At one time or another, we have all battled with dark circles under our eyes. Whether we are just exhausted or suffer from allergies, it is not a look that makes us feel healthy or refreshed. So, what can be done about these pesky dark circles? For different solutions, let’s delve into the anatomy of the eyes and explore more about the causes of this issue first.

Quick Eye Anatomy

The skin under our eyes is where the skin is the thinnest, making it a delicate area. It essentially sits on top of a hollow structure around the eyes, surrounded by bone, blood vessels, fat, and muscle. It is easily irritated and dries out faster than skin in other areas.

Causes of Dark Circles

We get this question a lot at Vitalogy Skincare. The fact is that many people are affected by this and are looking for some way to improve its appearance. Although many of us believe that being tired is the leading cause, many causes can affect the look of your under-eye area, ranging from genetics to excessive sun exposure. It can be present in otherwise healthy individuals and tends to be more prevalent in people with more darkly pigmented skin. Here are some of the factors that play into dark circles:

  • Allergies
  • Lack of sleep
  • Chronic rubbing
  • Genetics
  • Dermatitis
  • Increased vascularity under the skin
  • Pigmentation of the skin due to familial or external triggers
  • Thin skin around the eyes
  • Sun exposure
  • Result of a shadow effect due to skin laxity and prominent tear troughs

Treatments Available

The key to any treatment is first to recognize the causes of your dark circles. Many times, there can be multiple factors at play. Then you can address those that can be corrected. If there are medical reasons, such as allergies, chronic rubbing, and dermatitis, they can be reduced by administering topical steroids or allergy testing. Patients are usually otherwise healthy. However, some rare, serious conditions can cause dark circles.  It is always best to be evaluated by a Board-Certified Dermatologist who can help you diagnose these issues. Even people with a more permanent dark under-eye problem can find their dark circles greatly improved by topical or other cosmetic treatments.

Topical lightening agents – Your Dermatologist might prescribe you a skin lightening agent if part of your issue is hyperpigmentation. These may contain hydroquinone, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid.

Chemical peels – also in cases of hyperpigmentation, a chemical peel can be helpful to lighten dark pigmentation under the eyes. At Vitalogy Skincare, we offer various chemical peels, one of which is Jessner’s chemical peel. This chemical peel is a light to medium-depth chemical peel that contains salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol.

Soft tissue fillers – Fillers can help with the volume loss under the eyes that can sometimes cause dark circles. Hyaluronic-based fillers such as JUVÉDERM® or Restylane® are some examples of this type of filler.

Lasers – Laser treatments can specifically target the under-eye area to treat blood vessels under the skin and lighten dark pigmentation in the eye area. As a bonus, it helps stimulate the production of collagen. 

Fat Grafting – Some people are genetically predisposed to dark circles due to excess skin under the eyes. Other factors (such as age) can create hollowed eyes and bags under your eyes. This procedure takes fat from other areas of your body, such as your thigh or abdomen, and uses it to plump up the eye area for a healthier look that will help with shadows under your eyes.

Blepharoplasty – a lower blepharoplasty can be done as a surgical option to remove excess skin in the lower eye area, creating a smoother look and decreasing the shadows under your eyes.

Things You Can do to Help Lessen Dark Eye Circles

As we mentioned, always check with your Board-Certified Dermatologist to ensure you know what is causing your dark circles. You can do some things yourself to help your under-eye skin area.

Limit sun exposure – This will help your skin stay healthier and avoid pigmentation issues under your eyes.

Treat your allergies – if your issue is allergy-related, managing your allergies will minimize the puffiness in your eyes and the dark circles. Treating your sinus congestion will also prevent the blood vessels under your eyes from pooling blood, causing dark circles. These are sometimes called allergy shiners.

Keep your knuckles out of your eye area – people with eczema or allergies tend to rub their eyes more often, which can cause hyperpigmentation, along with irritating the skin area and causing redness. Keep your eye area moisturized and treat your allergies to minimize itchiness.

Coverup – this is always an option. Many concealers contain mica, a mineral that reflects light, but you can also use mica-free products.

Get some restful sleep – seems obvious, but lack of sleep or fatigue can give you dark circles.

Over-the-counter products – several available products claim to help lessen dark circles. Remember that all products are not created equal and vary in efficacy. Keeping the eye area moisturized will naturally give you a healthier look. Look for products with hyaluronic acid and ceramides. These build a protective barrier on your skin, keeping the hydration in. You can also try products with retinoids, kojic acid, or vitamin C to help with pigmentation and brighten the skin.

Dermatologist recommended products – some of my favorite products for under-eye circles include Teamine® Eye Complex by Revision Skincare. This eye cream contains green tea extract, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C to minimize dark circles, hydrate, and brighten the skin. You can also try Foy Lip and Eye Moisturizer from Dr. Kristina Collins’ product line. This moisturizer has arnica and vitamins for brightening, hyaluronic acid spheres to help plump and fill in creases, and a blend of luxury oils to improve skin texture.

Vitalogy Skincare can help you on your quest to get rid of dark circles and provide you with a range of dermatology services from medical dermatology, skin cancer surgery, and cosmetic dermatology. Our highly skilled, experienced Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeons, Board-Certified Dermatologists, Certified Physician Assistants, and Licensed Aestheticians have been serving the Austin area with patient-centered care. Book an appointment today at any of our locations.


Christopher Jones, MD – Dr. Jones is a Board-Certified Dermatologist specializing in medical dermatology and skin cancer treatments. While at Stanford University, he completed a fellowship in Cutaneous Oncology with an emphasis on T-Cell Lymphoma. Dr. Jones has a particular interest in volunteering and bringing dermatology to communities in need. Dr. Jones enjoys travel, outdoor activities, art, and music when he is not working at our Georgetown and Cedar Park locations.