What Causes Dark Circles? And How To Get Rid Of Them

womans eye with dark circle
Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

A misconception is that dark circles around the eyes are only a result of sleep deprivation. While this is often the cause, there are also several other factors that can cause dark circles to form. So, what causes dark circles? And how can you get rid of them?

What are dark circles?

Dark circles refer to the darkened areas of skin around the periorbital (eye) area. The skin around the periorbital area is very thin when compared to the rest of the face, this is why the underlying blood vessels responsible for dark circles are more pronounced.

What causes dark circles?

There are several reasons why dark circles can form, the most obvious being sleep deprivation.

Lack of sleep

A very common reason for dark circles around the eyes. A dilation in blood vessels from lack of sleep can cause darkness and puffiness around the eye area. Skin can also appear more pale when you’re sleep deprived, enhancing the appearance of underlying veins.

Age

As we age, collagen production decreases. Collagen is the protein responsible for the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Reduction in the amount of this protein due to age means thinner skin. Thinner skin means more pronounced blood vessels, and therefore dark circles.

Sunlight overexposure

Excessive sunlight exposure means your body produces more melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colour. Melanin is also responsible for darkening of the skin as a result of sun exposure, this can therefore cause darkening around the periorbital area. UV rays are also responsible for damaging skin cells and causing premature aging, which can lead to thinning of the skin.

Dehydration

Hydrated skin is more plump and healthier than dehydrated skin. When you don’t drink enough water, the water content in the skin decreases which makes dark circles more pronounced.

Ethnicity

Those with darker skin tones are more prone to dark circles.

Allergies

Allergies such as hay fever can lead to dark circles. Histamines are produced as an immune response to the allergen, these histamines play a role in the inflammatory response. This can lead to blood vessel dilation and therefore dark circles and puffiness.

Genetics & Bone Structure

Sunken eye sockets and deep tear troughs can give the appearance of dark circles. These might not be actual dark circles from pigmentation or blood vessels, but from the way light hits your face.

Genetics can also be a contributory factor, some people with dark circles find that the condition runs in the family.

Eczema, rubbing the eyes

Itchiness around the eye can be causing you to rub, whether this be due to eczema, makeup, or allergic reactions. Rubbing your eyes can cause inflammation and puffiness, as well as damaged blood vessels. All of these can lead to darkness around the eye.

Smoking

Toxins in cigarette smoke lead to degradation of the skin. Smoking causes skin thinning and destruction of collagen, as well as dehydration. All of these are contributory factors to dark circles.

Eye-Strain

Strain on the eyes from prolonged screen use can cause dark circles.

Diet

A diet high in fats and sugars as well as alcohol can cause skin inflammation and dehydration.

How To Get Rid Of Dark Circles Around Your Eyes?

close up of womans dark circles around eye
Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

There are many at-home and professional remedies for dark circles. Below are just a few.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleeping enough will reduce puffiness around the eye area, restore your natural colour and get rid of dark circles. Not sleeping enough is linked to a host of health conditions, best to get your beauty sleep, zzZ.

Wear Sunscreen, Limit Sunlight Exposure

Sunscreen will prevent UV rays from damaging your skin’s collagen and reduce the amount of melanin the skin produces. This will drastically improve the appearance of dark circles. We recommend using a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ product which will provide UVA and UVB protection. If this isn’t an option, wear sunglasses; doesn’t get easier than that.

Make Some diet changes

Reduce your alcohol consumption, alcohol dehydrates the skin and causes puffiness. Consume healthy foods including fruits and vegetables which are packed with anti-oxidants and possess anti-inflammatory properties. A proper diet can reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Limit screen time/Use Blue Light Blocking Lenses

By limiting screen time you’re putting less strain on the eyes. If this isn’t an option due to work or other commitments, perhaps consider purchasing blue light blocking lenses. These specialised lenses block blue light which can damage light-sensitive cells, cause eye-strain as well as disrupt your circadian rhythm. Using these lenses is likely to minimise the appearance of your dark circles.

Use hyaluronic acid or caffeine Serums

Hyaluronic Acid is an excellent skin hydrator and humectant which works to restore moisture in the skin. Hyaluronic acid plumps the skin which can reduce the appearance of blood vessels around the eye, minimising darkness. While drinking caffeine might be causing dark circles, applying caffeine serums has the opposite effect. Using caffeine under-eye serums can help to reduce inflammation around the area to brighten dark circles. This is less researched however, use at your own discretion.

To sum it up

Dark circles are areas around the periorbital skin with hyperpigmentation or where blood vessels are more pronounced. There are many causes of under eye dark circles including age, diet, allergies and lifestyle choices. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep as well as making other lifestyle choices will help to reduce or get rid of these dark circles.

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