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6 Home Remedies to Reduce Dark Circles Naturally

By Gabriela Bermudez, MSc
March 16, 2023
6 minutes

FAST FACTS:

  • Dark circles are caused by multiple factors that range from a genetic predisposition and facial anatomy to lifestyle and even medical conditions.
  • Home remedies may improve the appearance of dark circles temporarily. Depending on the cause and severity, cosmetic active ingredients and medical treatments may be necessary.

fun facts

Dark circles are a common cosmetic concern characterized by a darker color of the skin surrounding the under-eye area, which can make a person look aged and tired, and even affect self-esteem.

Treating dark circles is not an easy task since they are caused by a variety of reasons, some that we can tackle with simple home remedies for instance, and others that may require professional intervention. This article explores the different causes of dark circles and how to improve their appearance (depending on the case) following some popular home remedies.

WHAT CAUSES DARK CIRCLES?

The main factors contributing to the under-eye area looking darker may include:

  • Pigmentation

Genetics plays a prominent role. Family history and even ethnicity (pigmented skin tones) may contribute to the natural presence of dark circles.

Sun exposure can also cause or aggravate the pigmentation, inducing the skin to produce more melanin, and increasing the darkening in this area.

Allergic reactions can also lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation [1].

  • Thinner skin and vasculature

allergic reactions

The thinning of the skin in the under-eye area makes the blood vessels underneath appear more visible, giving a “darker” look. This may worsen with aging due to skin sagging and altered subcutaneous fat distribution [2], and even by dehydration due to a low intake of water or consumption of alcohol .

  • Shadowing

Dark circles may be visible due to your anatomical periorbital structure , which causes a shadow effect on the under-eye from overhead lighting.

  • Fluid build-up

Retention of fluid under the eyes can cause puffiness that makes the under eye seem darker. This may happen because of lack of sleep , consumption of salty food , and even allergies .

HOW CAN I DIFFERENTIATE PIGMENTATION FROM VASCULARIZATION?

To better understand to which extent the following home remedies can help your specific situation, it is key to understand your type of dark circle.

A trick to identify whether your dark circles are due to pigmentation or vascularization is to lie down on the bed for some minutes and, with the help of a mirror, observe any color difference. If the dark circles remain unchanged, it is due to pigmentation causes. If the color decreases, it is due to the blood vessels or even shadowing.

HOW CAN I TREAT DARK CIRCLES AT HOME NATURALLY?

Home remedies have become popular among consumers to help them reduce dark circles in the most “natural” way. You may benefit from them to reduce the appearance of dark circles, but mainly those caused by vasculature and fluid build-up.

Keep in mind that many of them have a temporary effect and can’t remove dark circles long-lastingly. Depending on the cause and severity, more effective treatments may be necessary to achieve better results, such as the use of cosmetics, and medical, surgical, or laser therapies [2].

1. GOOD QUALITY SLEEP

sleep Studies have shown that poor sleep quality may affect skin function and increase signs of aging, dehydration of skin, and decrease recovery from sun damage [3], factors we mentioned can cause or worse under-eye darkening.

Having good quality sleep for around 7 to 9 hours each night is highly advisable to prevent or minimize the appearance of dark circles. Also elevating your head while sleeping can improve circulation and prevent the accumulation of fluids in the eye area.

2. COLD COMPRESS

This is the most recommended remedy to have immediate results when dark circles are due to puffiness and blood vessel prominence. A cold compress helps reduce swelling and induce vasoconstriction.

cold compress

You just need to apply a clean washcloth wet with cold water for a few minutes, while sitting upright [4].

Other adaptations of this technique may include:

  • Cold spoons: place two metal spoons in the fridge for a few minutes and apply carefully on the under-eye area.
  • A face-roller: place it in the fridge for a few minutes and then massage the under-eye area.
  • Eye patches: you can even place eye patches in the fridge and apply them to combine the cold therapy with their cosmetic benefit.

CAUTION: Never place the mentioned objects in the freezer. Applying frozen objects or even ice in direct contact with the skin can burn it and damage it severely.

3. COLD TEA BAGS (CAFFEINATED)

tea bags Some dermatologists also suggest that applying green or black tea bags may improve temporarily the appearance of dark circles. Green and black tea contain caffeine, which topically applied may act as a vasoconstrictor, shrinking the blood vessels so they are not so visible [5]. They also contain antioxidants such as polyphenols, associated with anti-inflammatory effects [6].

Although there is no scientifical evidence that applying tea bags under your eyes will deliver those bio actives to your skin to perform such effects, it is worth the try, mostly because when applied cold, they perform the same depuffing and vasoconstriction effects of a cold compress.

To do this you just need to place two tea bags in hot water for 5 minutes, then leave them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, squeeze them to remove excess liquid, and apply them with eyes closed for 15-30 minutes. Then remove and wash your face with cold water.

4. MOISTURIZE

moisturize Dehydration may be a contributing factor to the thinning of your skin, making the underlying melanin and vascularization more visible [2]. For this reason, applying moisturizers on the under-eye area can help to lock in moisture and prevent trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).

As an affordable alternative, you can apply a small amount of Vaseline or simply an eye or face moisturizer under your eyes. As a natural alternative, castor oil can also be used for this purpose, exerting additional anti-inflammatory properties [7].

5. ALOE VERA GEL

aloe vera Another natural and popular alternative to moisturize is the use of Aloe vera gel . Although safety and effectiveness have not been scientifically proven, aloe vera is rich in active components that can provide not only a moisturizer effect (sugars and polysaccharides), but also anti-aging, healing, and anti-inflammatory actions [8], and may have a lightening effect that could help pigmented skin [9].

Since the eyes are very sensitive areas, special attention may be taken when applying aloe vera gel, avoiding direct contact with the eyes, and testing beforehand in a small portion of your skin if you are particularly allergic or sensitive to it [8], to prevent eye irritation, pain, or damage.

6. PROTECT FROM SUN EXPOSURE

sun Since the sun may exacerbate the pigmentation of dark circles, following some simple tips such as using sunglasses and hats that cover the under-eye area can be very helpful.

Although not considered a “natural home remedy”, applying sunscreen is extremely important to protect the skin from the detrimental effects of UV light, including the under-eye area. You may benefit from the use of face sunscreens that are also tinted since they can aid in protection and visibly hide dark circles.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Although home remedies can provide simple solutions to obtain an immediate or temporary reduction of dark circles, they may not help in their long-lasting and total removal. If after implementing these natural methods here described your dark circles don’t show any sign of improvement, it is advisable to get professional assistance from a dermatologist or ophthalmologist who can guide you on better alternatives to treat your specific condition.

REFERENCES

  1. Sarkar, R. (2016, January 1). Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Comprehensive Review. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756872/
  2. Matsui, M. S., Schalka, S., Vanderover, G. W., Fthenakis, C. G., Christopher, J., Bombarda, P. C. P., Bueno, J., Viscomi, B. L. I., & Júnior, M. S. B. (2015). Physiological and lifestyle factors contributing to risk and severity of peri-orbital dark circles in the Brazilian population. Anais Brasileiros De Dermatologia, 90 (4), 494–503. https://doi.org/10.1590/abd1806-4841.20153520
  3. Oyetakin-White, P., Suggs, A. K., Koo, B. B., Matsui, M., Yarosh, D., Cooper, K. D., & Baron, E. D. (2015). Does poor sleep quality affect skin aging? Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 40 (1), 17–22. https://doi.org/10.1111/ced.12455
  4. Bags Under the Eyes. (2021, August 25). American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/bags-under-eyes
  5. Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital dark circles: A review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 9 (2), 65. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.184046
  6. Chatterjee, P., Chandra, S., Dey, P., & Bhattacharya, S. (2012). Evaluation of anti-inflammatory effects of green tea and black tea: A comparative in vitro study. Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 3 (2), 136. https://doi.org/10.4103/2231-4040.97298
  7. Sandford, E. C., Muntz, A., & Craig, J. P. (2021). Therapeutic potential of castor oil in managing blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, and dry eye. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 104 (3), 315–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/cxo.13148
  8. Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). Aloe vera: A short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53 (4), 163. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.44785
  9. Ali, S. A., Galgut, J. M., & Choudhary, R. J. (2012). On The Novel Action of Melanolysis by a Leaf Extract of Aloe vera and Its Active Ingredient Aloin, Potent Skin Depigmenting Agents. Planta Medica, 78(08), 767–771. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1298406
Gabriela Bermudez, MSc
Hello, I am a pharmacist and cosmetic chemist with broad experience in the cosmetic industry, passionate about the science applied to all your beauty products. My purpose is to share knowledge that can add value to your daily life, covering different aspects of cosmetics, ingredients, trends, and more. I have worked in Research and Development laboratories supporting the formulation and production of skincare, haircare, and makeup products, as well as participated in research projects focused on natural extracts and bioactive ingredients for potential use in cosmetics.
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