4. Lather on sunscreen, even if you’re spending most of the day inside.
“Skipping this important step in your skincare routine can cause dark circles to become worse,” says Schlessinger. “The delicate skin around the eye area is especially sensitive to sun damage, as well as skin cancer. Excessive sun exposure makes your body produce more melanin, which gives you darker circles.” Just like you would when you head to the beach, cover the areas of your face with a SPF 15+, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
“To avoid sensitivity and irritation, make sure the formula you’re applying is gentle enough for the eye area,” he says. Wearing sunglasses when you’re outside is also another way to further protect your eyes and the surrounding skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Schlessinger’s go-to brand is SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50 ($30, LovelySkin.com). “This eye sunscreen is filled with ceramides to help nourish the skin and create a smooth base for your next step: makeup application.”
5. Apply a concealer with the right kind of undertone to neutralize the darkness.
Once your eye moisturizer has worked its magic in reducing the puffiness, use concealer to cover up those dark circles. “Peachy undertones work best no matter what shade your skin color is,” says Daniel Chinchilla, a celebrity makeup artist who works with Ariana Grande. Stray from using a yellow shade, which will only make the under-eye area appear gray, and choose a color that’s not too light so as to draw more attention to the problem, says Kashuk.
“Take a quick snapshot on your phone to check that all your tones are balanced,” Chinchilla says. For a natural-looking finish, apply your concealer on the inner corners of the eyes and then blend down and outward, making sure to press and pat it on lightly until it’s fully blended. “If you have drier under-eye areas, you can also dab a little eye cream to freshen the concealer.”
After application, top off the concealer with a little translucent powder to set the liquid makeup in place and avoid any unwanted creasing. Chinchilla’s go-to is Cle de Peau Concealer ($70, Nordstrom.com). “I love the creamy texture, full coverage and how little you need to get the job done,” he says. If you’re looking for a lighter consistency that’s more similar to a tinted moisturizer, he recommends NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($29, Sephora.com).
Related: This $7 Drugstore Mascara Is Already Outselling Your Old Favorite
6. Remove makeup thoroughly before bedtime.
Taking your makeup off allows your pores to breathe and skin to rejuvenate overnight, so you look fresh and flawless when you wake up. “Don’t skimp and buy just any brand for this all-important step,” warns Chinchilla. “When you rub your skin to remove your eye makeup, it can cause serious inflammation and damage to the capillaries, which leads to dark circles.” He recommends Mary Kay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($15, Marykay.com). “It peels off even waterproof mascara with just light rubbing and doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy.”
But remember not every remover will work well for your skin type. This may leave you testing out a variety before finding one that’s both soothing and effective for you. “If you can’t seem to settle on one, try Cortisone-10, an anti-itch ointment available in most drug stores, as an under-eye remover,” suggests Jegasothy.
7. Finish your day with an eye cream made specifically for nighttime.
It’s even more vital to nourish and hydrate your skin before you snooze because your skin is in recovery mode. “Eye cream is definitely not the skincare product to skimp out on,” says Chinchilla. “Make sure you’re using one that plumps and hydrates the skin and contains retinol.” He recommends ROC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream ($20, CVS.com), which works hard to fade dark pigment and helps produce collagen for a more even skintone. “If you’re working with a more flexible budget, I would suggest trying SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($270, Skinmedica.com) because it has discoloration-fading ingredients that interfere with the production of melanin, or skin pigmentation.”
If shopping for fancy, shmancy eye creams doesn’t top your to-do list, you can instead opt for a product you may already have in your medicine cabinet. “I recommend that my clients use good old hemorrhoid creams,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills. “The main active ingredient in these creams, phenylephrine, is meant to temporarily shrink hemorrhoids (engorged vessels in the rectal and anal area), but will also work to shrink the blue blood vessels under your eyes that are causing dark circles.” If you find that these creams are too drying, Shainhouse suggests mixing this medication into your regular face moisturizer.