Dark Circles Under Eyes

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Dark circles or black circles under the eyes are rarely caused by temporary circumstances and are more difficult to treat than bags under the eyes. They are often the result of some combination of the following: lack of sleep, chronic stress, menstrual disorders, pregnancy, poor diet and medications. For others, dark circles are a hereditary trait. People who suffer from allergies and sensitivities often have a bigger problem with dark circles as well.3

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In some cases, black or dark circles can be eliminated.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, the kidneys are connected to the adrenal glands (and overall endocrine system). Therefore, kidney energy imbalances due to for example lack of sleep, chronic stress and/or poor diet can result in Kidney Qi Deficiency. Related symptoms can include fatigue or adrenal exhaustion often resulting in dark circles under the eyes. It may help to meet with a nutritionist/allergist to rule out foods or other allergens that may be contributing to this condition.

Sufficient sleep, stress management and eating a healthy diet are a couple of the simplest home remedies recommended.

dark rings under eyes


Dark coloration of the skin under the eyes. Tiredness from lack of sleep or stress may also be experienced if fatigue is the cause. There can be some puffiness; see bags under the eyes.


  • Severe sleep problems
  • Nutrition, poor diet
  • Stress
  • Heredity Dark circles can run in families.
  • Exposure to sun
  • Allergies, asthma, eczema
  • Medications
  • Pregnancy and Menstruation
  • Aging - as the skin thins with aging, blood vessels below the skin are more visible.
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Kidney energetic deficiency (Chinese Medicine)
  • Individuals of African or Asian descent are more likely to experience dark circles

Conventional Treatment

Conventional treatments include:

  • For dark circles due to thin skin: Vasoconstricting creams
  • For dark circles due to pigmentation: light therapy, laser and bleaching techniques4

Self Help & Complementary Care

Purple-Gold Formula is a Chinese formulation that reduces the darkness under the eyes. It is a combination of four Chinese herbs including Lithospermum, Coiix, Licorice, and Dong Gui as well as vitamin E.

"Due to continued steroid medication, I still have very severe "moon face" with horribly hooded eyes, extremely discolored eyelids and deep under eye dark circles and bags. I am told moon face will last months, maybe years. I have tried every cream and ointment I can find to help with the dark eyelids and circles/bags -- from drugstore brands to expensive names and those recommended by my Mayo dermatologist- no results, no improvements.

"I recently stumbled across your website during a new search for products to help with the eyelids and under eyes and ordered your Purple Gold Formula. Honestly, I had no big expectations for $18. As usual, I treated only 1 eye as directed (morning and evening) so I could gauge any improvements against the other eye. To my utter amazement and delight- after 2 days I am seeing a very noticeable improvement under the eye!" I'm writing to first thank you for the product."
--J.W., Scottsdale, AZ 06/2012

Important Recommendations

  • Lithospermum is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to cool blood, stimulate circulation of blood, and eliminate toxins from the skin.
  • Licorice is considered to be an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and anti-arthritic.
  • Dong Gui helps the body to eliminate excess fluid retained by tissues around the eye.
  • Vitamin E enhances the body's ability to cleanse the system of free radicals and eliminate toxins.
  • "Six Ingredient Pill" is a Traditional Chinese Medicine formulation that supports healthy kidney functioning4.

Home Remedies

  • Creams containing herbs that are natural vasoconstrictors such as agrimony
  • Sleep Get enough sleep
  • Diet: Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks. These go a long way in preventing circles and wrinkles.
  • Don't smoke
  • Sunscreen. Use a sunscreen when outside

Dark Circles News

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1. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, Vol 5, Issue 3, 2012, Rashmi Sarkar, Dept. Dermatology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India
2. Roh MR, Treatment of infraorbital dark circles by autologous fat transplantation: a pilot study, Br J Dermatol. 2009 May;160(5):1022-5.
3. Roh MR, Infraorbital dark circles: Definition, causes, & treatment options. Dermatologic Surgery. 2009;35:1163.
4. Momosawa A, et al. Combined therapy using Q-switched ruby laser and bleaching treatment with tretinoin and hydroquinone for periorbital skin hyperpigmentation in Asians. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2008;121:282.

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