Plus, why you have them in the first place
Dark circles are the absolute pits. They’re definitely among the top of our list when it comes to beauty woes. What’s worse is that you often don’t know how you ended up with them or how to get rid of them.
The good news? We have doctor-approved answers to both these questions. We spoke to dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook, and it turns out there’s a whole heap of different factors that contribute to dark under-eyes, including genetics and lifestyle choices.
While there’s no miracle treatment or foolproof fix, there are ways you can minimise some of the discolouration. Find out below everything you need to know about what is causing your dark circles and what you need to do for brighter-looking eyes.
What causes dark circles under eyes?
While most of us associate dark circles with a lack of sleep, sleep deprivation is actually only responsible for minor dark circles and puffiness. There are other bigger contributing factors that cause the blue veins under your eyes to be more prominent, such as genetics and ageing.
“Some people are born with the anatomy of dark circles, where the bony floor of the orbit/eye is underdeveloped/recessed, creating a hollow,” says Dr Cook. “These people have them from a young age and they tend to get worse with age,” she explains.
As we get older, the already-delicate skin around our eyes loses collagen and firmness, so the blood vessels underneath become more visible. Dr Cook adds, “Loss of fat and thinning of the skin in the area, which occurs with age, creates dark circles. Increase in capillaries and pigment from sun exposure [also] creates a darkening of the area."
What’s more, if you’re one to rub your eyes when you get tired, this could also contribute to dark rings under eyes, says Dr Cook. “Atopic (i.e. eczema-prone) people are more susceptible,” notes Dr Cook.
What causes bags under eyes?
While dark circles under eyes are associated with discolouration, eye bags are characterised by sagging under the eye and are caused by a bulging of the fat pads that cushion our eyes. “Eye bags are where the fat that sits around the eye protrudes forwards creating an ‘out pouching’ of the lower eyelid. This tends to be genetic,” says Dr Cook.
While they are two different conditions, the two can occur together. Bags under eyes can actually cause your dark circles to appear darker, simply because of the shadow they cast under a certain light.
How can you get rid of dark circles?
So now you know what has caused your dark circles, how can you get rid of them? Is there some kind of magical eye cream or remedy out there that’ll reduce (or completely remove) the discolouration under your eyes? According to Dr Cook, there’s no such thing. “No, this is a serious myth. Most eye creams don’t do much at all except break the budget!”
Instead of expensive eye creams, Dr Cook suggests opting for a quality serum. “Invest in serums that reduce inflammation and preserve and protect collagen.” Two top ingredients she recommends are vitamin C and niacinamide (vitamin B3). “Niacinamide is one the most effective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant skin care vitamins. Not only does it reduce inflammation, but it prevents pigment and preserves collagen. Vitamin C also helps sustain collagen levels, thereby keeping the eyelid skin in GREAT shape.” Try Dr Cook’s Concentrated Illuminator, which is formulated with 10 per cent vitamin C and 10 per cent vitamin B3.
Laser treatments can also be helpful in removing pigment and capillaries (if present), while cosmetic injectables can restore radiance and replace volume under the eyes. “If it is due to fat loss and volume loss, fillers can be helpful BUT this area is extremely complex to treat so you need to go to a specialist,” says Dr Cook. “If there are coinciding fat bags, which will make the dark circles look worse, you need to look at having these surgically treated.”
Want to know how to spot-cover your under-eye area the correct way? Check out our tips on how to hide even the most stubborn dark circles.
What’s your go-to method to treat dark circles? Let us know in the comment section below.
Main image credit: Getty
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.