vulnerable due to its naturally thin state. The more we age, the more vulnerable it becomes. Rubbing harshly and leaving it parched and starving for hydration only speed up the inevitable loosening of the skin there.
On top of that, I know I’m personally guilty of staying up too late to watch movies or shows and burning the candle at both ends. And while I’m habitual about it now, there was a time I totally blew off sunscreen. I’ve skipped applying my eye cream at night just because I was too tired to be bothered. Apparently, I was too bothered to change clothing too, for I woke up wearing my shoes, but that’s an entirely different story.
The key to how to get rid of dark circles and bags under eyes is to understand why they appear in the first place. Studies show that your lifestyle has a lot to do with it. Thankfully, there are ways to handle them and help your undereye area look effervescent and youthful, so keep reading, and you won’t have to give up on all the fun!
What causes dark circles and undereye bags to appear?
As it turns out, there are many reasons why you might encounter dark circles glaring back at you in the morning. Here are the most common causes!
Sometimes, all it takes is just staying up several hours beyond your usual bedtime to wake up looking like an extra from The Night of the Living Dead. When you deprive yourself of sleep, even on occasion, it causes your skin to look pale and dull, something studies have revealed. This reveals the dark tissues and blood vessels underneath your skin. And because the undereye area is thinner-skinned, that’s why you get those raccoon eyes.
On top of that drama, when you don’t get enough sleep, fluid pools underneath your eyes, which is why they will also look puffy. Sometimes, those dark circles might just be shadows from the puffiness.
Sorry, doll, but every trip around the sun means that the older you get, the more likely it is to get dark circles under your eyes. Naturally, this area is thinner, as I just mentioned, but with age, it gets thinner. And thinner. And THINNER. Eek.
The collagen and fat in your skin also deplete, and thus, those dark blood vessels under your eyes are more prominent. Break out that concealer!
It turns out; Mom was right about straining your eyes, though not for the reasons she would shout down the hall as you sat nose-to-nose with the TV. All that staring at the TV, your laptop, or your smartphone puts strain on your eyes. This makes those blood vessels surrounding your eyes get bigger, and then the skin underneath your eyes looks darker.
OMG, allergies are the worst, aren’t they? Not only do you sniffle and sneeze and have watering eyes, but allergic reactions along with dry eyes can make for dark circles. The histamines in your body are released, and in addition to making your eyes feel itchy and look red and puffy, they make the blood vessels dilate so you can see them under your skin. On top of that, because allergies are irritating in general, you’ll likely rub your eyes a lot more, and that makes things worse.
Ok, so what if you go to bed on time and you’re not “old” and you don’t have allergies. Why are your eyes looking so ragged? Perhaps it has to do with your water intake. Be honest…are you drinking enough water every day? If not, it’s time to start. Your eyes will look sunken in when you don’t drink enough of it. Yuck! I recommend taking a bottle of water with you wherever you go.
– Sun overexposure
Going out in the sun is often viewed as negative. That’s because so many people don’t exercise the right precautions. Getting some sun is good for you according to health studies, but as they say, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When you go out in the sun, protect yourself with sunscreen, and try not to stay out there too long. If you’ve made a trip to the beach or lake, reapply your sunscreen at least every 60 to 80 minutes and take breaks where you’re in the shade. Too much sun can cause the melanin around your eyes to darken.
You might have a bone to pick with your ancestors if none of these other common causes apply. Some people have this unfortunate inherited trait. Even worse, it may begin in childhood and just get worse. Thyroid disease and other medical conditions are also a culprit to this dark-circled look.
– Too much salt
Salty foods are delish, but they’re not good for us. If you eat too many salty things, you’ll retain water, which causes swelling and leads to puffy eyes. Try to swap out those saltier items for fresher foods from the produce section. And when cooking, use spices and herbs rather than salt to add flavor. I personally love garlic powder because it adds that savory-salty taste without adding sodium. Note: garlic powder, NOT garlic salt! Big difference!
Why we start seeing dark circles and under eyes bags as we age
The short answer: life is unfair! But honestly, even when you do all the right things, and you have no genetic disposition to dark circles under your eyes, aging will do its thing. For some people, it will come sooner rather than later, while others will be blessed with luck. Everyone loses collagen over time, and skin thins out. This will reveal the veins underneath your eyes, the thinner the skin gets.
Sun exposure speeds up collagen breakdown, so when you do go out to embrace summer, protect yourself. Sunglasses are a must too. But even in winter, don’t let your guard down. Snow can reflect intense UV rays onto your skin and cause tons of damage. Yes, even if you’re merely sitting on the highway creeping along to get to your exit every morning on the way to work.
Unfortunately, though, even with your best habits, you can’t stop genetics. If your family looks ageless, chances are that you will too. But if you have fair or thin skin, you’ll be more likely to show those dark circles earlier in life. Sorry, but that’s what science says in regards to what it’s known officially as periorbital hyperpigmentation.
Usually, that’s linked to your genes, but fatigue, stress, sun damage, dehydration, and allergies can also lend a cruel hand in this, getting worse as you grow older.
So, now what? Well, don’t panic! Keep reading, and I’ll help you get rid of dark circles and bags under your eyes!
26 Ways to remove dark circles and under eyes bags
It’s time to get honest with yourself. REAL honest. Are you guilty of any of the above infractions? Is your lineage prone to darkened under eyes? If so, read on to find out what you can do about it.
1- Incorporate retinoids to your skincare regimen
Studies point to retinol time and time again as an effective way to restore aging skin. This is especially true with the under-eye area. Using retinol regularly stimulates collagen production and makes the skin less thin, thus diminishing dark circles.
2- Don’t miss out on sunscreen
In the link just above, the study also pointed out that one of the best things you can ever do for keeping your skin young and vibrant is to use sunscreen every day during daylight hours. ALWAYS. Even if you are not going to actively go out into the sun for exercise or lounging around. Even if you’re just running to the store 10 minutes away by car, find a good daily sunscreen for inactive sun time and use it religiously. And when you ARE planning to be outdoors, use at least SPF 30 products to protect your skin. Reapply them on time too. Set the alarm on your phone, so you don’t forget.
Using that sunscreen not only protects from skin cancer but also halts premature aging and skin discoloration. It will help keep your eyes from looking darkened underneath. Read your sunscreen label to be sure it gives you broad-spectrum sun protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
And if you’re going to make a day of it, please take time to sit in the shade and wear clothing that protects you like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and UVP clothing. Whatever you do, NEVER go to a tanning bed either. Don’t even get me started on how dangerous those are!
3- Use essential oils
Essential oils to the rescue, yet again! I love essential oils. I put them in my diffuser, and it totally mellows me out. And if you love them too, you’ll be delighted that they can also pull double-duty by helping fight puffy and dark eyes. Be sure to mix it with coconut oil first, though, and then gently rub under your eyes. Lavender, chamomile, rosemary, fennel, and rose geranium are deemed the best for banishing under-eye problems.
4- Massage your under eyes area
Your skin needs circulation to boost blood flow, and that means a massage under the eyes can really help. Foreo is in high demand for its unique beauty devices. Among them, the Iris can massage your eyes for you in seconds. Don’t you just love technology that simplifies beauty and makes it speedier? I know I do! It’s gotten rave reviews for reducing under-eye bags and removing dark circles, so it’s certainly something to check out.
5- Take an antihistamine
If you have allergies, an antihistamine can do wonders. I’d make sure to check with your doctor first to confirm that’s the cause of your woes and to see if you can take OTC meds to relieve it. Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec are the most common brands you’ll see.
Additionally, you’ll want to avoid those allergens that set you off as much as you can. For some, certain ingredients in the products you use could be to blame. It helps to keep a log of all the things you’re using, things you’re eating, or foliage around where you live so your doctor can help find out what’s going on here.
6- A neti pot may help
One of my best friends loves the neti pot because she gets all congested, and it makes her eyes dark and puffy. She adds a regular saline solution to this pot, which has a spout that allows you to pour it in your nose and clear out your sinuses. Oh I know. It sounds so gross, but she says it works wonders for her. It’s not for everyone, but you may find it useful.
She told me all you do is fill the neti pot with about half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of water. You have to heat the water to dissolve it, but you also need to let the water cool down to body temperature before you pour it up your nose.
How do you even pour water up your nose? The idea is to tilt your head sideways while hovering over your sink. You have to insert the spout up the nostril that is closest to the ceiling. While doing this, breathe through your mouth and gently pour into your nose. When you do it right, it’s supposed to come out your other nostril. You’ll have to repeat the process with the other nostril too.
Neti pots are very inexpensive, though it’s very important that you clean it well after each use. Another thing I should warn you about…you need to use distilled or sterilized water when making your saltwater. Don’t have those? You can boil tap water and then allow it to cool down before using.
7- Use lightening products
In studies, hydroquinone is a top-performer for skin lightening. It stops melanin production in the skin, which can help you stop those pesky dark circles. Most OTC formulations of skincare products with hydroquinone contain 2%, but you can get a higher percentage if needed from your dermatologist. You have to use them on the regular to see results, just like retinol. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Be careful with it though, as when you expose skin to sunlight, hydroquinone can have negative effects. That’s why you should only use it at night. Test a small area of your skin before using it, too, as some people find it irritating and drying.
8- Apply cool compresses under the eyes area
A cold compress just 10 minutes at a time will work wonders. And it’s so simple and natural. It helps to get one of those eye masks you can put in your fridge. Ideally, if you have time, do it once in the morning and again in the evening. Make sure you are vigilant about cleaning it though. You don’t want it to accumulate dirt and bacteria that can give you an eye infection.
9- Cucumber slices are helpful
Cucumbers should always be on your grocery list. Not only are they wonderful for your health, but they can be sliced up to put on top of your eyes too. Put a slice on each eye and relax to some chill music for 10 minutes. Then rinse your eye area with warm water.
10- Put potato slices under your eyes
No cucumber? No problem! Potatoes have loads of vitamin C, and that is a good thing for more collagen production. Instead of slicing them though, grate them up and take the juice that is extracted from that to apply to your eyes. You’ll want to soak it up with those cotton makeup remover pads, then place those pads over your eyes. Leave them 10 minutes and then rinse your eye area with warm water.
11- Apply tea bags under your eyes
If you like tea, you’re in luck! Take your caffeinated tea bags after steeping and put them to good use. It needs to be caffeinated tea though, as you need those antioxidants plus it boosts blood flow. Green tea is one of the best according to studies for its anti-inflammatory powers.
After you steep your tea bags (3 to 5 minutes), put those bags in the fridge for 20 minutes. Enjoy your tea, meanwhile! Then you’ll squeeze out any remaining liquid from them and pop them under your eyes. Relax with them on for 15 to 30 minutes. It’s so relaxing you may nod off, so set your alarm, so you don’t forget!
12- Apply a cold milk cotton under your eyes
Milk is an excellent source for vitamin A which is where retinoids come from. So it makes sense using milk can help too. Soak a cotton makeup remover pad in some cold milk and then place the pad under your eyes. About 10 minutes is all you need though it’s best if you can make time to do this in the morning and again in the evening. And if you don’t want to smell like spoiled milk, make sure you rinse with warm water after!
13- Don’t sleep with your makeup on
I know I’ve talked about this before, but I beg you all, please NEVER sleep with makeup on. If you do this regularly, stop now. Eye makeup is horrible for your eyes as you sleep because it can irritate them, cause an allergic reaction, or lead to an infection, which will make things worse.
And then there’s the other damage having your pores covered with makeup 24/7 can do. Your skin needs to breathe. It needs to soak up all the good ingredients from your skincare. You can’t expect to look your best when you don’t give skin what it needs. Sleeping in makeup exposes your skin to those horrible free radicals, leading to oxidative stress, which studies say causes you to age prematurely.
14- Gently remove your makeup
Even if your skin isn’t sensitive, treat your under-eye area like it is. Be gentle with it always, even if you’re young, and that area is nice and plump and youthfully contoured. I recommend making time to wash off your makeup with a devoted makeup remover and cleanser, though if you can’t make it to the sink, at the very least, use fragrance-free makeup removing towelettes. Just don’t make a habit of taking makeup off this way every night.
15- Try to get enough sleep
Are you sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night? If not, go to bed earlier. Your skin will thank you. Lack of sleep makes your complexion paler, which reveals more shadows under your eyes. It helps to formulate a sleep schedule. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it.
Also, caffeine is a no-no 6 to 12 hours before bed. You’ll have to experiment here, but for most, it should be avoided about 6 hours before you go to bed, likely more. Food before bed isn’t good either. Digestive issues can keep you up and cause reflux in your sleep. And while wine is divine, having it right before sleep can result in a puffy face come morning.
Exercise is important in your healthy lifestyle, but you should always finish it earlier in the evening. In other words, don’t go workout at 8 pm and expect to be in bed by 10 pm. Not a good plan!
Oh, and if you’re busy watching TV, your phone, or using your laptop before bed, stop that nonsense now. That blue light will keep your brain engaged. Start deactivating an hour before bedtime. Unplug and read a good book before bed instead.
16- Stay elevated while sleeping
Sometimes a little elevation is all you need. Using 2 pillows rather than one can help you prevent fluid from pooling under your eyes. A wedge pillow might be best for that. Some people find this uncomfortable on the neck or simply can’t sleep this way. You may want to try elevating your entire upper end of your bed just by a few inches. Bed risers are a great tool for this though bricks can be used under the bedposts too.
17- Stay hydrated
As I mentioned before, drinking water is so important. Not just for the undereye area but also for the rest of your health too!
18- Limit salt consumption
When you have those margaritas, be sure to hold the salt. Same with big salty dinners. They can really do damage to your eyes and cause you to retain more fluids under there. If you notice your eyes are always puffy, you might need to cut out your salt content and halt drinking fluids just prior to bed to keep fluid retention down.
19- Add collagen-producing foods to your diet
The older you get, the more the tissues and muscles around your eyes get looser, sagging away. Start having more vitamin C, and you can absorb more hyaluronic acid and have healthier skin. Choose oranges, kale, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and brussels sprouts.
If you tend to slack on your produce though, you can take supplements that will help. Choose vitamin C, or find a multivitamin that has that plus copper and amino acids. These will all work to boost collagen and help you with those pesky under-eye circles.
20- Consume iron-rich foods
If you’re deficient in iron, your blood lacks red blood cells which transport the oxygen around your body. This deficiency will make your eyes look dark, and your skin look pale. You’ll also suffer from fatigue, brittle nails, and have cold hands and feet. Don’t take a wild guess though… if these symptoms are something you experience, set an appointment with your doctor right away. All it takes is a simple blood test. Once confirmed, you may need special supplements, but in most cases, you should be able to work things back in with your diet. Choose red meat, pork, poultry, beans, seafood, and green leafy veggies. Also, raisins and dried fruits and fortified foods can really help in your pantry staples.
21- Avoid alcoholic beverages
Sorry, but maybe it’s time to breakup with your favorite alcoholic beverages for a while. Alcohol is very dehydrating, and this can cause dark circles and bags to form under your eyes. Try it for a while and see and make mocktails instead with sparkling water and fruits.
22- Stop smoking
Smoking is gross! But seriously, yeah, it’s gross! And it destroys your vitamin C supplies in your body. That means you’re undoing all that beautiful collagen development. You won’t just have puffy, dark eyes but also wrinkles and skin that looks like leather. If you want to look like you’re 50 when you show up to your 10-year high school reunion, then keep smoking. If not, stop. Smokefree.gov can help you find effective ways to kick this habit and move forward into your best health.
23- Stay active to improve blood circulation
Exercise is great for all sorts of things, particularly sending your blood all over and to the skin. This results not only in feeling your best but also looking it as well. So keep up those healthy habits for they could help your eyes look better. And all those endorphins will make you happier, too, which also makes skin look happier. You might even want to throw in some yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness exercises since they can keep stress from creeping up, and we all know what stress does to the skin!
24- Apply caffeine and vitamin K under your eyes area
You know what else can work? They did a study in 2015 that showed a pad that was soaked with vitamin K and caffeine when applied under the eyes helped reduce both dark circles and wrinkle depth. So if wrinkles and dark circles are appearing, you can knock them out at once!
25- Get some help through professional treatments
If you try these other home remedies and lifestyle changes but aren’t seeing more drastic results, you can try a few other things like:
- Laser therapy
- Chemical peels
With laser treatments, heat energy is used to get rid of damaged cells. Darker pigment that resides under your eyes can be removed in this way, plus laser therapy can also encourage collagen production.
Chemical peels can also help. You should ask your dermatologist if they can benefit your skin type. Most of them use retinoic acid, hydroquinone, or glycolic acid in prescription-strength doses. Another option is a Jessner peel. This one mixes lactic acid, salicylic acid, and resorcinol together for beneficial effects.
Sometimes, blepharoplasty might be an option. It’s a plastic surgery procedure that surgically removes fat from the lower lid to decrease the shadows your eyelids cast. But if you’re afraid of going under the knife, fillers that are based with hyaluronic acid are a less intrusive measure. Restylane and Juvederm are two of the most common options. They correct volume loss under your eyes and give you a nice youthful contour in place of those dark circles.
26- Always rely on your makeup
As you change your habits and routines to help fix those dark circles and puffy bags, you can use makeup to cover things up. Primer, foundation, and concealer are all gifts from the makeup gods to help you look fabulous. You should look for a corrective concealer palette that gives you a range of colors to cover things up. Green is great for correcting redness; pink for brightening; and skin-colored tones help give a rested appearance.
There are all different types of concealer pens and cover up. I’ve talked about concealer before and how to choose the right consistency for your skin type, so be sure to read up on it!
Don’t forget to lock in concealer and foundation with a translucent powder, so it doesn’t smudge away during your day or evening affairs. Additionally, primer can boost the length of time it will stay on.
Primers come in all sorts of formulas. You may want to select one just for under your eyes. One that is yellow can conceal dark black/blue under-eye circles. Primer is sheer and easy to blend, so it’s virtually foolproof. Simply dab a little on and then apply foundation. To further cover, you can also put your concealer on top of the primer and then follow with foundation. Primer smooths skin, so any fine lines literally vanish away and keep your makeup from settling in.
Here’s a color-key for makeup primer to help you choose the right one:
- Red, yellow, blue, and purple hues under the eyes can be offset by yellow and green primers.
- Green and blue discolorations are virtually wiped out with peach or orange-hued primers. Peach is best for lighter complexions while orange works for darker skin.
- Yellow under-eye areas are cancelled out with purple.
And sorry, but skip the liner on your lower lashes. Dark colors bring out bags, so try a shimmery powder instead, just lighter than your skin tone, and you’ll have bright eyes once again.
Most of us have had bags or dark circles under our eyes at some point. Whether it was a too-late night out or taking care of a baby or allergies getting the best of us, we’ve all had a taste. But sooner or later, these dark circles become a more regular feature on our faces. If you want to keep them away, follow these tips, and you will chase them away!