The Cause: Pigmentation
The Cure: To determine whether excess pigment is the culprit behind your dark circles, press on the discoloration. Does the darkness lessen? Then you're probably dealing with blood vessels underneath the skin. (See the next slide for your cure.) If the darkness remains, your dark circles are caused by hereditary pigmentation or sun exposure (or both). The most effective fix: Apply sunscreen right up to your lower lashline every day. A physical sunscreen (like SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50, $32; SkinCeuticals.com) is least likely to irritate your eyes. Wechsler also recommends investing in large sunglasses for further protection. Avoid rubbing your eyes, because friction causes a darkening of the skin (anywhere on the body, but especially in the delicate undereye area). If your pigmentation is superficial, it can be lightened with certain topical ingredients, like hydroquinone, licorice and kojic acid. To treat deeper discoloration, dermatologists can use the Fraxel laser, which minimizes darkness over three to five sessions.
The Quick Fix: Shadows caused by pigment are usually brown, maybe a little yellow. A slightly peachy concealer helps counteract them. Tap a concentrated, creamy formula (like AmazingConcealer, $42; AmazingCosmetics.com) on the dark areas only.