You've probably heard your eyes are the windows to your soul, but they also reveal other things that make you unique, like your age, genetics, and health. And while you might think dark undereye circles simply mean you didn't get enough sleep the night before, there's actually more to those stubborn shadows—especially if you have melanated skin.

Read on to learn what causes dark circles under eyes on Black skin and how to minimize their appearance.

What Causes Dark Eye Circles?

As you mature, the collagen and elastin in your skin decrease and the bone structure around your eyes begins to degrade. Since the skin around your eyes is thinner than in other areas, this can lead to a number of skin concerns around the delicate eye area, including puffiness, dark circles, and excess skin on the lower eyelid (dermatochalasis).

In addition to the natural aging process, other intrinsic and extrinsic factors can make dark undereye circles stand out, including exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, genetics, ethnicity, allergies, stress, diet, and smoking.

Are Dark Eye Circles Different on Black Skin?

People of all skin types and colors experience dark undereye circles, but dark circles under eyes on Black skin can be more prominent. This is because melanin—the pigment that gives skin its color—contributes to hyperpigmentation. Since Black skin produces more melanin than lighter skin tones, factors like UV damage and inflammation are more likely to result in noticeable dark patches, including under the eyes.

Treatment for Dark Circles on Black Skin

Tired of looking, well, tired? It's no secret that dark undereye circles can be frustrating to deal with. Luckily, identifying and treating the common causes of these pesky shadows can decrease damage to your delicate undereye area and minimize the appearance of dark circles.

Apply Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF

First things first: Regular application of sunscreen is equally important for melanated skin as for lighter skin tones. Not only does exposure to the sun's UV rays increase your risk of skin cancer, but it also speeds up the natural breakdown of collagen that occurs as you age, which compromises your skin's strength and structure.

You can slow collagen breakdown and keep hyperpigmentation at bay by making a broad-spectrum SPF part of your daily skin care routine. Tinted formulas like EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 have the added benefit of concealing discoloration while preventing further damage to the delicate undereye area.

Rest and De-stress

To combat fatigue and stress, your body's cortisol levels increase, which makes the blood vessels beneath your eyes larger, fuller, and more visible. Heightened cortisol levels can also lead to fluid retention, causing undereye puffiness. To reduce the appearance of dark circles associated with stress or fatigue, prioritize rest and relaxation. Try using a chilled facial moisturizer before bed to hydrate and decrease inflammation, like EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask, and make sure you're hydrating properly.

Treat Allergy Symptoms

When your nasal passages are congested from seasonal allergies (or illness), the blood under your eyes pools, creating discoloration. Allergy medications like oral antihistamines decrease congestion, which allows the blood to drain from under your eyes. You can also promote brighter skin with products like EltaMD Renew Eye Gel, which is specially formulated to support blood vessels to reduce dark circles.

Focus on Ingredients

When it comes to minimizing the appearance of dark undereye circles, certain ingredients are especially helpful. Vitamin C, for example, is an antioxidant that helps brighten the skin and reduces the inflammation that makes dark circles on Black skin more pronounced. And, like chilled moisturizers and cold compresses, caffeine constricts the delicate blood vessels under your eyes to minimize shadows. Hyaluronic Acid is another key ingredient that plumps skin by pulling water to the area, reducing the appearance of thin, crepey skin.

After cleansing in the morning (and before applying sunscreen), moisturize with a formula that contains one or more of these ingredients, like EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer.

Minimize Irritation

Rubbing, excessive touching, and squinting can all stimulate inflammation in the skin around your eyes. This results in increased melanin production, causing dark circles—especially in melanated skin. To prevent irritation from squinting, throw on a pair of sunglasses when you head out for the day. When removing makeup, use a tissue or soft sponge to dab your eyelids and avoid rubbing or tugging at the skin around your eyes. Also avoid smoking, which increases inflammation.

Kiss Your Dark Circles Goodbye

Dark undereye circles are common, and they're nothing to worry about or be ashamed of. But if they're bothering you, you can take steps to minimize their appearance. A board-certified Dermatologist can suggest cosmetic treatments including dermal fillers, lasers, or surgery if your undereye circles are particularly stubborn.

With a healthy lifestyle and consistent application of the right topical products, you'll be on the path to luminous skin so you can exude positivity from the inside out.


  • Jessica DiJulio, MA, MMS, PA-C

    Jessica DiJulio is a board-certified physician assistant. She graduated from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University as a member of its inaugural class. She enjoys all aspects of dermatology including working with inflammatory skin conditions like atopic dermatitis in children, adults and using her master's degree in English to contribute as a freelance medical writer.