How to get rid of dark circles and puffy eyes

The eye area is such a common place of concern that there’s an entire product category dedicated to treating it! Dark circles and puffy eyes are some of the most cited concerns, so let’s take a look at the causes and treatment options.

Dark Circles & Puffy Eyes

There are four major causes of under eye dark circles and their appearance is likely a combination of factors:

Genetics – dark circles can be inherited or you may be predisposed to develop them as you age.

Hyperpigmentation – just like PIH from acne, hyperpigmentation can impact your undereyes. Sun exposure can trigger melanin production, so be sure you are not forgetting sunscreen around your eye area.

Age – the skin around your eyes is thinner to begin with and only continues to thin with age. As you age, loss of fat and collagen breakdown can cause sunken under eyes that cast dark shadows or show visible blood vessels underneath the skin. 

Sleep and other lifestyle factors – Lack of sleep causes blood vessels to pool under the eye area, making it appear darker. Smoking and alcohol intake can also contribute to dark circles, by disrupting circulation or exacerbating collagen breakdown. Don’t forget about hydration, either! Dehydration thins the skin and can become even more of an issue if that dehydration is due to alcohol or caffeine. 

As if dark circles weren’t enough, many of the factors above can also cause puffy eyes. In addition to genetics, fat loss and muscle weakening allows fluid to collect under the eye area. Poor sleep and other lifestyle factors also inhibit circulation and increase fluid retention. 

How to Treat Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

Issues plaguing the eye area are notoriously difficult to treat, especially if genetics are playing a role. Because of the thin and delicate nature of the skin around the eye area, the most effective and permanent solutions are often in-office procedures. Don’t forget the importance of adequate sleep and water intake! 

Ingredients to look for in eye creams:

    • Retinoids and peptides: can help stimulate collagen production and thicken the skin around the eye area. 
    • Caffeine: while excessive caffeine intake can dehydrate the skin and exacerbate dark circles, caffeine itself is a vasoconstrictor, which can minimize pooling of blood vessels and increase circulation when used in topical eye creams.
    • Hydrators: humectants, emollients and ceramides keep the eye area hydrated, plump and light reflecting. 
    • Pigment inhibitors and brightening agents: ingredients like vitamin C, green tea and niacinamide can help to brighten the eye area and inhibit pigment formation.
    • Eye creams with color correcting properties: eye creams with yellow/orange/peach tints can help counteract blue/green/purple discoloration under the eyes. These eye creams usually include ingredients like those mentioned above to provide both immediate and long-term benefits. 

Professional treatment options include dermal filler, which can fill in the space below your eyes. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections can stimulate your skin’s own collagen production and thicken the skin.

Finally, whether using a dedicated eye product or getting a professional treatment, the most important product, as always, is sunscreen.