5 Causes and Natural Remedies for Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

Nobody likes looking in the mirror and seeing puffy eyes or dark circles. If it looks like your mascara has run, but you haven’t been wearing any, it’s time to take action. Learn what causes this problem and what you can do to ease dark circles and puffiness naturally.

Are Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes Just a Fact of Life?

Few things will make you look tired and take away from vibrancy the way under eye circles can. So much of our health and emotion can be seen in our eyes and the skin around them. Puffy eyes and darkness are common, affecting pretty much everyone at some point, but it doesn’t mean you need to sit back and accept them as a fact of life.

Here’s what you need to know about the causes of puffiness and “raccoon eyes” along with five natural things you can do to reduce dark circles and appear more youthful and rested.

5 Causes of Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes

1. Fatigue

When you’re tired, your eyes are one of the first places it shows. When you’re fatigued, your body gets a signal that something’s not right and responds by amping up the production of a hormone called cortisol.

Higher levels of cortisol create vasodilation (expanding blood vessels) to improve blood flow. In the undereye area where the skin is thin, you see darkening from the expanding blood vessels beneath the surface.

Fatigue stress

2. Stress

Stress is the main culprit behind puffy and dark circles under the eyes. Just like when you’re fatigued, the increase of cortisol expands blood vessels, making them more visible through thin under-eye skin. Stress also redirects blood flow to your vital organs, robbing your facial skin of your normal glow and vibrancy, which only accentuates any puffiness or circles that are already there.

3. Age

As we mature, our skin changes. Of all your skin, that around your eyes is the thinnest[1] and delicate. It only makes sense age often shows itself here first. As the quality of eye skin begins to deteriorate, become frailer, and less elastic, under eye circles and puffiness become more of a consistent issue.

4. Genetics

Not all the causes of puffy and dark circles under the eyes are something you can control. For some, dark circles are just part of the genetics they were born with. You can embrace the face given to you, cover them up, or try a few natural remedies to lighten them a little.

5. Sun Exposure

Sun exposure will prematurely age your skin faster than anything else. When exposed to UV light from the sun, your body responds by producing more melanin as a protective measure against further damage. One of the first signs of skin damage is a suntan. Sunlight causes hyperpigmentation[2], including the fragile under eye area. It shows itself as those dark circles you can’t get rid of.

Sun Exposure Dark Circle

Read Also: How to Build a Skin Care Routine: The Perfect 5-Step Skincare Regimen

5 Easy, Natural Remedies for Tired-Looking Eyes

Get Enough Sleep

Your body is hard at work, doing all sorts of rejuvenation and repair while you sleep. Lack of sleep will show on your face, especially in the undereye area. If you want to reduce dark circles, the first step should be to make sure you get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

Cold Tea Bags

The caffeine found in tea can be detrimental to sleep quality[3], and have not so pleasant effects on your skin. On the other hand, taking those tea bags, cooling them down, and applying them to your skin is a good way to reduce dark circles. The coolness and the tannins in tea work together to relieve unsightly puffiness and discolorations.

Essential oils

Some essential oils have anti-inflammatory and soothing effects, and you can take advantage of essential oils to ease undereye puffiness and discoloration. Pure essential oils such as lavender, rosemary, and rose geranium are excellent choices. Just remember to use pure, high-quality essential oils, and don’t apply full strength to your skin. Add a few drops to a carrier oil or cream and pat gently.


You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again. Wear your sunscreen because an ounce of prevention now will save your skin from premature aging, irreversible damage, and hyperpigmentation that can lead to dark undereye circles.

Sleep on Your Back

Sleeping on your back is a time-honored beauty trick. Sleeping in these positions prevents fluids from pooling around your eyes, plus you don’t have to worry about waking up with “pillow wrinkles” on your face.

Sleep on Your Back

Questions and Answers

1] What Deficiency Causes Dark Circles?

If a vitamin/mineral deficiency is behind your dark circles, chances are you’re lacking either iron or vitamin B12, both of these work to oxygenate the blood. In cases of deficiency, you’re more likely to see darkness due to the bluish tones of the veins right below the surface.

2] Are Dark Circles a Sign of Illness?

Dark circles under the eyes can be a sign of illness, but that is not usually the case. If dark circles have appeared with no other reasonable explanation, including changes due to aging, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your doctor. Sometimes, thyroid dysfunction, allergies, chronic health conditions can cause dark eye circles. Medications could also be a culprit.

3] Does Vitamin Deficiency Cause Puffy Eyes?

The root causes between puffy eyes and dark circles are different, but puffiness can also be attributed to vitamin deficiencies in some people. Deficiencies of vitamin B12, K, and D can sometimes cause puffiness. Eat a diet rich in a variety of healthy, whole foods, and have your doctor check your levels if you think a deficiency might be to blame.

4] Why Do I Wake Up With Puffy Eyes?

When you sleep, your body is relatively still. It gives fluids in your body plenty of opportunities to pool around extremities and other areas of your body, including your face. When sleeping, fluid can accumulate around your eyes, giving them a puffy appearance when you wake. Try sleeping on your back or with your head slightly elevated to avoid this problem.

Wake Up With Puffy Eyes

5] Are Dark Undereye Circles Permanent?

It depends on the cause of your dark undereye circles. Culprits like lack of sleep or medication are usually temporary. As we age and the skin around the eyes become more fragile, under eye darkness can become more of a permanent fixture, although you can always take steps to lighten or reduce dark circles.

6] Are Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes Caused by Allergies?

Absolutely. Sinus congestion and nasal or eye pressure that’s associated with allergies can increase swelling in the area and cause veins just below the surface to swell and darken. If allergies are a problem, take care of not rubbing your eye area too harshly as this can damage the delicate skin.

Bottom Line

While unpleasant, dark circles under the eyes and puffiness are temporary in most cases, you can help soothe the undereye area and protect it from future damage by committing to a daily skincare routine that’s formulated for your skin type, and that pampers the delicate under eye area. Take care of your skin, get plenty of rest, and eat right. Do all this, and your body will take care of the rest.

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