Facing Common Under Eye Issues: An Informative Guide to Understanding and Combating Them

Written by: Christine VanDoren, nutritionist

Fact checked by: Heather Snead, Licensed Esthetician

Facing Common Under Eye Issues: An Informative Guide to Understanding and Combating Them

Eyes tell us a lot about a person’s physical and emotional health. How is the person feeling? What are they feeling? This is true whether you’re calm, stressed out, suffering from an affliction, or the happiest you’ve ever been. Eyes reveal it all. 

A person who feels good mentally and physically typically shows sparkling, bright, and sharp eyes with clear, healthy skin underneath.

While improving the way we live or handle stress can improve under-eye issues, we mustn’t underestimate the importance of good eye care as well. Many factors contribute to the look in and around our eyes. With a combination of care and lifestyle improvements, you can reduce the appearance of dark circles, wrinkles, puffiness, and crow’s feet. 

Let’s review common under-eye problems and how to manage them.

Common Under-Eye Issues

Dark Circles

Dark circles appear under your eyes for many reasons. One of the most common reasons is simply getting older. When we age, the skin underneath our eyes will loosen and get thinner. This creates more visible blood vessels, leading to a darker appearance. 

You may also develop hollowed areas called tear troughs that create shadows and increase a puffy appearance. Some other causes that contribute to dark circles include the following:

  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Genetics
  • Excess rubbing or scratching
  • Over-exposure to the sun
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • Excess alcohol use

You can manage dark circles under your eyes in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Regularly get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Elevate your head with more pillows while sleeping.
  • Apply a cold compress or spoon to your eyes every day for a few minutes.
  • Place cucumber slices on your eyes. 
  • Apply cold tea bags under your eyes. 
  • Get a facial that includes a gentle massage around your eyes. 
  • Use an under-eye foundation and concealer to cover your dark circles.

Puffiness or Under-eye Bags

Puffiness or bags under the eyes show up when the muscles and tissues supporting your eyelids get weak. Your skin may begin sagging, and excess fat around the eyes slips underneath. When that space gathers fluid, it looks puffy or swollen. 

Other factors that make this worse include the following:

  • Fluid retention
  • Consuming too much salt
  • Getting older
  • Lack of sleep
  • Genetics
  • Smoking

The following tips can manage puffiness or under-eye bags: 

  • Gently place a cool compress on the skin under and around your eyes for a few minutes while sitting up.
  • Don’t drink fluids an hour or sooner before bedtime.
  • Consider a low-sodium diet. 
  • Stop smoking.
  • Sleep between seven and nine hours a night.
  • Elevate the entire head of your bed a few inches or double your pillows.
  • Discuss prevention strategies with your doctor. 
  • Use cosmetics to cover up under-eye bags.


As you get older, you’ll likely notice the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles under your eyes. These are the physical signs of aging skin and are inevitable. 

Sun exposure, smoking, exaggerated facial expressions, genetic traits, and levels of collagen increase these visible fine lines and lead to deeper wrinkles.

Lots of people find success in managing or reducing the appearance of wrinkles under their eyes. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Place slices of cucumber on your eyes.
  • Apply a banana face mask.
  • Apply creams rich in Vitamin C.
  • Regularly moisturize under your eyes.
  • Ask your dermatologist about wrinkle products.
  • Don’t combine or overuse products.
  • Use products that compliment your skin type.
  • Choose hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic, or non-acnegenic treatments.

Thinning Skin

Thinning skin under your eyes can be due to genetics and the natural aging process. We lose collagen and elastin, proteins that structurally support our skin, as we get older. This leads to thinning skin. 

Other extrinsic factors include prolonged sun exposure, smoking, dehydration, a diet lacking in essential vitamins like C and E. Fluid retention, a lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress can also affect the skin.

Manage thinning skin under your eyes with the following methods:

  • A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that is applied every day 
  • Sunglasses
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Gentle, hydrating eye creams 
  • Topical retinoids
  • Seeing a dermatologist
  • Vitamin C serum
  • Gentle, daily cleansing and moisturizing
  • Avoiding products with harsh chemicals 
  • Eye masks
  • Cold compresses
  • Topical peptides in eye creams
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Exercising routinely

Contributing Factors


Aging skin tends to become lax and then begins to fall or wrinkle. This is natural as we get older. Your eye muscles and tissues also weaken with age, and this contributes to an overall baggy look under your eyes. 

Aging can also make the fatty area surrounding the eye bulge out and create a bubble-like appearance.

Sleep Deprivation

When an adult does not get enough sleep, it shows up on our faces in all kinds of ways. Medically, sleep deprivation creates vasodilatation, and blood flow increases. When under-eye blood vessels dilate, a dark bluish or greyish color appears and is hard to get rid of.

Poor Diet

If you’re regularly eating foods that lack a high level of healthy nutrients, this can contribute to dark circles underneath your eyes. In addition to high salt and sugar diets that come from processed food, you can also increase dark circles with the amount of food you eat. Extreme undereating or overeating contributes to under-eye issues.


Some families have thinner skin under their eyes than others. This makes dark or puffy circles so much more noticeable. Genetic factors may also be responsible for the natural shape of your eye, skin tone, and bone structure. 

This all contributes to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles.

Preventative Measures

Importance of Good Sleep

When you regularly get less than eight hours of sleep every night, your eyes’ oxygen levels decrease. This makes your blood vessels dilate, resulting in bloodshot and tired eyes.

If this continues, deoxygenated or dilated blood vessels become even darker. They’re more noticeable as dark circles grow under your eyes. Sleeping longer can reverse this trend.

The Role of Hydration

Drink plenty of water every day. This will especially help your eyes and the skin just underneath. This is because under-eye skin is much thinner, and the capillaries don't move fluids there, as well as in other parts of the body. 

Reduce dramatically these excess bags of fluid by drinking clean water, without sugar or salt, throughout the day.

Healthy Diet and Its Benefits

Diets low in vitamins and nutrients, especially iron-deficient diets, are one of the main causes of under-eye circles and other issues. This is especially true if you suffer from iron deficiency anemia.** Your skin appears pale and thin, causing dark circles under your eyes to stand out. 

Eat foods high in iron to prevent low levels of iron in the blood. Also, choose foods low in salt but high in vitamins C and E for healthier under-eye skin. 

Proper Skincare Routine

Use skin care products with ingredients that work to constrict the blood vessels and promote circulation. This helps visibly decrease dark circles and puffiness underneath your eyes. This includes eye serums or creams that contain vitamins C, E, and K, as well as caffeine. 

When you promote proper blood flow, this can decrease the appearance of puffiness and darker circles.

When to Consult a Doctor?

Consult your personal physician or healthcare professional if you notice drastic changes underneath your eyes, changes under just one eye that get worse over time, or elements of your skin that you want to improve


As we get older, we will notice more under-eye issues, such as the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles. We can combat these issues with healthier diets, better skincare routines, sleep, sun protection, and more. 

If you implement these game changers into your beauty and overall health routine, even slowly or just one at a time, you’ll begin to notice healthy skin around and under your eyes.

**Up to 20% of women are iron deficient in the U.S.

Killip, S., Bennett, J.M., and Chambers, M.D. "Iron Deficiency Anemia." Am Fam Physician, vol. 75, no. 5, 2007, pp. 671-678. Erratum in: Am Fam Physician, vol. 78, no. 8, 2008, p. 914.


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