November 8, 2013

What causes under eye dark circles - and what treatments can help?

dark circles under the eyes

One of the most asked about problems I have seen in the beauty salon is dark circles under the eyes. It's a concern because it can make the whole face look tired and unwell. People comment that you look tired and ask if you are OK. 

Before I make any recommendations, I take a closer look and ask questions to determine what is the cause of the dark circles. They are not all the same and the treatments and home care products will differ according to the cause.

There are six different types of dark circles under the eyes:
- thin skin 
- poor circulation
- dehydration
- pigmentation
- puffiness
- aging

It can be a singular cause or a combination of the above so the skin care and treatment need to be adapted for each individual person and sadly one product or treatment will not treat all of the above. 

Thin Skin & Poor Circulation

use products specifically designed for sensitive eyes with good moisturizing ingredients
Some people have inherited the genetics for a thin skin, and the skin around the eyes is even thinner. When the skin is thin, it is quite fragile, and the capillary network under the skin can be seen from the surface. Under the eyes, the skin can appear with a bluish tinge. This will appear worse if the person is tired, dehydrated or unwell. Allergies and sensitivities can make the skin appear darker as well. 

The best way to look after thin skin around the eyes and poor circulation in the capillaries is to drink two liters of water every day to flush the capillaries out and use products specifically designed for sensitive eyes with good moisturizing ingredients. Look for ingredients such as yeast extract, Vitamin K, flavonoids and botanicals such as cornflower and butcher's broom to improve micro-circulation.


drink lots of water to keep the skin hydrated
The dehydrated skin under the eyes has a gray tinge to it with fine lines and crepey appearance. Dehydration can be caused by illness, medication, drugs, smoking, not drinking enough water and incorrect or no product use.

If left untreated, this can contribute to skin aging and skin sensitivities around the eyes. Dehydration is perhaps one of the easiest to treat and you can see dramatic results fast. It just takes a little self-love and TLC. 

Here is what I recommend:  book in for a professional eye treatment that boosts hydration and includes a gentle exfoliation. Just one eye treatment can make a huge difference! Follow that at home with using a gentle eye makeup remover, and don't just use water or cleansers designed for the face, makeup removers usually have built in hydrating and soothing ingredients.  

Look for hyaluronic acid in your eye cream which is a potent hydrator and can instantly improve the signs of dehydration around the eyes, plumping out and smoothing the wrinkles. And drink lots of water to keep the skin hydrated. 


what causes dark circles under the eyesPigmentation is caused by the pigment melanin being deposited in the skin in concentrated areas. Under the eyes is generally an inherited condition and for others can be triggered by hormones. UV exposure will make this condition worse whether the root cause is genetic or hormones so protecting your skin from daily UV exposure is a must. Regular exfoliation will prevent the dead cell build up which can make the skin look darker so a gentle exfoliant 1-2 times per week such as the Sothys Gommage. Choose eye cream with ingredients proven to even out skin tone and brighten pigmentation such as vitamin C, licorice, Niacinamide, and powerful antioxidants. 


Temporary puffiness can be the sign of fluid retention. Fluid retention occurs when you don't get enough exercise, drink enough water, eat too much salty or sugary foods and alcohol. Exercise helps the muscles drain excess fluid from the tissues and drinking lots of fresh water will flush out toxins. Limiting sugar, salt, and alcohol in your diet will help prevent fluid retention and lymphatic drainage eye massage is terrific to help instantly drain away excess fluid. Look for eye care that contains ingredients such as lupine seed extract, flax seed extract, butcher broom, flavonoids, and yeast extract to help drain excess fluid. 

People with long-term puffiness, especially later in life can be a sign of fatty deposits. Sadly surgery is the only thing that can be done to remove the fatty deposits under the eyes. 


Radio Frequency RF Skin TighteningDark circles occur more frequently and are more noticeable with age because as we get older, our skin loses collagen and becomes thinner and more translucent. To keep the skin looking younger and firmer for longer look for eye creams with collagen boosting ingredients such as peptides, alfalfa, phytoestrogens and powerful peptides. Book in regular eye treatments that focus on exfoliation, collagen boosting actives and firming mask to help your skin look more rejuvenated. Advanced technologies such as RF Skin Tightening (radio frequency) is another option for premature aging around the eyes. 

Other beauty tips:

Another take on this is in Chinese medicine. Chinese Medicine considers dark circles as a sign of weakness in the kidney network. Kidney weakness is due to exhaustion and overstrain coupled with a lack of rest and relaxation. 

Also, many cosmetic problems can be attributed to vitamin deficiencies. Dark circles and puffiness are often thought to be due to vitamin K deficiency or a lack of antioxidants in the diet. 

It is also believed that lack of the mineral iron can cause dark circles. An iron deficiency may point to anemia, which is a potentially serious medical condition that requires treatment. If you believe you may have anemia, see your family doctor to schedule blood work.

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Have a beautiful day!
Jana x

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Skincare / Beauty Educator, Salon Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Writer, Blogger, Author.

I help people develop clear, engaging and persuasive content for their websites, blogs, magazines, newsletters, training, marketing materials and social media.

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