Not getting enough shut-eye and working too long at the computer may cause dark circles and eye puffiness, but the biggest source of fluid buildup and periorbital dark circles may be genetic.

For those bags under your eyes, allergies, chronic sinus problems, fluid retention, smoking, excess salt and too much alcohol can cause water retention in the sensitive tissue there. It can also simply be something you’re genetically prone to, like freckles.

Shadowy, bluish-black half-circles under your eyes are the result of very thin skin that reveals the blood vessels underneath. Some people are more prone to them, no matter how much rest they get.

What’s more, people with darker skin might have a brown/green appearance to their under-eye area. Those with very light skin might have a dark purple or reddish tint. If your skin is medium, under-eye circles simply appear blue or black.

If you're cursed with these beauty woes, take heart; many natural methods minimize or disguise these eye problems. Here are a few favorites:

Honey

jar of honeyHoney works great as a face mask, but also helps minimize under-eye dark circles. (Photo: Vladimir Kovalchuk/Shutterstock)
You may know about honey’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits as a face mask, but the gooey, sticky sweet stuff makes a wonderful under-eye dark circle minimizer and de-puffer. Simply apply a small amount lightly with a fingertip to the eye areas before bedtime and let soak in while sleeping. In the morning, shadows and swelling should be lessened.

Cucumber

Cucumber slices are kept on ice at the spa for a reason, and that’s because cucumbers have skin-lightening properties as well as astringent and anti-inflammatory effects. They’ve been used for decades to reduce puffiness and to lighten skin discoloration. Cut thick slices of cold cucumbers and lay them over closed eyes for 10 to 15 minutes up to three times per day.

Lemon juice

lemons and bowl of lemon juiceLemon juice can help lighten skin. Just be careful not to get it in your eyes. (Photo: Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock)
The vitamin C in lemon juice makes an excellent lightener for every skin color. Soak cotton balls in cold lemon juice and rest several along the periorbital ridge, being careful not to get the juice in your eyes. Rest for 10 minutes and splash with fresh, cool water.

Almond oil

Almond oil is a super-rich, luxurious oil that can lighten under-eye shadows. Apply a generous amount under the eye at bedtime, lightly tapping it in with the pad of a finger until skin absorbs most of it. Leave on overnight and wash your face with your usual morning cleanser or splash with water.

Raw potato

raw potatoes and knifePotatoes have natural bleaching properties. (Photo: paulista/Shutterstock)
Natural bleaching properties in potatoes might help lighten skin around the eye and reduce puffiness. Grate one large chilled potato and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Soak cotton balls in cold potato juice and apply to the under-eye area for 15 minutes. Or cut thick, cold potato slices and apply one slice over each eye like with a cucumber, leaving on 15 minutes.

Cold metal spoons

Place two tablespoons in the refrigerator to chill. Place the back of the spoon on the eye area and let rest until the spoon reaches room temperature. It’s like an instant eye pack that reduces puffiness.

Used black tea bags

black tea bagCooled-off used tea bags may help reduce under-eye shadows and swelling. (Photo: eriyalim/Shutterstock)
Cool used black tea bags in the fridge. Apply one bag to each eye for 15 minutes to reduce shadows and swelling.

Buttermilk and turmeric

Soak cotton balls in a small cup of buttermilk with a sprinkling of turmeric. Buttermilk constricts blood vessels and turmeric lessens inflammation, decreasing shadows and puffiness. Squeeze out the majority of the liquid and let cotton balls rest on eyes for 15 minutes. Repeat up to five times a week.

Other tips:

  • Never touch or rub your eyes.
  • Avoid salt, which causes swelling.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration causes sagging.
  • Go easy on the alcohol if you notice imbibing brings on puffiness.
  • Don’t apply mascara to the lower lashes for a cleaner-looking effect.
  • Always remove eye makeup before going to bed.
  • Make sure your diet contains enough iron, fresh vegetables and fruit.
  • Eating potassium-rich foods like bananas can help reduce fluid in the body.
  • Get allergies under control. Try a neti pot to flush out sinuses, where inflammation can cause puffiness. Talk to your doctor about handling chronic sinus woes.
  • Try an over-the-counter eye cream made for reducing swelling and dark circles.
  • Sleep well and try resting on your back so gravity doesn’t pool fluid in the eye area, which causes both shadows and inflammation.