beauty

Dermatologist-approved ways to treat dark circles under your eyes.

While there is nothing wrong with having dark circles under your eyes (approximately all of us have them), if you've ever wanted to treat them, you'll know it can be a punish. You can end up forking out a whole heap of money on products that do exactly nothing, and honestly, we're too poor for this s**t.

Watch: Does haemorrhoid cream really work for dark circles? Find out below!


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The good news is that we pestered an innocent dermatologist to tell us what really works when it comes to treating dark circles. And she actually told us! How good.

Now, before we go ahead and tell you, it's probably worth sussing out exactly why we ended up with these dark circles the first place, yes?

Let's go.

What causes dark circles?

Well, apparently they're caused by a whole heap of different things. While general fatigue and lack of sleep definitely contribute to the formation of dark circles, Dr Saunderson said there are many other contributing factors - such as lifestyle and genetics.

Listen: Good news: Leigh has already found a product that *actually* makes eye bags disappear. Listen to this episode of You Beauty to find out what it is. Post continues below.

"The formation of dark circles can also be due to deposits of the pigment called melanin. They can also occur following inflammation (such as having eyelid eczema/dermatitis) and in people who have blood vessels that are close to the skin," she explains.

Obviously as we get older, the already thin and delicate skin around our eyes loses collagen and elastin, causing blood vessels underneath become more visible.  

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"Changes in the ligaments and fat, and even changes in the bone structure in the area can lead to shadowing, and 'tear trough depression'", said Dr Saunderson. 

Cool! So what can we do about 'em?

How do you get rid of dark circles?

Okay, let's just get this straight: Having dark circles is very much a normal thing that doesn't need to be 'fixed'. Like, at all. 

But! If it is something that bothers you or messes with your self-esteem, we'd much rather arm you with the correct advice rather than have you wasting your time and money on things that don't work.

So. Let's start with the obvious. Is it *actually* possible to get rid of underlying circles?

"It depends on the underlying cause, and also which treatment one has," said Dr Saunderson. "In theory, yes! In practice, they are a challenge." 

Okay, we see a glimmer of hope in that answer. Where do we start?

"The first thing to do is to obviously make sure you tackle the underlying cause," said Dr Saunderson. Meaning, if you reckon your dark circles are due to fatigue and lack of sleep, make sure you're clocking enough hours every night and ensure you're staying hydrated, mmmkay?

This also goes for people suffering from flare-ups and inflammation. "Treat underlying eyelid eczema and inflammation if present. If you're regularly experiencing swelling, using a warm compress and sweeping massage can assist to reduce swelling," suggests Dr Saunderson.

Tried all of the jazz? Not really relevant?

It's time for some topical options.

The issue is, though - there's so much out there. It's terrifying. So many products! So many brands! So many big claims! Where do we start?

Dr Saunderson suggests looking for products that contain ingredients like azelaic acid and kojic acid, as both these ingredients will help fade the appearance of dark circles and clarify uneven skin tone.

If you're looking for a good option, Paula's Choice has a 10% Azelaic Acid Booster ($36) that you could mix in with your regular hydrating eye cream and apply very carefully underneath your eyes (not too close, pls).

In terms of other ingredients, retinol is another great option - but it can be pretty tricky to use without irritating your sensitive eye area.

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"Retinoic acid (i.e. retinoids) can assist. However, they can cause irritation in this sensitive area such as redness, dryness, stinging."

Our advice? Start with a very low concentration and work your way up to avoid irritation - cause while it's a hardworking ingredient, retinol (vitamin A) can majorly irritate your skin. La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Anti-Ageing Serum, $48.69, is a good one to start with if you're a little unsure.

If you're looking for more options, Dr Saunderson said caffeine serums can also be very effective in minimising the appearance of dark circles (try InKey List Caffeine Under Eye Serum, $18, or Medik8 Advanced Eye Protect, $84), especially if caused from increased vessels and swelling. 

"Peptides and hyaluronic acid serums and creams can also assist to increase the tissue density," she adds. Cetaphil Face Hydrating Eye Cream Serum with Hyaluronic Acid, $14.49 or Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream, $29, would do the trick.

What in-clinic treatments can help dark circles?

"If using all of the serums and creams and nothing has helped, and underlying causes have been treated, then the invasive treatment options may be an option," said Dr Saunderson.

"Again, it depends on the cause. For example, if one has lost skin laxity and tissue volume from ageing, then all of the serums in the world probably won't rectify the problem, and a more invasive treatment [may be recommended]."

Some more invasive treatments include things like chemical peels (sounds hella painful cause: eye area - but if you go to a professional who knows what they're doing, you'll be fine) and laser (such as CO2 laser and Q-switched laser, or IPL).

If you're up for it, injectable treatments can also help. "Filler injections, such as hyaluronic acid fillers, can lift the soft tissues away and fill the hollowed area, and increase the volume," explains Dr Saunderson.

Just make sure you're being looked after by a professional, though, yeah? No dodgy clinics. ESPECIALLY for eye stuff. You don't want to get your peepers messed up by someone who doesn't have the right experience.

"If having a more invasive treatment or procedure, make sure you see a practitioner who does this regularly in their day-to-day work, and has the qualifications to be looking after you," adds Dr Saunderson.

Feature image: Getty