Removing Dark Circles - Seeing Eye-to-Eye With Skincare

Removing Dark Circles - Seeing Eye-to-Eye With Skincare

Chris Ford

The first thing you do when you meet someone is look them in the eyes

And the first signs of aging often appear around our eyes.

Crow’s feet, large bags under the eyes, and those dreaded dark circles just might be a good indicator to start an anti-aging regime. Eyelids are generally thinner than other patches of skin - leaving this area vulnerable to wrinkles and why signs of early aging such as dark circles can appear here first.

So in this article, we’ll first focus on what causes these dark circles.

Then, we’ll look at the many ways for you to get yourself out of the pigmented pickle you’re in.

While there are many sources of stress in our modern world that may contribute to the appearance of early aging, simple practices like staying hydrated, maintaining healthy levels of sleep, wearing sunscreen, and not extensively straining your vision on computer screens are a good first line of defense for protecting that delicate layer of skin around your eyes. 

If the red/blue veins underneath the eyelids are inflamed, irritated, or swelling with fluids, they may become more prominent and visible to the people you meet.

Among the most common reasons dark circles appear are(1)(2):

  • Fatigue/lack of sleep
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Straining your eyes
  • Allergies, allergic rhinitis (or any chronic congestion of the sinuses)
  • Heredity
  • Rubbing, scratching, or otherwise irritating/inflaming the veins under the eyes
  • Harsh makeup removers
  • Too much melanin production due to excessive sun exposure
  • Age-related skin imperfections making under-eye veins more visible
  • Anemia
  • Poor diet
  • Thyroid disorder

The Three Most Common Causes

As mentioned before, eyelid skin is not as resilient as other parts of the body. While sufficient sleep is crucial for the health of many, many aspects of your body to begin with, getting your needed rest as well as not straining your vision help to keep this fragile area of the skin from becoming too warped, wrinkled and worn out.

And drinking water helps maintain the elasticity of your skin - which naturally helps to hinder the rate of wrinkling(3).


These are the most common causes of dark circles and they may be the easiest fixes (given a little time and commitment). However, if your dark circles persist, it could be for one of many other reasons...

The Minuses of the Sinuses

Seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis (Hay fever), or any form of chronic nasal congestion may lead to a buildup of fluids in the nasal cavity, which is closely linked to your eyes(4).

If your nasal cavity is often backed up or inflamed, eye fluids may become backed up as well. Constant constriction and inflammation may irritate the veins underneath the eyes and cause them to look more pronounced - like two recurring bruises that occasionally appear on your eyelids(5). But clearing your congestion may be a relatively easy fix. If you have chronic nasal congestion and it’s causing additional problems, avoid foods like dairy and wheat products, as these tend to gum up the sinuses.

And speaking of dietary contributors...

You Are What You Eat!

Your entire body relies on outside nutrition to function - anything you consume or any level of malnutrition will have a bodily consequence.

Poor diet can also potentially lead to anemia, or a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body. If you’re eating poorly, if you suffer from chronic anemia, or otherwise have a low red blood cell count, your skin color and the veins under your eyes may be affected(6).

In addition, consuming too much salt causes the body to retain more fluids. If you have a high sodium diet - most likely caused by consuming too much processed food - you could be retaining too much water which may cause the delicate skin under your eye to appear more puffy(7).

Naturally Aging

Naturally, aging will see many changes in your body and your skin is no exception.

As your skin loses its elasticity over time, it becomes more susceptible to gravity’s pull. And a lifetime of expressions can lead to wrinkles around your forehead, eyes, and mouth. Your skin may even appear to bruise easier due to a loss of blood vessel wall support that gradually occurs with age(8).

Although NO ONE should feel self-conscious of their appearance as they age, good, restful sleep and increasing your water intake are the best ways to slow the process of aging - which affects your health as well - not just the way you look.

While time and aging are the reasons many people develop dark circles, hyperpigmentation occasionally occurs at birth for some.

Hereditary Dark Circles

It’s entirely possible that you didn’t do anything to acquire your dark circles. Many people receive their under-eye pigmentation through their genetics. Hereditary hyperpigmentation, blood or liver disorder, thyroid disorder, or even allergies (and more) are all possible ways to inherit your dark circles from your parents. If the discoloration under your eye is genetic, you’ll likely never completely get rid of hereditary dark circles(9).

While dark circles you’ve acquired during your life will typically only affect the under-eyelids, genetically-received hyperpigmentation of the eyes can appear on the upper-eyelids as well(10).

Thyroid-Related Hyperpigmentation

Your thyroid is a gland near the front of the neck that produces hormones. The thyroid affects your heart, muscle, bones, and cholesterol, as well as managing your metabolism. An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, may also lead to hyperpigmentation of the eyes.

An excessive level of thyroid hormones will quicken a lot of functions in your body, including heart rate and perspiration(11). Hyperthyroidism can also be responsible for hyperpigmentation, which can manifest as dark circles under the eyes.

According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology 2006 study titled Thyroid and Skin “The explanation of hyperpigmentation in hyperthyroid patients is increased release of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone compensating for accelerated cortical degradation”(12).

How to Fight Dark Circles

Some of the best ways to counteract the problem of dark circles are also the most natural. Common vitamins and minerals have proven, positive effects on dermal discoloration.

Vitamins A, C, E, K, and the B complex as well as minerals like Selenium, Copper, and Zinc are all standardly used for dermal remedies. Some are better when consumed, some are better used topically (applied directly to the skin), while others can be used in both ways.

Vitamin A(13)

Vitamin A is responsible for the maintenance and regeneration of skin tissue. If you have a good amount of vitamin A, consuming more vitamin A will do little for you. However, low levels of this important vitamin is usually noticed quickly, and may lead to dry or flaky skin.

Several fruits and vegetables, as well as a handful of other foods, contain this vitamin in abundance. Some of the best sources of vitamin A are:(14)

  • Red Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Beef Liver
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Ice Cream (believe it or not)
  • Carrots

    Topical vitamin A is usually much more potent than when it’s consumed. According to WebMD:

    “Medical studies show a reduction in lines and wrinkles, good acne control, and some psoriasis relief, all from using creams containing this nutrient… In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, doctors found that foods high in beta-cartotene - a form of vitamin A - appeared to help with the risk of psoriasis.”

    Vitamin B Complex (15)

    Biotin (also known as vitamin B-7), is a very important B vitamin that is fundamental for the development of cells for your skin, hair, and nails. Lacking in even just a little bit of biotin may quickly lead to dermatitis or even a loss of hair.

    According to WebMD:

    “B vitamin creams can help give skin an almost instant healthy glow while hydrating cells and increasing overall tone.”

    Niacin (or B-3), in particular can have moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effects. So creams containing this vitamin may alleviate irritated skin and help deliver some much-needed moisture. And in higher concentrations, niacin may be used to lighten and to even out skin tones.

    Vitamin C and E(16)

    When consumed, Vitamins C and E are useful for clearing up free radicals, which tend to be bad for collagen and elastin - two very important proteins for your skin structure and elasticityAccording to the American Academy of Dermatology, topical use of vitamin E in a lotion or cream can soothe dry, rough, itchy skin. When these two vitamins (C and E) are combined in a lotion, they can be highly protective against sun damage.

    And according to Karen E. Burke, MD, topical use of vitamin C can help to prevent the negative effects of too much sun exposure and therefore may be used as an aid against skin cancer.

    Vitamin K(17)

    This underrated vitamin is mostly responsible for allowing your blood to clot. So consumption of this nutrient won’t exactly do too much for your skin other than helping to heal when you’ve received a wound causing you to bleed.

    Studies have shown that topical vitamin K may be used to diminish bruising and circles appearing under the eyes. This may be even more effective against dark circles if it is combined with vitamin A in a cream. And in a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo determined that a topical application of a gel containing derivatives of vitamins K, A, C, and E was effective in helping with dark under-eye circles and wrinkles.

    Minerals Matter(18)

    Essential vitamins are not the only thing to turn to when thinking about proper skin care. A well-balanced, natural skincare regime will include healthy amounts of minerals, too.

    Fresh spring water is loaded with these skin-friendly minerals. Drinking spring water or using spring water as a facial cleanse may help with skin irritation, itchiness, and help skin absorb water better.


    It’s believed by scientists that the mineral Selenium applied topically in a cream can be effectively protective of the skin against sun damage.

    It was documented in The Journal of the American Medical Association that patients with skin cancer who took 200 micrograms of Selenium a day showed:

  • 37% fewer malignancies
  • 50% lowered risk of death from skin cancer
  • 17% decrease in overall mortality

  • Additionally, selenium consumed (usually from eggs, seafood, garlic, and whole-grain cereals), with copper can help to reduce the development of sunburn cells.


    Consumption of zinc helps to manage oil production in the body. Because of this, taking zinc may help with your acne. Likewise, a zinc deficiency may be what’s causing acne growth. Oysters, meat, and poultry are good sources of zinc.


    For your body to lack in copper is not very common, but used together with vitamin C and zinc will help produce elastin.

    An increased consumption of copper can potentially be dangerous, so supplementation with this mineral may not be the best action to take. But creams including copper may help to increase elasticity and the tautness of your skin.

    And according to WebMD:

    “A cream containing copper peptides demonstrated rapid, visual overall improvements in skin roughness, clarity, fine lines, wrinkling, and overall photodamage.”

    While dark circles may seem like a purely aesthetic concern, skin conditions are often indicative of an underlying health problem.

    If you’re dark circles persist or even appear to be getting worse, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor or dermatologist to address whatever medical issue may be at play.

    However, as far as dermatological problems go, dark circles are usually not a medical problem, so a home remedy might do the trick(19).****

    ***This article is intended to provide information and general education only - please don’t use this information to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition, or as a substitute for medical advice.***

    Some other little tricks you can employ are...

    • The bioflavonoids in cold green tea bags placed on your under eyelids may help with puffiness and discoloration if applied topically for 15-20 minutes(20).

    • You can also try using an extra pillow at night to elevate your head which may help to prevent fluids from pooling in your face.

    Be good to yourself and stay healthy.

    Try some of the methods above and keep your skin looking radiant and youthful. When you meet other people, make sure they’re seeing what you want them to see.

    ***This article is intended to provide information and general education only - please don’t use this information to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition, or as a substitute for medical advice.***

    Thanks for reading.

    To your health,

     -Chris Ford - Director of Health Research