There are many things we can do to change the aspects of our appearance we’re not keen on – even if it takes drastic action like cosmetic surgery – but there’s one area which is stubbornly resistant to treatment: dark circles under your eyes.
If you regularly wake up looking like Steve Buscemi coming in from the night shift, know that you’re not alone. Some people are more prone to dark circles than others, but our sleep deprived, screen saturated lifestyles are certainly not helping. They always look more pronounced when we are sick, knackered, hungover or generally run down. So, if you’re feeling even one of the above, you might have to challenge yourself to make some lifestyle changes before you can buy your way out of the problem.
“As a skincare expert, one of the most common concerns clients ask me about are dark circles under the eyes,” says Hollywood dermatologist, Ole Henriksen. “The frustrating thing about dark circles is they make us look tired and older than our years.”
Nobody needs help with that these days, so what can be done to minimise the appearance of under-eye shadows? First, you need to understand what eye creams for dark circles do, and why you get them in the first place.
Why Do We Get Dark Circles?
The shadow below your eyes is actually the network of blood vessels underneath. “It’s due to the vast capillary system that supplies blood to the eye region that can show through the thin, delicate under-eye skin,” explains Henriksen.
“When there is improper circulation it creates the appearance of dark circles – and this has multiple causes.” He points out that genetics is not one of them; meaning that we have a bit more influence over the problem than, say, male pattern baldness.
“Toxic waste in the system is the main culprit; lack of sleep, a high-salt diet that prevents proper circulation, excessive alcohol intake and smoking definitely contribute to the problem,” says Henriksen. Regularly taking the bins out, as it were, can also help.
“Dark circles are a common complaint with clients who experience constipation. So, eating a healthy balanced diet with a high fibre content is essential,” he continues. “Finally, the importance of vigorous daily exercise and proper hydration cannot be underestimated in the fight against dark circles.”
Why Use An Under Eye Cream?
Eight hours sleep, drinking lots (try these water bottles) and having a perfect diet every day might be the goal, but it’s rarely the reality. Under-eye creams act as a shortcut and can help minimise the appearance of dark circles by reducing inflammation, and with minimal effort from you.
To get a little technical, the light reflecting pigments found in some eye creams can brighten and lighten the overall appearance of dark shadows and pigment, and detoxifying ingredients in the form of vitamin C, caffeine, ginseng and anti-oxidant botanical extracts help to stimulate and improve circulation in the area.
Bonus tips: Using a roller ball or applicator stick will also help massage the area to aid circulation and the drainage of toxins. Alternatively, you can massage the area with your fingertips by patting the eye cream into the skin working from the corners to the outer eye.
Also, try storing your eye cream or gel in the fridge to give it extra de-puffing power (the roller ball style ones are especially pleasing on a hangover) and use an under-eye concealer on top if you’re looking particularly haunted. On the hunt for a quick fix? Here’s our edit of the best under eye treatments.
The Best Eye Treatments for Dark Circles
Bulldog Age Defence Eye Roll-On
For a wallet-friendly intro to eye creams, Bulldog’s inexpensive roller ball technology is featured here with a formula that includes rosemary, echinacea and Vitamin E.
Molton Brown Men’s Anti-Fatigue Bai Ji Eye Gel
Molton Brown’s gel features a bai ji and algae extract combination to help moisturise skin and reduce puffy eyes. Soothing and refreshing, pack this one in your carry-on for long-haul flights.
La Mer The Eye Concentrate
The Eye Concentrate from ultra high-end skincare dons La Mer has been formulated to take on dark circles and discolouration. The cooling metal applicator helps to keep your mucky paws off the product and to massage it into the skin to increase microcirculation.
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
Banana powder pigments lend a subtle but useful sheen to help brighten up the under eye area. With high Vitamin C content from goji berry, sea buckthorn and jojoba extracts it also hydrates deeply, fighting off wrinkles to help you look younger.
Perricone MD Smoothing and Brightening Under-Eye Cream
With sci-fi sounding Fx Acyl-Glutathione (a super-rich anti-oxidant) this eye treatment works to soften the appearance of lines, wrinkles and those dreaded panda eyes.
Lab Series Age Rescue+ Eye Therapy
Lab Series’ comprehensive selection of grooming products are among the best out there, and this eye cream is no different, with energising ginseng designed to ward off wrinkles. Regular users say this fast absorbing moisturiser improves the look of dark circles with consistent use.
Clinique For Men Super Energizer Anti-Fatigue Depuffing Eye Gel
The cooling roller ball of this Clinique gel improves microcirculation and reduces puffiness, while ingredients including Hyaluronic acid and caffeine provide a much needed energy boost.
ClarinsMen Anti-Fatigue Eye Serum
This caffeinated eye serum will noticeably pep up tired eyes, and has a non-greasy matte finish ensuring you have a shine-free face throughout the day.
Kiehl’s Age Defender Eye Repair
An all-round eye product to minimise lines, wrinkles, sagging and shadowy under-eye skin made with caffeine, rye seed extract and linseed extract.
Shiseido Men Total Revitalizer Eye
A rich, comforting eye treatment that’ll plump out crow’s feet and diminish dark under eye circles, it’s designed to firm skin and provide an intense yet lightweight boost to tired eyes.