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Most people equate dark circles and puffy eyes with long days, wild nights, and one too many margaritas. That may be true to a certain extent, but if you’re a teetotaler who’s racking a solid eight hours a night, dark circles and puffy eyes may have deeper roots. Both conditions can be caused by factors ranging from sinus problems and allergies to nutritional deficiencies, aging, and genetics. The good news: you can lighten dark circles and send under-eye bags packing with simple, natural remedies. Some of the best:
Butterbur. AMost people equate dark circles and puffy eyes with long days, wild nights, and one too many margaritas. That may be true to a certain extent, but if you’re a teetotaler who’s racking a solid eight hours a night, dark circles and puffy eyes may have deeper roots. Both conditions can be caused by factors ranging from sinus problems and allergies to nutritional deficiencies, aging, and genetics. The good news: you can lighten dark circles and send under-eye bags packing with simple, natural remedies. Some of the best:irborne allergens can exacerbate or, in some cases, even cause dark circles and bags under the eyes. Inflammation set off by allergies causes the tiny blood vessels under the eyes to expand, making them more visible. If you suffer from allergies and notice that your dark circles and under-eye bags worsen, try butterbur. Several studies have shown that it’s an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. Choose a formula that’s standardized for petasin and isopetasin, the active component, and look for one certified and labeled PA-free; the butterbur plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), chemicals that can damage the liver.
Iron supplements. In some cases, a lack of iron—an essential mineral that makes red blood cells that carry oxygen to cells—can cause dark circles. Iron supplements can help, but should be used carefully. Too much iron can increase the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, and may have side effects, especially upset stomach and constipation. Check with your health care provider first, then start with a lower dose, gradually increasing the amount you take to minimize digestive issues. The ferrous gluconate form of iron may be easier on the gastrointestinal tract. Take iron with vitamin C to improve absorption.
Horse chestnut and Pycnogenol. Used primarily to treat varicose veins and other circulatory problems, topical horse chestnut may also improve the appearance of dark circles by thickening the skin and constricting and strengthening capillaries. Look for horse chestnut creams that contain Pycnogenol, an antioxidant that also helps strengthen capillaries and is especially effective at reducing puffiness and bags under the eyes. And taken in capsule or extract form, Pycnogenol can also help improve allergic rhinitis.
Bromelain. Chronic sinus problems that lead to blocked nasal passages can also cause dark circles and bags under the eyes; congestion increases blood flow in the maxillary sinuses, making blood vessels more visible and causing puffiness. One of the best treatments for chronic sinus problems is bromelain, a naturally occurring enzyme found in pineapple. In one study, 3,000 mg of bromelain per day was effective in reducing symptoms in people with chronic sinusitis. Look for it as a single supplement, or in combination formulas for sinus health.
Vitamin K. It’s essential for blood clotting and strengthening blood vessel walls, and deficiencies may show up as dark circles under the eyes. Vitamin K2, supplements can help strengthen capillaries under the eyes; check with your health care provider, since vitamin K can increase the risk of bleeding, and don’t take supplements if you’re taking an anticoagulant drug like warfarin. Studies have also shown that topical applications of vitamin K can dramatically decrease dark circles, especially when used with topical vitamins A, C, and E.
DMAE. This compound, involved in producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and often used to benefit brain health, can treat dark circles and puffy eyes as well. In one study, a 3 percent DMAE facial gel applied daily for 16 weeks reduced dark circles and helped firm and tighten skin.
Bearberry. This herbal extract from the uva ursi plant contains arbutin, a compound that suppresses skin pigmentation and improves the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. You’ll often find it in creams that also contain niacinamide, a type of B vitamin that suppresses melanin production. Some studies show topical niacinamide can safely and effectively lighten skin, including dark under-eye circles.Looking Good with Collagen Aging causes a breakdown of collagen, a fibrous protein that keeps skin firm. Sun exposure also causes collagen breakdown, leading to thinner skin that makes under-eye pigment and blood vessels more visible. Eye creams or pads that contain collagen can help firm and strengthen under-eye skin to minimize the appearance of dark circles and reduce puffiness. You’ll also find collagen in supplements including tablets, capsules, and powders.
SKIN BY ANN WEBB Olive Eyeseryl Peptide Face & Eye Cream includes vitamin K to support healthy circulation, puffiness-reducing peptides, and a stable, proprietary form of vitamin C (Vitagen).
ANDALOU NATURALS Luminous Eye Serum helps to brighten your outlook and reduce puffiness with fruit stem cells, bearberry, coffee, and other natural botanicals.
REVIVA LABS Eye Complex Firming Cream features an herbal complex of firming plant extracts including horse chestnut in a base of natural oils to minimize bags and shadows.
DERMA E Evenly Radiant Dark Circle Eye Crème With Pycnogenol also contains horse chestnut, bearberry, and niacinamide for bright, de-puffed peepers. It doubles as an anti-wrinkle aid.