Dark circle under-eye treatments make up a hefty portion of the skincare market—and for good reason. Although they're totally normal and common for a good chunk of the population, the hope of getting rid of those shadowy under-eye circles means looking healthier, better rested, and years younger. But let’s back up a second and remind ourselves where exactly these dark circles come from. “The most common reason for darkness under the eye area is because the skin there may be extra thin,” says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. When the skin thins out, the blood vessels underneath become more visible, and that blood beneath the skin is what creates the appearance of dark circles.
Not getting a good night's rest plays a role here, too. “When you lack sleep, your body’s circulatory system is compromised, and you get stagnant blood in the vessels under the eyes because they haven’t properly drained,” says Rouleau. In other words, getting a full eight hours is an easy (and totally free) way to combat dark under-eyes. To answer our question of how to get rid of dark circles (or if it's even possible), Rouleau along with board-certified dermatologists Brendan Camp and Marisa Garshick give us some intel on seven different under-eye treatments that we tried out for ourselves.
Meet the Expert
- Renée Rouleau is a celebrity esthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skin Care.
- Brendan Camp, MD is a double board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology.
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a leading board-certified dermatologist in New York, as well as an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
Ready to send those dark circles packing? Keep scrolling to learn more.
Try Microneedling to Boost Collagen Production
The promise: While Camp maintains that "There is no 'cure' for dark circles," he does suggest that there are a number of treatments that can address the underlying causes of dark circles and improve their appearance. Take microneedling for example. Microneedling is a process that creates tiny injuries in the skin to help stimulate collagen production and in turn, thickens the skin under the eyes: "Microneedling is often employed to treat acne scars that leave indentations in the skin, and by increasing collagen production, the procedure plumps up the skin to make the scars less depressed and less noticeable," says Camp. "That same reasoning is why some use microneedling to treat the hollowing and thin skin that develops beneath our eyes."
The review: “I purchased my first dermaroller after getting a microneedling treatment at a dermatologist’s office. The results from that one treatment were incredible—I watched, bewildered, as my severe dark circles and puffy under-eye bags vanished and stayed that way for weeks. Ever since, I’ve used my StackedSkincare dermaroller once a month, layered overtop of Odacité’s Ba + S Eye Contour ($48). The transformation remains staggering each time, especially for such an affordable treatment I can do at home. If you have persistent dark circles, this is one treatment you simply have to try. (Get more details on the dermarolling process here)” —Victoria Hoff, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 5/5
Camp maintains that more than one treatment is often needed to maximize the results of microneedling, and bruising is a risk in an area where the skin is thin.
Wear SPF Consistently
The promise: We all know the importance of sunscreen on our face, but for our under-eyes in particular, it's key in preventing dark circle formation: "There are multiple factors that can contribute to dark circles including hyperpigmentation, volume loss, and visibility of little blood vessels underneath the surface," explains Garshick. "Wearing SPF helps to prevent the DNA damage that can occur with UV exposure that can lead to discoloration and loss of collagen, which can appear as dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of volume."
The review: "To be honest, I never used to be a sunscreen-wearer (I know, I know). I've struggled with dark circles my entire adulthood but never did I think that consistently wearing SPF could make a difference. I was wrong. Not only have my dark circles diminished over the years (of course, with the help of some other treatments), but I've also noticed my fine lines are not as prominent as they used to be. I also have really dry skin, so an SPF that's equally as moisturizing as it is protective (like this one from L'Occitane) is ideal for me." —Michelle Rostamian, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 5/5
Take a Vitamin B12 Supplement
The promise: Although this anti-aging, plant-based supplement isn't specifically a dark circle under eye treatment, it is a rich source of vitamin B12: "A B12 deficiency can lead to a form of anemia in which there are not a sufficient number of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body," explains Camp. "Anemia can make the skin pale, and the contrast of pale skin against dark circles makes them more pronounced." What's more, poorly oxygenated blood is darker in color, which can—you guessed it—contribute to the appearance of dark circles. As always, consult your doctor to decide if taking a supplement is right for you.
The review: "I eat a plant-based diet, so it’s virtually impossible for me to get my necessary B12 requirement without supplements. A few years ago, during a summer when I was traveling a lot and eating poorly, I developed these horrendous black circles under my eyes that made me look exhausted and 10 years older than I actually was. When I realized it might have been a B12 deficiency, I started supplementing, and the dark circles went away like magic. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just in a phase of eating too much junk, your dark circles might be due to the same thing. If you think this might apply to you, this supplement is absolutely worth trying." —Amanda Montell, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 4/5
If supplements aren't your thing, Camp says that vitamin B12 is found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and nutritional yeast flakes (delicious sprinkled over popcorn!).
Massage Under the Eyes with a Jade Roller
The promise: A form of facial massage, this ancient Chinese practice increases blood circulation and aids with lymphatic drainage, working to diminish the appearance of dark circles and fine lines. (On the spiritual side, it also intends to ward off negative energy and balance your chi). If you're struggling with puffiness in addition to darkness, Garshick advises that jade rollers can help. "In general, the applicator on a jade roller is cooling on the skin, which helps to reduce puffiness as it causes the blood vessels to constrict," she says. "The pressure of the jade roller helps to push fluid away from the under-eye area." Additionally, massaging boosts circulation making the eyes appear brighter and more radiant.
The review: “After applying my favorite Odacité serum or SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166), I simply glide my jade roller in an upward motion from my neck to my forehead, focusing on my under-eye area. I like to use it in the morning to wake up my complexion and start the day off right. The cool stone instantly awakens and brightens my skin. Though it doesn’t eradicate my dark circles quite like my derma-roller, it’s a great thing to do every morning as maintenance.” —Victoria Hoff, former Byrdie editor
Overall score: 3/5
Apply Retinol to Brighten and Tighten
The promise: Research on the effect of retinol getting rid of dark circles has shown promising results. "Retinol products are derivatives of vitamin A, and when used to treat dark circles, it stimulates collagen production in the skin around the eyes and lightens hyper-pigmented skin," says Camp. As such, retinol serums promise to brighten and tighten the appearance of skin. The Perricone MD OVM Serum, which was the product originally used for this test, is now sold out, but try this similar formula by Dr. Dennis Gross instead. This serum uses a combination of retinol, ferulic acid, and licorice root meant to target wrinkles, diminish dark circles, and soothe puffiness. An important note: Camp warns that it's important to use retinol with caution around the eyes—these products are notorious for causing dry, red, flaky, irritated patches, especially in areas of thin skin.
The review: “I am cursed with deeply shadowed under-eye circles, the kind that even full-coverage concealer loses to. However, after just a few uses of this Perricone serum, I woke up to visibly improved under-eyes. The purple half-moons that have plagued me since my high school days were much lighter and easier to conceal. The puffiness was still present, but that’s nothing an ice roller can’t fix. I’m excited to see the improvements after a couple of months down the road; this is something I will definitely continue using.” —Kaitlyn McLintock, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 3/5
Try a Silymarin Supplement
The promise: Studies have linked dark circles to liver dysfunction, which is exactly what this supplement aims to address. Silymarin is derived from the milk thistle plant, and it's a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. Camp explains that silymarin may contribute to liver health, and certain forms of liver disease, such as hemochromatosis and cirrhosis, can be associated with increased melanin production and skin hyperpigmentation. Consult your doctor to decide if taking a supplement is right for you.
The review: “A couple of months ago, I was feeling the way my hair looked, so natch, I had to take a selfie. (Otherwise, did that good hair day really happen?). Though my hair looked fab, my dark circles were so prominent that even a hefty dose of Facetune couldn’t erase them. (Thanks, stress). I picked up a bottle of this nutrition supplement in the hopes that it could help diminish my increasingly skull-like appearance.
“I’m skeptical of anything that promises to ‘detox,’ but this stuff surprised me. It took a few weeks to see results, but these have definitely helped. Not in like an #iwokeuplikethis way, but my dark circles are lighter and less pronounced. While there’s no such thing as a magic beauty pill, these come pretty close.” —Allie Flinn, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 3/5
Wear Hyaluronic Acid Eye Patches
The promise: Dark circles can be a result of dehydration, so using a deeply hydrating ingredient such as hyaluronic acid (which has the ability to hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water) will help combat that. What's more, "Hyaluronic acid prevents dehydrated skin around the eyes from looking tired, sallow, and wrinkled," says Camp. These cooling eye patches also contain ingredients like anti-inflammatory caffeine (meant to temporarily constrict the blood vessels under the eyes) and a little colloidal gold (meant to brighten) for good measure.
The review: "First off, I need to speak to the experience of these patches: The packaging is so luxe it almost makes you feel prettier and more relaxed just having it in your possession. The patches also fit perfectly under the eyes and adhere very well to the skin (no slipping and sliding here), and they instantly have a refreshing, cooling effect. These seem slightly more effective for reducing puffiness over dark circles, but I definitely look more awake after use." —Amanda Montell, Byrdie contributor
Overall score: 3/5
When to See a Professional
Dark circles under the eyes are very common and often do not require medical treatment. They are a normal part of aging, with many factors, including genetics and sun exposure, determining if you develop dark circles. If your dark circles seem to be getting worse or aren't improving with the tips above, talk to your doctor. Allergies, such as hay fever, cause a histamine response, which can cause dark circles, puffiness, and red eyes. Your doctor can help pinpoint the cause of the allergy and determine the best treatment.
Fatigue can also contribute to under-eye circles. If you are having difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor to help you figure out the cause and treatment options. Your doctor can also talk to you about your nutrition and fluid intake, as dehydration can result in sunken eyes and dark under-eye circles. Other conditions that can cause under-eye circles include anemia, low thyroid function, and eczema.
In addition to medical treatment as needed, a licensed board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon can perform in-office procedures, including laser treatments and fillers, to help make your eyes look their best. These treatments can sometimes produce better results than at-home treatments or topical ointments.
What foods will help reduce under-eye circles?
The following foods are not only delicious, but they may also help reduce under-eye circles —tomatoes, cucumbers, sesame seeds, berries, and watermelon. In general, maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet and avoiding overly processed food will help you look and feel your best.
What is the best way to reduce under-eye circles with makeup?
Celebrity makeup artist Carissa Ferreri tells Byrdie to start by moisturizing with an under-eye lotion, followed by a full-coverage cream concealer (she likes Kevin Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer), and then layer with a highlighting wand for added brightening. Finish it off with a liquid concealer where you need additional lightening, such as in the inner corner of your eye.
Can fillers help reduce under-eye circles?
Yes, a hyaluronic acid filler (such as Restylane) helps to diminish under-eye circles by filling in the sunken areas around the eye socket. Make sure you are using a board-certified dermatologist or board-certified plastic surgeon for this procedure.
Does Vitamin K help reduce under-eye circles?
Vitamin K is thought to reduce dark circles by stimulating blood flow. Studies have shown that Vitamin K can be effective, but more research is needed. Look for eye creams that have both vitamin K and other effective ingredients, such as caffeine, arnica, or retinol.
How do you get rid of dark circles under your eyes naturally?
There are several all-natural home remedies you can try for your dark circles, including used chilled tea bags. Steep the tea bags in hot water, squeeze out the excess water, place them in the refrigerator until chilled, and then place them on your closed eyes for 15-20 minutes.
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