If you’re here, there’s a good chance you experience dark undereye circles, whether it just happens after a long sleepless night or if they’ve become something you more or less live with every day. And if either of those things sound familiar, chances are this is not the first article you’ve read on how to get rid of them.
I’m going to start out by saying something that you might not want to hear: topical treatments for dark undereye circles are tricky. Many of them don’t work, and the ones that do work can take a few months before you see any results.
The truth is that dark circles are generally a genetic trait and/or the result of internal things happening. The article I posted about face mapping explains that dark circles can result from ‘weak kidneys, tired adrenal glands, or even food allergies.
In my article on eye health we dissected it further, looking at the actual color under the eyes and what that correlates with, healthwise. I recommend reading through that article and determining what might be the cause of your undereye pigmentation before mixing up a lotion to fix it.
Essentially, eliminating dark circles often involves more than just a topical treatment. But what we put on our skin can be part of a holistic treatment plan for reducing dark circles. It’s all about choosing the right herbs and using them in conjunction with changes that may need to be made to your diet and lifestyle.
As you probably know, there are lots of herbs that have benefits for your skin, and many of those are also good for the skin under your eyes. For this article, I wanted to focus on ingredients that have scientific evidence to back their use as an ingredient for eliminating dark circles specifically.
Some Things to Consider When Making an Eye Cream (Or Anything Meant for Your Eyes)
The skin under your eyes is one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Ingredients that work on your arms, legs, and even your face might cause irritation under your eyes. It’s best to stick to ingredients that are known to be gentle. So while eucalyptus does naturally help to constrict blood vessels, you might want to avoid it as a remedy for dark circles because it can irritate the sensitive eye area. (But try it for a spider vein cream!)
Another thing to think about is moisture. The skin around your eyes doesn’t produce its own oil, so it’s important to give this area some love! There are many ingredients that do a great job of nourishing this delicate area. I recommend something light that absorbs quickly and isn’t prone to clogging the skin, like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, or hemp seed oil. Your eyes will automatically look healthier and younger when they are properly moisturized, so if you’re making an eye cream, you definitely want to include a moisturizing ingredient. You can even infuse your oils with herbs, for added phyto-nutritious goodness.
A Simple Way to Enjoy the Benefits of Herbs
You might not be ready to commit to making your own herbal eye cream (or maybe you are!), but you can still enjoy some of the benefits. For the herbs below and most any herb out there that’s safe for skin, your can simply make a tea and apply it to your skin using a compress (hot or cold), or even boil the herbs and enjoy them as an herbal steam.
Here are three herbs with scientific evidence that supports their use as a natural remedy for dark undereye circles.
1. Licorice Root
If you’ve ever used a natural formulation that claims to help reduce dark undereye circles, there’s a good chance it has licorice root in it. And it’s for good reason — licorice root (Glycyrrhiza Glabra) contains active compounds that naturally help reduce pigment on the skin. One compound in particular, an isoflavonoid called Glabridin, is unique to licorice root and has been shown to prevent the formation of pigment while also reducing inflammation.
Licorice root is more likely to be effective at treating under eye circles with a brownish hue compared to blue circles. This is because brownish hued dark circles are generally caused by hyperpigmentation, whereas blue circles result more from the pooling of blood beneath the eyes. Brown hyperpigmentation under the eyes can result from sun damage, scarring, or simply your genetics — licorice root can help lighten them up.
You may have put two and two together already, but its lightening properties make licorice root effective for other areas where you might have scarring, sun spots, or other forms of hyperpigmentation as well, making it an excellent alternative to harsher skin lighteners such as hydroquinone, which can damage the skin over time.
2. Butcher’s Broom
Unlike licorice root, butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) works by constricting blood veins, making it a useful herb if you have those blueish dark undereye circles. These result both from the thinning of the skin under the eyelids (which can happen with age) and the pooling of blood under the eyes.
Butcher’s broom is a low growing shrub grown commonly as a landscape plant throughout Europe, where it has long been used as an herb to support the circulatory system.
Chemicals called saponins are thought to be responsible for the astringent action of this plant. Because it has a tightening effect on blood vessels, it’s also commonly used as a treatment for varicose veins.
Using butcher’s broom in your eye cream formulation can help discourage the blood pooling effect under the eyes and thus lessen the appearance of dark circles. Of course, this is best done in conjunction with efforts to increase sleep, decrease caffeine and alcohol, and drinking lots of water!
A third herb you might want to consider including in your herbal eye cream is chamomile. You’re probably familiar with the calming feeling of drink chamomile tea — it’s also a really great skin care herb and can help eliminate dark circles while also calming the skin.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) works similarly to licorice root — by brightening the skin. It’s also an incredibly calming herb, helping to soothe sensitive skin around the eyes. It’s really an amazing ingredient for the face in general, so I recommend using it in your formulations whenever possible!
There are many herbs out there that are said to eliminate dark undereye circles.
Do they? Hard to say. Those above have some scientific evidence that looks pretty promising. At any rate, nourishing the eyes with a top quality moisturizer infused with nourishing herbs is a great step towards brighter, healthier looking eyes.
A little caution: Always do a patch test with a new topical product–herb or not–before applying to the face or eye area. Allergies can happen at anytime, even if you’ve never been diagnosed with an allergy. If you have known plant or seasonal allergies, or are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an open wound or diagnosed infection or condition, consult with a licensed natural health practitioner or clinical herbalist before adding anything to your regimen. Read our full disclaimer here.