Under Eye Treatments: What Works and What Doesn’t

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Cucumber Slices

Cucumber Slices
Cucumber slices are a popular facial treatment – just place a couple of slices over your eyelids for instant calm. But what's the science behind it? "Technically, cold temperature can cause blood vessels to constrict, so swelling is temporarily reduced," says Phillip Artemi of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. "But it won't reverse dark circles around the eyes."
ADVANTAGES: Inexpensive; simple
DISADVANTAGES: Pigment remains unchanged; no proven benefits

Beauty Sleep

Beauty Sleep
The age-old adage of getting your beauty sleep suggests that the key to brighter eyes is getting enough shut-eye. "Getting more sleep may reduce redness in the eyes and the fullness of eye bags, but it will do little to eliminate dark pigment," says Artemi. Some experts advise using one or two pillows to keep your head elevated while you sleep, to help prevent fluid build up in your lower eyelids, which gives the impression of puffiness.
ADVANTAGES: Beneficial for your overall health; effective on temporary eye bags
DISADVANTAGES: Won't eliminate dark circles; not suitable for the time-poor

Skin-Friendly Diet

Skin-Friendly Diet
Although diet doesn't usually play a direct role in dark circles, certain foods can aid skin health. Green tea contains skin-friendly antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory benefits that help protect skin cells; salmon contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid that improves skin elasticity to keep fine lines at bay; and avocados and eggs are rich sources of biotin, a vitamin that helps keep skin healthy.
ADVANTAGES: A nutritionally rich diet promotes overall health; may improve complexion
DISADVANTAGES: No guaranteed effect on dark circles; long-term dedication is needed

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A secret weapon for disguising tired eyes, a concealer can help even skin tone. As a bonus, it can also act as a physical barrier against sunlight to ward off sun damage. Make-up guru Bobbi Brown suggests a yellow-based creamy concealer in a shade lighter than your natural skin tone is best at masking blue under-eye circles, while fairer skin types should opt for a porcelain-toned concealer. If skin sensitivity is a concern, then try the most chic concealer of all – a big pair of sunglasses.
ADVANTAGES: Simple; effective at masking genetic dark circles
DISADVANTAGES: Ongoing use is required; temporary cover rather than fix

Eye Masks

Eye Masks
If you're after a little "me time," an eye mask is the perfect accessory. They're inexpensive, and gel masks can be warmed up or chilled in the fridge for the desired effect. Worn for about 15 minutes, they can provide much-needed therapy for tired eyes. As for dark circles, Hanna Kuchel of the Skin & Cancer Foundation of Australia says a cool eye mask works by causing blood vessels to constrict, which reduces swelling temporarily. But like most at-home remedies, the results are quick and the benefits short-lived.
ADVANTAGES: Therapeutic; temperature adjustable
DISADVANTAGES: No long-term benefits; requires consistent use

Eye Creams

Eye Creams
Eye creams are a popular cosmetic product, but do they live up to the hype? It's hard to say, as results vary so much between individuals. Also popular in treating dark circles are lightening creams, which Artemi says contain 2% hydroquinone – a bleaching agent that aims to get rid of dark circles. But creams can irritate delicate under-eye skin, particularly if they contain harsh ingredients, so talk to a professional before use, he advises. To keep the skin moisturized and reduce dark circles, Kuchel recommends sunscreen, which prevents pigmentation of the skin over time.
ADVANTAGES: Soothing and moisturizing
DISADVANTAGES: Can irritate the skin; inconsistent benefits

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Nasal Sprays

Nasal Sprays
If a blocked nose is to blame, nasal sprays might be the answer. Nasal congestion can darken the appearance of the veins that drain from your eyes through to the nose, adding to dark circles. Other red flags of congestion include sinus headaches and a sore throat. Saline rinses or nasal sprays can temporarily relieve these symptoms, but prolonged use is not recommended. Building up tolerance to the spray could exacerbate congestion, so have your sinus problems properly assessed before use.
ADVANTAGES: Targets multiple sinus complaints
DISADVANTAGES: Uncomfortable for some


"Dark under-eye circles may also be a sign of atopy, meaning people predisposed to developing conditions such as asthma and eczema," says Georgina Kourt, fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists. So if you have any known allergies, antihistamines could reduce the puffiness associated with them, but will not do much to reduce dark circles. Available over the counter or on prescription, antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, a substance released in the body during an allergic reaction. But use with caution, as they can have side effects such as drowsiness or dry mouth.
ADVANTAGES: Treats allergy and puffiness concurrently
DISADVANTAGES: Ineffective on genetic dark circles; may have side effects


If you opt to take the surgical route, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) could be for you. Some women have a racial predisposition to darker skin under the eyes, while others have prominent eye bags that cast dark shadows. Blepharoplasty aims to rectify the latter. There are two procedures: the first surgically removes fat from the inside of the eyelid, while the second – more common – procedure involves removing excess fat and skin, as well as tightening muscle. Merten says most patients opt for operations on both eyelids for a better overall effect.
ADVANTAGES: Can reset the ageing process for a while and help you regain a more youthful appearance DISADVANTAGES: Surgical complications may result; potential scarring
PRICE RANGE: For the lower eyelids, about $6,000-$8,000 including hospital and anesthetist's fees

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Laser Therapy

Laser Therapy
Laser targets the source of dark circles by sending a burst of light into skin under the eyes. The light is absorbed by blood vessels or pigmented areas in the skin. Laser will resurface the skin and reduce or eliminate wrinkles, which improves the overall appearance of the eyes, with the added benefit of reducing dark circles. However, if the skin around the eyes is already smooth, the treatment might not reduce pigmentation. While less invasive than surgery, the tingling sensation of a laser may take some getting used to, and side effects include redness or localized swelling.
ADVANTAGES: Can improve skin quality; reduction in fine lines
DISADVANTAGES: Pigmentation may be too deep for laser therapy; repeat sessions may be needed
PRICE RANGE: Prices vary according to your needs. If you're treating veins, prices run from $500-$1000, while resurfacing ranges from $2000-$5000.

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32 thoughts on “Under Eye Treatments: What Works and What Doesn’t

  1. I hate it when I wake up with bags under my eyes. I used to use real cucumbers (which helps, but gets messy). My doctor recommended the Made from Earth Cucumber Cool Gel – and it works even better than real cucumbers. I have tried every eye product out there and this is simple the best and its simple.

  2. That was the least helpful thing I have ever wasted time reading. Basically, nothing works except expensive surgery. Gee. Thanks!

  3.  Hemoroid  ointment  can  be  used  under  the  eyes  for  baggy  eyes.  Dr.  Oz  says  so.

  4. It would have been faster to say it simply – No treatment except for expensive doctor’s care.

  5. What a crock. Why waste our time and get our hopes up when none of these work or are practical for the average person to act upon.

  6. Wasted my time reading this. The article has been incorrectly titled “10 remedies” – none works according to RD, so why name them “remedies”? Really annoyed with this article.

  7. I agree  that this was a waste of time.  The article clearly says 10 treatments for dark circles but then says that it will not help…..???????

  8. You promised us 10 remedies, but gave us 10 myths with disadvantages and no solutions!  What to do about plain old, hereditary eye circles?  I’ve had them since birth, my whole family has them. 

  9. I personally think that like cellulite, dark circles are never going to be totally eliminated. I say, learn to live with it and I hope women should stop beating themselves up over trivial physical stuff, there are more important things we should be taking care of. Like Shakespeare said: “Vanity, all is Vanity!”

  10. Having read this B.S. article.  Advantages:  I killed 5 minutes of my time waiting for the coffee to brew.  Disadvantages:  Once again an article that never gets to the point and offers no solution as the title would suggest..

  11.  For me, and I have dark circles under my eyes, it is hereditary, eating 1/2 can of spinach(vitamin K?), makes the darkness almost disappear, but the day after I eat the spinach.

  12.  constipation will cause those dark circles under eyes. drink more than 8 glasses of oxygenated alkaline water to prevent dehydration and constipation. there is no disease that this water can not cure!!! VIC

  13. Didn’t the title of this article read, “10 Remedies for Dark Circles Under Eyes”?  So…why did the publish the ones that DIDN’T work?  Waste of time RD!

  14. My eyes are not puffy but I just have dark circles. I’d rather give to charity than spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery. I do buy my glasses so that the rim helps to conceal the circles.

  15. LIKE I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THESE BEFORE. Some of the emails you have been sending lately are getting stupid, like this one. Hire someone else..

  16. Summary of the article: There are no current treatments that work on dark circles under the eyes. 

  17. I’m really disappointed. Did you mean to name it 10 remedies that do NOT work? I usually love your articles, but like many people commented, this was a waste of time to read. I was looking for something that will work.

  18. I’m really disappointed. Did you mean to name it 10 remedies that do NOT work? I usually love your articles, but like many people commented, this was a waste of time to read. I was looking for something that will work.

  19.  This is a joke!  What exactly where you trying to accomplish here?  Stop wasting peoples time!

  20.  This is a joke!  What exactly where you trying to accomplish here?  Stop wasting peoples time!

  21. This was not worth the time.  No real suggestions–besides the two that were very costly.  Your own suggestions say they don’t work–so why do this topic?

  22. I agreed with several other posts…There is NO remedy here for dark undereye circles. Not one remedy that really addresses dark circles. Who’s idea was this ?? 

  23. Waste of my time reading this article.  There was not one single remedy in any of your choices that were worth a flip. 

  24. Most all of the remedies that were stated here do not work. The only ones that MAY work cost more money than most people have to spend. This whole article was a big waste of time.Type your comment here.

    1.  I agree completely with you-reading this article was a total waste of time .No solutions but alot of rhetoric !

  25. I read somewhere that dark circles are caused by dehydration, so drink pleanty of water. I also feel one must use a good sun screen for eye. Readers Digest has rightly suggested using a good pairs of sun glasses.

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