Under-Eye Circles? How to Really Get Rid of Them

Under-eye circles are very revealing — not only do they show how tired you are (and subsequently how late you stayed out last night), but they can make you look worn out and much older than you are. Sometimes, even a full night of shut-eye won’t be enough to erase those dark under-eye circles, Charlotte Clark, a dermatologist in New York City, tells Real Simple.

A good night’s sleep may help to diminish their appearance a bit, but to get rid of them completely you need to consider the source and know that there are other factors that cause dark circles. Dr. Ava Shamban, a Santa Monica-based dermatologist, tells Men’s Health environment, stress, and genetics all matter. If you want to bid farewell to your under-eye bags, here are some simple fixes that you can adopt to reveal fresh and younger-looking eyes.

1. Lay off the sodium

salt and pepper shakers next to a plate of food

Watch your sodium intake. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

“Foods high in sodium tend to cause overall puffiness, especially around the eyes,” Shamban told Men’s Health. This means you’re going to have to switch out your salt-dense afternoon pick-me-up for water-based fruits and vegetables to boost hydration for your skin. You may not initially like it, but it’s good for you (and your under-eyes).

2. Adjust your lifestyle

man sleeping next to a ticking alarm clock

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. | iStock.com

If sleep is the issue and you’re not getting enough of it, we can’t tell you how important it is for you to be logging eight hours a night. Not only does it keep you energized and fresh, but you’ll notice a reduction in your under-eye circles in the morning. Another bed time tip: Shamban suggests drinking more water and sleeping with your head elevated to encourage fluids to leave the under-eye cavity. Those couple of extra pillows could mean a world of difference.

Try this one too: When you wake up in the morning, only wash your face with cool water. Jessica Wu, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, told Allure using hot water “worsens puffiness and can accentuate dark circles.” The same goes for steam, so don’t even think about hitting the steam room at the gym.

3. Treat seasonal allergies

Man sneezing in a tissue

Your allergies could be to blame. | iStock.com

If you’re experiencing under-eye circles, you may not realize it but allergies can be to blame. “They trigger the release of histamines in the body, which in turn inflame blood vessels and cause swelling,” Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist in Boston, said in the same Real Simple piece. To determine whether those dark circles are from lack of sleep or if you have plain ol’ allergies, try gently stretching the skin under your eyes. If that area becomes darker, your circles are probably due to aging or genetics; however, if the color doesn’t change, allergies or UV rays are probably the cause. If it’s allergies, consider taking over-the-counter antihistamines and watch your circles begin to abate.

4. Treat skin issues

young woman applying face cream

Choose products with the proper ingredients. | iStock.com/LuminaStock

Although age can be a factor, it can also be the result of sunbathing or thin skin. If it’s thin skin, it’s important to start using a collagen-building cream.“One of my top go-to ingredients is retinol,” Hirsch told Real Simple. “It helps increase collagen production.” Hirsch recommends ROC Multi-Correxion 5-in-1 Eye Cream, and says to wear sunscreen daily.

When you’re in the drugstore, Shamban recommends that you look for under-eye creams with the following ingredients: vitamin E, caffeine, aloe to treat swelling, alpha lipoic acid to increase circulation, and hyaluronic acid to boost collagen. There are products for both men and women, so just do a little bit of research.

5. Try something speedy

Woman applying moisturizer cream in front of mirror

You may be surprised by this emergency-situation tip. | iStock.com

If the eight hours is just not working for you, there’s one last over-the-counter cream you can try that may make you feel a little uncomfortable. “You can use Preparation H cream,” Shamban told Men’s Health. “It has phenylephrine, the active ingredient that’ll decrease swelling under the eyes.” Simply apply a small dab directly to the area a couple of times a week to reduce inflammation.