Dark Circles: Causes and Cures

by beautifulwithbrains

causes and best treatments for dark circles

What’s the best treatment for dark circles?

I HATE answering this question. Because, there’s no size fits all treatment. It all depends on what’s giving your those pesky dark circles in the first place.

Lack of sleep? Too much sun exposure? Or maybe it’s genetics? You’d better know. Because the symptoms may be the same – dark, black pools under your eyes that make you look always tired and old – but the cure sure isn’t.

If the sun’s the culprit, for example, a good night’s sleep won’t help. Likewise, if it’s lack of sleep, piling on the sunscreen won’t rid you of dark circles (but it’ll keep wrinkles and cancer at bay so DO use it!).

So how do you figure out what’s to blame here? Here’s the best treatment for dark circles – based on what’s causing them:

1. Heredity

Some people have inherited very thin, almost transparent skin that lets the blood vessels under your eyes show through. These blood vessels cast a shadow onto your undereye area, making you look older and tired. A deep set bone structure (another inherited trait) does the same.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by heredity?

You can’t change your genes. But you can cover dark circles with concealer.

Best picks:

  • Bare Minerals SPF20 Correcting Concealer ($21.00): available at Sephora and Ulta
  • Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit ($38.00): available at Nordstrom, Selfridges and Sephora
  • Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte Concealer (£28.00): available at Harrods


2. Aging

You know what else thins skin? Aging. The older you get, the more transparent skin becomes. Now your blood vessels start to show through and you look like you’re permanently tired and sleep-deprived.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by aging?

Once your skin gets that thin, the only cure is concealer. BUT, this is one type of dark circles you can prevent (or at least postpone) with a good skincare routine. Use an antioxidants rich serum and sunscreen every single day to slow down the aging process.

Best Picks:


Related: 5 Antiaging Superstars You Should Add To Your Skincare Routine Now

3. Saggy skin

Saggy skin can cast shadows underneath your eyes, making dark circles look worse. Ugh.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by saggy skin?

I wish skincare products could fight sagginess! One day, maybe. For now your best bet is concealer. Yep, again.

4. Lack of sleep

Did you know that lack of sleep causes skin to be paler? And, yep you guessed it, that makes those blood vessels under your eyes more visible, too.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by lack of sleep?

Get your beauty sleep. At least 8 hours a night. I’m not joking. You can buy all the eye creams in the world but if you don’t get some proper rest, your dark circles are never going to disappear.

Related: Why Beauty Sleep Isn’t A Myth (+ Easy Tips To Get Yours)

5. Sun Exposure

Too much sun gives you dark spots. I bet you know this but did you know it applies to dark circles as well? Yep, those dark pools under your eyes may just be hyperpigmentation.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by sun exposure?

Use skin-lightening products with hydroquinone, niacinamide, vitamin C, and other stuff that can inhibit the production of melanin. And wear sunscreen every single day, or those dark circles will just keep coming back!

Best picks:


Related: Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which Is The Best Treatment For Hyperpigmentation? 

6. Medications

Some medications make blood vessels dilate. This makes dark circles look worse.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by medication?

I guess you could ask your physician if you could switch to a different medication. But, this isn’t always possible. Often, the only remedy is a good concealer.

7. Diet

An unbalanced diet that lacks the nutrients your body badly needs can cause all sort of problems, including dark circles.

What’s the best treatment for dark circles caused by diet?

Eat a healthy diet: lots of fruits and vegetables, a moderate amount of protein and healthy fats (think omega-3 in salmon and avocado) and little sugar and bad fats. Easier said than done, I know. But, you’ll look and feel so much better, I promise!

Related: I Went On The Low Glycemic Diet And It Transformed My Skin

Not sure what’s causing your dark circles? Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “Dark Circles Cheatsheet.” It’ll help you identify the cause of YOUR dark circles and suggest the best treatment for you:

Do you know what’s causing your dark circles and what are you doing to get rid of them? Share your experience in the comments below.

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jojoba February 9, 2009 - 3:13 pm

i so need the sleep!!!

Nikki February 9, 2009 - 3:29 pm

Like Jojoba, I need to sleep early too!!!! Like NOW! hahahha *gasp*

sab February 9, 2009 - 3:49 pm

i use concealers most of the time, and like everyone else, i need to sleep early! haha! guess that’d be a hard one.

Connie February 10, 2009 - 2:42 pm

I definitely have “LAck of Sleep”, “Dehydration”, and “Nutrition” covered. Dang! no wonder I have dark circles

beautifulwithbrains February 10, 2009 - 7:19 pm

jojoba: me too! I’m sure that’s one of the main problems for most people.

Nikki: hope you got some sleep lol I’m feeling very sleepy too, I’ve not been sleeping very well lately

Sab: that really is hard, but we should all try and do it, it’s good for us! I couldn’t live without concealer, my dark circles are hereditary and I don’t look good without makeup.

Connie: sleeping, eating halthily and drinking are definitely hard habits to get into, which is so bad as theuy’re good for our health. Thank goodness for concealers though, I couldn’t leave without them.

Pastelita December 29, 2014 - 3:46 pm

I personally find dark circles very charming, it adds a kinda romantic feel and some piquant to a face. Same goes for freckles, they’re so cute!

Gio December 29, 2014 - 6:41 pm

Pastelita, I love freckles too! But I had never thought of dark circles as romantic lol.

Adam September 3, 2017 - 10:13 pm

So are you suggesting that none of the products formulated specifically to address dark circles actually work?

Gio September 8, 2017 - 9:36 pm

Adam, it depends on what’s causing your dark circles. If it’s hyper pigmentation, then a product with skin-lightening ingredients can help. If it’s blood leak, then vasoconstrictors may do something, provided they’re used in the right concentration (in my experience, their results aren’t usually exceptional). For everything else, skincare products can’t help.

Sara October 7, 2018 - 11:39 am

Heredity in my case, I have very thin skin also in the area between neck and shoulder so you can see all my veins. Quite unappealing ahahah. Btw, I can’t see myself with concealer on, I m so used to my dark circles that I can’t recognize myself when I wear concealer, like “omg who’s that” ahahah. Ciao gio, grazie per tutti i tuoi post, sto imparando un sacco!

Gio October 7, 2018 - 2:45 pm

Sarah, hahaha, just goes to show that what others consider our flaws, are what makes us unique. 🙂

Grazie a te per tutto il tuo supporto Sono contenta che il mio blog ti sia di aiuto.

Anne November 5, 2019 - 6:29 pm

Vitamin K and iron deficiency also causes them – for older women, sleep on your back only – head elevated to keep the blood flowing and morning krinkle face which can exaggerate the dark circles. Also, ice cold spoon in the morning for puffiness. Dark Circles can also be lightened with green tea bag treatment before bed. Using an electro stim for collagen works very well – many other things work – use green or yellow or blue depending on hue of your face to deflect from the dark circles.


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