No matter how on-point your self-care and skin care routine might be, sometimes dark circles can’t be stopped from cropping up underneath the eye area. While most of the time they’re the result of lack of sleep, fatigue is not always to blame. In fact, the skin under your eyes is some of the thinnest tissue on your body. And underneath it is a collection of dark blue blood vessels, explains Dr. Robb Akridge, skin expert and co-founder of Clarisonic. “Anything that causes the skin to thin will allow the darkness beneath to show up more—and if the thin skin becomes pigmented (e.g. due to suntanning) these dark areas beneath are amplified,” he says
What causes dark circles?
There are many different causes for dark circles. Among the most common culprits are age, lack of sleep, fatigue, seasonal allergies, dehydration, sun exposure, and, in some people it is pure genetics, meaning you inherited them from your parent, Dr. Akridge explains. In the case of genetics, unfortunately there’s not much you can do to get rid of them. Loss of volume also applies to people with low body fat, making them more prone to dark circles, adds West Hollywood-based celebrity esthetician, Joshua Ross of SkinLab.
How to treat dark circles
Luckily, there are plenty of all-natural solutions out there to minimize and even relieve dark circles that have passed the test of time. Here are some expert-approved tricks of the trade.
“Caffeine is known to constrict blood vessels, which may help to minimize dark under eye circles, though it may not get rid of them completely,” says Dr. Akridge. A great home remedy that he suggests is to apply cool wet tea bags that have been steeped in hot water and then cooled down over your eyes. Over-the-counter products containing caffeine work similarly, constricting the underlying blood vessels and temporarily diminishing small vessel prominence to improve the overall physical appearance, says Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, New York City-based dermatologist.
Slice up cucumber
The quintessential spa photo typically consists of a woman relaxing with cucumber slices covering her eyes—and for good reason. “The thought behind cucumber slices is that they can cool the skin and reduce vascular congestion,” explains Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in Pennsylvania. “They also have vitamin K which has been shown to help with circulation as well.”
Try potato slices
Potato slices offer the same effect as cucumber—the cooling of the skin can reduce the vascular congestion to improve the appearance of this area, according to Dr. Ilyas. Her only concern surrounding the application of potatoes on the skin is that they may contain catecholase, which can actually darken the skin. “Catecholase is an enzyme that can promote melanin production,” she says.
Get more sleep
Although this sounds pretty straightforward (and it is!), the importance of a good night’s sleep should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to your skin care routine. Always try to get 7-9 hours a night, ideally around the same time of day so that your body becomes adjusted to waking up and going to bed consistently.
Drink more water
Another main cause of dark, puffy circles is not getting enough H2O. Always carry around a water bottle with you so you are reminded of how much (or how little) hydration you’re getting; if you’re not a fan of the taste, try infusing it with fruit and herbs. And aim for the 8-8 rule: eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.