How to Clear Up Dark Circles Under the Eyes

by Melissa King ; Updated July 18, 2017

Dark eye circles can make you look like you haven't slept a wink, even if you had a full eight hours of rest the night before. You won't find a one-size-fits-all treatment for eye circles, as they can have several different causes. Some circles develop due to thin skin, while others are hereditary. Skip a trip to the plastic surgeon -- you can treat most types of eye circles at home. Knowing the source of your discoloration will help you pick the most effective treatment.

Fill a cup with ice water and chill a teaspoon in the water for a few minutes. Remove and dry off the spoon. Press the back of the spoon against the skin under your eyes. Use firm but gentle pressure to massage the skin. This gets rid of puffiness that can cause dark circles.

Sleep on a thick pillow at night or use two pillows. The pillows keep your head raised so fluid won't pool around your eyes when you lie down.

Avoid rubbing the skin under your eyes. Rubbing this delicate skin can make it look much darker.

Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, spinach, kale and flaxseed. Soybean and canola oils also contain some omega-3 acids. The fatty acids can improve blood flow to the skin, which may ease discoloration.

Smooth a retinoid cream over under eye skin every night. Retinoids plump up skin and build collagen. They're ideal for you if your circles lighten when you gently press them. These circles are likely caused by blood vessels showing through thin skin. Retinoid creams are available over the counter or by prescription.

Apply a dab of cream containing hydroquinone, kojic acid or licorice extract. These ingredients lighten skin discoloration. If your circles don't lighten when you press them, this treatment may work for you. Such discoloration is often caused by sun exposure or pigmentation.

Use a cream that contains caffeine to constrict blood vessels and reduce discoloration. Creams with grapeseed oil or green tea can strengthen capillary walls. Arnica-based creams may reduce inflammation that causes dark circles. Look for arnica cream at a health food store if you can't find it at a drugstore.


  • If you have severe or persistent dark circles, ask a dermatologist about laser treatment. Doctors use a laser to fade discoloration over three to five treatment sessions. Another solution is a hyaluronic acid filler, which helps if you have hollowness under the eyes.

    Use a yellow-based concealer to hide blue-tinged dark circles. A peach concealer hides brownish circles.

    Wear sunscreen on under eye skin daily to protect it from UV damage.

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About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.