The complete guide to dark under eye circles (and getting rid of them)

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Sick of always looking tired? Listen up

    They’re persistent, annoying and can make you look like you’ve had zero hours’ sleep even when you’ve managed eight. Dark under eye circles affect a lot of us at some point in our lives; but what actually causes them, and can you get rid of them?

    We caught up with some of the experts to find out what can be done about dark under eye bags…

    What causes dark under eye circles?

    According to No7, the three leading factors associated with having dark circles under eyes are thinner skin, hyper-pigmentation and thicker or increased number of capillaries.

    ‘Dark circles under the eyes can be caused by a number of different factors, from genetics to skin allergies,’ explains Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at London’s Cadogan Clinic and author of The Skincare Bible. ‘Rings under the eyes often run within a family and can be down to your skin type.

    ‘Dark circles are very common, however hyperpigmentation under the eyes is more common in Asian skin because dark-skinned people have more melanin (the pigment which gives skin its colour) than light-skinned people. This is sometimes known as periorbital melanosis.

    dark circles under eyes

    ‘Lifestyle choices also play a big part in dark circles. When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you lose hydration around the eye area and underlying blood vessels appear more prominent. Ageing is another factor, as we age our skin thins, which makes blood vessels more visible and we lose volume due to a depletion in collagen, pulling the lower eye area down and creating hollow contours and shadows.

    ‘Those with chronic inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema or skin allergies may also suffer from this problem. Inflamed, itchy skin can result in hyperpigmentation, which is followed by rubbing and scratching of the affected area.’

    How to get rid of dark under eye circles

    dark circles under eyes

    There’s no ‘cure’ for dark circles per se, but there are a few things you can do to make them less visible, including investing in a fantastic hyperpigmentation treatment.

    ‘UV radiation and too much exposure to the sun can result in worsening of pre-existing dark circles. I recommend wearing daily sunscreen to prevent damage to ’normal’ skin, as well as limiting further pigmentation problems once dark circles have already developed,’ says Dr Anjali.

    ‘Wear SPF around the eyes and high-quality sunglasses that are able to filter out radiation in an effective manner are also recommended.

    ‘Sleep is so important. Loss of sleep results in lacklustre skin and a sallow complexion. Getting enough sleep can help with visibility. Also, too much salt and alcohol will dehydrate your skin, making your eyes puffy and your circles look a lot worse.’

    Eye cream for dark circles

    When looking for the right eye cream for dark circles, there are a few key ingredients you can look for that will help your cause. ‘Vitamin C, kojic acids, arbutin and hydroquinone help to reduce melanin production so look out for these key ingredients when buying an eye cream,’ advises Dr Anjali. (And pair with one of the best vitamin c serums for maximum effect, obv.)

    Try Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème, £30 at Boots. Inspired by make-up artists yellow colour correcting ‘banana powder’, it’s a vitamin C enriched formula that also colour corrects for instantly softened dark circles.

    How to cover dark under eye circles with make-up

    ‘Most of us have a blue tone under the eye but if you have more pink/cool undertone in the skin, the darkness appears as purple and blue,’ explains Bobbi Brown Senior PRO Artist Amy Conway. ‘If you have a more golden/warm undertone it appears as brown and grey under the eye.

    ‘For darkness, a corrector is essential! It’s a creamy formula that instantly corrects purple, blue or brown shadows. Then opt for a creamy concealer to layer onto to brighten and lift the under eye as well as bringing it back to skin tone.

    ‘For extreme dryness opt for a rich balm like eye cream. I love the Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Eye Cream for extreme dryness as it instantly calms and brightens and then hydrates the under eye all day long.’

    Below, Amy shares her three steps to successfully covering up dark circles with make-up.

    Step 1: Prep

    ‘Start by prepping the skin with a hydrating eye cream, this will ensure your concealer looks bright and smooth all day look and will stop any creasing. I love Bobbi Brown’s Hydrating Eye Cream as it’s also a primer which will give you that extra longevity to your make-up.’

    Step 2: Correct

    ‘A corrector is an essential to banish any darkness under the eye. These come in two tones- often a pink and a peach. Pink correctors will take out any blueness or purple shadow. Peach correctors will take out and brown or greyish shadow. Once you find your shade, apply from the inner with a brush a blend outwards and down concentrating on the darkness only.

    ‘Top tip: apply most of your product towards the inner corner of the eye to give and instant brightness, and skip the outer corner as that’s where we have more texture.’

    Step 3: Perfect

    ‘Next layer a concealer on top and blend out towards the cheekbone. The job of a concealer is to give you that extra coverage whilst bringing it back to skin tone for a flawless finish. Also do keep your Concealer in your handbag as it’s the perfect product for touch ups throughout the day.

    Is there a dark under eye circles treatment out there?

    ‘If puffiness is an issue then surgical treatment called blepharoplasty is the only thing that will make a considerable difference to the appearance of the skin,’ Dr Anjali says.

    Reading now

    Popular beauty stories