Thanks to concealer, hiding a serious case of panda eyes is fast and easy. The right one can have you looking like you slept all week. However, if you're on a mission to skip concealer forever, you probably need to get some of your dark circle-inducing habits sorted—and yes, there are other solutions other than sleeping! Here, we run down dermatologist-approved ways to achieve brighter eyes:
What causes dark undereye circles?
Before looking for a treatment for your dark circles, Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas of BeautiqueMD says it's important to point out why the discoloration exists in the first place. Here are some of the most common causes of dark circles, according to the derm:
1. Aging or the loss of fat pads under the eye
Dr. Gaile says losing fat pads in that area "exposes the blood vessels underneath the eye, causing a bluish tinge called the Tyndall effect."
2. Lack of sleep
Everyone knows that this is a common culprit, but here's the real reason why: Having little to no sleep causes the blood vessels under your skin to dilate, causing them to become more visible and therefore giving your undereyes a deeper tint.
Do your parents or relatives have similar undereye woes as you? That's because dark circles can run in the family, so some of us are just unfortunately born with pigmented eye bags.
Allergies cause inflammation everywhere, and your eyes aren't an exception. Similar to when you have no sleep, the veins in your undereye area become swollen, causing dark circles.
5. Sun exposure
The area under our eyes is very delicate and thin, and like the rest of our face, it's prone to sun damage. Being exposed to the sun for too long without sunscreen can cause pigmentation to form, resulting in—you guessed it—dark circles.
How to treat dark circles
Concealer is by far the quickest way to keep those dark bags away from view, but here are makeup-free and doctor-approved solutions you can also try out:
1. Getting more sleep/rest
The cliché is true. Being well-rested reduces the appearance of dark circles because your blood vessels in that area become less stressed and constricted. We know getting eight hours of sleep isn't always possible, but it won't hurt to try to get as close to the number as you can.
2. Cool compresses
Turns out, that old beauty hack of pressing cold spoons or cucumbers on your eyes does help brighten your undereyes. "Applying cool compresses can minimize appearance of blood vessels that cast a dark shadow or bluish tinge," explains the derm. Storing your eye cream in the fridge and massaging it in with a chilled face roller can be a worthy alternative, too!
3. Avoiding allergens
If your eye bags are caused by allergies, then stay far away as possible from what's causing it. This could be anything from food to beauty products, but ask your doctor if you're unsure!
4. Using sunscreen
When applying sunscreen, don't forget to apply some on your undereye area to protect it from UV damage. Try to touch up within the day, too, especially if you'll be outside for an extended period of time.
5. Undereye lightening creams
Some kinds of dark circles need a stronger push to be removed, and if yours aren't fading with just regular eye cream or sleep, consult your dermatologist about using lightening creams. Doctor-prescribed products like this tend to be on the stronger side, but they can yield great results when used properly! Over-the-counter brightening eye creams are a great alternative as well, though it will take you some trial-and-error to find one that works!
6. Skin lasers
Many skin clinics offer safe laser treatments that lighten pigmentation under the eyes or reduce the appearance of blood vessels. However, the doctor notes, "Lasers in the treatment of periorbital darkening is still quite controversial and only works of its really pigment that is causing the darkening.
"Q-switched ndyag lasers (pigment lasers) are usually the ones used, but caution is exercised as the laser may damage the pigment in our eyes.Use of protective eye shields is recommended." Basically, laser can work,butalways consult your doctor to find the best fit for your concerns!
Soft tissue filler injections, according to Dr. Gaile, can lift the skin away from our blood vessels to help brighten the undereye. And because it adds more volume and plumpness, fillers can also address fine lines in that area. That said, you will need to touch up your fillers after a few months, so always check with your doctor if it's the right solution for you.