What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes?

Those tricky dark under eye circles—they’re just so shady! If you’re asking yourself, ‘Why do I have dark circles under my eyes?’ We’ve done a little digging to find out what’s causing the issue and how you can help yourself.

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Nothing is more frustrating than bagging a whole eight hours of sleep (if you're lucky), only to wake up to a set of annoying dark circles under eyes.

That’s right: eye bags don’t set up home on your face solely because you’ve not had enough kip. You can sport some impressive dark circles even with enough sleep.

Whether you’re constantly on a long-haul flight, spending too much time in the sun, or struggling with stress, your delicate under eye area can start to darken pretty quickly.

What causes dark circles?

The causes of dark circles actually go beyond tiredness—though, of course, fatigue can be a factor. If you’re constantly looking in the mirror and asking yourself, ‘Why do I have dark circles around eyes?’ You might want to look at your environmental stressors. As lovely as the sun feels on your skin, too much of a good thing can quickly damage the eye area and cause hyperpigmentation. Overexposure to direct sunshine can cause your body to produce too much melanin, which is the pigment in your skin. Too much pigment and BAM! There now lie some serious dark circles around eyes. Meh.

Still curious about what gives you dark circles under the eyes? Well, it’s not just the sun. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner and, of course, thin skin under eyes and dark eye circles is definitely a thing. Your skin craves fat and collagen to stay plump and bouncy. When your skin thins, the dark blood vessels become more visible. That’s why you might start to notice dark skin below eyes.

Dark circles around eyes can also be caused by genetics. If you have a family history of dark circles, you might start to notice them too. This trait can even show up as toddler dark eye circles! If not, you may have witnessed dark shadows making their mark as you hit your teens. If you have genetic dark circles (darker skin tones are especially prone), we’re gonna be honest: you might struggle to diminish the dark circles completely. But there are things you can do to help.

While reaching for your faithful concealer comes as second nature, targeting dark under eyes directly with a specific dark circle treatment can help. To help you lessen the appearance of those annoying dark circles, we’ve put together the Best Eye Creams for Dark Circles to boost your confidence and help ease the look of your shadows.

How to reduce dark circles

To reduce your dark circles, it can help to look first at your lifestyle. You don’t have to do a complete overhaul to see your shadows disappear. Just a few simple changes can help very dark under eyes lighten up a little. There are many dark under eyes causes, and investigating your diet is a good place to start.

Can rubbing your eyes cause dark circles? Well, if you do it enough, then yes. If you suffer from annoying seasonal allergies, you might find yourself rubbing your peepers often. Unfortunately, the more you rub, the more likely you are to cause the blood vessels around the eyes to split and leak blood. If this happens, you might notice some dark circles show up.

To help soothe irritated skin, you could try introducing a good face mask or two into your weekly skincare routine. Encouraging you to sit down and get off your feet for a moment, we’ve rounded up the best innisfree masks for you to explore. All are made with skin-nourishing, natural ingredients. This Korean brand will help you and your skin wind down after a full day of ‘busy’.

Instead of loading up on sugary foods and pumping your system full of heavy carbohydrates, choose an anti-inflammatory diet with healthy fats, green veggies, and fresh fruits. As sad as we are to suggest it (SO sad), knocking out that third cup of coffee and that second glass of red before bed might also help reduce dark circles.

Still wondering why circles under eyes crop up? Well, just to be clear, it’s not always about the amount of sleep you have. Sometimes, it’s to do with the quality of sleep you get. Sleep hygiene is a pretty big deal. As easy as it is to scroll (and scroll, and then scroll some more) before bed, electronic blue light can actually disturb your night of slumber. To help reduce the amount of blue light your eyes fixate on, you could set your phone and laptop to night mode all day. This could encourage a more natural sleep cycle, so you and your skin wake up a little more refreshed.

Managed to put the phone down before 9 p.m.? That deserves a treat! Check out the best under eye masks we've collated for you to soothe your skin before you sleep.

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What can I use for dark circles around my eyes?

Luckily, dark circles are pretty common, and skincare scientists have come up with some great solutions to help ease the look of the shadows. An eye cream or serum with Vitamin C will help brighten up the area under the eye. Caffeine is a good ingredient to look for too. And Peptides can help tighten slack skin tissue.

If you have different under eye circles and your complexion in general could do with a boost, you could pick up a Retinol-based product. Working to plump up drained skin, boost collagen levels, and improve your skin’s texture, a good Retinol cream could be your answer to smoother-looking skin. It’s also a great way to target those shady dark shadows. Fancy trying Retinol but don’t know where to start? We’ve pulled together the best Retinol face creams for you to explore and try.

If you’re struggling with discolouration and you want to help shoo the dark shadows away, we’ve found a few products that’ll help your skin get back on track.

As cliché as it is to state, Avocado is pretty much the best. Of course, we all love to eat it at brunch, and those healthy fats are fantastic for your skin. But did you know that avocado can work magic on your skin from the outside too? Designed to deeply moisturise the skin and work to prevent dark circles, Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado hydrates skin that needs a boost. Made with super-moisturising Shea Butter, this formula helps soothe and prevent dry skin, so fine lines, dull skin, and wrinkles begin to diminish. The creamy treat sinks into the skin quickly and easily, giving you time for another slice of toast!

  • Now, let’s talk ingredients. Vitamin E offers an antioxidant boost and helps fight daily pollutants and free radical damage. And Avocado Oil is rich with amino acids and vitamins, so the skin stays healthy and beautiful. Your eye area is sooo tender … To keep it looking smooth and firm, you need to treat it with care—and some nourishing products. Working to reduce the appearance of dehydration lines, this creamy, concentrated eye cream won’t migrate into your eyes. It’s also fragrance-free and ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested.

  • Perfectly lightweight Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment is a bestseller with an army of fans. This customer favourite is pretty much always trending. And you don’t need to use a lot of product to reap the hydrating rewards. Sitting well under makeup, this cream can be applied in the morning and before bed for best results.

It’s true: as you get older, your skin starts to look and feel a little bit thinner. The skin under your eyes is already quite thin, so it makes sense that this skin starts to age first. Rather than feel sad about it, see it as a good excuse to kit yourself out with some brand-spanking-new products that’ll boost your skin and leave you feeling revived. Alpha-H Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream is a powerful new formula that helps tackle wrinkles, pigmentation, sagging skin, and fatigue … basically, all the things that bring out the dark circles!

  • Working hard to encourage a naturally youthful-looking eye area, this unique Liquid Gold formula creates a ‘soft-focus’ effect around the eyes, so shadows are reduced. Gently exfoliating dead skin cells, this formula also firms the eye area and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and frustrating fine lines. Made to help illuminate the eye area, this cream is suitable for all skin types and genders. Looking for your first-ever eye cream? This formula is perfect for anyone over 25 who’s starting to notice telltale lines.

  • When it comes to skincare, the Alpha-H experts really know their stuff. Alpha-H Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream features Quadruple Peptide Technology and Lime Pearl AHAs, which work to help soften expression lines and reduce the depth of wrinkles. Also good for reducing puffiness, this powerful anti-ageing formula is free from any animal by-products and completely cruelty-free. Use the cooling applicator morning and night to both soothe and pep up the skin around the eyes.

No matter how much sleep you get, dark circles can still live on your skin. Concealing dark circles with makeup is a good idea, but why not face the problem head-on by introducing a targeting serum into your skincare arsenal? Skinstitut Eye Believe may be your solution to help minimise the appearance of circles. This brightening formula tends to the fragile eye area with care as it works to reduce the look of little lines, puffiness, and dark circles.

  • Puffy eyes can seriously bring down your morning, especially when you’re in a rush. This cooling formula helps refresh your under-eye area and restore a more youthful look. Hyaluronic Acid offers the skin water-based hydration to ease the look of fine lines. Syn-Ake is a synthetic Peptide that helps give the skin a tighter appearance. And Irwinol is a botanical butter that soothes the fragile area.

  • Ideal for nearly every skin type (except sensitive or irritated skin), Skinstitut Eye Believe is a medium-intensity serum that helps transform the look of tired eyes. This blend tackles the first signs of ageing and gets to work reducing the look of dark shadows. You need to use only a small amount twice a day to start seeing results. Gently pat the lightweight serum into your skin with your ring finger. Then follow up with the rest of your skincare routine.

When your eyes look tired and your skin looks drab, you might want to up your H2O intake. Already hydrating regularly? You could invest in a new eye cream. Asap firming eye lift is a potent eye treatment that helps improve the look of your dark circles. Covering all bases, this formula firms, smooths, helps fade dark circles, and helps reduce puffiness. In fact, you may see results in as little as 7 days! Made in Australia with cosmeceuticals, this cream works well on all skin types. A good solution for smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines, this formula also helps negate any sagging skin around the eyes.

  • With a multi-Peptide complex that’s safe for use around the eyes, this clever little formula brightens up dull skin to leave you looking more refreshed. The cream fights collagen loss in two ways. First, it helps boost your skin’s own collagen production. Then, the antioxidants and anti-pollution technology defend your existing collagen levels from environmental degradation. Pretty impressive! Improving the skin’s elasticity and targeting dark circles specifically, this quick-absorbing cream is easy to fit into your regular routine.

  • So, how does asap firming eye lift 15ml do all this? Artichoke Extract helps reduce swelling and keeps the eye area detoxified and brightened. Caffeine helps tighten the skin. Hyaluronic Acid hydrates and binds moisture to the skin so it stays plump and soft. Panthenol soothes the skin. And Tocopherol helps protect the skin from harsh UV rays.

If you're struggling with shady under eye shadows and puffy, tired-looking skin and need backup, IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream is ready to rumble. Designed to sink into the skin almost instantly, this eye cream intensely hydrates and helps smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Working hard so you look and feel more refreshed, this formula gets to work as soon as you apply it. Ideal for all skin types and cruelty-free, this blend won’t clog your pores or cause irritation. Smooth it on to feel instantly revived.

  • Nourishing and smoothing the delicate under eye area, this unique, blue-tinted cream helps minimise the appearance of dark shadows. And if your skin is starting to sag and slacken, this formula helps tighten things up. The Caffeine in the blend helps reduce puffiness almost instantly. Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, and Cucumber Extract all work to hydrate the skin, so you look and feel more radiant.

  • We won’t lie: making dark circles disappear forever is a hard thing to do. Luckily, IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream will do its darndest to try. Working to brighten the tender under eye area and make the skin soft and supple, this cream dabs on easily and absorbs quickly. Gently smooth the formula around your eyes morning and night. Follow up with your favourite skincare routine to start and end your day feeling good. Apply consistently to notice results.

As your skin matures, a fair few lines may (read: WILL) crop up around your eyes. Crafted to help fight the more noticeable intrinsic signs of ageing, SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex contains cosmeceuticals and a blend of super-nourishing ingredients. This sulphate-free, artificial fragrance-free formula offers 3D results. Almost immediately, you’ll notice the area around your eyes looks more radiant. Soon enough, you’ll begin to see those familiar dark circles diminish. And in the long term, crow’s feet and wrinkles will soften.

  • The skin around the eyes can thin and become more tender as we get older. This formula has been designed to help correct signs of glycation around the eyes. A cause of ageing skin, glycation happens when excess sugar molecules connect themselves to elastin and collagen fibres. When this happens, you might find you need a good Advanced Glycation End (A.G.E.) product to help. Ageing skin is something we all have to come to terms with, but SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex easily slots into your a.m. and p.m. skincare routine to help soften the blow.

  • A comfortable anti-wrinkle cream that helps replenish the look of tired, more mature skin, this formula tackles dark circles, deep wrinkles, and puffy skin. Apply the cream with a massaging action to help it get to work faster. Softening and comforting the skin around the eyes, this formula boosts radiance and helps dull, tired eyes look a little bit more alive.

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

Need a recap? Here's some of the best products to use for dark circles under eyes

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