Have you noticed that your dark circles look darker than usual, and your under-eyes are puffier? This guide will provide you with all the information about what causes dark circles and under-eye puffiness and how to get rid of them.
Did you know?
The average woman in the United States spends a large percentage of her cosmeceutical and makeup budget, which is $15,000 over the course of her lifetime, on under-eye concealers.
Like if that wasn't enough, did you also know that the skin around your eyes is 40% thinner than the rest of your facial skin? This makes the area more delicate and susceptible to damage.
Soft tissue filler injections were the second most popular type of minimally invasive cosmetic procedure in 2013, with 2.2 million procedures performed, representing a 13% increase from the previous year.
Not only that, but women will use an average of five different products in their daily routine just to cover up dark circles.
The good news is that there are ways to get rid of dark circles and under-eye puffiness without spending a lot of money or using too many cosmetic products.
In this article will take a comprehensive look at dark circles and under-eye puffiness – what causes them and how you can get rid of them effectively.
What causes dark circles and under-eye puffiness?
If you're dealing with dark circles and under eye puffiness, it's important to figure out what's causing them so you can address the issue and get rid of the problem for good.
Here are some of the most common causes of dark circles and under eye puffiness:
Are dark circles and under-eye puffiness hereditary? The answer is yes – genetics play a major factor.
If your parents or grandparents had dark circles or bags under their eyes, you're more likely to have them, since it's a physical characteristic that runs in your family's DNA.
With age comes a decrease in collagen and elastin, two proteins that help keep skin firm and elastic, and a significant loss of fat tissue and muscles.
As a result, as you age, the skin around your eyes gets thinner and starts to sag, causing a restructuring of the facial bones – that exposes the underlying blue veins and orbital bone – and a hollow appearance – that causes a shadow from above.
All of the above combined, contributes to making dark circles and under-eye puffiness more prominent.
When you're allergic, your immune system believes that the substance that's entered your body is harmful. As a response, it produces a chemical called "Histamine" which results in swelling and inflammation to fight off the allergen.
Histamine causes the blood vessels around your eyes to dilate, boosting blood flow and increasing capillary permeability, causing fluid leakage into the surrounding tissues, hence, why dark circles become more visible beneath your skin.
It also increases your mucus production, creating pressure in the nasal passages, preventing the blood in the small veins and capillaries under your eyes from draining back to the heart. When this blood pools, it darkens the skin and creates puffiness under your eyes.
In addition, allergies increase the urge for you to rub and scratch the skin under your eyes, leading to further irritation and inflammation.
4. Sleep Deprivation
The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most fragile on your entire face, which means that blood vessels are closer to the surface and more noticeable.
When you don't get enough sleep, your body doesn't have time to repair itself, and the blood vessels around your eyes dilate.
Dilated blood vessels lead to an increase in blood flow to the area, and since the skin around your eyes is thinner, the dark tint of the blood is more visible which results in dark circles.
They also cause fluid retention and fluid leakage into the skin, leading to puffiness around the eyes; puffy eyelids can cast a shadow that makes dark circles appear even darker.
Being sleep deprived decreases the barrier function, which causes the dermal and interstitial layers under your eyes to become dehydrated because it affects the moisture levels in your skin, making the blood vessels look more prominent.
To make matters worse, research indicates that lack of sleep not only affects features relating to the eyes but also those of the mouth and skin.
5. Diet High In Salt
"You are what you eat" is an old saying for a reason, the foods you eat directly impact your skin, which reflects your overall health.
A diet high in salt causes you to retain extra fluid, which leads to dark circles and swollen eyes.
Dark circles can be caused by significant under eating and, in some cases, overeating to the point of flooding the body and its systems.
It can also be seen as a result of binging and purging behavior, especially when the individual purges everything they eat.
The skin around your eyes is particularly susceptible to dehydration.
When this area is not properly hydrated, skin cells shrivel, losing their plumpness and elasticity, causing the appearance of dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles to be more noticeable.
Dehydration also prevents the proper drainage of fluid from under your eyes, causing the blood vessels to dilate, and because of your eyes' proximity to the underlying bone, your eyes will look dull, darker, discolored, sunken, hollow, puffy, and swelled.
Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, which prevents your skin from getting oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs because your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide.
On the other hand, nicotine constricts your blood vessels, reducing blood flow and limiting the amount of oxygen and nutrient that flows through your skin.
Both deplete your skin of oxygen and nutrients that protect and repair damaged skin, so it stays healthy.
Toxins in cigarette smoke damage collagen and elastin fibers, the proteins that give your skin its strength and suppleness.
Nicotine also increases melanin in your skin and disrupts your sleep pattern, which can cause dark circles and puffy eyes.
All of these effects contribute to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines around your eyes and dryness, sagging, and bags under your eyes.
8. Sun Exposure
Being exposed to the sun for long periods of time causes the skin around your eyes to darken because of an increase in melanin production – which acts as a response to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Sun exposure breaks down collagen and elastin fibers, and when these proteins are damaged, it results in sagging skin and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Not only that, but when your skin is sunburned, UV rays damage DNA in the upper layer of skin cells, causing your skin to become dry, red, and irritated.
As a result, blood vessels under your skin dilate and leak fluid into the tissue, leading to inflammation and swelling aggravating dark circles and puffiness.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology crying is the result of strong emotions such as joy and sadness.
These strong emotions overwhelms the lacrimal drainage system resulting in a lot of tears.
Since tears are made from our blood – to allow for more passage of blood to the area – vessels carrying blood to our eyes dilate, which results in fluid retention, contributing to more prominent dark circles, redness, and puffiness around the eyes and sometimes the entire face.
Crying can also cause tear ducts to become blocked, which causes a build-up of fluid; the extra fluid leads to swollen and puffy eyes.
10. Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions that cause or aggravate dark circles and puffy eyes are:
- Hypothyroidism: is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is inflammation throughout the body, which can cause the blood vessels to leak and accumulate under the eyes, resulting in dark circles and puffiness.
- Anemia: is a condition where you lack red blood cells or hemoglobin in your blood. Anemia can cause fatigue which can lead to dilation of blood vessels and fluid retention, which can contribute to dark circles and puffiness around the eyes.
With that being said, that doesn't mean that you're doomed to have dark circles and under-eye puffiness; there are things you can do to minimize their appearance.
6 Best Tips To Get Rid Of Dark Circles and Under-Eye Puffiness
Here are 6 best tips to help you get rid of dark circles and under-eye puffiness:
Tip #1: Use topical skin care treatments.
Eye creams are specifically formulated to treat the skin around your eyes by targeting a variety of eye-related issues such as dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
They are usually lighter in texture and contain popular ingredients such as Caffeine, Retinol, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and Niacinamide to constrict blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and stimulate collagen production which can help diminish the appearance of dark circles and under-eye puffiness.
One of my favorite eye creams is the Geologie Eye Nourishing Cream because it works by actively limiting the development of melanin; the reason behind dark circles.
That's right! It addresses the root cause of dark circles under your eyes and helps eliminate short-term problems like puffiness with ingredients like Peptides, Caffeine, and Kojic Acid.
Want to know more? Here's a review about the Geologie Eye Nourishing Cream.
Skin brighteners can also help reduce the appearance of dark circles by by inhibiting melanin production and lightening the skin around the eyes.
Some common ingredients found in skin brighteners include Vitamin C, Azelaic Acid, Kojic Acid, Licorice Extract, Niacinamide, and Hydroquinone.
IMPORTANT: Skin brighteners increase skin cell turnover, meaning that the skin around your eyes will be more sensitive to the sun and more prone to UV damage, so make sure you're using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin.
Tip #2: Use skin care tools.
Skin Care tools like gua sha and eye massagers stimulate lymphatic drainage by gently massaging the contours above and below your eyes to promote fluid drainage, increase blood flow, and remove stagnation to reduce the appearance of dark circles and under-eye puffiness.
Be very gentle, and don't apply too much pressure when using these tools around your eyes to avoid dragging or pulling.
With a Gua Sha stone, use a light layer of oil to help the gua sha glide over your skin more smoothly.
Another benefit of using Gua Sha is that it helps absorb skin care products more effectively, and when put in the refrigerator, it provides a cooling effect to depuff and soothe your skin.
Tip #3: Address your allergies.
To get rid of dark circles and under-eye puffiness caused by allergies, it is important first to identify what you are allergic to and then avoid exposure to that allergen.
If you are unsure what you are allergic to, you can talk to your doctor or an allergist who can help you with allergy testing.
Once you know what you are allergic to, take steps to avoid exposure as much as possible; this may mean eliminating certain foods from your diet or using air filters in your home and office.
If avoiding exposure to your allergens is not possible, you can also take medication to help control your allergies and reduce the symptoms, but you need to consult your doctor first to make sure the medication is right.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to help alleviate symptoms, such as:
- Using an over-the-counter antihistamine helps reduce allergy symptoms.
- Using a cold compress to soothe inflammation and reduce swelling.
Tip #4: Try home remedies.
You'd be surprised at how trying home remedies might just be the fix you've been looking for!
Here are the most popular remedies to try at-home, to help reduce the appearance of dark circles and under-eye puffiness:
- Cucumber slices: reduce inflammation and swelling while cooling and soothing your skin.
- Tea bags: improve circulation which helps reduce inflammation and puffiness.
- Potato slices: reduce dark circles by lightening the skin and reduce puffiness by drawing out excess fluid.
If you're looking for a quick fix tho, under-eye filler might just be what you've been looking for!
Tip #5: Start making lifestyle changes.
To reduce the appearance of dark circles and under-eye puffiness, you need to start making some lifestyle changes:
1. Get enough sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation guidelines, the average human needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep to avoid compromising their health and well-being.
Getting enough sleep can help reduce fatigue and prevent the blood vessels from dilating, to reduce the appearance of dark circles, and avoid puffiness.
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed.
- Avoid having dinner at least 3 hours before bed.
- Avoid working or using electronic devices 30 mins before bed.
- Create a soothing bedtime routine, including reading or taking a bath.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important for maintaining healthy skin because these foods contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for healthy skin.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids prevent discoloration of the area under the eyes.
Foods rich in vitamin C help boost collagen production, get rid of free radicals, brighten your skin and reduce inflammation. Some good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, kale, bell peppers, broccoli, and leafy greens.
Vitamin E helps protect the skin from damage and thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties it lighten dark circles and reduce under-eye puffiness. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, avocados, and leafy greens.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, increase collage production, promote healing, and keep your skin hydrated. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
Avoid consuming processed foods because they are high in sodium and cause your body to retain water and ramp up your potassium intake with bananas, beans, yogurt, and leafy greens to reduce excess fluids in your body.
3. Hydrate your skin.
The obvious solution would be drinking water, right? Wrong! Although water is important to maintain our bodies working properly, it has not been scientifically proven that drinking extra water will help hydrate the skin.
To ensure your skin is properly hydrated, you need skin care products that contain hyaluronic acid like serums, oils, or creams; these are the 5 best hydrators.
4. Minimize sun exposure.
To minimize sun exposure, make sure you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and a PA++++.
You should also avoid sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but if you must be out in the sun, wear UPF clothing, including a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and pants, and get sunglasses.
Here's all you need to know about sunscreen and the best sunscreen for each skin type and concern.
5. Quit smoking.
Quitting smoking can help to improve the appearance of your skin and also reduce your risk of other health conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
If you're struggling to quit smoking, here are 5 methods that will help you quit smoking. There are other resources available such as counseling, medication, and support groups.
6. Use concealer.
Although not ideal for many, if you're looking for a quick short-term solution, then concealer can help to cover up dark circles temporarily.
Concealers are available in various colors and formulas to match your skin tone and cover up blemishes.
Choose a color that matches your skin tone and use a small amount to avoid creasing. Apply the concealer in a triangle shape under your eyes and blend it with a makeup brush or beauty blender.
You can also use an under-eye setting powder to help keep the concealer in place and prevent it from creasing.
Tip#6: Seek help from a professional board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
If you have a medical condition causing your dark circles and under-eye puffiness and lifestyle changes or other remedies don't work, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
A doctor can assess your concerns and advise you on the best course of action to improve your skin's appearance and help you achieve your desire results.
Perhaps you might benefit from cosmetic procedures like fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane, which can help to plump up sunken under-eye areas and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Or are a good candidate for blepharoplasty, also known as eyelid surgery, which can remove excess skin and fat from the upper and lower eyelids to improve the appearance of dark circles.
If you're looking for ways to get rid of dark circles and under-eye puffiness, there are several things you can try.
There is an option for everyone, from using skin care products to home remedies like cucumber slices or tea bags to more long-term solutions like quitting smoking or using concealer.
If lifestyle changes don't work, seek help from a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. With the right treatment plan, you can achieve the results you desire!