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Raccoon eyes, panda eyes, dark eye circles – call them what you will, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that they’re not cute. Although dark eye circles are normal and common for a good chunk of the population, they make us appear more exhausted and much older than we really are.

Logging a full night’s sleep seems like a reasonable fix for dark eye circles, but it simply doesn’t work for most of us. Regardless of how well-rested you are, you may still see a panda staring back at you in the morning – not ideal on days where you want to skip the concealer.

Before you throw your hands up in the air and give up the fight, however, know that there’s still hope. To find out what causes these dreaded dark eye circles and how to lighten them, we’ve rounded up a few expert tips to help you look more bright-eyed.

What causes dark eye circles?

Woman concerned with Dark Circles

The truth is, the darkness around your eyes could be inherited. The undereye area is one of the thinner areas and is easily neglected in basic skincare. There’s also a strong genetic component to dark circles, which is out of your control.

Genetics determine two factors that cause dark eye circles: collagen levels and melanin production. Collagen is a protein that is present in our body that keeps skin elastic and reduces the appearance of wrinkles, while melanin refers to the dark brown and black pigments present in our skin.

Not to mention, certain allergies can definitely play a huge role when it comes to dark eye circles too. When we have an allergic reaction, histamines are released by our body as a response, which causes itchiness and redness in the eyes. This may lead us to rub our eyes, increasing irritation and swelling. As such, it causes our blood vessels to dilate and become more visible under our skin, causing the appearance of dark eye circles.

As we get older, we lose even more volume under our eyes too, which creates a trough. A lack of volume and the thinning of the skin over the eye socket can create a hollowness that emphasises the appearance of a dark curvilinear line under the eye.

How much you sleep, whether too much or too little, and even the way you sleep can cause blood to pool and fluids to accumulate in different areas of the face, which can result in dark circles.

Besides that, smoking and alcohol consumption can also cause dark eye circles. Drinking alcohol can cause blood vessels under the eyes to dilate, making dark eye circles more prominent. Similarly, carbon monoxide in cigarettes deprives the skin of oxygen and contributes to the appearance of dark eye circles. Smoking also speeds up skin ageing by breaking down collagen.

You could also be dealing with vascular dark circles – circles that are caused by poor blood circulation. Vascular dark circles look a bit more purple than brown, but they can be difficult to distinguish, especially if you’ve got a good amount of pigment in your skin to start.

To test this, dermatologist Shereene Idriss says to turn on the overhead light in your room and lie on your bed as you look at your face in a handheld mirror. If the dark circles under your eyes lighten or disappear, you probably have vascular dark circles.

How to get rid of dark eye circles: Home remedies

If you’re on a tight budget, there are some simple home remedies you can try to alleviate dark eye circles. These DIY treatments could help to brighten your eyes, and the ingredients can be easily found in your kitchen pantry.

1. Apply cold compresses

Cold Compresses help with dark circles

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If you wake up with puffy, dull eyes, a cold compress can help reduce swelling and shrink dilated blood vessels. This can bring down the appearance of puffiness and help eliminate dark circles.

Simply wrap a few ice cubes in a clean washcloth and apply them on your eyes for a minute or two. You can also dampen a washcloth with cold water and apply it to your undereye area for a few minutes for the same effect. Repeat this process if the cloth becomes warm or when the ice melts.

2. Mask with teabags

Teabags can be used for dark eye circle treatment

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Green tea and black tea contain caffeine and antioxidants that can stimulate blood circulation, shrink your blood vessel, and reduce liquid retention beneath your skin. “Don’t use decaffeinated tea. Otherwise, you’re defeating the purpose,” Dr. Shereene Idriss advises.

Soak two black or green teabags in hot water for three to five minutes. Then, let them chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Once they’re cold, apply the teabags on your closed eyes for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse your eyes with cool water when you’re done.

How to get rid of dark eye circles: Eye creams with key active ingredients

Dark circle under-eye treatments make up a hefty portion of the skincare market, and for a good reason. Since the skin under our eyes is more delicate, targeted eye creams with active ingredients like peptides, retinol, and vitamin C can pack more pick-me-up power than your average face cream or serum.

Here are the key ingredients to look for and our top eye cream picks.

1. Peptides: SK-II R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Radical New Age

 sk-ii rna power eye cream radical new age for dark eye circle treatment

Peptides can penetrate the skin to build hyaluronic acid and collagen. Just like best friends who finish each other’s sentences, hyaluronic acid and collagen complement and support one another perfectly. Together, they hold cells and tissues together like glue, diminishing the look of dark eye circles and wrinkles.

You’ll find this star ingredient in SK-II’s R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Radical New Age. Packed with plenty of conditioning ingredients, this silky eye cream visibly plumps up and restores youthfulness and smoothness around your eye area. The eye cream is also infused with a nourishing complex of PITERA™ as well as hydrolysed soy and yeast extracts to firm and brighten the skin around your eyes.

All you need is a pea-sized amount, which will absorb quickly to moisturise, lighten dark circles, and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

SK-II R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Radical New Age retails for S$149 at all SK-II stores and counters, as well as online at Sephora.sg

2. Retinol: The INKEY List Retinol Eye Cream

the inkey list retinol eye cream for dark eye circles

A vitamin A derivative, retinol stimulates collagen production and speeds up cell turnover to reduce dark eye circles and signs of ageing. Since the skin under the eyes is so sensitive, plenty of dermatologists recommend using eye creams with a relatively low concentration of retinol.

A rich yet lightweight cream that contains 3% of retinol, The INKEY List’s Retinol Eye Cream renews the skin and stimulates collagen production for smoother, brighter, and plumper skin around the eye area.

The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream retails for S$18 at LookFantastic

3. Vitamins: Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

drunk elephant c-tango for dark eye circles

Vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and berry extracts can help reduce oxidative stress caused by UV rays or pollutants. Plus, antioxidants can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Drunk Elephant’s C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream contains a blend of antioxidants, skin-strengthening ceramides, and lightweight plant oils to refresh and restore your undereye area. With five forms of vitamin C and cucumber extract, this eye cream is powerful yet gentle enough for morning and evening use.

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream retails for S$90 at Sephora.sg.

4. Niacinamide: Dr Dennis Gross B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress SOS Eye Cream™

Dr Dennis Gross B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress SOS Eye Cream™ for dark eye circles

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a powerful antioxidant that helps with dark circles and wrinkles, two major concerns of the skin around the eyes. Since there’s a low risk of irritation or inflammation with niacinamide, you can apply it to the delicate, thin skin around the eyes without worry.

With microcapsules of superfoods, adaptogens and niacinamide, Dr Dennis Gross’s B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress SOS Eye Cream™ brightens, smooths, and hydrates the delicate eye area while preventing tension-induced ageing.

Dr Dennis Gross B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress SOS Eye Cream™ retails for S$98 at Sephora.sg.

5. Hyaluronic acid: Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

FRESH Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream for dark eye circles

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most powerful hydrating ingredients, and it keeps the delicate undereye area firm and plump. A lightweight yet potent gel cream with hyaluronic acid, Fresh’s Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream delivers a surge of hydration to revive tired-looking eyes.

Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream retails for S$67 at Sephora.sg.

How to get rid of dark eye circles: Make tweaks to your lifestyle

1. Get more sleep

sleep cycles can affect dark eye circles

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If you’ve been binge-watching a new Netflix series till wee hours of the morning, heading to bed earlier to catch some Zs can certainly help to reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Sleep deprivation can cause your skin to appear pale, making dark eye circles stand out. If you have trouble falling asleep, you should try putting away your devices at least an hour before bedtime to let yourself unwind and catch up on your beauty sleep.

2. Wear sunglasses and sunscreen

Wearing sunglasses can protect you from dark eye circles

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Harsh UV rays from the sun can darken the skin pigments around your eye area, making dark eye circles worse. What’s more, sun damage speeds up premature skin ageing, which makes fine lines and wrinkles more pronounced.

When you head outdoors, make sure you put on a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses can protect your eyes from premature damage. You should also be applying sunscreen under your eyes every day to shield them from UV rays.

3. Conceal with makeup

Use makeup to remove your dark eye circles

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While you’re working on brightening your dark eye circles with home remedies and eye creams, you’ve got concealer and foundation to fall back on. Of course, makeup can’t lighten dark eye circles over time, but they can help to camouflage them.

How to get rid of dark eye circles: Aesthetic treatments

aesthetic treatments for dark eye circles

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1. Chemical peels

A chemical peel can effectively remove the damaged outer layers of your skin and they’re highly effective around the undereye area. As its name suggests, a mild formula will be applied on the targeted areas, which will cause the top layer of your skin to peel off and reveal new, fresh skin. This works best for dark eye circles that are caused by darker pigments on the topmost layer of the skin.

2. Laser surgery

Not all lasers are created equal, which is why pigment lasers like PicoSure are used to lighten the look of dark eye circles. It works by fragmenting and breaking up pigmentation that darkens the skin.

After the treatment, your body’s immune system will eliminate the pigments naturally. This treatment is great for tightening lax skin around the eyes, and it generates new collagen to plump up the undereye area too.

3. Medical tattoos

Undereye tattooing is very similar to other permanent makeup treatments, whereby pigment is inked into the skin via a cosmetic tattoo gun. The pigment sits one layer under the skin to act as a buffer between the source of underlying darkness and the surface of the skin.

It grew in popularity thanks to professional tattoo artist Rodolpho Torres, who has more than 10 years of tattooing experience. However, dermatologists say that you shouldn’t trust anyone with your delicate undereyes if they aren’t a doctor.

The best method to lighten dark eye circles

sk-ii ma power eye cream radical new age for dark eye circle treatment

While the causes of dark eye circles differ from person to person, there is an array of options to choose from to get rid of them.

If home remedies and lifestyle tweaks aren’t making a difference to the appearance of your dark eye circles, it may be time to invest in an eye cream. It is the most affordable and convenient option that ensures visible results. This is why experts often recommend a good anti-ageing eye cream, such as the SK-II R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Radical New Age.

Brimming with peptides and a complex of PITERA™, the eye cream hydrates and plumps the skin around the delicate eye area. It even packs a one-two punch by helping to lighten dark eye circles and smooth the appearance of fine lines.

Its lightweight texture sinks into the skin fast, so you can use it twice daily, morning and night. Try it out to see the difference yourself!

SK-II R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Radical New Age retails for S$149 at all SK-II stores and counters, as well as online at Sephora.sg

This article is brought to you by SK-II.