Shed Some Light on Dark Circles
Recommended for Dark Circles
What Paula's Choice Customers Are Saying
Thanks to Paulas' Soft Cream Concealer, under eye circles are now a thing of the past! -Julia
What Causes Dark Circles?
Dark circles are caused by several factors, and each one needs to be dealt with differently. Unfortunately, there aren't any skin-care products in the world that can tackle all or even most of the causes of dark circles.
After exhaustive research, The Paula's Choice Research Team knows that while there are definitely things you can do to improve dark circles, your solution won't be found in a specialty product labeled with miraculous claims or a miracle ingredient. Below, you'll find a hype-free guide to the causes and treatments for this common cosmetic problem:
- Sun damage
- Veins and capillaries that show through thin skin
- Genetic trait for having darker color around or under the eye area
- Natural shadows resulting from having deep-set eyes or sagging skin
- Buildup of dry, damaged skin cells
How Do I Reduce Dark Circles?
Although the solutions below are worth exploring, keep in mind that for some people, eliminating dark circles entirely just isn't possible. That's where a great concealer and highlighter come into play, not to mention the incremental improvements you'll notice from taking good care of your skin.
- Use a lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) under the eye area every day. If you don't wear sunscreen you can't defend against wrinkles or the overproduction of melanin that can make dark circles worse.
- Use a sunscreen around the eye with only zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. Sunscreen ingredients other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can cause irritation around the eye and that can make dark circles worse.
- Always wear sunglasses outdoors. Sun damage increases melanin production (the brown coloring cells in skin) and that will absolutely make dark circles worse. Sunglasses rated with UV400 and using a well-formulated sunscreen is the perfect combination to prevent dark circles, wrinkles, and sagging!
- Consider using an antihistamine. If you have allergies they can be a major cause of dark circles and puffy eyes. Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription options.
- Use a more emollient moisturizer at night.During the day, an extremely emollient moisturizer around the eye can make foundation and concealer slip in to lines making the under-eye area look older. At night a more emollient, state-of-the-art moisturizer works far better and can have you waking up to softer, brighter-looking skin around the eye.
- Shop smart. Remember, your under eye moisturizer doesn't have to be labeled "eye cream." There is NO research showing there are special ingredients needed for the eye area. NONE! Brilliant ingredients that fight dry skin, wrinkles, and environmental damage for the face work for the eye area, too. Plus, no skin-care product should ever be packaged in a jar because jars allow air in, which causes ingredients such as antioxidants to break down.
- Find a great concealer. A concealer with a matte finish (rather than one that's too creamy or greasy) is best because they tend to last longer and don't crease. The color of the concealer must be light enough to cover the dark circles convincingly, but not so light that it gives the appearance of a white mask around the eyes. After concealer, you can dab on a sheer layer of liquid highlighter to help reflect light away from naturally shadowed areas.
- Keep your expectations reasonable. Traditional skin-lightening products do not have any effect on dark circles unless they are caused by sun damage. If sun damage is the culprit, you can consider a well-formulated vitamin C product or a skin-lightening product whose active ingredient is hydroquinone.
- Medical options. You can talk to a cosmetic dermatologist about options, such as dermal injections, lasers, light treatments, radio frequency treatments, and chemical peels for lightening dark circles and reducing wrinkles. A dermatologist experienced with the various skin treatment lasers will be able to tell you which one is best for dark circles and your skin color. The Q-switched ruby laser is the most common choice for treating dark circles.
To find the best products for your skin type and concerns, see The Paula's Choice Research Team's extensive recommendations and reviews on Beautypedia including our picks for Best Concealers and Best Moisturizers.
(Sources: Dermatologic Surgery, August 2009, pages 1163–1171; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2007, pages 211–215; Aesthetic Surgery Journal, November–December 2005, pages 618–624; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2004, pages 73–75; Dermatologic Surgery, June 1998, pages 615–616.)