Dark circles are no fun. Sometimes it can feel like they’re staring back at you in the mirror, as you try to cover them up. So, what causes dark under-eye circles? Here are 10 causes of those dark circles you may not know about and how to eliminate them.

Studies show that a woman in the United States, on average, spends around $15,000 during her lifetime on cosmetics, with a large amount of that money spent on under-eye concealers. Depending upon the person, dark circles can be caused by different things.

10 causes of dark under-eye dark circles

Sometimes your family history contributes to your under-eye dark circles, but other reasons come into play.

dark under eye circles
1 – Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a description of the dark skin under your eyes. Hyperpigmentation is caused by melanin, an amino acid that’s responsible for darker skin color. Melanin helps you get a tan when you’re at the beach. Lack of oxygen to the blood vessels around your eyes is one cause of excess pigment under your eyes.

2 – Decreased blood circulation

You develop poor circulation and fluid build-up around your eyes as you age, making that area look darker. The oxygen-poor blood causes the darkness you see under your eyes because the skin under your eyes is thin and fragile.

3 – Tiredness

Not getting enough sleep also contributes to dark skin under your eyes. Staying up too late and then waking up early disrupts your sleep schedule. It’s important to keep a regular sleep routine for you to get completely rested.

You should get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Turn off all your electronic devices for several hours before you go to bed. The blue screens in these devices affect your sleep cycle, keeping you awake when you need to wind down before bed.

Find ways to relax before bedtime, like reading a book or bathing. As you relax, you will fall asleep quicker and stay asleep. A good night’s sleep also reduces your eye strain, contributing to dark under-eye circles.

4 – Stress

When stressed, your body sends more blood to your organs to compensate. This makes your face look pale, and dark circles appear under your eyes. It’s like you’re wearing the stress on your face.  Try exercising or yoga as a healthy way to reduce your daily stress.

5 – Allergies

If you have nasal congestion from allergies, it triggers dark circles under your eyes. The allergy congestion affects the small veins under your eyes, making them look swollen and puffy. Blood pools in these areas, dilating the veins, so you get dark circles. Colds and sinus infections will do the same thing. If you have allergies, try to figure out what’s causing them. The most common sources of allergies include

  • Outdoor pollen, hay fever, or seasonal allergies
  • Mold, pet dander, or dust mites
  • Food allergies
  • Smoke, chemicals, or scents

6 – Poor diet

It’s easy to focus more on how to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes than what’s causing them.  A huge contributing factor can be your diet. You won’t look your best if you’re not getting proper nutrition.  Here is a list of foods you may need to add or eliminate from your diet to minimize the dark circles.

Not enough iron in your diet:

Iron boosts healthy red blood cells. Lack of iron in your diet causes anemia. A classic symptom of anemia is dark under-eye circles. You’ll also feel extremely fatigued. Foods that have a lot of iron include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Lean beef
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Molasses
  • Liver

Not enough vitamin K:

This vitamin causes your blood to clot. If you don’t get enough of this vitamin, there may be blood leakage in the tiny capillaries around your eyes, making the area look dark and almost bruised. Sources of vitamin K include the following:

  • Leafy greens
  • Soybeans
  • Prunes
  • Kiwi
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil

Not enough vitamin C:

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your skin from damage. These things contribute to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as you age. Eat these vitamin C abundant foods.

  • Peppers
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Kiwi fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries

What you may need to limit in your diet.

Excess salt:

If you eat too much salt in your diet, your body retains fluids. This causes puffiness and blotchiness under your eyes. Avoid foods like bacon, canned soups, processed meats, and fast foods since they contain a lot of sodium. Doctors recommend you eat 2,300 mg of sodium a day to stay healthy. Read food labels. Salt your food during preparation, not during your meals. This cuts back on the salt.

Excess caffeine or alcohol:

Drinking too much soda, coffee, or iced tea increases your chances of becoming dehydrated. Being dehydrated contributes to under-eye dark circles.

dark under eye circles

7 – Health conditions

You’ll get dark circles under your eyes if you have thyroid disease. This is because thyroid disease influences fluid retention around your eyes. The skin under your eyes gets pulled down and puffy looking.

8 – Eyestrain

After a long day of studying your computer screen, your eyes feel tired. This puts a strain on the blood vessels under your eyes, making the bulge and causing the fragile skin under your eyes to turn dark. Be sure to take breaks from your computer to relax your eyes. You can also do eye exercises to rest your eyes and stimulate blood circulation under your eyes to avoid darkness under your eyes.

9 – Sun Exposure

Being out in the sun boosts vitamin D and causes dark circles under your eyes. Sun exposure increases the melanin in your skin pigment, especially around your eyes, because that’s where your skin is thin. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses when you’re outside in the sun to avoid too much melanin around your eyes.

10 – Dehydration

If you’re dehydrated, you’re apt to have dark circles under your eyes. The fragile skin under your eyes will look dark and dull. It’s recommended that men have at least 3,000 mL (around 13 cups) of fluids per day, and women should have 2,200 mL (9 cups) of fluids per day. Here are a few tips to ensure you drink enough fluids every day.

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluid. This typically means you’re already dehydrated.
  • Sip water between bites of food at meals
  • Drink a glass of water when you take pills
  • Drink a full glass of water before exercise
  • Use moderation when drinking alcohol since it can dehydrate you.

How do you reduce dark under-eye circles?

You can do some practical things at home to eliminate the dark circles under eye circles.

1 – Decongestant

If you suffer from allergies that cause nasal congestion, try taking a decongestant to help relieve the puffiness and darkness under your eyes. Nasal sprays are also effective in reducing congestion. If possible, determine what you’re allergic to and remove or reduce the allergen in your home.

2 – Moisturizer

Every night before bed, wash your face to remove any makeup, dirt, or dust, then smear an eye moisturizer under your eyes. Ingredients like vitamin C or retinol are good to eliminate dark circles.

3 – Cold spoon therapy

Another popular dark circle remedy is putting cold spoons under your eyes. Leave the spoons under your eyes for 30 minutes. The coldness reduces inflammation and puffiness. Under-eye masks or patches work well too.

4 – Don’t smoke

Smoking affects your skin cells, causing them to break down, so you have wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. The more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more likely wrinkles and other age-related changes to your face will appear.

5 – Chilled cucumber slices

Another simple way to reduce the swelling under your eyes is to lay a chilled slice of cucumber under your eyes for 30 minutes. The coolness reduces any swelling or puffiness. Also, cucumbers are high in vitamin K, improving blood flow to your skin.

6 – Don’t touch your eyes

It’s easy to rub your eyes when you’re tired, but the frequent rubbing of your eyes causes the dark circles under your eyes to appear even darker. Because the skin under your eyes is so thin, you may accidentally break the blood vessels in the area, which makes the skin look darker or bruised. If you wake up with dark circles under your eye, it could mean you’re rubbing your eyes in your sleep.

pop meme
Final thoughts on reducing dark under-eye circles

Dark circles are usually caused by exhaustion; allergies, genetics, and lifestyle choices may also be factors. You may not realize many everyday things you’re doing contribute to your dark circles. Eating a healthy diet, lack of sleep, stress, and overexposure to the sun are common culprits.  Once you figure out your dark circles’ cause, create healthy eye care habits to eliminate your dark under-eye circles once and for all.