Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up one morning and your eyes carried their own personal eye bags. Even worse, they decided to bring along their trustee partner, dark circles. Most, if not all of us, have been there and when we get those dark shadows under our eyes, we’re quick to blame lack of sleep as the ultimate culprit. Truth be told, this isn’t always the case.
There are several underlying factors that we can attribute to having noticeable dark circles — ageing, allergies, sun exposure, pregnancy and smoking to name a few. In fact, even genetics can play a big role in making dark circles appear more prominent, especially for those of Asian or African descent who generally have more pigment around their eyes.
Thankfully, dark circles are rarely a medical concern (1). With this in mind, they can be treated or at least their appearance can be diminished by eliminating certain bad habits and making lifestyle changes that can improve your overall health.
Here are a list of habits that can help treat and prevent dark circles:
Get the right number of hours of sleep every night
This is common knowledge but we don’t enforce it on ourselves. Lack of sleep makes the skin under the eyes look paler because of reduced circulation and as a result, the skin looks darker. It’s important to get adequate sleep every night. For example, adults 18-60 years of age require at least 7 hours per night. Depending on your age group, the hours vary.
Have a balanced diet and drink lots of water
It’s good practice to maintain a healthy diet and to fuel our bodies with proper nutrients and vitamins. More specifically, you can combat dark circles by consuming vegetables that are high in Vitamin K, which help with blood circulation around the eyes. Try to incorporate more kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli in your diet (2).
Check for allergies
Constant rubbing of the eyes due to allergies causes both skin irritation and discoloration. Identify what’s causing the itch and if possible, remove it from your environment or keep yourself away from it. Consult your doctor about an allergy test if you’re unsure.
Smoking is harmful for our health overall and it’s also one of the main causes of dark circles. It makes blood vessels appear bluer under the eyes, which darkens that area even further. Consider taking a vitamin C supplement to help with depletion caused by smoking. If possible, quit the habit of smoking entirely. To aid the process, here are some tricks to naturally kill your nicotine cravings: How to Quit Smoking Naturally.
Minimize sun exposure
Sun exposure prompts the production of melanin in the body, which is the pigment that gives skin its color. As a result, it darkens the area around our eyes. To prevent this, wear sunglasses when outdoors (3).
More importantly, apply a non-toxic sunscreen on your skin. It’s a product we apply lavishly and it’s important to find a sunscreen that does not irritate the skin or cause any allergies. Avoid using a sunscreen with chemical filters such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Be extra cautious of oxybenzone, which can cause skin allergic reactions and is in nearly 65% of EWG’s non-mineral sunscreen database. Some recommended sunscreen brands that fit EWG criteria are Alba Botanica, Coppertone, COOLA, Kabana Organic Skincare, and Goddess Garden.
Simple Remedies to Eliminate Dark Circles Under Eyes
In addition to these lifestyle practices that minimize the appearance of dark circles, there are also ways to topically cure and remedy your dark circles using natural methods.
1. Apply cucumber slices
Cold cucumber slices are common solutions to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes because of their antioxidant properties such as quercetin, luteolin, kaempferol, and apigen, along with vitamins C and K. The cooling effect reduces swelling and vitamin K helps with reducing discoloration.
Simply place the slices in the fridge for a few minutes. When they’re ready, apply one over each closed eye lid and leave them for 5-10 minutes.
2. Use rose water as a toner
Rose water is another ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and A that helps to regenerate the skin.
To apply, soak cotton pads in rose water for a few minutes. Then, place soaked pads on closed eyelids and leave them for approximately 15 minutes. Do this twice a day for a few weeks.
3. Essential oils
Essential oils are great natural alternatives to using traditional, chemically-infused skin care products to minimize the look of dark circles. Depending on the underlying reason(s) for your dark circles, there are different types of essential oils that cater to that problem.
Disclaimer: Please note that essential oils are not “cures” to dark circles. They are a natural, alternative methods to traditional skincare products.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of essential oils (5)
“Lavender oil: If stress or lack of sleep is the culprit, lavender has sedative properties that will help you relax and sleep easier.
Eucalyptus oil: Made up of properties that assist in eliminating swelling and puffiness under and around the eyes.
Roman chamomile: By applying directly to the treatment area, chamomile can reduce puffiness due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Rose & sandalwood: These individual essential oils each help to hydrate your skin. Mixed with warm water, these oils will help rejuvenate the skin, therefore curbing the impact of bags and dark circles.”
4. Tea bags
Similar to essential oils, there are certain types of tea bags that can treat dark circles. Teas filled with caffeine, tannins and antioxidants are most effective in reducing fluid retention and inflammation around the eyes. Some of these tea bags are camomile tea, green tea, black tea, and peppermint tea.
To prepare, place 2 tea bags in hot water and remove excess liquid after steeping. Place it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to cool. Then, apply cooled tea bags directly on your dark circles for 15-20 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times daily.
5. Lemon juice
Lemon juice is filled with vitamin C that can reduce the look of dark circles with its lightening properties. Simply dip a cotton ball into lemon juice and apply around the eyes for 10 minutes. Rinse when finished and repeat once daily for a few weeks.
Note: If the lemon juice is causing a burning sensation or irritation, discontinue its use.
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