Dark Circles under your eyes will most likely appear at some point in your life. The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more delicate than anywhere else on our body.
The Biology of Dark Circles – Under eye darkness begins in your capillaries, which are very tiny blood vessels that surround the thin skin around your eyes. These capillaries are so small that Red Blood Cells have to line up to get through – they freqently wander into the surrounding skin and our bodies have a mechanism to mop up these stray blood cells. Enzymes in your body will break down the red blood cells (including their Hemoglobin that gives them a Red colour). When Hemoglobin is broken down, the remaining components leave a dark bluish, black colour – just like a bruise, it’s the same mechanism. So leaky capillaries are responsible for the formation of dark circles, but other things can also impact this.
I actually feel more tired when I look in the mirror and see those shadows beneath my eyes, even if I am not! Surprisingly, the most common cause isn’t lack of sleep (although it definitely does have an affect) but Sinus Congestion. When your nose is blocked, the veins that usually drain from your eyes into your nose become dilated and darker, you can especially see this on someone with a very pale skin tone.
Dark circles can also be a sign of dehydration which will decrease the flow of nutrients to the capillaries, so evaluate your fluid intake. In Chinese Face Diagnosis the under eye area represents the Kidney area – they say darkness with a bluish colour is due to an imbalance in Kidney energy.
Unfortunately for some, dark circles can be hereditary and part of their natural genetic pigment. Pigmentation caused by sun-damage can be a cause for some people, so always make sure you wear an adequate SPF around the eyes and wear some BIG sunglasses. The skin around our eyes is far more sensitive to the sun as it is very thin with less oil glands, also sun-damage will degrade Collagen and Elastin and cause premature wrinkles and loose skin.
Ageing will make the appearance of Dark Circles worse, this is because the skin becomes much thinner and our skin becomes more translucent as we get older due to the decrease in Melanin Pigment, this makes the blood vessels show up more. Conditions that cause fluid retention (Kidney, Liver, Heart and Thyroid diseases) or certain medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor – check with your doctor.
Allergies can make your eyes itchy and rubbing the delicate skin around your eyes can cause dark circles. Smoking will also have an impact as it restricts oxygen flow to the capillaries.
What Can We Do?
Changes to your lifestyle can have a positive effect on non-hereditory dark circles, here’s my tips….
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep and STOP smoking!
- Supplements containing Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Grapeseed extract all contain antioxidant compounds that may help strengthen blood vessels, this may also help prevent broken capillaries.
- Topical ingredients containing Horse Chestnut, Vitamin K, Gingko, Witch Hazel and Green Tea may also strengthen the delicate eye tissue.
- A cold compress is a quick fix that helps constrict blood vessels and normalise tissue colour. Only Temporary, but makes you feel better! I like chilled plain teabags or Cucumber slices. I also use a Yuroll Eye Roller – the cooling Jade feels lovely and it will boost circulation and Lymph Drainage.
- Feast on the wonderful varieties of Super Berries – Cranberries, Blueberries, Blackcurrants – wash down with a large pot of Green or Black Tea. The Antioxidants they contain may help fortify blood vessels, also drink plenty of water and cut down on Salt, which can make dilated blood vessels worse.
- A good concealer is worth its weight in gold! I like “Anti Fatigue Concealer” By Terry – this is brilliant at disguising dark circles without looking heavy, it also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the delicate skin.
- Dermalogica Total Eye Care is also a good treatment – it has a slight Pink colour that disguises darkness. It also has an essential SPF 15 to protect against sun-damage.