Dark Circles Under the Eyes: From Causes to Solutions, Everything You Need to Know

Dark circles around the eyes are often associated with lack of sleep or hangovers, but there are other factors at play. These marks can appear even when someone gets enough sleep. Dark circles lack a medical term and are usually a natural bodily response rather than a disease. They are often caused by physiological factors and have been referred to as infra-orbital ring-shaped melanosis, although this term is not widely accepted. Fatigue can worsen the appearance of dark circles, emphasizing the importance of sleep.

Genetics also play a role in dark circles. Some individuals inherit thinner and more translucent skin, which makes bluish-tinged blood vessels under the eyes more visible. Hormonal changes in women, such as during menstruation or pregnancy, can contribute to paleness and increased visibility of blood vessels. Certain medications, like aspirin and blood thinners, can also dilate blood vessels and accentuate dark circles.

Puffiness around the eyes, especially in the mornings, can be caused by seasonal allergies, a high-sodium diet leading to fluid retention, and crying. While there are some overlapping causes between puffiness and dark circles, they are distinct conditions.

Causes of Dark Circles Under the Eyes:

If you have dark circles under your eyes, you may wonder what's causing them.

Eyelid Sagging:

The sagging skin under the eyes contributes to the appearance of dark circles. In people with lighter skin, it may cause bulging lower eyelids, while in those with darker skin, it can lead to contour changes and subsequent darkening of the skin. The thickening of the dermis due to swelling in individuals with brown skin diffuses the reflection of light, causing darkening.

The root issue behind dark circles and baggy eyelids is the thickened deeper layer of skin. Cosmetic products may not effectively address this concern, making surgical intervention the preferred treatment. Techniques like fat-grafting or surgical excisions of fat pads, along with laser treatments, have shown positive results.

Skin Irritation or Allergy:

Dark circles can also indicate underlying medical conditions like eczema and allergies. Dark circles are often referred to as allergic shiners. Allergies can cause congestion in blood veins, leading to blood pooling under the eyes. Rubbing itchy eyes can injure the delicate tissue, further darkening the area.

If skin allergy causes your dark circles, it's important to identify the underlying cause. Keeping a food diary can help determine if certain foods trigger the allergic reaction. Other allergens to consider are dust mites, pollen, animal fur, and specific plants. Avoid rubbing your eyes and consult your doctor for anti-allergy eye drops or creams. A "patch test" is the most accurate method to test for allergies.

If dark circles are not caused by allergies, contact dermatitis could be a possible reason. Kajal or kohl, commonly used by people with brown skin, can cause eye irritation or dermatitis leading to dark circles. Make sure to bring it along when getting tested for allergens.

Excessive sun exposure can also cause dark circles. It not only darkens the skin but also increases the risk of cataracts and skin cancer.

Other factors like working late, lack of sleep, aging, and poor nutrition can contribute to dark circles, but they are not the sole physiological reasons. Dark circles can be hereditary.

Seek medical attention if you experience sudden onset of dark circles and swollen ankles within a week, as it could be indicative of heart, kidney, or liver issues.

Dark areas on the face can indicate blockages in corresponding organs. For example, dark circles may suggest pressure on the kidneys or bladder, while a darker patch around the chin may indicate the need for bowel stimulation.

How can I address the issue of dark circles under my eyes?

Here is a summary of the solutions to address the issue of dark circles under your eyes:

Use eye creams: Look for eye creams specifically designed to accelerate the degradation of hemoglobin and strengthen the capillaries. These creams can fade dark pigmentation and prevent further damage.

Be cautious with bleaching creams: Avoid using bleaching creams containing hydroquinone near the eyes, as they can be harsh. Consult a dermatologist before using any harsh chemicals on the delicate eye area.

Avoid tanning: Tanning can make dark circles appear darker by bringing melanin to the skin's surface. Protect your eyes and the surrounding skin from excessive sun exposure.

Address underlying causes: If allergies, fatigue, inadequate rest, or hormonal changes are contributing to dark circles, take steps to address these issues. Treat allergies, get sufficient sleep, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Balanced and healthy diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. Include foods like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and trout, which provide omega-3 fats and vitamin D. These nutrients can help improve skin health and prevent the development of dark circles.

Ensure sufficient sleep: Prioritize getting at least eight hours of restful sleep every night. Lack of sleep can cause swelling and make dark circles more prominent.

Hydration and cranberry juice: Dark circles in children, particularly girls, can sometimes indicate a chronic bacterial infection of the urinary tract. Encourage drinking plenty of cranberry juice and consult a doctor.

Vitamin D and fat digestion: Insufficient levels of vitamin D and poor fat digestion can contribute to dark circles. Include foods rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fats in your diet to improve skin health.

Use a water-in-oil moisturizer: Consider using a water-in-oil moisturizer specifically designed for the delicate eye area. These heavy moisturizers can be used before bed to provide hydration to the under-eye skin.

Remember, individual results may vary, and it's always best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.

To address dark circles around the eyes, individuals prone to them should consider using a water-in-oil moisturizer before bed. Since the eye area has fewer pores, heavy moisturizers can be used without concern.

Homemade Recipe for Treating Dark Circles

This DIY recipe has proven to be beneficial for many individuals. Here's a simple method to create your own eyelid tightening cream at home:


  • Rosemary twigs
  • Egg whites
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Optional: Vitamin E oil or pureed cucumbers


  1. Boil the rosemary twigs and allow the infusion to cool.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg whites and aloe vera gel.
  3. Add two tablespoons of the cooled rosemary infusion to the egg and aloe vera mixture.
  4. Optionally, you can include a few drops of Vitamin E oil as a natural preservative.

Alternatively, you can substitute the rosemary infusion with pureed cucumbers mixed with aloe vera gel. Both the egg whites and rosemary infusion are known to have skin-tightening properties.

By following these steps, you can create your own homemade eyelid tightening cream. Please note that this is not recommended for individuals who do not have dermatitis or dark circles caused by irritants or allergies. 

Concealing with Cosmetics

Consider using an over-the-counter cosmetic concealer. Women are already familiar with using makeup to hide dark circles, but men may not be. Makeup works equally well for concealing dark circles in men.

Opt for a concealer that matches your skin tone and has the right texture. Look for a creamy formula that provides hydration without appearing heavy or cakey, while still offering sufficient pigmentation for effective coverage. If you have particularly dark circles under the eyes, start by applying a full-coverage concealer with a peachy undertone to counteract the darkness. Then, follow up with a retoucher pen in a shade that matches your skin tone to further correct the color. Finally, apply a concealer with light-reflecting properties. Light-reflecting concealers work wonders for the under-eye area as they help combat discoloration, soften the appearance of lines and imperfections by redirecting light, and even address the look of a sunken under-eye area. 

The following concealers are recommended as they offer a wide range of colors suitable for darker skin tones and provide hydrating properties instead of causing dryness.

  • Neutrogena SkinClearing Concealer
  • Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Sponge-on Cream Makeup 
  • Laura Mercier Secret Concealer 
  • Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Custom Concealer Duo
  • MAC Select Cover Up
  • Armani Skin Retouch 
  • Victoria's Secret Cream Concealer 

All of these options are excellent. Simply choose the one that matches your skin color best.

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