You know what I'm talking about—those shady hollows under your eyes that are a dead giveaway for how many hours of sleep you got (or more likely, didn't get). Thing is, lack of sleep is only one possible cause for dark under eye circles which might also be accompanied by puffiness or redness. And just as there are multiple causes, unfortunately there isn't one cure-all treatment either. We went to the pros to get the low-down on why you have dark circles and how to get rid of them.
"True pigmentation may be caused by chronic inflammation in the eye area, which may heal, leaving behind a brown stain," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He recommends looking for an eye cream that contains vitamin C to brighten the area, such as SkinCeuticals AOX Eye Gel ($94; dermstore.com).
Puffy eyes are a pain as is, but the extra fluid that pools under the eyes can call even more attention to darkness. "This can happen for a number of reasons," says Lily Talakoub, MD, a dermatologist at the McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center in Virginia. Allergies, eating too much wine or salt, or sleeping face down can all make them worse, she adds. "Eye creams can help this if they contain caffeine or green tea." Dr. Talakoub's recommendation: Nia 24 Eye Repair Complex ($74; dermstore.com).
Blood vessels paired with light skin
"Fair skin may allow you to see blood vessels underneath the surface giving a bluish appearance," notes Dr. Zeichner. "Thin, aging skin may give the same appearance. For this issue, look for a retinol containing product." He likes Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream ($18; amazon.com).
Unfortunately, if you have folds under your eyes that result in hollowing (and therefore, dark under eye bags), a cream probably won't help. "These depressions under the eye happen with age, lack of sleep, dehydration, or genetically," says Dr. Talakoub. "We can correct them with a light filler injected under the eyes, which will lasts one to two years." Note: This treatment isn't for everyone, and can be dangerous, since it could cause blindness if done incorrectly.
Not sure which description above is causing your dark circles? Opt for an eye cream with an illuminating formula like Olay Eyes Illuminating Eye Cream for Dark Circles Under Eyes ($30; amazon.com)—the light-reflecting particles blur imperfections and disguise darkness. And of course, the most reliable way to disguise dark circles is by using a full-coverage concealer like Tarte Shape Tape ($27; tartecosmetics.com), which is one of my go-tos. Smooth it on over your eye cream of choice and watch those pesky dark circles disappear.