Experts reveal that there are four main causes of dark circles under the eyes and shadows that even a full night’s sleep will not cure.
Dark circles and shadows under the eye area affect people of every skin tone and age group. Treating the condition can be difficult to treat and not all remedies will work if you are not certain of their cause – so it stands to reason that the right diagnosis is important.
The Four Main Reasons for Dark Circles
Allergies – allergies can result in puffy circles caused by the release of histamine in the body. When that happens, we tend to rub our eyes. The act of rubbing the eyes disturbs the tiny blood vessels under the delicate eye area and they become more prominent.
Suggested Remedies: If allergies manifest in dark circles, taking an over-the-counter antihistamine will prevent the reaction under the eye area and sleeping slightly elevated will help keep the fluid from pooling under the eyes. Using a caffeinated eye treatment like New Age Skincare’s Under Eye Dark Circle Serum will help as it acts like a diuretic, draining excess blood and fluid from the eye area.
Genetics – Light skinned people with light hair and eyes tend to have translucent skin which makes it hard to hide the network of tiny blood vessels under the skin in the eye area. But they are not the only group of people affected by dark circles – dark complexions, especially Indian, African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people have higher concentrations of melanin under the eyes, resulting in dark shadows. You know your condition is genetic if you have had dark circles or shadows under the eye at a young age.
Suggested Remedies: For those with very light skin, a caffeinated eye gel can help diminish the appearance of shadows. For darker skin tones, Retinol is the favorite treatment of professionals. The retinol fades pigment and thickens collagen, making the skin more opaque and even toned. It’s important to select a product specifically formulated for the eye area and limit use to just once a week to start. Over time, you can use the product 2-3 times a week.
Alternatively, according to Dr. Graf, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, a professional glycolic peel that fades melanin with trichloroacetic acid works in just a few treatments (some may see results after just one treatment).
Aging: As we age the breakdown of collagen leaves the skin thin and fragile, giving it a bluish tint that resembles dark circles and shadows. In addition to the thinning skin, fat pads under the eyes start to deteriorate and droop as early as age 30, leaving you with either a hollow undereye area or, with bags from the shifting, sagging fat pads.
Suggested Remedies: Protect your skin from collagen loss as early and as soon as possible by wearing sunscreen daily and a pair of sunglasses that protect the entire eye area. Use an undereye cream with retinol or peptides and skin-plumping humectants like hyaluronic acid. To treat bags under the eye, some doctors suggest radio-frequency treatments to tighten the skin. Try this hand-held High Frequency Machine for effective treatment at home.
Hyperpigmentation: Skin irritation or injury can cause and over production of melanin, resulting in dark patches. Even the act of rubbing the eyes too aggressively (which may actually bruise the eye area) can cause the skin to ‘react’ by producing melanin. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and it can last for week or even months.
Suggested Remedies: Hydroquinone can diminish dark areas under the eye over time by inhibiting melanin production, but this product is considered controversial by some and is not recommended for all skin types. There are natural alternatives to hydroquinone that work well. For faster results, your dermatologist can treat the area with a vascular laser (either pulsed dye, YAG or diode lasers), or a Vbeam laser which targets broken blood vessels and does not affect the surrounding skin. These are clinical treatments that may result in redness and swelling after the treatment.
Finally, a note about sleep. While the lack of sleep does not cause dark circles, it can result in dry, itchy eyes which we then rub, inflaming the skin tissue and stirring up the pigment. Without enough sleep your skin also has a difficult time moving blood and fluid efficiently which results in puffy eyes and prominent blood vessels under the eye area.
See our quick tips for under eye dark circles – home remedies that work!