Don’t fret – there are loads of treatments that you can try and all are effective if you find the right one for you and are diligent doing it. To find the right treatment though, it’s necessary to define the root cause.
First we’ll find the cause then we won’t wast any time getting to the good stuff – how to get rid of them!
Causes of Dark Circles
The color of your dark circles go a long way in determining how to treat them, so let’s break it down by hue. Feel free to scroll down to your hue. It won’t hurt my feelings, I swear.
Problem: Brown Circles
If you have a tan skin tone and dark brown under eye circles, then it’s probably due to heredity. That coupled with the fact that as we age, the skin under our eyes gets thinner (due to loss of collagen), by the time your pushing 40 the blood vessels underneath start to show through only adding to that brown hue.
And OH, those UV rays. Don’t ever underestimate the havoc they wreak on your skin. Your skin can get hyperpigmented as well, causing even more darkening of that under eye skin area (meet my arch enemy, she is called ‘Melasma‘).
Solutions for Brown Under Eye Circles:
So now that we know the 3 main causes for brown under eye circles – heredity, aging and sun exposure – we’re one step closer to getting rid of those mofo’s.
First, I’d try prescription strength hydroquinone for bleaching the skin. Clinical studies show a 60% decrease in dark circles which you will start noticing the change after 2 to 4 months usage. Sounds like a long time but it’s really a pretty easy additon to your daily regimen and 4 months are going to go by anyway.
You may as well have lighter circles when it does, right?
Hydroquinone comes in 2% or 4% strength over the counter, but you can also get 8% from a compounding pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor.
Use this sparingly at first as you don’t want to irritate your skin or possibly bleach the area too much. Be gradual about it so your skin acclimates accordingly.
If you’re not ready to make the field trip to your dermatologist for the 8% then try an over-the-counter potion like the Ambi Skincare Fade Cream that has 2% hydroquinone as well as AHAs (click link to learn all about that), glycerin, and other happy stuff.
Consider the Ambi to be your training wheels, and move up to a 4% hydroquinone product once you get your balance.
WARNING: DO NOT GET HYDROQUINONE IN YOUR EYES. GOT IT? You’ll go cross-eyed. No, but seriously, bleaching cream in, or too,too close to your eye is a no-no. Keep it on the circle.
I put this second because I want you to apply the hydroquinone first, let if absorb, and then put on your sunscreen.
Sun protection is paramount in the prevention early wrinkling for one thing, but also to avoid hyperpigmentation, which makes these types of dark circles even darker. Plus, when you’re using hydroquinone, you need to be extra diligent in avoiding sun exposure as it makes your skin even less tolerable to UV rays.
It’s not easy finding a good sunscreen for the eye area, especially if you have sensitive eyes like me, but I love the SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF50 so I’m recommending it to you.
You can read all about sunscreen in my article, The Smart Person’s Guide to Sunscreen. I won’t be getting more detailed about the in’s and out’s of sunscreen in this article.
Retinoids (OTC Retinol, Retin-A, or Tretinoin)
If you don’t find the correction you were counting on with hydroquinone, then it’s time to pull out the BIG GUNS – retinoids. Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin a that promotes cell turnover in your skin, fading the dark spots, and increasing the collagen, which helps your skin to become more supple and tight.
If the word ‘retinoids‘ gives you heart palpitations, that’s probably because you tried it before, but were a little too ‘balls to the wall’, and it made your skin red, itchy, and flaky.
You should know though, that you can bypass all that aggravation by introducing the product to your skin gradually. Try starting with an over-the-counter version of retinol every other day. Retinol is the form of vitamin A that naturally occurs in the skin. Then eventually graduate to prescription strength versions like Tretinoin and Retin-A.
Know though that part of cell turnover is getting rid of the dead skin cells, count on your skin to get a little bit dry before it gets better.
You can usually start to see a difference within 8 weeks and it is powerful. All of a sudden you wake up and are like NO MORE CONCEALER!! It’s a perfect example of being high maintenance, with the purpose of being lower maintenance. Be diligent then enjoy the outcome and see. 🙂
Combining your skin care products compounds the results.You can use hydroquinone and retinoids together for faster results but be kind to your skin and start slow. Read more on this in ‘Getting the Most Out of Your Skincare Regimen: A Basic Guide’.
If you’re still a little leery about retinoids, then instead try an eye serum with peptides. This helps with cell turnover and encourages the growth of collagen, but at a lesser degree and without the side effects.
And you can always use it in conjunction with the retinoids, always putting the thinner substance first. ex. let serums soak in before putting on creams. Perhaps apply it in a serum like the NCN Pro Skincare GHK-Cu Copper Peptide Serum, let it soak in, then put your Retinol cream on top.
An IPL fotofacial (aka photofacial) can help minimize hyperpigmentation all over your skin, under your eyes is no exception. However, this is not an option for darker skin tones as it grabs all the melanin in the skin and can cause dark skin to turn light, making it uneven with the surrounding skin. Use caution in that respect.
If you’re a loyal follower of BeautyBlackBook, then you no doubt know how the IPL goes down. But in case you haven’t, here’s the scoop:
- IPL for Dark Spots: Unless You’re a Leopard, You Probably Don’t Want ’em
- Fotofacial – Dark Spot Eraser (or Forgiveness after a Fiery Summer Season).
- Also, BeautyBlackBook (previously BeautyBlackBook) had a Beauty Giveaway for this treatment, and you can watch that customer video here. She refers to BeautyBlackBook.com which is our sister site. 🙂
Know that this treatment first makes the skin darker, then, in a week or so, it will flake away leaving the fresh, new, even colored skin underneath. (so don’t do this treatment the day before a hot date!)
Camoflauge Circles with Red Lipstick
Now, if you’re impatient like me, and expect immediate results, then you may also be happy to know about the latest way to cover up those circles in the meantime. If I told you it was to slather some creamy red lipstick under your eyes would you think I was batty?
Well, maybe. Or maybe not…
Katrina Khan has a great instructional video on how to do it, so check it out !
Problem: Yellowish Circles
If you have a yellowish hue to your under eye circles, that could either be the beginning of hyperpigmentation from the sun, or simply from rubbing your eyes too much. Irritation to the eye area, in the form of rubbing, prompts the production of melanin to protect the area.
Personally, if I started getting yellow circles under my eyes my first stop would be to a lab for bloodwork to rule out Hepatitis or some other illness.
Solution for Yellow Eye Circles:
One reason we rub our eyes is due to itching from allergies. Try an antihistamine first to rule this out. Or, if your certain that’s not what it is, then shelve that knowledge and read on.
If the idea of antihistamines makes you tired, you should check out the Chlorphen-12 that lasts twelve hours and doesn’t make you drowsy. It’s my ‘go to’ allergy treatment and prevention.
Use Your Ring Finger
Be gentle to the skin under your eyes by making sure to use the weakest finger on your hand when applying makeups and lotions, your ring finger.
Step Up Your Makeup Remover
Use a makeup remover that melts your makeup off instead of one that causes you to rub, rub, rub it off. I’m in love with the Smashbox It’s a Wrap Waterproof Makeup Remover ($16.98).
Learn EVERYTHING you need to know about sunscreen here.
Vitamin C Serum
A Vitamin C serum is a potent antioxidant that helps to preserve your collagen keeping the skin nice and supple, making it less likely to allow what goes on under the skin to be seen from the top.
It’s a definite eye brightener.
I like the Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Eye Serum.
If you find Vitamin C irritating to your skin, then switch it out for product with Kojic Acid which is a good alternative and may not be as irritating. But don’t be a baby about it – there’s a reason for the expression ‘no pain no gain’ ladies. Suck it up!
Problem: Blue/Purple Under Eye Circles
Dark circles that are blue or purple in flavor can be caused by several factors:
- Lack of sleep tends to cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can show as a shadow underneath the thin skin around your eyes. 8 hours is what I need – maybe you do too?
- Sleeping flat can inhibit circulation causing the blood to pool around your eyes.
- Allergies can cause leaky, swollen capillaries that bring a blue and purple hue.
- Thinning skin caused by aging and heredity, can cause your skin to become a bit transparent, making the miracle that is our circulatory system show from the front. The capillaries and blood cast a purple/blue hue.
Solutions for Blue/Purple Circles:
I know it may feel like it but this is not a lost cause, and the solution may be easier than you think.
Sleep Well and do it with an Extra Pillow
Lack of sleep inhibits circulation in your Keep your head above your heart ladies, and avoid swelling and pooling of blood that causes shadows and under eye bags. So not only am I telling you how long to sleep, I’m also telling you how. Because I’m bossy like that.
Lose the Under Eye Mascara
Mascara on you lower lashes will shadow your under eye area making it look darker. Also, unless you have a rocking waterproof, I know you’ve experienced the smudge now and then. Just don’t do it.
Allergies only aggravate the area causing you to rub your capillaries to leak and swell and irritating the area when you itch for some relief. I’m telling ya, if you have dark circles under your eyes try an antihistamine first.
I don’t mean drink it, I mean apply it. Try a product with caffeine in it to temporarily shrink the blood vessels, making them less likely to show through the skin. I use the Neocutis Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream with PSP .
Arnica and Niacinimide are also known to shrink blood vessels short term but I like caffiene so I stuck with that.
Retinol, of course helps thicken that thin skin, making dark circles less noticeable and if you forgot already, feel free to peruse it above once again. It’s a lot of info, I totally get it!
If you’re looking for a hard core, fast acting, long term solution (that would be me), then you may want to consider a vascular laser that constricts the blood vessels around the eyes.
A few types of vacular lasers are:
- Pulsed-Dye Laser (PDL)
- ND: Yag
- Excel V Vascular Laser by Cutera that constricts the visible blood vessels around the eyes
The vascular lasers are more costly than topical treatments, ranging from $300 to $600 a treatment, but they have fast results and last longer.
I saved the best for last, not because I’m a sadist but because dermal fillers in your tear trough is a little bit of magic. When you use them under the delicate under eye skin it raises it, projecting the light and hiding the shadows.
Which dermal filler you use really depends on the extent of the issue. If your only issue in that area are the dark circles then go with Belotero because they employ smaller molecules, referred to as ‘microscopic beads’, and won’t add any bulky projection.
On the other hand, if you also have bags and need that extra projection you may want to check out Juvederm Voluma XC or Restylane. Make sure to read about the Beauty Giveaway Winner for Under Eye Fillers!
One last thing.
Don’t Sit in The Steam
For the same reason you don’t use HOT water to wash your face, steam will cause your vessels to dilate. Not conducive to keeping the light under your eyes.
Camoflauge Purple Circles with Orange Lipstick
As red lipstick camo’s a brown under eye, orange works for purple. The explanation is that if you look at a color wheel at the color purple, you will noticed that blue and purple sit directly opposite of the corally oranges.
For this very reason, to cancel out redness you would use green.
Hope you enjoyed! And as a request for Ms. Panda, I promise to discuss teeth bleaching sometime soon!