Us human beings are imperfect creatures. We know we’d like to get in better shape, but that chocolate cookie looks mighty tasty. We know we have to wake up early, but there’s only one episode left on the Netflix show we’re binging on. We know we should apply sunblock religiously, but we forget to bring the bottle with us to the beach.
That’s life. But that doesn’t mean we can’t form some habits and best practices for mitigating the inevitable effects of a life well-lived. For every late night chatting over drinks, for every day out in the sun and for every bed time we didn’t have the energy to apply eye cream, there are as many tips and tricks we can use to fight signs of aging.
Nobody’s perfect. That’s why we’re here to list 27 different routines that will help reduce any dark circles and under eye bags you’ve accumulated from years of having fun.
Why do we get eye circles?
To be honest, even if you’ve spent your life diligently treating your skin as carefully as you possibly can, we’re all going to show signs of aging sooner or later - and that includes undereye bags and dark circles.
Over time, skin naturally loses collagen and grows thinner, so regardless of what kind of skin you have or what good habits you maintain, veins will inevitably start to show through the thin skin around your eyes. As we already know, exposure to the sun speeds up the process of collagen breaking down, so your best weapon against undereye circles are disciplined and consistent sunblock application habits from a young age. (Wearing sunglasses while out in the sun helps, too - less squinting, less crows feet!)
The best habits, however, can’t change your genes! Genetics are the biggest determinant of what kind of skin we will have and what we’ll look like as we age. Those of us that have inherited fair or thin skin tend to show under circles more easily than others due to the fact that when our blood pools in the capillaries under our eyes, it’s simply more obvious through lighter skin. Unfortunately, as more and more blood accumulates there, your delicate capillaries begin to stretch and strain under the weight, leading to more leaking and blood pooling - and ultimately even darker under eye circles.
Yet for others, dark under eye circles and under eye bags aren’t caused by either aging, sun bathing or genetics. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of allergies. Year-round allergies like those to dust or mold, or seasonal allergies many of us experience in the spring trigger the release of histamines, which cause an inflammatory response. That means our blood vessels become inflamed and swell - including those under our eyes.
Okay, so that explains why I have dark under eye circles. But how do I get rid of under eye bags?
Experiment with the following routines to see which one works the most effectively for you. Remember to use patience and consistency when trying out a new routine. Follow the routine every day for 4 to 6 weeks. If after that period of time, you still don’t see the results you want, move on to the next practice and see if that works better for reducing your dark under eye bags and circles.
Even royalty gets dark under eye circles. (Kate, you'll always be beautiful!)
The best routines for getting rid of dark circles and under eye bags
1. Cold compress
In the morning or evening - or better yet, in the morning AND the evening - apply a cold compress for about 10 minutes. If you have a mask you can keep in your fridge and pull out twice a day, that’s the easiest way to try this dark circle reducing method. Just make sure to keep it clean and give it a good soapy scrub a few times a week!
We’ve all seen cucumbers used as cold compresses on television and in films - but do they really work?
In fact, cucumbers have skin-lightening and mild astringent properties, so you can use cucumber slices to fix raccoon eyes naturally.
To try this method twice a day, chop a fresh cucumber into thick slices and then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, leave the slices on your eyes for 10 minutes. Rinse your eye area with warm (but not hot) water after using.
3. Cucumber juice + lemon juice
If cucumber slices don’t work for you, try mixing equal parts cucumber and lemon juice and then use a cotton ball to apply to your undereye circles. (DO NOT get lemon juice in your eye!) Leave the solution on your skin for 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
4. Rose Water
Rose water doesn’t just smell fantastic - it can also soothe and rejuvenate tired skin. Like cucumber, it’s a mild astringent, so it can work as a skin toner. Just soak cotton makeup remover pads in rose water for a few minutes, and then let the soaked makeup pads sit on your CLOSED eyelids. Leave them for about 15 minutes twice daily.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a substance that’s excellent for your cardiovascular health, vision and your skin. Lycopene can help create softer, more supple skin, as well as decrease the appearance of dark undereye circles.
To gain the medical benefits of the lycopene found in tomatoes, mix equal parts tomato juice with lemon juice and then use a cotton ball or makeup remover pad to apply it to your undereye area. (Again, PLEASE do not get lemon juice in your eyes.) Leave the solution for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water, twice daily.
A tasty concoction of tomato juice, lemon juice and mint leaves to drink daily will also help improve your overall health as well as your skin.
6. Cold tea bags
If you don’t have a cold compress or mask to use, substitute with tea bags. Many teas like green tea have the added benefit of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe strained capillaries in your under eye area.
To use cold tea bags as a compress, soak a tea bag in clean water and then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then, place the tea bags on your eyes. Leave for 10 minutes or so twice daily before removing and rinsing the area with warm water.
Potatoes are a surprising source of lots of vitamin C, which among other things is great for the synthesis of collagen to promote healthier, younger-looking skin.
To harness the power of vitamin C to treat your under eye bags, grate some potatoes. Extract the juice from the potato and soak some cotton makeup remover pads in the juice. Place the pads on your eyes for about 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
8. Cold milk
Dairy products like milk are a great source of vitamin A, which contains retinoids that are great for keeping skin looking bright and young.
To gain the benefits of milk’s vitamin A, soak a cotton makeup remover pad in a bowl of cold milk for a while. Use the pad to apply the milk to your undereye bags and let it sit for about 10 minutes, twice daily. Rinse with warm water.
9. Orange juice
Since orange juice is high in both vitamin A and C content, it can help remove dark circles from under your eyes. Add a few drops of glycerin to orange juice and then soak a cotton makeup remover pad to apply to your undereye skin. You’ll reap the benefits of orange’s vitamins as well as the natural glow glycerin gives to your skin.
10. Vitamin E oil
Vitamin E helps fight the effect of free radicals that cause signs of aging like wrinkles. Before bed at night, apply a drop of oil (a little goes a long way) to your dark under eye circles, gently massaging it into the skin. Leave this on your skin overnight and in the morning, rinse with warm water.
11. Coconut oil
As a powerful natural and gentle anti-inflammatory, coconut oil is an effective method for lightening dark under eye circles. It also moisturizes while it lightens to help prevent wrinkles and fine lines under the eyes. Use coconut oil like vitamin E oil: rub it into your under eye area, leave it on overnight and then rinse it off in the morning.
As yet another powerful, natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, turmeric minimizes dark circles. Mix some turmeric powder with pineapple juice to create a thick paste. Apply this mixture to your undereye circles and leave for about 10 minutes before using a soft, warm and damp cloth to gently remove the paste. Practice this routine once a day.
13. Eat more dark chocolate
Here’s your excuse to indulge: Flavonol-rich foods like dark chocolate protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation, thereby slowing down the aging process caused by too much time in the sun.
14. Eat more salmon
Omega 3’s can be found in foods like salmon and walnuts. These fatty acids improve blood flow to the skin, moving blood out and away from your eyes instead of allowing it to pool there and cause dark under eye circles.
15. Curb salt consumption + drink more water
If you remember studying osmosis in high school biology, then you’ll recall that water in your body moves from places with the most water to those with the least. The parts of your body that are low in sodium (salt) contain more water, while the parts of your body with more sodium contain less water. When your body doesn’t have enough water but too much salt, you can look and feel puffy and bloated. The skin around your eyes is especially thin and vulnerable to dehydration. When you eat a salty meal but don’t drink enough water, your body will literally “look” dehydrated - i.e., red, puffy eyes. So if you plan to enjoy a salty meal, counter the effects with plenty of water.
16. Curb your alcohol consumption
Salt is bad but nothing dehydrates you like alcohol. Remember your last hangover? That’s why your eyes look red and puffy the morning after. Whenever possible, keep yourself to a two-drink maximum, drink plenty of water before you go to bed, and apply a night cream or heavy moisturizer around your eyes after a night out.
17. Eye massager
Regular eye massage promotes blood flow to the under eye area and helps prevent blood from pooling in the capillaries under the eyes. FOREO’s IRIS™ is a spa-quality eye massager that you can use yourself at home. First, apply your favorite eye cream or serum. Turn on the IRIS™ and adjust to your desired intensity. Next, move the IRIS™ from the inner corner to outer corner of the eye for 30 seconds (insider tip: make sure the button side is facing towards you).
80% of users who tried this routine experienced firmer and more elastic eye contours, and 84% of users saw increased product absorption.
Compared to those who applied eye cream or serum by hand:
- The IRIS™ is twice as effective at reducing under-eye bags
- 70% more effective at reducing dark under eye circles
- 43% more effective at reducing wrinkle surface area
- and 51% more effective at firming the skin under the eyes
18. Get 8 hours of sleep
Nothing keeps undereye bags away like a full 8 hours’ of sleep. Get a good night’s rest - every night - and enjoy reduced under eye circles.
19. Sleep on your back
Since sleeping on your side or stomach allows gravity to work its magic, meaning fluid can collect under your eyes, try sleeping on your back with an extra pillow under your head.
20. Exercise + meditation
Regular exercise enhances circulation, bringing blood flow to the skin to transform an aging, dull complexion into brighter, younger-looking skin - including the sensitive skin around your eyes. Moreover, the daily release of endorphins into your bloodstream keeps away depression and anxiety, keeping you happier, calmer and more balanced. Meditation - whether it’s a mindfulness exercise after a yoga practice or the peace of mind you find on a long, quiet run or swim - also keeps stress (and the wrinkles and fine lines caused by stress) at bay.
21. Allergy medicines
If your dark circles are at least in part due to allergies, taking antihistamines regularly can help reduce under eye bags and puffiness. Furthermore, allergies can also cause itchy eyes - and rubbing your eyes only makes under eye circles worse.
22. Apply moisturizers twice daily
Don’t forget the most fundamental good habit - apply moisturizer twice daily. Use a lighter moisturizer for daytime with an SPF, and be sure to use a heavier moisturizer and eye cream before going to bed every night.
23. Use retinoid eye cream
Many love to use retinoid eye creams, but it’s not for every skin type. Use sparingly - no more than twice a week - otherwise you risk causing red, flaky, dry skin.
24. Remove makeup correctly
Do not go to sleep with your makeup still on or rub your mascara and eyeliner off. Use a professional makeup removing solution - only a few dollars at your local drugstore or Sephora - to blot, not rub.
25. Wash your face correctly
Wash with warm - not hot - water. Water that’s too hot acts as an inflammatory agent and will only make your eyes redder and puffier.
26. Use a prescription-strength skin brightener
If natural vitamins and skin brighteners don’t work, visit your dermatologist. She can prescribe a cream with hydroquinone, but be aware that prescription-strength skin brightener can cause irritation, so discontinue use if you notice any.
27. Professional laser treatment
If all else fails, you could try the most expensive option: professional laser treatment. A doctor can use lasers to reduce bluish and red discoloration under the eyes. Vascular lasers, as they’re known, work by constricting visible blood vessels, thus reducing the appearance of dark under eye circles.
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Disclaimer: The information on this website and any related links are for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a professional healthcare provider.