Pinpointing the reason you wake up with dark circles each morning is like trying to understand quantum physics: it's complicated. That's because there are many variables that can cast those shadows under your eyes, the biggest culprit being genetics, as well as a lack of sleep and dehydration (among others).
While the harsh reality is that there's no clinically proven way to fade dark circles for good (yet!), there are a handful of eye creams and in-office treatments that give raccoon eyes a temporary boost. Some are even easy lifestyle hacks that won't cost you a penny. To see how you can brighten up your undereye circles in a flash, just keep reading.
- Black tea bags — Tea of any kind reduces inflammation and helps decongest the sinus area (which can be a dark circle factor). Heavily caffeinated tea is also a vasoconstrictor, so it shrinks the veins that are visible through your skin.
- Sleeping upright — You can slightly reduce the appearance of shadows by de-puffing the area. To do so, add an extra pillow under your head at night to elevate and drain any excess fluid.
- Gentle massage — Everyone recommends cucumbers for puffy, dark eyes, but gently massaging the area (with the help of oil or lotion) is another spa trick that can work wonders temporarily. Just use a gentle circular motion around your eyes, moving from your under eyes up past your nose and then back around.
- Filler injections — If your pigmentation is caused by thin skin sitting on top of purplish muscle and blood vessels (and you're looking for a longer-lasting solution), adding a layer of hyaluronic acid filler between the skin and the muscle will cushion the color so it's less visible. "You're just adding a layer that creates a nicer reflection of light off the face and some illumination," board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon Ellen Marmur, MD, previously told POPSUGAR. Likewise, if the darkness is being caused by a hollowing out of your bone (which just comes with age), fillers can plump that back up.
- Ice — In the same way cold therapy can help treat inflammation, ice (wrapped in a thin face towel to protect the area) can also work wonders at de-puffing. An easy alternative to slapping ice cubes on your delicate eye area? A small spoon stored in the freezer.
- Hydration — Dark circles look much more pronounced when your skin is dried out, both because it makes your skin look even thinner and because it highlights the texture. Use a hyaluronic acid-packed serum or cream, and instead of rubbing it in, let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes to give the skin an extra boost.
- Arnica — This herb is known for helping with bruising and muscle soreness because it reduces inflammation and ups circulation, both of which help flush out retained water and low-oxygen blood that give eyes a bruised, puffy look.
- Raw potato — If your dark circles are from pigmentation, not visible veins or thin skin, using raw potato on them is a great way to temporarily lighten up. Potatoes contain an enzyme called catecholase that, when exposed to air, oxidizes into a benzoquinone derivative, a gentler relative of common skin lightener hydroquinone.