Why do we see dark circles?
There are a variety of different reasons that dark circles appear, and contrary to popular belief, fatigue is not one of the main causes. Although getting enough sleep is very important for your overall health, here are the main causes of dark circles:
- Hereditary: Individuals of Asian and African skin types are predisposed to having periorbital hyper pigmentation. Having a genetic trait of very thin lower eyelid skin allows the veins to show through resulting in a darker appearance.
- Seasonal allergies and nasal congestion are the most common contributor of dark, under eye circles, as it results in poor circulation to the lower eyelid. The congestion, even when minor, causes the veins which drain from the eyes into the nose, to increase in size and become darker.
- Hyperpigmentation: Environmental factors such as sleep, nutrition, sun exposure, and smoking contribute to secondary hyperpigmentation. Vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B12, E, K and D, have been associated with dark circles.
- Volume Loss: Hollowness or the sunken appearance of the eyelids is the final primary cause of dark circles. This can be more prominent in individuals who have high cheekbones. As one ages, the eyelid cheek junction elongates and the appearance of a tear trough becomes more prominent. In addition, there is also a loss of fat and collagen surrounding the eyes. This combined with the thinning of the skin can magnify the appearance of dark under eye circles.
- Prominent blue reticular vessels around the eyes that become more noticeable as the face ages
- Fat prolapse: when the lower eyelid fat pads protrude forward causing the appearance of puffiness and dark circles
What can we do to improve the appearance of these dark circles?
Each case is different and the cause of the dark under eye circles will determine the remedy or solution. While the causes may be difficult to pin down and vary, there are a few simple home remedies that can be helpful for improving the appearance of the dark circles:
- Make sure to get your 7-9 hours of beauty sleep. The less sleep you get, the paler you look and the more you notice. If you notice puffiness with the dark circles, try sleeping on the back instead of on your sides and use a pillow to elevate the head.
- Firstly, a rule that will also benefit other signs of ageing is to reduce exposure to the sun. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection all the way to the lash line, and wear sunglasses.
- Lifestyle: Keep up your nutrition! Be sure to drink plenty of water, pack in the antioxidants, and minimize the consumption of salt and alcohol in your diet. These culprits lead to water retention, exacerbate swelling and reduce circulation. If you have been a little naughty and the puffiness returns the next day, you can chill a teaspoon in ice water and use it to place on your eyelids for about 10 minutes to help diminish the puffiness and cause constriction of the blood vessels. Home treatments like eye masks (such as MZ Skin’s Golden Eye Treatment Masks) can help constrict blood vessels to decrease the appearance of darkness while also functioning to hydrate the skin, plumping the skin and helping improve the skin contour. Another lifestyle change you can make is to stop smoking. If not for other health reasons, stopping smoking will greatly improve the quality of your skin.
- Allergies: Another preventative measure you can take would be to check for allergies and sinus related issues which are very common. Treat hay fever with over the counter antihistamines as they can make the eyes puffy and darker from the dilated blood vessels.
- Topical creams and make up: you can use make up to improve the appearance of dark under eye circles. Shadows caused by pigment are usually brown and using a slightly peachy or yellow concealer helps counteract them.
- If you are looking for an eye cream to add to your daily routine, ingredients such as Caffeine, Hyaluronic Acid, Tri-peptides, Ceramides (to lock in moisture) and Albizia Julibrissin Bark extract, all of which can be found in MZ Skin’s Soothe & Smooth Collagen Activating Eye Complex.
If the above fails, do not fret, there are other options!
- Topical treatment: In individuals with thin eyelids and prominent vessels, the thicker the skin, the less visible the vessels will be. Apply a prescription strength retinoid to help build collagen, plump the skin and simultaneously reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Or try an over the counter retinol like RoC Retinol Correction Eye cream. Skin lighteners, such as hydroquinone and Kojic Acid can also be used, however you must be patient as these can take months to work. Another treatment that can be effective is the use of chemical peels. Peels can be used to help exfoliate the top layer of the skin and lighten the periorbital area. Periorbital darkness responds well to low concentration TCA (Tricholoroacetic acid), however be prepared for a week’s downtime with such a procedure.
- Technology: Another useful treatment would be Radiofrequency. It is recommended that 4-6 treatments are needed to help boost collagen growth and diminish the appearance of dark circles and tighten the skin around the eyes. Lasers can also be an effective treatment. The Q-switched pixel or in motion pixel, which destroy pigment cells and even out skin tone with a beam of light energy, can be used to tighten and thicken the skin around the eyes.
- Hyaluronic Acid: Often dark circles are about volume loss in the periorbital area and not from colour change. As one ages the orbital bone becomes more prominent creating a hallow tear trough. Tear trough filler is a well-established and popular non-surgical treatment to help those with hallowing of the lower eyelids or to help improve the appearance of lower eyelid dark circles. A prominent tear trough is characterized by a sunken appearance resulting in a shadow over the lower eyelid that is not easily concealed with makeup. Tear troughs can be treated with the injection of hyaluronic-acid fillers (like Restylane or Juvederm) to re-plump the area and push the skin up and away from the blood vessels. However, care must be taken to minimize the risk of blue tinge (tinsel effect) which can be seen sometimes when fillers are injected beneath the skin around the eyes.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): The use of Platelet Rich Plasma injections either alone or in conjunction with hyaluronic acid fillers can be used to diminish the appearance of dark circles.
- Fat transfers have also been used as a more permanent treatment.
Is there a surgical procedure available?
Surgery to remove under eye bags is also common; however, it is not always necessary and depends on the individual. More and more patients want a quicker less invasive procedure. When fat prolapse is excessive, or there is excessive loose skin, often surgery is the best option.
What can you expect?
- There can be discomfort during the treatment
- There can be some bruising associated with any injection but these normally disappear in about one week
- Occasionally there can be contour irregularities that can generally be massaged to flatten out
- If you are unhappy with the results, it can be dissolved with hyaluronidase
How long does it take?
- Generally, it takes 20-30 minutes to do
Is this the best treatment for me?
- Some patients may not be suitable for tear trough fillers or may need treatment in conjunction with other treatments.
- It is best to find an experienced doctor to thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits for the procedure.