11 Ways to Treat Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

Ariel Bailey
By: Chief Beauty Advisor  |  Ariel Bailey

Everyone has woken up with dark circles or bags under their eyes at some point. More than likely, we had no idea what to do about that problem the first time we were confronted with it. Many still don’t. Unfortunately, there are many products out there for dark circles and they all seem to promise the same thing, but it’s very hard to separate the good products from the bad ones without being a skincare expert first. And what about puffy eyes?

In this article:

  1. What Are Dark Circles & Why Do I Have Them?
  2. Are Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes the Same Thing?
  3. What Can We Do?
  4. Natural Remedies
  5. Alternate Remedies
  6. The Eyes Have It

Here’s the good news: we’ve got you. Here at LetsTalkBeauty, we experts have put our collective heads together for you and gathered the best methods for dealing with dark circles and puffy eyes, two of the most common skincare issues out there.

What Are Dark Circles & Why Do I Have Them?

Dark circles panda
Pandas make dark circles look oh-so-adorable, but sadly they aren’t as cute on us.

Dark circles are simply the visibility of blood vessels in the skin below our eyes. They can have a multitude of causes, and more often than not, they are caused by a combination of factors, not just one. One of the biggest factors in the appearance of dark circles is the fact that the skin under our eyes is thinner than almost any other skin. There is very little fat under our eyes, meaning that there is less for the blood vessels to hide under.

The amount- or lack- of melanin in your specific skin tone is a factor as well. Darker skinned individuals have a less difficult time with dark circles thanks to a natural camouflaging effect provided by melanin, while fairer tones have a much tougher time. These things are just part of our genetics, which is yet another factor that can weigh in.

Of course, there are things we can control, too. Tiredness, eye strain, allergies, dehydration, sun exposure. All of these can be contributing factors to further thinning the skin under our eyes or dilating the small blood vessels there, making our undereyes look darker.

Are Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes the Same Thing?

Are Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes the Same Thing?
The older we get, the more likely our eyes will swell and puff.

Simply put, no. Puffy eyes can coincide with dark circles and very often do, but they are not the same thing. Puffiness or swelling under the eye is usually due to fluid retention. As we age, the skin begins to sag, and the fat we formerly had holding up our eyes begins to migrate down a bit, resulting in the swollen appearance. Often, this makes darkness under eyes appear even worse, as the resulting “bag” under our eyes tends to make a tiny shadow, further darkening any dark circles already present.

Age is not the only factor here either. A high salt intake can cause fluid retention all over the body, but most noticeably under the eyes thanks, again, to that thin, delicate skin. Lack of sleep, allergies, smoking, and heredity can all play a part as well, just like with dark circles. 

What Can We Do?

What Can We Do?

Thankfully, there are as many treatments for dark circles and puffy eyes as there are causes. There’s the natural route, the cosmetic route, the surgical alternatives, and more. With so many choices, it’s hard to know which one is the best for you, your eyes, and your budget. That’s why we’re here! We have compiled a list of the best treatments in a wide range of affordability, from DIY at home remedies to the best products on the shelves, and even extreme measures under the knife. Below are all the secrets to fighting the battle against dark circles and puffiness, and winning the tired, aged-looking war.

Natural Remedies

Natural Remedies
Nature can lend a helping hand in our quest for flawless skin, without the dangers of some man-made chemicals.

These all-natural treatments have no artificial helpers, no man-made chemicals, and absolutely no worries! While any one of these treatments has the potential to be drastic on its own, the combination of them all would make the biggest impact. And best of all, they’re super easy, and mostly free. These should be used as the first front against dark circles and puffy eyes, since there’s no use in going further if a simple solution can solve the problem. Why start out with the expensive stuff when you can do these yourself for free and get the same results?

Number 1: Sleep Enough

Number 1: Sleep Enough
Sleep is one of the very best things for your body and overall health.

Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s the best! It recharges, rejuvenates, reinvigorates, and best of all, it’s absolutely free and so easy to do. Every single one of us does it every day. Or you should. You really should. Getting your seven or eight hours each night not only helps you wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day, but it also does wonders for keeping dark or puffy eyes at bay. This is because exhaustion leads to our bodies producing more cortisol, and when our bodies produce cortisol, we are able to stay awake but also it dilates our blood vessels, including those under our eyes. Getting the proper amount of shut-eye can stop dark circles in their tracks. 

And Sleep Better

Number 2: Sleep Better
All sleep is good sleep… right?

Believe it or not, there is actually a “correct” way to sleep. Doing it wrong won’t suddenly negate all of the positive effects, but it can make a noticeable difference in the quality of sleep you get, and the better sleep, the better it fights off dark eyes and bags.

If possible, sleep with your head slightly elevated, preferably on one thick or two thinner pillows. When you lay your head down and you’re on your back or side, your chin should be closer to the floor than your forehead. By doing so, you create a kind of slope out of your face, discouraging any fluid from accumulating under your eyes and resulting in bags.

For an added bonus, crank that AC just a little. Sleeping in a room one to two degrees cooler than usual helps you fall asleep faster, and maintain sleep longer. Plus it’s all snuggly under the warm blankets, and who doesn’t love that?

Number 2: Chill Out

Number 3: Chill Out
Peas make great cold compresses thanks to their small round shape.

Eating your veggies is great and very good for you, but freezing them and using them as a DIY cold compress works too. If you don’t happen to have an ice pack laying around, make use of some frozen veg left over in your fridge and ice down those dark circles. The cold will constrict blood flow, making the tiny blood vessels less visible, and therefore, your dark bags less noticeable. This trick works with almost anything you can freeze, from ice packs to wash cloths to actual compresses, to half-empty bags of peas that you will never get the kids to eat.

Number 3: Tea Time

Number 4: Tea Time
Tea bags are good for so much more than just tea parties.

Green or black tea works best for this, thanks to the high levels of antioxidants. Simply soak a pair of tea bags in cold water and voila, instant eye miracle. For a one-two punch of effectiveness, lay the tea bags over the back of a spoon so they have a cupped shape and freeze for a few. Then you can lay back, put on a face mask, and set the tea bags on and under your eyes for your own in-home spa treatment.

Keep the herbal teas and white teas in your cups, however. Those don’t contain the necessary caffeine and antioxidants which help make this trick work. Green and black teas will stimulate blood circulation while the cool shrinks those blood vessels down to size. They also help with liquid retention as well. Once you’re through with your treatment, rinse your eyes with cool water.

Number 4: Practice Safe Sun

Number 5: Practice Safe Sun
No matter your skin tone, you need sunscreen. Yes, you.

Protecting your skin from the sun is the single most important thing you can do for it. No matter your skin tone, ethnicity, genes, predisposition to burning, not burning, or tanning, or what you’re wearing, you need sunscreen. It is the end-all, be-all of skin care. A nice floppy hat is great for a bit of extra shade, and of course clothes that cover lots of skin are good protection, but UV rays are tricky business, and they creep in. It’s best to apply sunscreen to any skin that might be exposed to the sun, no matter how much or little clothing you’re wearing. But above all, especially your face.

Facial skin is more delicate than other skin. It is more prone to burning, and suffers more damage when burned. Too much sun can cause inflammation, and that inflammation will cause the blood vessels to dilate and, you guessed it, dark, baggy-looking eyes. So smear on a little sun block fifteen minutes before you leave the house. It’s a small step with huge rewards.

Number 5: Pickle Yourself

Number 5: Pickle Yourself
Cucumber slices are a spa standby for good reason. They work!

Cucumbers have been used by spas and DIYers as facial staples for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But have you ever wondered why? Not only do the watery chilled slices feel rather nice and relaxing on your skin, but they have a very mild, gentle astringent property, meaning it can shrink or constrict tissue. Calamine lotion, witch hazel, and yerba mansa also are astringents, but cucumber is by far the least expensive, easiest to use option. Cucumbers are also packed with Vitamin K, which helps minimize capillaries.  Plus, they make for a tasty snack when you’re all through with your facial. No waste!

Number 6: Get Nutty

Number 6: Get Nutty
Almonds are a multi-versatile nut, with uses in the culinary and beauty worlds.

A handful of almonds is a delicious anytime snack, but the oil from those almonds can do a world of good for your face as well as your rumbling tummy. Another fantastic all-natural dark eye treatment is raw almond oil. Almond oil, like most nut oils, is an excellent moisturizer. It provides fatty acids that help nourish the thin skin of our under eyelids, and additionally helps soften and moisturize.Also, almond oil is high in vitamin E, which helps rejuvenate skin, restoring elasticity and suppleness.

The easiest way to use almond oil is to grab a bottle and gently dab under your eyes before bedtime every night, leaving it as you sleep and washing your face in the morning. It is also worth noting that almond oil is a natural bleaching agent, which can help reduce the pigmentation under eyes and make dark circles less visible in that way as well.

Number 7: Tone It Down

Number 7: Tone It Down
Many of us look at screens all day, for work and fun.

Nowadays, people live and work online, whether in an office setting or at home. We stare at computer screens all day at work, and then come home to scroll our favorite beauty sites or Twitter feeds or Facebook timelines, which is perfectly fine. But, all of that bright white light can wreak havoc on your eyes, making them strained and tired by the end of the day. And eye strain is one of the key factors in creating dark circles and puffy eyes.

To combat this, we’ve got two options. First, look at screens less. (Yeah, right!) But second, and probably the more readily do-able for most of us, is to adjust the brightness of our computers, phones, and other screens we look at, especially when in dark or dimly lit rooms, which makes the strain even worse. This can be done manually with the buttons on your monitor, or you can install a program to do it for you. There’s a great one called f.lux, which makes your computer screen alter the amount of bright light based on the time of day. It’s free to download for Windows or Mac, and the creators are working on integration with smart phones and smart lighting outlets too.

Alternate Remedies

 Alternate Remedies
The right kind of science can take natural remedies further than ever imagined.

Sometimes we just need a little hand from science to get a leg up on trickier issues. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we make sure to steer clear of the dangerous stuff that can do more harm than good. The scariest thing about non-natural alternatives is the paralyzing power of choice. There are so many options out there that it can be confusing and downright frustrating trying to find our own best solution, so we just pick something and are even more upset when it doesn’t work like we want it to. When it comes to these sorts of solutions, research is key. But lucky for you, we have done all of that for you.

Number 8: Moist-ur-eyez

Number 8: Moist-ur-eyez
Because the skin under and surrounding our eyes is so delicate, it needs a little extra love.

It isn’t an outlandish concept to simply buy a serum to help with dark circles or puffy eyes, or both. But which one? There are so many products with such a wide variety of ingredients that it can be almost dizzying to even glance over them, let alone choose one and make an informed decision about what is best for your most delicate patch of skin. That’s why we have made it our priority to do that hard work for you, to protect your skin from uninformed choices, and the consequences that some creams carry.

At the end of this article, you can see our simple chart rating of our favorite selection of creams, lotions, serums, and et cetera specifically geared for targeting under eye woes. Our fave is RevitaLume, which has a large base of all-natural ingredients and scientifically enhanced with peptides. You can learn all about it in our review, here.

Number 9: Patchwork

Number 9: Patchwork
Under eye patches can actually work for more than just a cute skin care selfie.

Much like serums and moisturizers, under eye patches and masks come in a broad variety and wide range of prices. For one treatment, cost can range anywhere from $3 to $80 and up, depending entirely on brand alone. They can definitely work, but use caution. These tiny little patches are usually just more concentrated versions of creams and serums, with ingredient lists that are just as long and complex. It may seem more cost-friendly to buy a pouch for $3 for a one-time eye mask, but one treatment rarely is enough to give lasting results. It might just be worth it to invest in a lasting serum or cream that will offer more bang for your buck.

Number 10: Be A-peeling

Number 10: Be A-peeling
Chemical peels are not for the faint of heart.

So you’ve tried everything, and nothing is giving the results you want. The next step might be to get a pro involved. Dermatologists can perform a treatment called a chemical peel, which is exactly what it sounds like. A very specific set of chemicals are applied to the epidermis, causing a controlled wound. This skin dies and peels off, prompting the dermis below to create fresh, new skin in its place. It can hurt, and it will leave you red-faced and stinging for a little while afterwards.

Chemical peels are the beginning of the more extreme solutions for under eye concerns. It isn’t surgery, but it is a procedure, and one which can be quite costly. Plus, there are damages it can do to your skin in the long run, since it can be very abrasive and harsh. Even the peels which claim to be gentle are still designed to take off an entire layer of skin, and there is no way to achieve that without a few casualties.

Number 11: Surgery

Number 11: Surgery
Surgery should always be a last resort. It’s costly, painful, and completely permanent.

For those desperate to banish dark circles and puffy eyes forever but with no success, there are surgical options. We don’t recommend choosing surgery lightly, but it is a valid choice when all else fails. There are, as expected, a variety of surgeries for all of your under eye needs. Lasers can resurface the skin to tighten it; surgical tattoos can inject pigment into the thin tissue to hide the blood vessels below. Pooled liquid or fat can be removed from puffy eyes or implanted to fill out hollow, dark circles and cover blood vessels.

Surgery is far from one-size-fits-all, and you should have several consultations with a few different cosmetic surgeons before making your choices. The best thing about surgery is that it is tailored to you, your face, and what you want to see. If you can swing the cost and are certain you want to dedicate yourself to this lifetime decision, then it’s going to be a very effective method.

The Eyes Have It

The Eyes Have It
Nothing is more expressive than our eyes, so it’s important they look as good as we feel.

Whatever your chosen solution for dark circles or puffy eyes, now you can make it with a wealth of information. But there is always more out there. New studies happen all the time, and to keep up, we publish new articles with new details, bringing you the best info on offer. If you want to know more about any of the products in this article, or are just hungry for more beauty knowledge, look no further than our other articles!

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Ariel Bailey
Chief Beauty Advisor
Ariel was fed up with all the nonsense information out there. So, she has dedicated over 25 years and written 100's of articles to help millions of people be properly educated from products, to latest innovations, and to anything else beauty related.

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