Dark circles occur when the skin under your eyes appears darker than usual. This is a common issue that may be caused by several factors.
A variety of natural remedies aim to treat and improve the appearance of dark circles, including aloe vera, which is often applied topically or taken as a supplement.
Aloe vera is a tropical plant that has long been used for its medicinal properties (1).
Some studies indicate that aloe vera may help reduce dark circles, but further research in humans is necessary.
This article looks at the evidence to determine how aloe vera affects dark circles.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of dark eye circles (2).
Some research suggests that aloe vera may keep your skin supple and hydrated to protect against dark circles.
In fact, in a 12-week study, 64 women who took an oral aloe vera supplement had significantly enhanced skin moisture and elasticity, compared with those who took a placebo (3).
In an older study in 20 women, applying freeze-dried aloe vera extract to the skin improved hydration and helped prevent moisture loss (4).
Still, more research is needed to determine how the hydrating effects of aloe vera affect dark circles.
Aloe vera may help keep your skin hydrated, which may improve the appearance of dark circles.
As you age, changes in the structure of your skin and a loss of volume in your face may slowly increase the appearance of dark circles (5).
Some research suggests that aloe vera may support mature skin. In turn, this may help treat dark circles.
For example, in a 12-week study in 48 men, an oral supplement containing specific aloe vera compounds significantly improved the elasticity of sun-exposed skin (6).
Similarly, an older, 90-day study showed that using an oral aloe vera supplement improved wrinkles and skin elasticity in 30 women over the age of 45 (7).
Another study found that supplementing with aloe vera gel powder reduced facial wrinkles in 54 women over age 40 and boosted the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, two compounds that may support healthy skin aging (8, 9).
However, additional studies are needed, especially regarding the topical application of aloe vera.
Aloe vera may support your skin as you age, which may help prevent dark circles.
Inflammation and swelling may worsen the appearance of puffy eyes and dark circles (2).
Several older studies indicate that aloe vera may alleviate inflammation.
For instance, a study in 40 people found that aloe vera gel was more effective than hydrocortisone at reducing skin redness and inflammation caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure (10).
Furthermore, in a study in rats with burn wounds, an ointment containing milk, honey, and aloe vera gel decreased inflammation and enhanced healing (11).
Another animal study found that oral aloe vera gel supplements reduced certain markers of inflammation by up to 38% after 28 days (12).
Further research in humans is still needed.
Some human and animal studies suggest that aloe vera lowers inflammation, which may improve the appearance of dark circles.
Aloe vera may improve several aspects of skin health that affect dark circles. However, it’s important to note that dark circles have numerous possible causes, many of which may not be affected by this plant.
For example, some people may be more prone to dark circles due to genetic factors, which aren’t affected by aloe vera or other natural remedies.
Sleep deprivation, fatigue, stress, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications, plus smoking, excessive alcohol intake, eye strain, and irritation, may also worsen dark circles (2).
While aloe vera may improve several specific causes of dark circles, it may not affect other factors that contribute to this condition.
To improve skin hydration and the appearance of dark circles, you can apply aloe vera gel to your skin daily and leave it on overnight.
You can also mix it with other ingredients like lemon juice, honey, or rose water.
Alternatively, you can consume aloe gel in a variety of dishes, including smoothies, dips, and salsas.
That said, be sure to wash the harvested solid pieces of gel thoroughly to remove any residue and latex, which is a substance inside the leaves that may harm your health if consumed in large amounts (13).
Aloe vera supplements are also widely available as powders, capsules, and liquid concentrates, with doses ranging from 25–1,000 mg per serving.
However, you shouldn’t ingest aloe vera skin care products, as they often contain additives and preservatives that aren’t meant to be ingested.
What’s more, aloe vera can interact with some medications, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid the oral use of aloe vera.
Finally, don’t use aloe vera if you’re allergic to garlic, onions, or tulips, and avoid taking it within 2 weeks of a scheduled surgery.
You can apply aloe vera gel to dark circles either on its own or mixed with other ingredients. You can also try adding aloe vera to your diet by adding it to smoothies, dips, or salsas.
Aloe vera is a tropical plant that’s often used as a natural remedy for dark circles.
Although more research in humans is needed, it may improve skin moisture, support mature skin, and reduce inflammation, all of which may help treat dark circles.
However, several other causes of dark circles may not be affected by aloe vera.