Can Vitamin C Actually Get Rid of Your Dark Under Eye Circles?

It's time to investigate.

A woman applying serum to her skin
Photo: Kristina Ratobilska/Getty Images

Vitamin C is truly that girl when it comes to evening out skin tone and clearing up hyperpigmentation. But can she still work her magic when it comes to getting rid of pesky dark under-eye circles?

Turns out the answer is complicated, mostly because it depends on the root cause of the discoloration.

"There are several reasons for dark under-eye circles," says Houston-based dermatologist Dr. DiAnne Davis. "A few of them include periorbital veins underneath the eyes that can have a dark blue to an almost dark purple hue that gives the appearance of under-eye circles. Hyperpigmentation as a result of either an inflammatory condition (such as eczema), seasonal allergies, or even a reaction to certain skincare products can lead to dark circles. Shallow tear troughs as a result of the loss of collagen and volume that gives the skin support can also be a cause of under-eye circles. And sometimes herniated fat pads which result in bags underneath the eyes — aka 'eye bags' — can also result in the appearance of under-eye dark circles."

Woo! Well, here's the good news: if your dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, then vitamin C can do the trick. But even if it's not, there are still other solutions.

We spoke with both Dr. Davis and NYC-based celebrity esthetician, Vanessa Marc to find out more.

How Does Vitamin C Help to Treat Dark Under-Eye Circles?

"As an antioxidant, it helps to protect the skin from oxidative damage and free radicals that are floating around in the air that result in aging, wrinkling, and hyperpigmentation of our skin," Dr. Davis shares. "Vitamin C decreases the production of melanin by inhibiting tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that results in the production of melanin and pigment in the skin."

But, of course, there's a bit of a catch. Marc notes that while vitamin C is very effective when it comes to brightening skin and diminishing some dark spots, it can be a very difficult ingredient to work with, and if not formulated properly, it loses efficacy over time. That's why she's a fan of Murad's Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector.

A bottle of Murad Environmental Shield Vitamin C Dark Circle Corrector

To shop: $62;

"It's formulated with gold stabilized vitamin C, delivering a more powerful dosage of vitamin C to ensure the stability and potency of vitamin C in skin," she explains. "It's also formulated with red and brown algae extracts, which help to target puffiness and discoloration such as blue, purple, brown, and red under eyes."

The product includes light-reflecting particles that help to instantly brighten the area as well.

What Other Ingredients Can Help Diminish the Look of Dark Under-Eye Circles?

According to Dr. Davis, the notion that eye creams are some sort of sick joke is a myth. The key to seeing results, she says, is all about being consistent — for at least a few months.

"When I look for an eye cream I look for one that is extremely hydrating because the skin underneath the eye is very sensitive and needs to be hydrated as much as possible," she shares. "One of my favorites is Alastin's Restorative Eye Treatment that contains mimosa tree extract that reduces upper eyelid sagging, niacinamide, and green tea leaf extract that helps to prevent and diminish dark circles."

A bottle of Alastin restorative eye treatment

To shop: $85;

The MD is also a fan of SkinCeuticals' A.G.E. Eye Complex, which contains blueberry extract and peptides. Both ingredients can help improve not only the appearance for dark circles, but also wrinkles, puffiness, and creepy skin under the eye, she explains.

A small tub of SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex Creme

To shop: $98;

"However with any skin care product I always explain that consistency is key and nothing happens overnight," Dr. Davis adds. "So I would give a product at least a three-month trial period before saying if it does or does not work."

VIDEO: How to Properly Color Correct

How Else Can You Get Rid of Dark Under-Eye Circles?

First off, you want to book an appointment (whether in-person or virtually) with your dermatologist. From there, your derm will be able to figure out the root cause of the darkening in the area. Then they can come up with an appropriate treatment plan.

"If the patient has periorbital veins then usually I recommend specific laser treatments to help treat the veins safely and reduce the under eye dark circle appearance," Dr. Davis says. PicoSure and RevLite are examples. "If a patient has hollow tear troughs, what happens is light can hit the area differently around the eyes resulting in shadows that give the appearance of under-eye circles. Hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Restalyne, are a great and safe option to help restore volume that has been lost."

There are also more invasive options available. "If a patient has herniated fat pads then usually I will perform a lower eyelid blepharoplasty," the derm explains. "This will remove the herniated fat pads and smooth out the skin to help improve the appearance of the under-eye area."

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