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What Really Works for Combating Dark Under-Eye Circles?

From tried-and-true tricks to plastic surgery, discover the myriad of ways to looking well rested

A strong cup of coffee can do wonders in the morning to compensate for a poor night of sleep – at least when it comes to providing a temporary energy boost. But even the best cup of coffee can’t fix dark circles under your eyes – the telltale signs of sleep deprivation. They broadcast the fact you’re short on rest – and probably patience too.

For some people, chronic dark circles make them look tired even when they aren’t. Yup, beauty sleep takes on a whole new meaning with THIS problem.

And as Dr. Tanya Kormeili, a board-certified dermatologist based in Santa Monica, Calif., points out, dark under-eye circles is a complex subject. While sleeplessness is one cause, there are other causes as well. “Darkening can be caused by allergies, ethnic skin variations, aging, and but most importantly, volume loss. As we age, we lose much of the fat pads that keep our face voluminous and youthful. With the loss of the fat, there is a hollowing effect. Much like the water from a well that looks dark, these hollows also have a dark appearance.”

The good news is that there is a myriad of ways to treat them, no matter how they’re caused, from low-tech beauty remedies you may already have in your kitchen to high-tech strategies with long-lasting results.

Fast, easy fixes to combat your dark eye circles

Sometimes there isn’t a ton of time in the morning to properly treat dark under-eye circles. Let’s face it, between getting the kids ready for school and trying to get yourself ready to head out the door, life is busy.

These easy, quick-to-do beauty hacks will help.

  • Chilled tea bags – Put a couple of used tea bags in the fridge or freezer long enough to chill them thoroughly. Place them over your eyes (before applying makeup, obviously) and let them sit for 2-3 minutes. This is especially good for puffiness and it’s a good way to grab a couple extra winks before getting the kids out of bed.
  • Cold milk – No time to chill tea bags? Just moisten a cotton ball with cold milk straight from the fridge and dab on under-eye circles. Voila, puffiness and dark circles gone together.
  • Spoon plus ice water – This trick is a fave among fashion models. Place a metal teaspoon in a glass of ice water for a minute or two, then gently roll the back of the spoon across puffy areas and dark circles. Think of it as a cold iron for your face.
  • A good concealer – Cosmetic companies offer a great number of options formulated with soothing ingredients like chamomile and vitamin E. The trick is careful application. Don’t apply them directly on dark circles. That only accentuates them. Dab the concealer just underneath. Use your ring finger to massage the area and blend gently.
  • Talk to your doctor about allergies – “Dark circles can be made to look worse for allergy sufferers or for those who are tired,” says New York-based plastic surgery Dr. Monica Tadros. “It’s smart to see if allergies are the culprit behind what is commonly termed ‘allergic shiners.’ These can sometimes mimic the purplish hue of a faint bruise.” An antihistamine recommend by your physician or pharmacist might help provide some relief.

Strategies for longer lasting beautifully restored eye results

When chilled tea bags and even a solid night of sleep aren’t keeping dark circles at bay, it may be time for different tactics. Start with consulting a medical professional.

  • Dermal fillers – “Fortunately, placing these in the area can help fill in the volume and improve the appearance of the dark circles,” says Dr. Kormeili. But she cautions that this is a very complicated filler placement and needs to be done correctly. Poorly executed placement can lead to blindness. “If you wish to have this done, go to an expert – always!” she advises.
  • Laser treatment – Dark circles may be due to hyper-pigmentation. Some ethnicities and skin tones are must susceptible to skin discoloration but certain types of lasers are effective for lightening those dark areas.
  • Blepharoplasty –  Dr. Tadros offers patients this longer lasting surgical solution. “It is an option for those who are willing to undergo surgery versus temporary fixes with dermal fillers and certain laser treatment,” she says. This surgery involves removing excess tissue, muscle or fat around the upper or lower eyelid area. It is usually done on an outpatient basis. Bruising and swelling subsides normally in 10 to 14 days. The results can be dramatic with patients looking more youthful, more rested and feeling more confident.

Defense mechanisms for under-eye circles

In some cases, adopting a few good habits can prevent dark circles and the puffiness that makes them look worse.

  • Diet tweaks – Reduce your intake of salt and alcohol, which can lead to water retention and puffy eyes.
  • Pillow talk – Use an extra pillow to raise your head up a bit while you sleep, which will help fluid from collecting under your eyes.
  • Sleep well – One of the most powerful tools to stop dark circles in their tracks is a great night of rest. Make it a priority in your life and reap the benefits!

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