How to Reduce Dark Circles Under the Eyes

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Unless you're dying to ditto the goth teen stylings of Lydia Deetz or Wednesday Addams, you should probably do something about those dark under-eye circles.

Nothing's necessarily wrong with dark rings around your eyes (she said from beneath 10 pounds of concealer), but they sure do give off the impression of a poor night's sleep. Your options: get ready for your co-workers' questions about your health, insomnia or how last night's party went, despite your much more boring actual reason: That's just how your face looks.

Instead, you could identify the underlying cause of your black circles and banish them for good -- or at least as much as modern medicine and makeup will allow.

Why You've Gone Full Panda

Dark circles come in a few different flavors: hyperpigmentation, hollow shadows, visible veins and fluid buildup.

Tip

  • Press lightly under your eyes -- if the skin lightens in color, you can blame fluid buildup from allergies , poor circulation or another health problem that causes water retention.

Warning

  • Get to a doctor if you're retaining water elsewhere -- this can be a sign of a serious health condition.

Visible superficial blood vessels are hereditary, but can be exacerbated by sleep problems, leaky veins or allergies that make vessels swell. When you don't get enough sleep, your brain soaks up oxygen from the blood to keep you operating. Unfortunately, deoxygenated blood looks darker through fine skin.

What To Do About It

Treat your raccoon eyes on more than one level -- topically, through diet changes and, if necessary, cosmetic procedures.

Poor sleep or circulation issues

Flush oxidized blood from your eye area with massage, either by fingertip or sonic device, and participate in cardio exercise as often as you can.

Leaky veins

Ditch the alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, which all weaken your veins. Never rub your eyes or scrub too hard with makeup remover, which can damage capillaries. Strengthen veins by drinking green tea and applying vitamin K cream.

Tip

  • If you press on your under-eye area and there is no color change, you're looking at hyperpigmentation, visible blood vessels or a hollowed eye area from age-related volume loss. Or maybe you really did pull an all-nighter, and are now enjoying the side effects.

Transparent skin

Apply a topical retinoid once daily to thicken skin. Use a moisturizer with plumping elements like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. See a dermatologist for vascular laser treatment if necessary.

Allergies

See your doctor for an antihistamine and eye drops to help keep blood vessels constricted. Apply a topical cream with caffeine.

Hyperpigmentation

Consult a dermatologist for laser lightening treatments or apply topical hydroquinone and creams that contain kojic acid, daisy, vitamin C, licorice or vitamin B.

Age

Hit up a cosmetic surgeon for hyaluronic acid fillers under the eyes or volumizers at the cheeks and temples to lift the area.

Warning

When All Else Fails

Cover your black rings with makeup.

  1. Apply moisturizing eye cream to make concealer go on smoothly.
  2. Pat luminous color-correcting primer along the edge of your eye socket. 
  3. Make a V shape under each eye with a yellow- or orange-tinted concealer. These shades cancel out the purple or blueish hues of under eye circles. 
  4. Blend the concealer upward with a concealer brush. Set with a matte powder.
  5. Curl your eyelashes upward so they make no shadow on your under eyes.
  6. Wear a nude or shimmer eye shadow to lighten the eye area.
  7. Wear white eyeliner along the lower waterline. 
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