Ditch Dark Circles

Though dark blue shadows under your eyes can make it appear as though you haven't slept in weeks, lack of slumber isn't their only cause, says New York City dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner, M.D., who explains the sometimes surprising reasons they occur-and what you can do about them.

The basic facts

The skin under your eyes is thin and fairly translucent, which causes the blood vessels in this area to show through and give off a dark, bluish cast. To compound the problem, the fat pads that surround your eyes-and the muscles that hold them in place-sag as you get older, exacerbating the effect.

What to look for

  • A family history Shadows under the eyes are often hereditary.
  • You're not getting your zzz's This slows your circulation, making your skin look paler and dark vessels more pronounced.
  • You have allergies When the body is fighting off an allergen, the veins under the eyes dilate and become darker.
  • You're often bloated If you smoke, drink alcohol excessively, or eat a lot of processed foods-which tend to be loaded with sodium-the blood vessels under your eyes can swell with fluid and look more prominent.
  • You're always rubbing your eyes The stress of constant pressure in this area can cause capillaries to break, which results in a bruise-like hue on the surface of skin.

Simple solutions

  • Use an eye cream with vitamin K This minimizes clotting, helping to lighten blood vessels. Try Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue ($100; peterthomasroth.com).
  • Cover eyes with chilled black tea bags The cool water and caffeine combo constricts vessels and lessens blue tones.
  • Camouflage shadows Try using a sheer concealing cream that has yellow tones to mask dark circles. We like Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener ($32; bobbibrown.com), which comes in four shades to suit everyone.
  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated You'll prevent fluid from collecting under your eyes, which creates shadows.
  • Drink enough water Staying hydrated will plump the under-eye skin and help obscure blueness.
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