raccoon walking on lawn grass
Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Dark under eye circles tend to show up on all of us from time to time. Some days you might even ask yourself, “do I have raccoon genes?”

I’m reasonably sure you are 100% human.

But figuring out why those pesky dark circles are showing up can be a little tricky. I’ve listed some of the most common causes plus a few simple tricks to stop them.

First, we need to identify the kind of dark under eye circle and ask questions:

  • Does it get better, then get worse?
  • Does it stay the same color all the time?
  • Does it have a yellowish undertone?
  • Does it look like you have a black eye? With some purple and blue
    undertones?
  • Is it accompanied by puffiness?
  • All of the above???

Does the darkness under your eyes get better then get worse?

If the darkness of your dreaded circles fluctuates, you need to look
seriously at getting more regular sleep.

This means shutting off that iPhone, computer, and TV about an hour before bed. Seriously!

man using phone at night
Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash

Gazing at electronic screens tires the muscles in your eyes, and can contribute to chronic dryness and eyestrain.

The blue light from electronics inhibits melatonin production, which you need for deep sleep. Recent studies show it also accelerates aging in the skin, so…

There is a real reason they call it Beauty Sleep.

What else can you do about it?

Add a pinch of sea salt to your water every day. Real sea salt, NOT table salt!

Holistically, the eyes reflect the health of your kidneys, and adrenals. Not enough sleep = higher cortisol (stress hormone) production.

Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) contain trace minerals that our bodies use up rapidly under stress. Its the minerals that give salt color. And who doesn’t have stress? Consider a daily dose of magnesium as well.

Do your under eye circles stay the same color all the time?

If you answered yes, you can blame your parents for this one.

Genetics determines the color of your skin, and deeper skin tones have more likelihood of this kind of circle.

Excess sun exposure will make it worse over time.

What can you do about it?

Topical preparations like retinol and vitamin C have been shown to reduce this kind of pigmentation.

Topical brightening serums containing arbutin, licorice, and mulberry can be helpful when used regularly. Lets not forget the SPF shall we?

Do your eyes have a yellowish undertone?

Anytime there is a yellow tone in the skin, holistically this indicates a
sluggish liver. Yellow with brown may reflect a sluggish bowel.

What to do about it?

A detox may be in order here! Generally any “detoxification” really means you need to look at how you are nourishing yourself, so cut the processed “foods” and load up on the dark green leafies and healthy fats.

Again, a little sea salt every day can help to provide trace minerals for healthy liver and bowel function. 

Yellow dock, nettles, and dandelion are Super Weeds that support healthy liver function and are also high in trace minerals.

Does it look like you have a black eye?

boxer woman wearing black Leone leather boxing gloves
Photo by Monica Silva on Unsplash

Um, have you been out brawling?

If not, this is what we call an allergic shiner, and you guessed it, indicates allergies.

This could mean environmental allergies, like hay fever or mold, but it could also mean food sensitivities. The most likely culprits are wheat, dairy, corn, soy and eggs.


Sometimes people tell me that everyone in their family has this kind of dark under eye circle, so it can’t be a food issue.

Well, actually, sometimes your whole family is sensitive.

These kinds of food issues have a genetic component. Try cutting them out completely for a while, and see what happens with your under eye circles. I often see gluten (wheat) as the culprit in my practice.

Are your under eye circles  accompanied by puffiness?

smiling woman while sitting at the bar
Photo by Timur M on Unsplash

Have you been out drinking?

Not only will alcohol mess with your Beauty Sleep, it stresses your liver, increases insulin resistance, and slows down lymphatic flow, often resulting in a lovely pair of matching dark circles.

Hate to break it to you, but as you age, having an alcoholic drink will frequently result in puffy morning eyes. Yes, even a single glass of wine is enough to bring out the dark puffs. I know from experience…

Another very common cause of under eye puffiness is low thyroid function. Get that checked, will ya? Especially if you have other symptoms like hair falling out, the outer third of your eyebrow is disappearing, or constant fatigue.

So what to do about it?

Keep a couple of teaspoons in your fridge, and  when you wake up with dark puffs, gently rock the chilled spoons over your eyes.

You can also gently massage the bottoms of your earlobes, pulling and tugging the whole ear area downward. GENTLE is the key word here.

This stimulates lymphatic flow, and constricts swollen tissue. Feels pretty good too.

Follow it up with a dose of niacinamide, dandelion, and don’t forget that pinch of sea salt in your water! This is where the classic cucumber slices work as well.

If it’s your thyroid, listen to your doctor and take care of yourself.

Do your under eye circles have all of the above issues?

Go take a vacation! Sounds like you may have been pushing yourself for far too long.

Adequate sleep, real food, nourishing botanicals like nettles and
dandelion, trace minerals, and a long walk in nature may be just what your
Esthetician ordered.

Thanks for reading! I am a licensed Esthetician (skin care specialist) and
owner of Viriditas Beautiful Skin Therapies, a holistic skin care practice
and acne clinic in Providence RI. 

If you need more help with your dark under eye circles, make an appointment with us! We help clients both in person and virtually.

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