We ask top skin experts for the best ways to dial down & cover under-eye dark circles

We’ve all dealt with dark circles under our eyes at one point or another. In fact, as you’ll read in our guide on what causes dark circles, you’ll see that those pesky shadows are totally normal. 

Whether you’ve been dealing with them for some time, or you’ve noticed them cropping up recently, there’s a number of dermatologist- and expert-approved tips and tricks to help the area look brighter. That’s right, pepped-up peepers are just a scroll away. 

Can dark circles be removed?

The short answer? Not entirely. Each and every one of us will have some level of darkness around our eyes. This is because the skin around the eyes is different to the rest of the body. "There is little subcutaneous fat underneath the skin, unlike the rest of the face, which has a layer directly underneath," explains Dr Elizabeth Hawkes, consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic. It also has fewer oil glands and less collagen. The result? The naturally thinner and more delicate skin around the eye is more prone to changes in colour and texture.  

What ingredients may help improve the appearance of dark circles?

But it’s not all bad news – there are skincare ingredients that may help minimise the appearance of dark circles. 

If they’re caused by hyperpigmentation (an excess of melanin), Dr Sonakshi Khorana, GP and community dermatology doctor, suggests keeping an eye out for the following ingredients on the labels of your eye creams and gels: retinoids, vitamin C, kojic acid, liquorice root extract, niacinamide and azelaic acid.

Dr Khorana’s top products to help reduce dark circles at Boots
The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Eye Serum

• Size 15ml

Not only does this thinly formulated eye serum work to improve the look of dark circles, puffiness and fine lines, the blend of peptides and caffeine help to hydrate the delicate area around the eye for a more wide-awake look.

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

• Size: 15ml
• Contains vitamin C 

When we say this baby is brimming with all sorts of skincare goodies, we mean it. Containing collagen and vitamin C, just a small amount may help revive and illuminate the eye area. Better yet, it’s a dream base for make-up. 

Olay Retinol24 Night Eye Cream With Retinol & Vitamin B3

• Size: 15ml
• Contains niacinamide and a retinoid complex
• Fragrance-free

A cult classic among beauty eds, we love this soothing eye cream, which unleashes a gorgeous glow and helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while you sleep. It’s super light and silky in texture and combines two of Dr Khorana’s top ingredient picks: a retinoid complex and niacinamide.

Origins GinZing Vitamin C Eye Cream

• Size: 15ml

• Contains vitamin C, niacinamide and caffeine

• Jar and cap made with 97% post-consumer recycled content

Ideal for depuffing the eye area, this pearlised, brightening eye cream delivers radiant-looking skin in just one application. Simply tap around the eyes morning and night for beautifully perky peepers.

Can you get rid of dark circles through skincare alone?

"Tackling dark circles caused by medical conditions, ageing and the structure of your face can be tricky to treat – there’s only so much skincare can do to improve their appearance," says Dr Khorana. 

Keen to take further action when it comes to banishing the shadows? Dr Khorana has some in-clinic recommendations that can help you make an informed choice.  

Laser treatments: These may help address excess melanin and promote collagen production, resulting in brighter-looking eyes. 

Chemical peels: Often the go-to treatment for treating hyperpigmentation, a chemical peel may be the key to helping dial down dark under-eyes. "Milder peels can work well, as deep peels can damage the delicate skin," cautions Dr Khorana. This can worsen dark circles. 

Injectables: Tear trough dermal fillers are a popular option that can help replace volume to the hollowed areas around the eyes responsible for creating dark shadows.  

Cosmetic surgery: If you have dark, hooded eyelids, these may emphasise the appearance of dark circles. "You could consider a procedure known as blepharoplasty, which may be helpful," says Dr Khorana. This is a cosmetic procedure, designed to remove excess skin or fat from the eyelids.

Before considering any of the above, take into account the cost, the associated risks and that the results cannot be guaranteed. 

Can ice remove dark circles? 

When it comes to natural remedies, we’ve heard it all – teabags, cucumber, ice and even cold spoons – but do any of them actually work when it comes to minimising dark circles?

Well, if you have blue-tinged dark circles caused by dilated blood vessels, your kitchen could be a refreshing starting point. "Ice can constrict blood vessels, so anything cooling may help their appearance," says Dr Khorana. "You can keep some spoons in the fridge and gently press them against the eye area to depuff. A cold tea compress or cucumber may help, but this is just due to temperature." 

We’ll stick to tea bags in our cuppa and cucumber in our G&T, in that case…

Are there any lifestyle tweaks that may help the appearance of dark circles?

Turns out late nights and too many glasses of fizz are a no-no when it comes to dark circles – who knew? Here are Dr Khorana’s top lifestyle tips:

Get plenty of sleep: Yup, there’s a reason we refer to it as 'beauty sleep'. "Getting enough zzzzs every night has great benefits for your skin – it’s necessary for the maintenance of collagen and cell regeneration," says Dr Khorana. "Try to aim for about eight hours of shut-eye a night."

Always wear SPF: Our top tip? Incorporate an SPF50 into your daily skincare routine to help prevent hyperpigmentation. "Sun exposure can make your dark circles worse. I can’t stress how important SPF use is in protecting the delicate skin around your eyes," says Dr Khorana. 

Diet: While there aren’t any quick fixes for dark circles, Dr Khorana always advises a balanced diet. "Maintaining a nutritious diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein and healthy fats can benefit your skin overall and possibly lead to some improvements in the eye area," she says. 

How to cover dark circles

If you’re not yet on board with colour correcting, consider this your cue – the technique may be temporary, but has the power to transform dark under-eyes. "Colour correcting is a method of using complimentary colours to combat any discolouration, such as redness, bruising, dullness, dark spots and dark circles," says Emma Kirk, make-up artist for NYX Professional Makeup. For purple or blue dark circles, look for yellow and pink colour correctors. For brown dark circles, try orange.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different shades to work out which hue counteracts your dark circles best. Our top tips? Less is more and practice makes perfect!

Want more info on colour correcting? Check out Emma’s ultimate how-to guide here.

The takeaway

While most of us are always going to have to deal with dark circles in some capacity (hey, it’s just part of being human), there are ways to help improve their appearance if they’re getting you down. Whether via home remedies or superhero skincare ingredients, tweaking your lifestyle, looking at cosmetic procedures (if you so desire) or tapping into some clever colour correcting, there’s something to support you in feeling good.  

Find out more ways to combat dark circles in our guide.