How to Really Treat Dark Circles, According to a Dermatologist
You might not be able to zap them completely, but there are ways to make them less visible.
Google "how to treat dark circles" and you'll find literally hundreds of tips, including drinking more water, putting cucumber slices on your eyes, and getting more sleep.
But how do you really zap dark circles? As it turns out, it's a little bit complicated — and that means it's a question best left to the experts. We asked Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Boston-based dermatologist about her tried and true tips for nixing under eye circles for good.
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What Really Causes Dark Circles?
For starters, it's important to know why under eye circles happen in the first place. According to Hirsch, it's not just about having an all-nighter. Hirsch says there are two much bigger contributors — genetics and the tone of your skin.
"This is a very thin area of the skin," she says. "Specifically, in those people with lighter skin types, the under eye area can appear to be bluish or purplish because the overlying skin is so thin that you can see the veins underneath. This is exacerbated by people who have little supporting tissue under the lid, which could otherwise mask some of the discoloration when present."
That's not to say that exhaustion doesn't play a part. Hirsch says if you are overtired, then it can cause an increase in the venous congestion of your under eye vessels, "which leads to more blood volume and the appearance of even darker circles."
She added: "People with darker skin tones may find hyperpigmentation around the under eye and lid area."
What Are the Best Over-the-Counter Recommendations?
If you are hoping to nix dark circles at home, then Hirsch says to try an OTC topical retinoid. These creams, lotions and gel products are derived from vitamin A, which "works to increase cell turnover," therefore diminishing the appearance of dark circles, Hirsch says.
Another ingredient to consider? "Hyaluronic acid," Hirsch says, "which tends to attract water and help mask the appearance of dark circles."
Hirsch says you might also see an improvement by using an antioxidant eye product, like one that includes vitamin C.
What In-Office Procedures Can Help?
If an OTC product just isn't doing the trick, then Hirsch says you might want to try soft tissue filler injections or certain vascular targeting lasers to lighten the appearance of dark circles. (Hirsch emphasizes that is it very important to have these treatments done by an experienced dermatologist.)