Puffy, discolored skin above and beneath the eye can make you appear tired and sleep deprived, even when you’re well rested. Known medically as periorbital dark circles, this area of the eye is particularly susceptible to changes to skin tone since the flesh around the eyes is very thin. With a depth of about 0.5 mm in thickness (compared with the rest of the body’s skin being around 2 mm in thickness), the periorbital zone can reveal the blood vessels and blood beneath quite clearly.
While the sudden appearance of dark circles can be due to lifestyle and environment, it is also a genetic condition that tends to run in families with pale and thin skin. Not to worry though – if your dark circles are hereditary there are plenty of natural remedies that can help reduce and correct the scourge of racoon eyes…
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Unsurprisingly, fatigue is a major contributor to the appearance of dark circles. Perhaps you’ve picked up some bad habits over the years that are interfering with the quality of your sleep – like falling asleep in front of the television, having a nip of booze before bed, or sleeping in a too-warm bedroom.
Between herbal remedies, changes to your bedtime routine, calming and sleep-promoting plants that are perfect for the bedroom, there’s plenty of natural ways to get a good night’s sleep so you can look and feel much better rested.
2. Relieve Your Allergies
Hay fever, triggered by pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust mites, often induces cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, sinus pressure, as well as watery, puffy, and itchy eyes. Rubbing and scratching your eyes will only make dark circles worse.
You can minimize your exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed during pollen season, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter (like this one) in your home, wearing a dust mask when cleaning and doing yard work, and replacing your bedding with allergy-proof linens.
3. Treat Your Eczema
Marked by itchy, inflamed skin, eczema – or atopic dermatitis – can flare up in the delicate area on the eyelids and under the eye causing redness or dark discolorations.
While you should first see a doctor to receive a formal diagnosis, there are myriad natural ways to heal the symptoms of eczema. Try these anti-inflammatory essential oils blended with skin-friendly carrier oils, mix up this soothing calendula cream, and check out these lifestyle and home remedies to treat flare ups as they occur.
4. Combat the Signs of Aging
Another not-so-fun sign of getting older is the inevitable thinning of skin due to reduced fat and collagen production in the body. Thinner skin can make the red and blue blood vessels around the eyes appear more prominent.
You can boost your body’s inborn ability to generate collagen by eating foods high in vitamin C and omega fatty acids. You can also replenish collagen stores by consuming bone broth, or supplementing with collagen peptides or gelatin protein. Here are 20 delicious collagen-rich recipes that will help fortify your skin against the appearance of dark circles.
5. Sun Protection
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays not only accelerates the aging process, it also causes your body to produce more melanin which can produce hyperpigmentation and darkening of the skin. If you already suffer from dark circles under the eyes, sunlight can make it worse.
Protect yourself by using one of these mineral sunscreens before you venture outdoors. And always don a pair of UV-protected sunglasses.
6. Eat More Iron
If your dark circles are also accompanied with fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and shortness of breath, you might have an iron deficiency. Since iron is responsible for producing hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to bodily tissues, a deficiency could be the culprit behind skin discoloration around the eyes.
An iron deficiency is easy to fix, but first talk to your doctor about testing your iron levels. Too much iron in your body can damage your organs. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you can eat more iron-rich foods like dark leafy greens, beans, and red meat; you can also boost your body’s ability to absorb iron by eating foods high in vitamin C.
7. Go Easy on the Salt
A combination of too little water and too much sodium in the diet can cause your body to retain water, leaving you feeling heavy and bloated. Though water retention can happen throughout the body, it’s most noticeable when fluids are stored around the eyes, making them appear swollen and puffy.
Watch your salt intake by eating more fresh veggies and avoiding processed and fast foods. You can also correct a sodium imbalance by eating a good amount of potassium-rich foods, which will keep you well hydrated, support proper cell function, and offset the harmful effects of excessive sodium.
8. Sleep on Your Back
Sleeping on your stomach or on your side can cause fluids to build up in the face and eyes. Try to fall asleep on your back with your head slightly elevated.
9. Use a Cool Compress
Soothe those swollen and constricted blood vessels under the eyes by applying a cool compress for 10 to 20 minutes each day:
Cucumber slices – Mildly astringent, cucumbers can help lighten the skin. Chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes before slicing them up and placing the rounds over each eye.
Tea bags – The tannins in tea act as a gentle diuretic to reduce puffiness. Soak two bags of tea in warm water until they are thoroughly wetted and chill in the refrigerator.
Potato juice – Potatoes are a source of catecholase, an enzyme that helps to prevent bruised fruit from turning brown and is believed to lighten skin when used topically. Extract the juice by grating a raw potato and dipping two cotton balls in the juice. Cool in the fridge before using on your eyes.
Rose water – Full of antioxidants, rose water is a wonderful tonic for quelling redness and inflammation. Soak two cotton balls in rose water and refrigerate before using.
In a pinch, you can always use an eye mask, or a cold wash cloth, or even a couple refrigerated spoons to cool down the eyes.
10. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can work wonders for dark circles and puffy eyes. To make a 2% dilution, blend 12 drops of one of the essential oils below with one ounce of carrier oil, such as sweet almond, coconut, or jojoba oil.
Geranium oil – Excellent for the skin, geranium essential oil is anti-inflammatory and promotes cell regeneration, improves circulation, and evens out skin tone.
Rosemary oil – Another anti-inflammatory, rosemary essential oil is also mildly diuretic which will help stymy swollen and puffy eyes.
Rosehip seed oil – Rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants, rosehip seed oil is deeply hydrating, stimulates collagen, improves complexion, and corrects dark spots and skin discoloration.
Cypress oil – An astringent that can help tighten up puffy skin, cypress essential oil also has the power to constrict blood vessels beneath the surface, causing dark circles to fade away.
Lemon oil – A natural skin toner, lemon essential oil can help lighten dark spots and smooth out skin complexion.
When using essential oils, it is imperative to use 100% pure oils to experience the full benefits. The best place to purchase the above essential oils is from the Plant Therapy Essential Oils official website here.
Take extra care when applying essential oils to the sensitive areas of the eye. Use your pinkie finger to gently apply it to just under the eye and never apply it to the eyelids or around the eye itself, else you might get some into your eyes. If you’ve never used the essential oil on your skin before, do a skin patch test first. Also read this essential oil safety guide.