Ask Curology: Can I get rid of dark under-eye circles?

Tips for dark circles, under-eye bags, and brightening things up.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Jun 04, 2020 · 3 min read

Closeup of eyes with skincare cream under right eye
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Welcome to Ask Curology, penned by one of our in-house medical providers in response to your questions about all things skincare. This week, dark circles — is there a cure? Try brightening up under-eyes with some of these treatments.

• • •

Dear Curology,

I haven’t been sleeping too well lately. The worst part? My dark circles. No amount of concealer can hide these bright purple half-moons under my eyes. I don’t know if I’d call them full-on bags, but they do look kind of puffy, especially when I first wake up. Can you tell me how to get rid of dark circles under the eyes?


Racoon Eyes

Dear Racoon,

I hear you! As a dark circle sufferer myself, I know first-hand how annoying under-eye circles can be.

While it might not be possible to get rid of dark circles completely, I recommend looking for eye creams and serums with retinol, vitamin C, and caffeine. When applied directly to the skin, these ingredients may help even out skin tone or improve fine lines or puffiness.

Retinol eye creams

Caffeinated eye creams

Vitamin C serums

Start slowly with these products. Then, if you’re able to tolerate them without dryness or irritation, you can use them more often. Eyelid skin is thinner, lacks oil glands, and is easily irritated. If a product or medication stings, burns, or causes redness, back off!

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What causes dark circles?

Some people are just more likely than others to get dark bags under their eyes. While the skin may seem to darken with lack of sleep, under-eye circles have an array of causes — including genetics. So you might not truly be able to completely get rid of dark circles, even with the best topical treatments.

Some dark circles can be caused by shadowing, from a slight puffiness of the lower lid and hollowness below. Contributing to the darkness may be a bluish color from our veins and a reddish color from the smaller capillary blood vessels. Because the skin around the eyes is thinner, you might notice these colors on your lids. Sometimes, the skin around the eyes may look brownish, due to melanin (pigment) in the skin, but topical medications may be able to help with this!

When it comes to eye bags, lifestyle changes can help with puffiness or swelling:

  1. Sleep more. Easier said than done, right? These tips help me get better rest. Sleeping on your back and keeping your head elevated while you sleep can also help with puffiness under the eyes.

  2. Check your diet. Limit your intake of salt and alcohol, which can mess with water retention.

  3. Manage allergies. Allergies can cause the eyes to swell. Take antihistamines (like Claritin or Zyrtec) and avoid rubbing those eyes, which can make puffiness worse!

If the dark circles under your eyes are particularly bothersome, it may be worth seeing a dermatologist face-to-face to discuss possible procedures that could help.

Feel free to sound off in the comments with questions, or get in touch with your Curology medical provider. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling). Members get paired with an in-house medical provider (like me!) for a custom skincare experience.

All my best,

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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