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How Can I Remove Dark Circles Permanently Under my Eyes?

image of Genna Pinnick
How Can I Remove Dark Circles Permanently Under my Eyes?

Want Brighter, Younger-Looking Eyes? How To Get Rid of Dark Under-Eye Circles

Dark circles under your eyes are annoying, even exasperating! Concealer helps, but getting rid of them or preventing it is so much better.

This is a How To Guide and reference article for the complex issue of the cause and remedies for eliminating dark undereye circles.

I'll cover:

  • The most obvious causes of dark under-eye circles.
  • When health issues may be the cause.
  • Could your eye shadow be at fault?
  • How eye Serums work.
  • Genetics: If dark eye circles run in your family.
  • DIY remedies for dark under-eye circles. 
  • The Melanin / Fragile Capillary Connection:
  • How to get rid of dark under-eye circles if they're from age and thinning skin.

Beauty Sleep

If you are over 40 like I am, it's important to get a full 8 hours of sleep consistently each night. I don't always get my "Solid 8 Hours of Sleep", yet I consistently get lots of compliments when I have. I have a systematic schedule I adhere to which frequently helps me achieve my sleep target. I keep at it even if I didn't get good sleep the night before. 

Systems Out Perform Goals. Perseverance is everything. 

This first obvious step to take is to consistently get better, longer sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am, which is during your Circadian Sleep Cycle of Healing, Repair and Renewal. Doing this consistently is the Priming Step for your health, psychological, emotional and beauty. It's literally 'Beauty Sleep.'

Chronic sleep deprivation in the US is an epidemic contributor to dark under-eye circles. Getting enough sleep actually goes a long way towards brightening your eyes, regenerating your attitude about life and reinvigorating your mind. 

Other causes include aging and genetics. I know, I know. This catch-all phrase of "Aging and Genetics" may be frustratingly general, yet it is indeed the culprit in many occurrences.

If sleep isn't your issue, then keep reading. 

Dark Under - Eye Circles Can Be From Kidney - Related Issues

Yes, that's right. If you've ever had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) you've probably noticed the dark under eye circles you were sporting when you went to see your physician. Doctors notice this as it's a classic symptom of kidney and bladder issues. Best to get yourself to your medical provider ASAP.

Another possible health-related cause for dark under-eye circles are allergies...including food allergies.

When your body is exposed to substances it perceives as harming your body, it goes on the defensive. This can be an overt reaction like hay fever or a peanut allergy, these are big, obvious allergic responses.

Your lymph system, which is part of your immune system and is composed of lymph vessels and lymph nodes, jumps into action to seek out and filter out of your body whatever antigen (the stuff you're allergic to), this can cause a dark appearance under your eyes. There is a medical term for this called an "Allergic Shiner." As a child I was occasionally mistaken for having been punched in the eye...except it was both eyes. Turns out I am allergic to wheat, eggs and milk.

Eliminating these antigens from my diet cleared it up right quick. 

You and your doctor would have to determine if this is part of what is causing the dark circles under your eyes. 

Is the Frosty Iridescence in Your Eyeshadow the Culprit?

Eye Shadows with Pearlescence, Frost or Glitter in them can be the cause of new darkening around your entire eye area, not just under your eye. If this darkness around your eye just started, and it's not anything I've mentioned here, consider your eyeshadow.

Mica is a mineral which is ground up and the resulting micro-flakes are added to eye shadows, eye pencils, and other makeup for a luminescent, frosty, and pearlescent effect. These mica flakes have sharp, tiny edges which create tiny abrasions in your eye lid every time you apply whatever product they're in.

Eliminating this perpetual irritation caused by these micro-tears from the sparkly flakes of this mineral additive will allow this darkness to fade and respond to treatment. 

Switch up your eye shadows to matte or cream and seek out a skin brightening eye serum or cream to correct this eye circle darkness. 

If you don't, your dark eye circles won't respond to anything you do to lessen them and they won't go away.

Why Do I Need an Eye Serum? 

Eye serums specifically formulated to target the skin around your eyes help reduce signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles and dark circles while keeping this delicate area hydrated. 

Depending upon the serums' purpose, each is specially formulated to be gentle on sensitive skin while targeting particular conditions like puffiness, crepiness, crows feet, and dark under-eye circles.Obviously, people with sensitivities and allergies can use these eye products as long as the known allergen ingredients are not included in the product. Overall, eye serums and creams usually contain fewer fragrances than other facial products which makes them ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Use an eye serum or cream at night, and during the day under your sunscreen is your best bet. Seek out those eye care products which absorb in thoroughly for day wear or help them absorb in by using a cold jade eye roller or skin care tool specifically for this use.

Sunscreen is Your Daily Armour to Protect your Progress

For the day, follow with a micronized mineral sunscreen like TIZO2 Skin Primer Non-Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40, PA++++ or Hale and Hush's Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

If you like a One-N-Done approach to sunscreen + light coverage, (and your skin in the medium-to-light range), try TIZO3 Skin Primer Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40, PA++++.

Beating Aging and Genetics

There may be other, more complex, seemingly unrelated, causes for those dark under-eye circles.

Firstly, you may already know that the skin around your eyes is thinner than anywhere else on your face. Not having pores, and therefore not having a natural source of sebum, lubrication and protection makes your eye area very, very delicate. And the skin around your eyes is in constant motion from blinking, creasing from smiling, and can darken from the friction of rubbing your eyes.

All this adds up to further the increased thinning and dark under-eye circles. Truly, your eye area is more delicate and susceptible to damage than anywhere else on your face. Such delicate skin also means your very thin and fragile eye area is easily injured, so any damage done from prolonged rubbing of your eyes will show up immediately as wrinkles or fine lines.

This is why your eye area needs special care – a good eye serum or cream should help reduce puffiness, dark circles, crow's feet (those wrinkles at the corners of your eyes) and other signs of aging while keeping this delicate area hydrated for maximum results.

If You've Had Dark Eye Circles Your Entire Life?

If you've always had dark eye circles due to genetics (and many members of your family also has dark eye circles), you can specifically target this condition by lightening the whole eye area using targeted ingredients and a Green LED light Device (while keeping your eyes closed). Green LED specifically targets pigmentation issues and is an excellent device to use over any area of your face or skin you are trying to even out and brighten.

Combining effective ingredients together with the added clarifying effect of a home device which emits Green LED light , will lighten the dark skin around your eyes quite a bit. It won't eliminate them entirely, it's genetic, yet the improvement can be substantial.

NOTE: Plan to consistently use whatever serum or cream you choose for many months, most likely twice (2x) a day followed by an equally dedicated use of sunscreen. Without using sunscreen and reapplying throughout the day, even over makeup, you will NOT lighten the area around your eyes. Using the Green LED 2-3x weekly should accelerate your progress and maximize any active ingredients targeting the dark under eye circles. Keep at it.

Lightening pigmentation is one of the most difficult esthetic efforts. 

Pro Tip: Take a picture, in natural light, of yourself and your dark circles before you start to treat them. This is your baseline to be able to measure how far you've progressed as you treat this. Take some closeups from a few different angles and date them all. After six months, do this again, preferably in the same place at the same time. And at the 1-year mark, take another set.

Use eye serums or creams specifically to lighten the skin around your eye area. Look for these skin lightening ingredients:

  • Azelaic Acid: Is a reversible inhibitor of tyrosinase, delivering whitening effects to the skin.
  • Vitamin C: Is a required component in the production of collagen. It provides skin suppleness. It slows down production of age spots while providing UV protection. Vitamin C is used in creams, lotions, butters & masks for repair and revitalizing.
  • Ferulic Acid: Acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory active. It is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell wall components. Possesses UV-B absorption capabilities. 
  • Retinols / Retinoids: Acts as a strong anti-aging agent. Used in advanced age-defense, rejuvenating & repair, day care, anti-pollution
  • Kojic Acid: Acts as a lightening\whitening and anti-aging agent. 
  • Hydroquinone (Rx): USP Prescription Strength Whitening preparation your doctor would need to prescribe. 

Specialized Laser Treatments for lightening the skin area around your eyes is highly effective. and will require repeat visits to your dermatologist, medspa or plastic surgeon's office.

Use a daily brightening of Vitamin C to under any other eye serum or eye cream you have to advance your progress as you actively lighten the whole eye area of these dark circles.

Vitamin C

Use Skin Recovery Science C2S Vitamin C Serum

If you have sensitive skin, get the Hale and Hush Rare Vitamin C Serum and use it around your eyes as your first step in the morning. Heck, use it on your whole face and throat. 

Vitamin C+ More

For multi-active serums with even more eye-brightening ingredients try Dr. Esthe Vitamin C Ampoule or Dr. Esthe Whitening A Serum

Retinal 

If you have sensitive skin and are need an effective and stabilized form of Vitamin A (Retinaldehyde) try Hale and Hush Rare Retinal Serum around your eyes at night. Of course, you can use it over your entire face to great effect. This is so gentle you can use it nightly. Make sure you sue a sunscreen daily to keep working towards a lighter, more even-colored eye area. 

The improvement you gain may be enough to give you the lighter, refreshing appearance of being more wide awake, having brighter, even more dazzling eyes. Definitely worth it. 

The Melanin / Fragile Capillary Connection as the Root Causes of Dark Eye Circles?

When it's not lack of sleep, allergies or kidney-issues, your dark under eye circles will most likely come from two primary causes:

  • the accumulation of melanin in the skin around the eyes and
  • the accumulation of heme resulting from blood leakage

Heme is the oxygen-carrying form of iron that makes your blood red.

FYI: Hemoglobin is the entire oxygen-carrying molecule in your blood that gets oxygen to every cell so your body can make the universal energy molecule, called ATP. Heme, the oxygen-carrying iron which is the core of the hemoglobin molecule, is what is responsible for leaking out into your under eye and leaving dark, green-ish, blue-ish cast.

With age and the inevitable thinning of the skin around your eyes, the combined loss of padding and the thinning of skin around your eye, these heme molecules from your blood leak out from the tiny capillaries in your under eye area. When this occurs the area where this free heme leaks out will appear darkened and may have a yellow-green or blue-ish cast to the skin. The free heme produced in this manner is highly cytotoxic, proinflammatory and pro-oxidative. 

For a powerful impact in eliminating your dark circles, look for an eye serum or eye cream with ingredients like:

  • Vitamin K: Is a fat-soluble vitamin the human body requires for blood coagulation and dissolving of bruises. 
  • Caffeine: Improves circulation and plumps up the skin, diminishing the appearance of the circles while constricting blood vessels to reduce swelling.
  • Retinals / Retinoids: Acts as a strong anti-aging agent. Used in advanced age-defense, rejuvenating & repair, day care, anti-pollution.
  • Phenyl t-Butylnitrone (PBN): Is a commonly used free-radical spin trap.It has been shown to reduce blood clotting and prevent abnormal skin growths by its radical scavenging activity.
  • Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone: An anti-puff, conditioning and micro-circulating agent and reduces bags under the eyes. 
  • N-Hydroxysuccinimide: In association with Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 and Chrysin, lessens under-eye dark circles. It reinforces firmness and tone of the eye area. It activates the elimination of blood originated pigments & degradation products, responsible for dark circles and local inflammation. 
  • Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7: Is a powerful anti-wrinkle agent which helps reverse the chronological aging to make aged skin behave like young skin. It reduces the cutaneous photodamage to improve skin tone and elasticity. 
  •  Palmitoyl Oligopeptide: In association with Dipeptide-2 (and) Hydroxysuccinimide (and) Chrysin (and) Palmitoyl Oligopeptide acts as anti-puff agents. This unique complex contains actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  •  Dipeptide-2: In association with Dipeptide-2 (and) Hydroxysuccinimide (and) Chrysin (and) Palmitoyl Oligopeptide acts as anti-puff agents and this unique complex contains actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  • Chrysin: Helps to reduce the appearance of broken capillaries, a condition that contributes to the appearance of darkness under the eyes as well as helping to eliminate this excess pigment, it increases the thickness (density) of the skin, making it less susceptible to damage and aging.
  • Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media: Combined with other ingredients this nucleotide-rich media aids in reducing the appearance of dark circles and puffiness.
  • Signaling Molecule Conditioned Media: When combined with other ingredients, this cell-signalling media increases the effectiveness and time needed to improve the appearance of skin, reduce signs of environmental aging and speed up time to see reduction in dark circles. 
  • Carnosine (L) Benfotiamine: Acts as an anti-wrinkle and anti-aging agent. It restores skin elasticity, firms skin, repairs and fills the fine lines.
  • Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole: Acts as an anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and anti-stress agent. It stimulates the natural periodicity of expression of the circadian genes which mimics the effect of sun exposure. It provides skin awakening by stimulating the skin's natural defenses. During the day, it optimizes natural cell defense and enzymatic expression for vitamin D bio-transformation. Moreover, it exhibits microcirculation, detoxification, nutrient supply, cell renewal and regeneration during night time. It also prevents temporary or long-term cutaneous damages such as tiredness, jet lag and overwork. It protects against the effects of biorhythm disturbances. 
  • Matrixyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38: Acts as an anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, repairing, smoothing and skin conditioning agent. It fills in wrinkles from the inside, both on the forehead & the crow’s feet for a visibly smoother and plumper skin. It stimulates 6 major constituents of the skin matrix & the dermal–epidermal junction (DEJ) and ensures an optimal architecture of the tissue.

 Try NeoGenesis Eye Serum which contains:

  • Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media: Helps to regenerate the delicate skin in the eye area and when combined with NeoGenesis patented S2RM® technology magnifies the effectiveness of other eye skin tightening and brightening ingredients for a total combine force in reducing the appearance of dark circles, and puffiness.
  • Signaling Molecule Conditioned Media: Combines and compliments other ingredients to regenerate the delicate skin in the eye area with NeoGenesis patented S2RM® technology combined with other ingredients to aid in reducing the appearance of dark circles, and puffiness.
  • Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone: Acts as an anti-puff, conditioning and micro-circulating agent.
  • N-Hydroxysuccinimide: As a part of a Dark Circle Complex, this is an anti-puff actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  • Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7: As a part of a Dark Circle Complex, this is an anti-puff actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  • Palmitoyl Oligopeptide: As a part of a Dark Circle Complex, this is an anti-puff actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  • Dipeptide-2: As part of an anti-puff and as a part of a Dark Circle Complex, this is an anti-puff actives that strengthen capillaries to reduce dark circle formation.
  • Chrysin: Helps to reduce the appearance of broken capillaries, a condition that contributes to the appearance of darkness under the eyes as well as helping to eliminate this excess pigment, it increases the thickness (density) of the skin, making it less susceptible to damage and aging.

For under your eye makeup, to strongly reinforce your effort use Hale and Hush Eye Mousse which contains:

  • Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole: This specialized chrono peptide mimics the effect of sun exposure on circadian gene expression to help synchronize skin’s biorhythm.
  • Carnosine (L) Benfotiamine: An endogenous free-radical scavenger and anti-glycation complex that helps protect and maintain collagen integrity.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate (L): A form of Hyaluronic Acid and a humectant that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water to provide maximum hydration and to help plump thirsty skin.
  • Matrixyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38: A powerful peptide that stimulates and strengthens collagen and improves overall skin function.

For a real night time tour de force, get Hale and Hush Brilliant Eye and Lip Serum which contains:

  • Cholesteryl Nonanoate, Cholesteryl Oleyl, Cholesteryl Stearate: A liquid crystal fluid composed of “cholesteryl”, which is the form of cholesterol for cellular storage. Cholesterol is an essential component of cell structure, communication, and biochemistry. Topical liquid crystal enhances skin’s lipid levels, barrier function, softness, and flexibility.
  • Phenyl T-butylnitrone (Spin Trap): Phenyl t-Butylnitrone (PBN) is an intelligent and powerful antioxidant compound known as a “Spin Trap” because of how it targets and traps free radicals to convert them to stable molecules that are no longer destructive for removal by the body or for reuse in various cellular processes. PBN is particularly effective against the aggressive hydroxyl and superoxide radicals to provide superior protection for mitochondria and DNA, which are especially susceptible to those two radicals.
  • Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, and Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil: These botanical extracts contribute to the serum’s color as well as provide antimicrobial and conditioning properties.

Using Eye Serum for Dark Circles

Using an eye serum that is formulated to reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes is going to be a great way to help you look your best. The skin around the eyes can become very thin and delicate as we age, making it susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. Using an eye serum that contains ingredients like Vitamin C or Hyaluronic Acid are going to be beneficial in reducing puffiness while also helping with discoloration.

In addition, an eye serum that has anti-aging properties will help with both fine lines and puffiness around the eyes. Ingredients such as caffeine, peptides, hyaluronic acid and retinol are all great ways to help firm up this delicate area of your face while also reducing signs of aging.

DIY: Getting Rid of Dark Under-Eye Circles 

If your dark under-eye circles are caused by aging and / or lack of sleep, there are several things that can help reduce the appearance of your dark circles:

  • Use an eye cream with caffeine in it. Caffeine will help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling under the eyes. It also helps increase circulation which will make your skin appear brighter and more youthful. Try using an eye cream with caffeine in it every morning before applying makeup for best results!
  • Keep small, eye-shaped ice globes in your freezer and apply them over your caffeine-enriched eye cream for 5-10 minutes before applying sunscreen or makeup. The Cold helps your eye serum or cream absorb while also minimizing puffiness if this is your issue. 
  • Making sachets of used coffee grounds and placing them on your eyes for 10 minutes to allow the caffeine still in the grounds to constrict the capillaries and reduce the darkness. 
  • Apply ice packs directly under your eyes at least once per day for 10 minutes at a time until the area feels numb (this should take about 5-10 minutes). This will constrict blood vessels as well as decrease puffiness around the eyes
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. - Taking allergy Rx from your doc can help. 
  • Get enough sleep - Try going to bed earlier so you don't feel tired during the day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat foods rich in Vitamin A such as carrots, red orange, and yellow bell peppers, red cabbage and brightly-colored vegetables.
  • Wear sunglasses when outside on sunny days.
  • Don't smoke or be around cigarette smoke. The nicotine in cigarette smoke actually dries your skin and constricts vascular flow to your skin, cutting it off from nourishment, removal of waste, massive free-radical production, and the resulting damage within your skin and this includes the skin around your eyes.
  • Reduce stress - it contributes to your overall lack of energy and keeps you up at night. 
  • Exercise regularly as this helps in regulating your sleep, assists in regulating your glucagon and blood sugar levels, increases your body's sensitivity to insulin (a good thing), and balances your brain chemistry for better concentration, sleep and your sense of well-being. 
  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply every two (2) hours when you're in the sun. 
  • Avoid alcohol, especially frequent excess consumption. This does the most harm to your skin and the skin around your eyes. 
  • Take vitamins and minerals. Consider Liposomal Glutathione + Vitamin C. 
  • Look into laser treatments
  • Avoid excessive salt
  • Eat green leafy vegetables
  • Eat fruits
  • Avoid Excess Salt - This will puff you and your eye area up, reducing your body's ability to drain off any fluid retention in general.

If none of the above items aren't effective enough for you, you might consider using a high quality eye serum.

Plan to use any of these eye serums for at least two months and consider maintaining them once you brightened your eyes and keeping them clear, youthful and firm.

These should give you a great start in getting rid of your dark circles. Here's to brilliant and bright eyes even without makeup!

About Genna Pinnick

Genna holds a degree in Biology and an accomplished Concierge Esthetician currently serving Silicon Valley's high-power female entrepreneurs. In 1990, she earned the Premiere European Esthetics Certification of CIDESCO Diplomat in International Esthetics.

Since 1990, she founded and managed her own skincare clinic, growing it through referrals, newspaper, TV and Radio appearances, and as a guest writer in the local Health & Beauty section of the newspaper.

As an early member of the NCA's Esthetics America Education & Trends Team, she offered professional development at the national, state and local level, immersing herself in advanced training from such industry greats as Erica Miller, Robert Lees, and Rebecca James Gadberry.

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.

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