Thursday, January 27, 2011

Question: How do I get rid of my dark, under-eye circles?

Last week I received an email from a reader asking if I could recommend an effective, not very expensive under-eye cream that would get rid of dark circles - preferably something she could grab in the store instead of buying online. For all you readers that suffer with bags and all you women that eventually will, this one's for you...

Before I dug into my product research, I first wanted to answer the question - are creams even effective and necessary? I would hate to have you waste your money. This is what I found -- According to the research done on, under-eye circles are remarkably resistant to treatment. Plus there isn't much science behind the hundreds of claims. While you might see some lightening, no topical cream is going to get rid of dark circles completely.

I know that wasn't the answer you were looking for right?!?! No worries, I still have hope. Before I lay out some remedies that *may* work, I think it's first important to first understand WHAT is causing the problem. The following are the most common causes;

Fatigue, lack of sleep: A lack of sleep or excessive tiredness can cause paleness of the skin, which again allows the blood underneath the skin to become more visible and appear more blue or darker.
Nutrition: The lack of nutrients in the diet, or the lack of a balance diet, can contribute to the discoloration of the area under the eyes.
Stress: A too fast-paced lifestyle, especially if you spend long hours on the computer can contribution to black bags under your eyes - perhaps mostly because you don't get enough sleep. •Heredity: Like varicose veins, dark circles under the eyes are usually an inherited trait. If you have dark circles, there is a good chance that others in your family also have them. The skin under the eye is very thin. When blood passes through the large veins close to the surface of the skin it can produce a bluish tint. The more transparent your skin, also an inherited trait, the darker the circles appear.
Exposure to the sun: Even in darker skinned people, exposure to sunlight, especially during the summer months, can cause a higher-than-normal level of skin pigmentation (melanin) under the eyes. People get suntans because exposure to the sun increases the natural pigmentation of the skin and draws that pigmentation to the surface. The same principle applies to the skin under the eyes.
Allergies, Asthma and Eczema: Any condition that you have that causes your eyes to itch can contribute to darker circles under the eyes because rubbing or scratching the skin can darken the skin. Hay fever sufferers particularly will notice under-eye "smudges" during the height of the allergy season. Some food allergies can also cause the area under the eyes to appear darker.
Medications: Any medications that you are taking that causes blood vessels to dilate, can cause circles under the eyes to darken. Because the skin under the eyes is very delicate, any increase blood flow shows through the skin.
Pregnancy and Menstruation: The skin can also become more pale during pregnancy and menstruation, which again allows the underlying veins under the eyes to become more visible.
Age: If you have a propensity to have dark circles under you eyes, as you grow older, they are likely to become more noticeable and permanent. Excess folds of skin under the eyes will also make dark circles more pronounced.

Natural remedies:

1) Sleep: Eight hours of sleep is a must for all of us, especially for people having dark circles under their eyes. Elevate your head with two or more pillows to prevent puffiness that develops when fluid pools in your lower eyelids.

2) Diet: Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, drink plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses daily), and avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks. These go a long way in preventing bags, circles and wrinkles.

3) Tea Bag Treatment: Try applying a cold compress of Rosemary tea to increase circulation, which helps reduce swelling around the eyes. Soak a washcloth in the tea, ring out extra liquid and place over eyes for 15 to 20 minutes, once a day, as needed.

4) Acupressure: Another circulation-boosting treatment is acupressure. This is an easy exercise that you can also do every day. Close your eyes and gently press your ring finger underneath one eye, moving from the inside corner to the outside corner. Do this 10 to 15 times. Then repeat on the other eye.

5) Cold compress: Close your eyes and cover them with a cold washcloth for about five minutes. Repeat several times throughout the day. That will help constrict your blood vessels, minimizing darkness, and it may help minimize tissue swelling and eliminate some of the darkness.

6) Moisturizer: To minimize the appearance of bags, plump up skin with moisturizer, one that contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects skin cells from damage and supports collagen production; licorice (or fennel) extract, an anti-inflammatory; and stabilized oxygen, a form of hydrogen peroxide that promotes circulation.

7) Spread on the sunscreen. Use a sunscreen especially made for the face with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, but preferably 20, "all day every day," to keep the sun's rays from darkening the skin under your eyes.

8) Freeze some parsley in ice cubes. Use the parsley cubes instead of eye creams to diminish dark circles and puffiness. Parsley is packed with chlorophyll which helps fade darkness, while the ice cubes reduce the swelling.

9) Potato/Cucumber combinations are helpful.Close your eyes and cover eyelids with slices of raw potato or cucumber for 15-20 minutes. Wash with warm water and apply a cream.

10) Massage with Almond Oil under and around eyes at bed time daily for 2 weeks and see the improvement. Almond helps to remove dark circles, and is an excellent "skin food".

Over-the-counter products:

1) Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Eye Treatment (*Est. $53 for 0.5 oz./Sephora), a product that contains optical diffusers, can help to camouflage and conceal dark circles with light-diffusing pigments. This lightweight cream addresses both melanin formation and poor local micro circulation, two major causes of dark circles. The Dark Circle Targeting Complex reduces melanin and diminishes the appearance of melanin pigments.
2) Origins GinZing (*Est. $30 for 0.5 oz./Macys) is another concealing eye cream with optical diffusers. User reviews at are slightly better than those for Shiseido's eye cream. They claim it instantly reduces dark circles, unsightly bags and puffiness virtually disappear. And Origins proprietary complex of Caffeine from Coffee bean, Panax Ginseng, Magnolia Extract and natural optic brighteners rapidly wakes up, refreshes and restores radiance to tired eyes.

3) Olay Regenerist Touch of Concealer Eye Regenerating Cream (*Est $19 for .5 oz/Target) combines advanced hydrating amino-peptide + B3 complex to visibly lift and regenerate your look with a touch of concealer to instantly diminish the appearance of dark circles around the eyes. Light, non greasy and fragrance free makes this an affordable option for everyday use.

4) Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller Gel (*Est. $10 for 0.5 oz./Walgreens), a product that contains caffeine for rejuvenation and Vitamin B5 and glycerin for hydration, has been praised by many reviewers. My girlfriend SWEARS by this stuff and loves the metal roller-ball applicator and it's refreshing formula. Reviews at are mixed - some think that it reduces puffiness as well as dark circles, while others see no difference at all. Regardless I think this is a must try product for the price.

I hope this helps and gets you on track to diminishing the appearance of those dark circles. If you want to continue reading up on more reviews, click here and you will find a list of more expensive eye creams according to The Beauty Insiders.


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  6. I really enjoyed this article. It’s very informative and I’ve decided to give a few of the remedies a try. Thanks for sharing.

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