I Should Know This

I Should Know This: How Can I *Actually* Cover Dark Circles?

Eye creams, concealer tips, and under-eye filler — we’re covering it all.

Written by Jill Di Donato

Quick and easy mommy makeup tutorials are everywhere, and for good reason. But if there’s one area of the face to focus on, time-challenged moms should pay attention to the eyes, and the dark circles that can cast shadows on a glowing complexion. Creator Abby Rivera, better known as @abbythebadassmom on TikTok, went viral with her journey to find the perfect under eye concealer. What we love about this reveal is just how dramatic the results can be with the right products and techniques.

You don’t need me to tell you dark circles can make you look even more stressed out than you already are. But, with the right technique and an easy-to-follow routine, you can brighten your face and get an instant lift. And trust me — a few lifestyle hacks and pro makeup tips can make all the diff when it comes to covering dark circles.

Ahead, we tapped a cosmetic dermatologist, a makeup artist, and makeup brand founder to share tips on how to best cover dark circles for a fresh-faced look every day, no matter how many hours of sleep you’ve clocked.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Scary Mommy’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

What Causes Dark Circles?

Moms get tired, obvi. But fatigue isn’t the only reason people develop dark circles under their eyes. “Sleep deprivation causes our skin to become dull and pale, allowing the dark tissues and blood vessels underneath to become more prominent,” explains cosmetic dermatologist, Michele Green. “Fluid can also build up under the eyes when you’re tired, making the under eyes look puffy and casting a shadow that makes the under eyes look darker.” She adds that age is another factor in developing dark circles. “Our skin becomes thinner as we age because we lose collagen and elastin that keeps the skin youthful and elastic. The thinning of the skin allows the blood vessels underneath to show. The natural loss of volume under the eyes and mid-face with age can leave puffy eye pockets below the lower eyelid.”

And, did you know that sun damage can wreck havoc on the delicate eye area? Green explains that “overexposure to the sun can attribute to dark under eyes because your body produces more melanin, leading to hyperpigmentation.” Finally, genetics, says Green, can also play a factor. People with “darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation around the delicate eye area due to the higher melanin production,” Green adds.

When purchasing an eye cream, look for ingredients like vitamin C to brighten and caffeine to depuff. Green created an eye cream to help combat the signs of aging beneath the eyes using retinol. “My MGSkinLabs Line Repair is replete with retinol and antioxidants to stimulate collagen formulation, help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, tighten the delicate skin around the eye, and lighten discoloration and hyperpigmentation.” Versed Skin’s Zero-G Smoothing Eye Cream has a pink tint to brighten and is made with algae and firming peptides for a bright-eyed appearance. Or, you can break out the big funs and splurge on a The Eye Cream by Augustinus Bader — it’s expensive, but its creamy blend of botanicals works wonders on eye puffiness, and has antioxidants to counter free radical damage caused by UV light.

Lifestyle Hacks To Reduce Dark Circles

Your routine to cover dark under-eye circles begins before you enter your bathroom. For starters, tweaking your sleep habits can actually help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Terri Bryant, celebrity makeup artist and founder of GUIDE BEAUTY says, “Making some adjustments in how we sleep can go a long way to de-puffing and slightly elevating your head with an additional pillow can help keep those fluids from collecting around the eyes overnight.”

And, if you can manage to get moving first thing in the morning, you can help get rid of excess fluid. Bryant explains, “Exercise helps fast track de-puffing as the more you move, the more you promote circulation throughout the entire body.”

1. Prep And De-puff Eye Area

Want the tea on how to cover dark circles in a pinch? Literally reach for the bag. Green is a fan of this oldie but goodie depuffing hack. “Tea bags have been used for many years as a remedy for dark under eyes. Teas like black tea and green tea contain antioxidants and caffeine that helps increase blood flow to the skin, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties that helps reduce puffiness. You can also put the boiled tea bags in the fridge first for a cooling effect.”

Bryant also likes old fashioned home remedies to help get the eye area ready for makeup. “I keep a set of spoons in my freezer and chilled cucumbers on hand in my fridge for puffy days. When I have a little time, a couple slices of cold cucumber against the eyes helps soothe and hydrate as I de-puff. If I need to move a bit more quickly, I reach for the spoons, lightly gliding them around the targeted area to also help with circulation.”

Bryant then uses cool packs and gently massages the eye area to depuff and prep for makeup. Green explains the cold “reduces swelling and constricts dilated blood vessels.”

Cooling eye serum applicators can also work in a pinch. Try Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Roll-On or BL+ The Eye Serum to apply a lightweight hydrating formula that rolls on with a cooling sensation. Beauty HAC’s Eye Serum goes on with a stainless steel roller and delivers clinical grade levels of vitamin C to help brighten dark areas beneath the eyes.

2. Use An Eye Mask

Another way to prep the eyes for makeup is to use an eye mask or adhesive patch — this locks in moisture and plumps up fine lines temporarily while delivering hydrating ingredients deep into the skin. “Eye patches are great options for reducing puffiness under the eyes, and the convenience of throwing on eye patches while doing chores in the house is fantastic,” explains Green. She says to look for eye patches that contain nourishing ingredients like “antioxidants; vitamin C; retinol to stimulate collagen production; and anti-inflammatory ingredients that help reduce puffiness and dark circles.”

Green also likes eye masks to contain “caffeine and coenzyme A for promoting circulation, and shea butter or squalene for hydration and replenishing the skin’s natural lipid barrier.” She says to avoid eye patches with fragrances “in case of sensitivity and because the skin around the eyes is delicate.” Shiseido's Benefiance Smoothing Eye Mask is infused with retinol to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles to reveal a smoother skin while brightening the under-eye area, while Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Mask contains chamomile for soothing, caffeine to reduce puffiness, squalene for moisture, and hyaluronic acid for hydration and plumping effect.

Or, skip the single-use eye masks and try cult skin care brand Dieux’s Forever Eye Masks, which are meant to paired with any eye cream and re-used over and over again.

Choosing The Right Under Eye Concealer

In order to choose the right under eye concealer, consider the formula. The formula will affect how you apply the product, so it’s important to pay attention to consistency. “When working with pressed creams, I often use my fingers to warm up and thin out the formula as I press it into the skin,” explains Bryant. “For creams that have a bit more emollience, a long loose-haired brush is also brilliant to lightly feather the pigment. For liquid formulas, I tend to pick up a Beautyblender or a more densely packed concealer brush to target areas of discoloration.”

Full-Coverage vs. Sheer

Full-coverage under eye concealer has a thicker consistency than sheer coverage. Both formulas have different advantages based on your needs.

Viral TikTok creator, Rivera, ended up choosing Winky Lux’s Peeper Perfect Concealer for what she called its “perfect consistency” and formula that contains hyaluronic acid, collagen, and vitamin E. This provides more of a full-coverage effect.

Green also likes a full-coverage formula with a natural matte finish. “My favorite is Tarte's Shape Tape Concealer. The formula is long-lasting and crease-proof.”

Bryant, however, prefers sheer coverage for under the eyes. “While good skincare is key to good makeup, keep it light under the eyes for daytime,” she says. “Look for lightweight eye area moisturizers that absorb easily into the skin and are makeup compatible. Saie’s new Hydrabeam Concealer was created specifically for the under-eye area and features a super-sheer, light-reflective formula packed with skin-plumping ingredients like squalane and glycerin.

Under-Eye Concealer Application Tips

To best cover dark circles, Bryant addresses the shadow effect with a color correcting technique. “There's also an optical effect that causes dark circles under the eyes. Over time, the area under our eyes and above our cheeks loses volume causing a hollowing (or pocket) that creates shadows which then appear as dark circles,” she explains. “Before adding more coverage, try a sheer peach or salmon color-correcting shade from Temptu to first counter and lift the appearance of that darkness. You can then go back in sparingly if needed with your foundation or concealer to perfect the canvas.”

We also love The Route Beauty’s Sunny Eyes, which is a hybrid eye cream for day and color corrector. It contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, plus adds a correcting shimmer for coverage.

Trinny Woodall, founder and CEO of Trinny London says the application process is key when it comes to covering dark circles. “Do not put concealer on the puffiness — put the depth of it underneath and in the corners of the eyes.”

How far beneath the under eye area you take down coverage depends, explains Woodall, “on the color of the concealer. If it is the exact shade as skin tone, leave it around; if it is a little lighter, use it in the v-shape.” Blending coverage into the rest of your makeup is key. Bryant says a good rule of thumb anytime you are layering one product on top of another is to work in sheer layers and be sure to let each layer fully absorb and before applying another, to prevent slipping and allow for better adherence. Woodall recommends using her brand Trinny London’s Miracle Blur for a cohesive, smooth finish. Finally, Woodall suggests the easiest blending technique of all: using your fingers, “press into areas you want to soften and blur.”

Lasers, Filler, and Microneedling For Under-Eye Circles

A board-certified dermatologist can also perform treatments to dramatically reduce dark circles. Mesopeel Periocular chemical peels are performed every two weeks, typically up to five times, and have absolutely no recovery time. “Within a few months, the delicate eye area is brighter and the dark circles removed,” says Green, who performs this treatment.

Another excellent way to help hide dark circles is the injection of a dermal filler in the tear trough area. “The tear trough is a deep crease that sits between the upper cheek and the lower eyelid, casting a shadow underneath the eyes and making them appear darker. Tear troughs may appear darker due to genetics, but they can also darken because of aging, with the loss of collagen and elastin,” explains Green.

You can also try microneedling, also known as “collagen induction therapy,” explains Green. “Microneedling uses small needles to create microscopic wounds on the epidermis to allow the micro-injuries to repair themselves as new, healthier skin cells while boosting collagen and elastin production.” This can help replenish and plump the skin, diminishes signs of aging, and minimize the appearance of dark circles.

I Should Know This is a back-to-basics series where we ask top experts for the answers to all your burning beauty questions, judgment-free.