Dark circles, they happen. Instead of the swollen, bloated look of undereye puffiness, dark circles are discoloration in the hollow socket under the eyes that gives off a sunken, sleepy, worn-out, and overall unwell appearance. Some embrace the slightly weary look for a very 90s couture vibe, and we salute you for pulling that off. The rest of us seeking a brighter appearance, follow along.
OK, yeah, duh. Sorry. We know some of you are reading this article in a pinch. You’ve already had the rough night and want to get rid of your current dark circles. It’s OK, stay with us. Consider this a love letter to your future self—dark circles will appear darker with lack of sleep, so rest up. But the main reason they appear this way is because lack of sleep exacerbates dryness, making the skin under your eyes appear thinner. Thinner skin shows blood vessels more clearly, which is the cause of discoloration.
If you know you’re going to get less beauty sleep than you’d prefer, make sure to slather on a generous layer of eye cream or oil before you finally do lay down your pretty little head. Skip the heavy face balm or cream, and just use eye products, though. Anything too heavy or greasy could have the opposite effect and make you wake up with puffy eyes due to retention.
Speaking of puffy eyes, we usually think of a cold compress for puffy swelling, which of course works fantastic. However, a cold compress like an ice pack, jade roller, tea bags, or even some ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth can also help with the color from dark circles because it helps to shrink dilated blood vessels. Inflammation of the blood vessels is not always the number one cause for dark circles, but it can be, especially if poor sleep, too many happy hour drinks, or both are part of the cause.
Makeup, obviously! But not just your go-to favorite concealer stick, oh no. Color correction is a science. It depends on your skin tone, so for darker skin tones, think of a deep peach color or an almost rusty shade. A softer peach is great for darker tones as well, and those who suffer from more blue-hued dark circles. Go for a yellow or even soft green color corrector if you have a medium or olive skin tone, and pink if you’re fairer. Layer these on first, then a skin-matching concealer or foundation, and set with a powder.
You don’t want to counteract dark circles by going super light, which is why these untraditional colors are imperative for color correction. It’s about correcting, not blending. Going for a light concealer right on top of your dark circles will give you a reverse-raccoon look, especially in photos with flash. Yikes!
One of the major, sneaky culprits of dark circles is your liver. When your liver is bogged down and unable to detox your body at a regular pace, symptoms may manifest in your skin, including dark circles. Herbs like dandelion and milk thistle are loaded with antioxidants to help give your liver a boost so you can detox properly, and you’ll notice a difference in your skin.
Using a retinoid can and will help with any skin discoloration by speeding cell turnover. You have to commit to the process, though, as cell turnover ultimately means exfoliation, so your skin will initially react by thinning. After use from four to six weeks, your skin will begin to thicken as the collagen production is increased. Since we’re talking about your eyes here, it’s good to use a safe and mild retinoid, or a retinol product marketed specifically for this delicate area.
For some, it’s not so much about lack of sleep, too many cocktails, or an overloaded liver, but genetics. Color correction is your best friend if you’re dead set on fighting what your mama gave ya, but brightening products can help, and the most straightforward brightening ingredient is good old vitamin C. We recommend a vitamin C eye cream, or mixing a little vitamin C powder into your eye oil or cream. If your pigment is the issue, making sure you use a daily SPF will help prevent exacerbating the issue with sun damage, so block up!