Dark Under Eye Circles | Natural Remedies

dark under eye circles natural remedies

September 26, 2021

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Can you briefly explain what dark circles are—and what causes them (genetics, lifestyle, both, etc.)?

The key to choosing the right product for under the eyes is understanding what is causing those dark under eye circles in the first place.  Many people thing of dark circles under eyes or dark circles around eyes as just a by-product of aging. However, I find that many people have been bothered by these circles even starting during their teen years.  This is because the big three reasons for dark circles are:  

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1. The result of how our eyes sit in the socket. It’s a positional thing- if our eyes are set back in the orbit slightly then there is a shadow that appears under the eyes.

2. The lack or uneven distribution of fat between the muscle and the skin. With less fat between the skin and the muscle the area under the eyes appears darker. Much of the discoloration is likely a result of actually seeing the hue of the muscle under the skin. 

3. Some people  genetically have excess pigment in this area.  This is called periorbital hyperpigmentation. 

We can cause discoloration as well. ‘Eye-rubbers’ and allergy prone people are most likely to trigger dark circles from vascular congestion and even bruising.  The constant rubbing of the eyes breaks down small blood vessels in the skin leaving a bruise like discoloration around the eyes. The thin skin around the eyes can hold onto this. Also, sinus congestion can lead to back up in those small blood vessels with the same effect.I also have some patients who simply wear tight goggles for swimming or work that results in dark circles as well from pressure. 


Who tends to be more prone to dark circles? Why?
Those with allergies tend to be most prone to causing dark circles around the eyes. Otherwise it’s up to genetics to decide.  

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Peter Thomas Roth 

For allergy prone individuals, the constant rubbing of the eyes breaks down small blood vessels in the skin leaving a bruise like discoloration around the eyes. The thin skin around the eyes can hold onto this. Also, sinus congestion can lead to back up in those small blood vessels with the same effect.

What are some natural solutions for dark circles? 

Natural solution #1

Tea bags

Tea bags that have been in hot water then cooled down can be applied to the eyelids. The caffeine and antioxidants have been shown to reduce vascular congestion and reduce inflammation. 

The next question when it comes to tea bags is what kind and how to use them!

Here are the options for types of tea:

Black Tea 

Black tea is derived from a plant called Camellia sinensis.  Even though it is referred to as black tea it generally takes on a reddish color.  The leaves of the plant are initially green.  To create black tea in particular these leaves are exposed to air, controlled humidity and then dried.  For black tea in particular the leaves are fully oxidized which also makes them last longer in terms of storage. 

Black tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols and flavonoids in addition to caffeine which can serve as a vasoconstrictor when initially used. There are many health benefits to be seen from polyphenols and flavonoids.  When it comes to addressing dark under eye circles, the main mechanism of action is likely addressing the vascular component of the appearance.  The tea does not necessarily lighten the skin directly but can serve to reduce the vascular component that contributes to the appearance.  Tea can also reduce puffiness around the eyes.

Note: I do not recommend Earl Grey tea for this purpose.  It is black tea combined with bergamot oil.  Bergamot oil applied to the skin has a risk of photosensitivity/ phototoxicity when exposed to the sun.  Enjoy your Earl Grey as a tea but not for your skin.

Green Tea

Green tea differs from black tea in how it is made.  It is not fully oxidized in the manner black tea is so it retains the green color of the leaves. It tends to have higher concentrations of a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). The benefit of EGCG is that some studies have demonstrated its ability to potentially inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that contributes to skin pigmentation.  By inhibiting the enzyme there is potential to reduce pigmentation. 

Here's how to use tea bags to reduce under eye circles and puffiness.
  • Place two tea bags in hot or boiling water for about 3-5 minutes.  
  • Spoon them out, squeeze out the excess fluid in the bag, and let them cool.
  • Make sure the tea bags are cool to touch before applying.
  • Rest with head laid back, close your eyes, and apply a tea bag over each closed eye.
  • Let it sit for up to 10 to 15 minutes.

Natural solution #2

Cucumber Slices

The quintessential spa photo seems to always have a woman with cucumber slices over her eyes. The thought behind cucumber slices is that they can cool the skin and reduce vascular congestion. They also have vitamin K which has been shown to help with circulation as well.
Natural solution #3

Potato Slices


Same effect as cucumber- the cooling of the skin can reduce the vascular congestion to improve the appearance of this area. My only worry about potatoes is that they may contain catecholase which can actually potentially darken the skin. Catecholase is an enzyme that can promote melanin production. 


Are there products that you would recommend? 


I’m a fan of hydration, cucumber extracts and massage.

From hydration perspective, moisturizing is key.  This can be accomplished with something as simple as vitamin E or white petroleum jelly.  By hydrating the skin, the turgor around the eyelid skin improves reducing the appearance of dark circles.  
Massage via jade rollers or ice rollers can provide instant cooling and manipulation of any excess fluid in the tissue back into the lymphatic system.  
Creams can reduce puffiness to avoid exaggerating the uneven fat distribution under the eyes. They can also improve the hydration of the skin to help make the skin appear to have more turgor.  And, bleaching creams can help reduce the pigment around the eyes.  

Products to consider for sensitive skin

DoTerra anti aging cream

This mild formulation can help hydrate the skin around the eyes to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and minimize the appearance of dark circles. It avoids some of the ingredients in common anti aging products that tend to exfoliate the skin and cause dryness. 

Neutrogena HydroBoost Eye Gel

With hyaluronate, this product packs in extra hydration around the delicate eyelid skin. An effective cream to improve the turgor of the thin eyelid skin.


Helps with puffiness

Origins eye doctor

This eye cream combines ingredients such as calming properties such as cucumber, ginseng, wheat germ and algae extracts to reduce puffiness around the eyes. It also has green tea extracts that has an anti oxidant effect to fight the signs of aging around the eyes.

AmberSkinCare's Cucumber Herbal Eye Gel

This soothing eye gel helps reduce puffiness around the eyes. If you are looking for a product to use to help restore the appearance of the  eyelid skin, this is a nice option.

The main ingredients to be cautious of would be anything that can dry or irritate the thin sensitive skin in this area.  Although I’m a huge fan of retinol, around the eyes its worth applying with caution. If you get excess dryness, this can exaggerate these circles. For those sensitive to vitamin C it may also be helpful to exercise caution.  Lastly, focus on hydration: vitamin E, hyaluronic acid- these will increase the skin’s turgor by drawing moisture to the skin.

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