Dark Eye Circles 101 for Black and Brown Skin

Dark Eye Circles 101 for Black and Brown Skin

We know them by many names—dark eye circles, under-eye circles, eye bags, raccoon eyes, eye rings—but no matter what you call them, they can make you look tired and not like your best self!

If you’re a woman with black or brown skin, you’re even more susceptible to dark under-eye circles.

Let’s get into everything you need to know about dark eye circles on black and brown skin including causes, treatment, prevention, and the most common questions!

What causes dark eye circles on black and brown skin?

There are two primary causes of dark under-eye circles, you’re either dealing with hyperpigmentation or thinning skin under the eye area. Some secondary factors like puffiness around the eye area and blood flow to the under eyes can also affect their appearance.

Unfortunately, since hyperpigmentation is involved, women with black and brown skin are disproportionately affected since you naturally have more melanin, or pigment, in your skin. Some common factors that may worsen your dark under-eye circles are:

Tiredness or Poor Sleep – Lack of sleep can cause both eye puffiness which may create a shadow effect and make the eye area appear even darker. It can also cause the skin to appear paler which makes the under-eye circles more pronounced.

Age – Unfortunately, as we age our skin thins and loses volume. The thinning of the skin can make the blood vessels of the under-eye area more prominent and look darker. The loss of volume around the eye area can create a hollowing effect which casts more under-eye shadows.

Sun Exposure – Not only does sun exposure increase premature aging, but it can also increase hyperpigmentation around the eye area.

Family History — Genetics play a crucial role in under-eye circles, so in this instance, you can blame your mom and dad.

Allergies or Eye Irritation – One of the ways your body responds to eye allergies and irritants is by increasing blood flow. The enlarged blood vessels around the eyes can cause them to appear darker. Couple that with more itchiness and rubbing which causes swelling and broken blood vessels and you’re bound to have some dark under-eye circles.

Dermatitis or Other Skin Conditions – A 2014 medical journal sites a study which shares a strong link between dermatitis and dark under-eye circles. They share that the two most common irritants are nickel and fragrances. This is why clean, natural skincare is especially important for women with black and brown skin.

The journal goes on to share that in some instances, dark under-eye circles are a part of another related skin condition and not a separate condition of their own.1

Acanthosis Nigricans – Sometimes referred to as keratosis nigricans, acanthosis nigricans is another skin pigmentation disorder worth mentioning separately because it is a pretty common and can be linked to dark under eye circles. It is most commonly associated with hyperpigmentation of the under arms, groin, cheeks, neck and knuckles. Some of the factors above play a role like genetics, but weight gain, diabetes and hormonal imbalances can also play a role.

What deficiency causes dark circles?

The most cited deficiency linked to dark under-eye circles in women with black and brown skin is anemia which is caused by an iron deficiency. Similarly, to a lack of sleep, anemia can cause your skin to look paler than usual which makes the pigment and blood vessels under your eye area look darker and more prominent.

Dark Eye Circle Treatment for Black and Brown Skin: How can I remove my dark eye circles?

Let’s get to what you’re really here for, how can you get rid of your dark under-eye circles so you can look refreshed and feel your best! You might not want to hear this, but dark under-eye circles can be persistent and oftentimes difficult to treat, so you might find a multi-step approach to be best. Below are some of the current options available to get rid of dark under-eye circles on black and brown skin.

In Office Treatments

  • Chemical peels
  • Lasers
  • Radiofrequency
  • Injectable fillers
  • Surgery

Skincare Treatments

  • Hydroquinone (HQ)
  • Topical retinoids
  • Natural brightening ingredients like licorice root and kojic acid extract

Homeopathic Remedies

  • Stay hydrated
  • Apply a cold compress to the eye area
  • Place seeped green tea or black tea bags under your eyes for 10-15 minutes
  • Proper Sleep

Dark Eye Circle Prevention for Black and Brown Skin

When it comes to dark under-eye circles in black and brown women, there are some factors you cannot control, but there are some you can. Below are the four controllable factors that will have the biggest impact on keeping your under-eye circles at bay!

Sun protection – Sunscreen is one of the most important steps in your skincare routine, so be sure to apply ample amounts around your eyes. We also recommend sunglasses, and the bigger the better! Sunglasses help block UV rays, but they also help stop you from squinting or rubbing your eyes as much.

Consistent Skincare – When it comes to skincare, consistency is key. Your eye area is delicate, so we recommend using an eye crème that reduces melanin production, soothes inflammation and locks in hydration. Take a look at the TOUCH UP "Magnetic Eyes" Brightening Eye Crème.

Stay Well-Rested – Sleep is so important for you overall health and a lack of sleep will certainly show up on your skin. One of those ways is dark under-eye circles. If you’re suffering from under-eye circles, try to make an extra effort to prioritize sleep.

Proper Hydration – Staying hydrated will help your skin maintain volume and luminosity. Both of these will help reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles.

Top 6 Common Questions About Dark Eye Circles

Dark eye circles are such a prevalent problem and there are a lot of questions floating around about them. We’ve complied the top six most common questions all in one place for you.

Can coffee reduce dark eye circles?

There is some evidence to suggest that coffee can help minimize the appearance of under eye circles, but not drinking it. Use coffee grounds to create an under-eye mask. The caffeine can help stimulate blood flow and reduce puffiness.

Can aloe vera remove dark circles?

If your dark circles are caused by inflammation, irritation, dehydration or aging skin, applying aloe vera can help soothe and moisturize which may help minimize the appearance of dark under-eye circles.

Do dark eye circles go away?

Since dark-under eye circles are affected by a lot of factors, they may fade then darken on and off depending on how well you’re taking care of yourself, using treatments, and taking preventative measures.

What food cause dark circles?

Foods that may worsen your dark under-eye circles are foods that cause dehydration. Think of foods high in salt, alcohol, and sugary foods. If you’re not compensating with proper water intake, your under eyes will be puffy creating shadows and dark circles.

Can drinking water reduce dark circles?

If you’re dehydrated, then yes drinking plenty of water can help minimize water retention and puffiness, while increasing blood flow and circulation. All of these are great for reducing dark circles.

Does drinking milk reduce dark circles?

Some people claim that the lactic acid in milk can help minimize the appearance of dark circles, but not by drinking it. Soak cotton balls in milk and place them on your eyes for 10-15 minutes. The lactic acid can help with cell turnover which helps with skin generation to strengthen and thicken the skin of the under-eye area and reduce dark under-eye circles.

If you’re suffering from dark eye circles and have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Looking for more information and tips on skincare for black and brown skin? Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list!


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Roberts, Wendy. “Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: Review of Etiology, Medical Evaluation, and Aesthetic Treatment - JDDonline - Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.” JDDonline, 2014, https://jddonline.com/articles/periorbital-hyperpigmentation-review-of-etiology-medical-evaluation-and-aesthetic-treatment-S1545961614P0472X/?_page=2.