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How to get rid of dark circles and puffy eyes

It’s difficult to feel confident in the morning when you wake up looking washed out, with dark circles and puffy eyes. Dark circles are a common condition that many people experience, but they can be disheartening because they make you look tired, older, and even unhealthy. The good news is that these two spirit-dampening issues aren’t normally a sign of a medical problem and there are a few things you can do to lighten their appearance and lift your confidence.

Before we talk about how to get rid of dark circles and puffy eyes, let’s first understand what causes them.

Common causes of dark circles and puffy eyes

A lot of the time, fatigue is the cause of puffy eyes and dark circles. Sleeping less than seven hours per night has been shown as a leading cause of puffy eyes and dark circles. Sleeping too little prevents deep sleep cycles that are necessary for preventing fatigue and restoring energy levels during the day.

Often hand in hand with poor sleep is stress, which really does have an impact on how we look. In the case of puffy eyes, stress can cause blood vessels under our eyes to dilate more than usual, resulting in visible redness and puffiness. The constant showering of cortisol from our adrenal glands has also been linked with increased eye puffiness.

Then there is sickness. An allergy-related sinus infection or cold with congestion could also make those little bags under your eyes stand out even more than usual.

Water retention from hormonal fluctuations could also cause fluid to accumulate in your lower eyelid, resulting in puffiness. This is common during pregnancy and may also be a result of menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects the way hormones are produced by the body.

What to do about circles and puffy eyes

Sleep more

Aim for seven hours of good sleep a night. While you sleep, the fluid in your eyes drains back into the body. Sleeping on your back with your head elevated on a few pillows is helpful because it keeps this process moving smoothly and prevents fluid from pooling around your eyes.

Stress less

It’s easy to say but stress has a far-reaching impact on general well-being and health. As modern lifestyles have become faster-paced and more frenetic, more people are living with stress. Find ways to cope with stress and anxiety so that you can get enough restful sleep and keep puffy eyes at bay.

Use a cool compress

A cold compress can help reduce inflammation and dilate the blood vessels, reducing swelling. Dip a washcloth or towel into cold water for about 20 seconds. Never use warm water, as this will cause blood vessels below the skin’s surface to dilate. Hold the cold damp cloth over your eyes for 10 minutes before bedtime, as well as when you wake up in the morning.

Try teabags

Place a cold teabag on your eyes. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it makes blood vessels contract. This can help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation – making your eyes look and feel less puffy.

Pamper yourself

Gently massaging the area around your eyes can also help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Treat yourself to a facial or do it yourself before you go to bed at night. Avoid oils and lotions that claim to shrink capillaries below the surface. Even if they did work, they could create a new problem: thinning of the skin.

Eat vitamin C-rich foods

Eat more foods rich in vitamin C which works to reduce the appearance of puffiness. Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit; potatoes; leafy greens like spinach; bell peppers; papaya or mangoes.

Explore medical treatment options

If the cause of your puffy eyes or dark circles is genetic, age, hyperpigmentation, or damage from the sun, you might want to explore medical treatments for a faster and more permanent solution. Ask your eye doctor about medical options such as  

  • Topical creams to lighten the appearance of dark circles.
  • Chemical peels. These assist with reducing pigmentation under the eyes.
  • Laser therapy. This assists with resurfacing and tightening the skin around the eyes.  
  • Injectable fillers which can increase volume and help smooth out the skin.
  • Eyelid surgery to remove excess fat and skin from the eye area.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. These can help to repair skin, boost blood vessel growth, and strengthen collagen.