The bane of every skincare
Dark under-eye circles can be a mammoth roadblock in our journey to achieve clear and healthy skin. And when it comes to laying the blame, we often scapegoat long WFH hours, extended screen time, bingeing the latest Netflix release and the insurmountable stress that comes from having to deal with a raging pandemic. While all of these are valid reasons, there’s a lot more at play here.
Genetics, ageing, dehydration and undiagnosed allergies are amongst the other factors that hinder our quest for beautiful skin. World’s leading dermatologists can attest to this.
“There is a strong genetic component to dark circles, which is out of people’s control,” says Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. And according to Dr Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist at Day Dermatology & Aesthetics, New York- dark circles, anatomy and genetics are inherently linked. “Under-eye hollowing is a broad category and includes everything from genetics, where it’s the shape of the eyes and the structures around them that creates a natural hollow, to redness that can also create a shadow-like effect,” Day says.
Dark circles may seem inescapable but there are countless ways to get rid of them. Let’s begin by understanding what makes them tick.
What causes dark under-eye circles?
Oversleeping, extreme fatigue and staying up a few hours past your normal bedtime can lead to dark circles. If sleep deprivation persists, your skin can become dull and pale, allowing for dark tissues and blood vessels to show.
Your eyes can start appearing puffy due to a lack of sleep. In this case, the dark circles you see are often shadows cast by your puffy eyelids.
Your skin becomes thinner as you grow older. It also starts losing fat and collagen needed to maintain its elasticity. This leads to the dark blood vessels beneath your skin becoming more visible, causing the area below your eyes to darken.
Staring at your television or laptop screen for long hours can cause significant strain on your eyes. Due to this, the blood vessels around your eyes can enlarge, leading the surrounding skin to darken.
When your body doesn’t get enough water, the skin beneath your eyes begins to look dull, giving your eyes a sunken look.
5. Over-Exposure to the sun
Long hours under the sun can cause your body to produce excess melanin, the pigment that gives colour to your skin. When your eyes are overexposed to the sun, the surrounding skin starts to darken.
6. Iron deficiency and Anaemia
According to Michele Green, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist who runs her own practice in New York City, being anaemic can result in dark circles too.
Anaemia is a medical condition characterized by an insufficient amount of red blood cells, which occurs due to insufficient iron in one’s diet. With anaemia, blood cells are unable to carry enough oxygen to the under-eye area, resulting in dark circles.
7. Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol not only dilates blood vessels under the eyes, making dark circles look more prominent but also negatively impacts sleep, exacerbating the appearance of dark circles. Carbon monoxide in cigarettes deprives your skin of oxygen, making it appear darker in places where the skin is thin, like under your eyes.
Dark circles can also be an inherited childhood trait and may worsen as you age or slowly disappear.
How to get rid of dark circles
When dark circles have countless reasons to stay, the approach to bidding them goodbye needs to be all-powerful. Solely changing your eye cream isn’t going to cut it. A holistic approach is needed to get rid of them.
A combination of cosmetic treatments, home remedies, healthy lifestyle changes and high-quality skincare products are the right way to treat dark circles.
Begin at home
The most lethal weapons to fight dark circles lie within the four walls of your home.
A cold compress can help reduce swelling and shrink dilated blood vessels. This can reduce puffiness and help eliminate dark circles. Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean washcloth and apply to your eyes for 20 minutes.
Catching up on sleep is the simplest way to reduce dark circles. Sleep deprivation can cause your skin to appear pale, making dark circles prominent. Seven to eight hours of sleep daily can help combat them.
Applying cold tea bags to your eyes can improve their appearance. Tea contains caffeine and antioxidants that can help stimulate blood circulation, shrink your blood vessels, and reduce liquid retention beneath your skin.
Soak two black or green tea bags in hot water for five minutes. Place them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and apply them to your closed eyes for another 20 minutes.
The best medical treatments
Treatments such as peels, lasers, devices that tighten and fillers can have a lasting effect when it comes to treating dark circles.
Fillers help eliminate shadows and hollowness under the eyes by restoring the padding in the lower eyelid and cheek.
Chemical peels, when done for several weeks can lighten the skin under the eyes.
Botox can smooth out excess wrinkling of the skin.
Microneedling delivers controlled injury to the skin and stimulates collagen production, allowing anti-ageing serums to penetrate deeper into the skin.
While considering any of these treatments, it’s imperative to consult a dermatologist. Invasive medical treatments can be expensive, painful, and often require a long recovery time.
Last but not the least, over-the-counter eye creams (add link to eye cream article) can be a great antidote to dark circles when used consistently. Packed with powerful ingredients like Hyaluronic acid and caffeine, they can work wonders on dark circles. Hyaluronic acid, for instance – hydrates, plumps and brightens the skin, thereby masking the darkness under your eyes. Caffeine works to constrict the blood vessels under the eyes and reduces redness. Other ingredients like Vitamin C, retinol and peptides too work miraculously on dark circles.
Flaws can be flattering too
Dark circles maybe stubborn and unyielding but with the right skincare practices, no flaw is invincible. Having said that, sometimes flaws can enhance our beauty instead of diminishing it. It’s all about perspective.
The French, for instance, consider dark circles to be beautiful and fashionable, and have done so for a century. In an interview with Vogue, Chloé Perrin, creative director of Perrin Paris, spoke about how shadows under the eyes add depth and character, “I’ve always thought dark circles look quite romantic, is that strange? They make a fresh face look interesting.” According to the French, the real appeal of romantic nonchalance lies in their gaze, which tends to feature a touch of darkness around the eyes that is embraced instead of masked.