Read on for solutions that actually work
Blame it on late nights, long days at work or insomniac babies. Waking up in the morning and staring back at dark under-eye hollows in the mirror is never a pretty sight. Getting rid of dark circles can be tricky; they can creep up unannounced because the skin below the eyes is the thinnest and the veins underneath become visible for the slightest reasons. Puffiness, pigmentation, under-eye hollows and dilated blood vessels are the four commonest causes of those dreaded circles, but fret not. Help is now at hand to fix this unsightly problem once and for all.
Puffy under-eye bags
Under-eye bags cast shadows that can make the best made up face look exhausted. Worse, it gives you the ‘unrested’ look no matter how many hours of shut-eye you get.
- Start by limiting your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day –about one teaspoon—since salty foods like chips, namkeen and pickles can cause bloating everywhere. Swear off alcohol and get your fix of vitamin B rich foods like leafy greens, says Nykaa expert, nutritionist Naini Setalvad.
- Sleeping on an extra pillow to drain away excess fluids can help. Give yourself a draining massage by using your ring fingers to press your way from the inner to the outer corners of your eyes. Then move to your temples and down your jaw. Repeat to help flush excess fluid.
- Chill a teaspoon in icy water before pressing it down firmly to massage the fluid down and away from the under-eye area. You could also use a targeted under eye puffiness formula like Fabindia Aloe Vera Under Eye Gel or L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Eye Cream that contains caffeine.
Pigmentation causing dark circles
The skin under the eyes is thinnest and the most sensitive; with capillaries beneath the skin prone to breaking due to stress and sun damage. Blood tends to gather just under the surface of skin and oxidizes to get that dreaded purple hue. Sometimes the cause is genetics, making you more prone to pigmentation and dark circles. Occasionally, an iron deficiency can also cause raccoon eyes.
- Press down gently on the discolored area. If the darkness temporarily reduces the cause is likely to be burst blood vessels. If there's no change in the discoloration, chances are the cause is hereditary or sun exposure or both.
- Have a blood test to check your blood iron and vitamin B 12 levels, advises Setalvad. A deficiency can be easily addressed with supplements. It's also a good idea to do a diet overhaul and increase your intake of vitamin B12 and iron rich foods like red meat, eggs, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and bananas.
- According to Nykaa skincare expert Dr. Abhijit Desai, vitamin C is shown to visibly reduce pigmentation and lighten skin. Besides increasing your intake of citrus fruits you should try vitamin C rich eye creams and serums. Nykaa recommends
Dermalogica MultiVit Power Recovery Masque and Innisfree White Tone Up Eye Serum.
- Avoid rubbing eyes because friction can cause skin darkening especially in the delicate skin under eyes.
- Make sure you use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or more even while at home or working at a computer. Remember to apply the formula all the way to the lash line. Use a specialized face formula like Biotique Aloe Vera Face & Body Sun Lotion Spf 30 Uva/Uvb Sunscreen or Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 50+ to minimize eye irritation.
- Invest in a pair of oversized sunglasses to completely cover the eye for further protection.
- If pigmentation is superficial, use topical under-eye creams like Garnier Skin Natural White Complete Eye Roll On and Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Ageing Micro Sculpting Serum that contain hydroquinone, amino peptides, licorice and citric acid. Dr Desai says deeper discoloration may require Fraxel lasers to minimize darkness. Usually three to five sessions are recommended. "While lasers do lighten the pigmentation, sunscreens should be applied regularly and skin lightening treatments should be concurrently used," he adds.
Darkening caused by blood vessels
Circles that lighten when you press on them are caused by blood vessels showing through thin skin.
- Using a retinoid cream like Forest Essentials Night Treatment Cream Jasmine & Patchouli every night to build collagen and plump up skin can help conceal under eye skin darkening. During the day use adequate sun protection to prevent skin irritation.
- Seasonal allergies can also cause inflammation of blood vessels making under-eye skin darkening more prominent. Take an antihistamine if required or use a formula with caffeine like L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Ferment Eye Essence to constrict vessels.
- You could also try Arnica-based creams available at homeopathic stores. Arnica has proven anti-inflammatory properties. Alternatively look for eye creams with green tea, caffeine or grapeseed oil like O3+ Eye Circle Cream Brightening & Whitening Dermal Zone to strengthen capillary walls and reduce discoloration.
- Since these dark circles are usually blue-tinged, it's ideal to camouflage them with a creamy, yellow-based concealer like Freedom Pro Camouflage & Correct - Yellow. Tap the concealer over the discolored areas and gently blend in.
- Invest in a concealer at least one shade lighter than your usual foundation color. For very dark circles, use a concealer two shades lighter than your foundation.
The natural process of ageing causes loss of facial volume, starting with the fat under the eyes. As a result, the under-eye area can start looking sunken and hollow, especially if you have a slender face.
- Applying chilled cucumber slices and vitamin C rich under-eye creams can help. Try AromaMagic Under Eye Gel Lightens and Refreshes to minimize the dark circles that sometimes accompany eye hollowing. Retinol-rich creams like Dermalogica Total Eye Care have an immediate resurfacing and filling action that help plump up the fragile skin.
- The only way to treat under-eye hollows is having hyaluronic acid fillers injected into the tear troughs to re-plump the area. As Nykaa skincare expert Dr. Dhimant Goleria says, "Hyaluronic Acid is a safe and effective option to mask under-eye hollows when injected deep into the tissue."
Since the under-eye area isn't flat, you can't just lay down a concealer. The trick is to use an illuminating concealer like L.A Girl HD Pro Concealer - Highlighter
to lift the area and make the hollows appear fuller. Don't forget to blend the formula at the innermost corners of the eyes, subtly darkening the brow ridge and lightening the eyes only so that they look more prominent.