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Is it impossible to get rid of my dark eye circles and eye bags? The honest truth.

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asian woman worried about dark eye circle and eyebags in the morning

Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up dewy and bright-eyed in the mornings, instead of sullen, puffy and panda-eyed? We’ve all been there before: finishing yet another episode on Netflix, late night Instagram-scrolling, indulging in a glass of red (or two); it’s no wonder most of us walk around sporting dark eye circles and three-dimensional eye bags.

Medically known as periorbital dark circles (what an ominous ring!), dark eye circles appear when there is hyperpigmentation, thinning of the lower eyelid skin overlying the orbicularis oculi muscle, shadowing due to loss of elasticity of the skin. [1] Although not life-threatening at all, these dark eye rings can make you look years older, perpetually tired and even sad-looking. [2]

Also read: Do anti-ageing treatments really exist? Here’s the spill

Eye bags on the other hand, are mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes, caused by excess fat or fluid deposits. Although eye bags and dark eye circles are technically not the same at all, these two really go hand-in-hand like Bonnie and Clyde.

Any swelling and discoloration of the under-eye skin can be prominent and result in both dark circles and puffy eye bags, making you look like something in between a panda and a pufferfish.

“What causes dark eye circles and eye bags?”

Simply put, genetics, age, and environmental factors can cause dark eye circles and eye bags to appear underneath your eyes. To get rid of dark circles and eye bags for good, first consider their source.

We’ve put together eight common causes so that you’d know how to tackle your problem of panda eyes and monstrous-sized eye bags at its very root!

#1. Genetically prone

dark eye circles and eye bags can be passed down genetically
If your parents or grandparents have them, it’s pretty likely that you will, too.
You can be genetically prone to dark eye circles and eye bags.

People with skin allergies can have a genetic predisposition to dark eye circles and eye bags due to hyperpigmentation. Such skin allergies include atopic dermatitis, a common and relapsing inflammatory skin disease, also more widely known as eczema. [3] It is also common in those with a condition called oculodermal melanocytosis [4], a type of congenital disorder comprising hyperpigmentation of the under-eye skin.

Such allergies can make you feel like rubbing your eyes more often or scratching the itchy, tender skin beneath your eyes. Be warned: this can worsen the situation as it may cause your blood vessels to become inflamed and broken, exacerbating the appearance of those deathly dark circles.

While you can’t really change the fact that dark circles and eye bags run in your fam, but you can change your diet, lifestyle and skincare habits to start fixing them to brighten up your look!

#2. Ageing

comparison of women with and without wrinkles
Your skin thins when you age, causing it to wrinkle easily

One of the most common causes of dark circles, ageing results in a thinning of your skin as you lose fat, collagen, elasticity… all the things essential for supple and taut skin.

Your under-eye skin are already one of the thinnest parts of your surface skin; thus when it thins down further, the blood vessels and capillaries beneath your skin start to become more visible, causing the skin under your eyes to darken. Wrinkles and skin laxity in the infraorbital areas also worsen as we grow older. Over time, our skin becomes saggy and result in eye bags.

#3. Overexposure to the sun

using sunscreen to help fight off wrinkles

 Research has shown that too much sun exposure has been linked to irreversible premature ageing, such as the breakdown of the skin’s natural collagen and elastin, as well as causing discolouration of the skin. [5]

If sunscreen has yet become part of your skincare routine, it is time to start. Make sure you use a sunscreen with SPF 30+ or more to block those harmful UV rays that you expose your skin to every day.

#4. Excessive salt in your diet

excessive salt can promote wrinkles on skin

Cut down on salty foods and consume fresh foods over processed ones, as these foods are likely to be high in sodium chloride content. Excess sodium intake encourages the retention of fluids in the area around the eyes, causing your eyes to look puffy and eye bags to form.

#5. Excessive alcohol

woman drinking big glass of alcohol might increase the risk of early wrinkles, dark eye and eye bags

Overconsuming alcohol also dilates the blood vessels, causing them to break and in turn causing dark circles to form beneath the eyes.

#6. Smoking

woman refusing a pack of cigarette

Smoking robs your skin of its vital nutrients, making your skin dull and sullen and also exacerbating the appearance of eye bags and dark circles at the same time.

#7. Lack of water

woman drinking water to promote healthy and radiant skin

Drinking water is one of the most underrated beauty hacks of all time. When you don’t drink enough water, it shows in your skin – and affects the thinnest and most vulnerable under-eye skin first. Keeping yourself (and your skin) fully hydrated can also help to keep eye bags and dark eye circles at bay.

Water not only helps to flush out toxins in the blood and skin, but it also stimulates blood flow and keeps your skin well-hydrated. Try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to your jug of water for an extra antioxidant boost.

#8. Lack of sleep

Obviously sleep is one of the main reasons why you’re sporting dark eye circles and eye bags in the first place. Ever tried sleeping at 4 A.M. for a few consecutive nights and find yourself staring back at your panda-eyed reflection?

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason – when you sleep, your skin regenerates itself. If your body is sleep-deprived, your cortisol (stress hormones) levels increase and blood vessels expand, making dark circles more visible. Getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of good night’s sleep will definitely help deal with your puffy eye bags and dark eye circles.

“Home remedies for all the puffy, panda eyed people”

The next time you get insomnia or spend one too many late nights and wake up puffy and panda-eyed, try these tried-and-tested home remedies and let us know how it went in the comments.

Green teabag cold compress

woman undergoing green tea therapy to fight off eye bags and dark eye circle
“Soak two green teabags in hot water for five minutes. Next, transfer the tea bags onto a dish and chill them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Once they’re cold, apply the teabags to your closed eyes for 20 minutes.”

Green tea contains antioxidants such as tannin which can help to stimulate blood circulation and shrink the tiny blood vessels in the skin under your eyes. It also helps to reduce liquid retention beneath the skin. Doing a cold compress can also reduce swelling and contract dilated blood vessels further.

Egg white eye mask

using egg white eye mask helps to tighten the skin

“Beat up an egg white and apply it to your under-eye skin gently with your fourth finger. Let it work for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse off.”

The egg white is chalkful of vitamins that can help with circulation and reduces inflammation, brightening your under-eye complexion. As the egg white dries up, it also helps to tone and tighten your skin.

Cucumber eye mask

woman using cucumber to help brighten the skin around the eyes

“Chill the cucumber and make sure it’s cold before rinsing and slicing it. Place the cucumber circles onto your eye sockets for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse off.”

You may be familiar with this movie scene: women relaxing at the pool/spa/(insert place) with cucumber slices atop their eyelids. Well, there is some truth in movies after all. Cucumbers do help reduce water retention due to the ascorbic and caffeic acid in them, and even helps to brighten and lighten skin tone.

“A caveat”

Your habits, diet and lifestyle – these can all affect your dark circles and puffy eyebags to act up. It is not impossible to lighten those stubborn dark circles and elevate those puffy eye bags with these tips if you have the occasional late nights and only encounter these problems once in a while.

But there’s a caveat: deep, dark circles and eye bags are notoriously hard to get rid of – once you have them, they’re almost always here to stay. Even the most elaborate of home remedies and the most expensive eye creams cannot banish them entirely: we would need to turn to dermatological treatments like dermal fillers, technological and laser treatments or surgical treatments (in the form of lower eyelid surgery or blepharoplasty).

After all, nobody likes to look like they’re being socked in the eye or carrying so much baggage in the face. Thank goodness for medical advancements that we now have the option to be rid of them permanently!

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay beautiful 🙂



[1] Roh, M. R. and Chung, K. Y. (2009). Infraorbital Dark Circles: Definition, Causes and Treatment Options. Dermatology Surgery, Volume 35, Issue 8, pages 1163-1171; https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-4725.2009.01213.x

[2] Nguyen, H. T., Isaacowitz, D. M. and Rubin, P. A. (2009). Age- and fatigue-related markers of human faces: an eye-tracking study. Ophthalmology, Feb;116(2):355-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2008.10.007

[3] Thomsen, S. F. (2014). Atopic Dermatitis: Natural History, Diagnosis and Treatment. ISRN allergy, 354250; doi:10.1155/2014/354250

[4] Newcomer, V. D., Lindberg, M. C. and Sternberg, T. H. (1961). A melanosis of the face (“chloasma”). Arch Dermatology, Feb; 83:284-99. 10.1001/archderm.1961.01580080114013

[5] Elmarzugi, N. A., Keleb, E. I., Mohamed, A. T., Issa, Y. S., Hamza, A. M., Layla, A. A., Salama, M., Bentaleb, A. M. (2013). The Relation between Sunscreen and Skin Pathochanges Mini Review. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention ISSN (Online): 2319 – 6718, Volume 2 Issue 7, pp: 43-52

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