Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes + Treatment
The appearance of dark circles under your eyes is a warning sign of aging. But the good news is that your dark under eyes might be treatable. The key to treating them is knowing what causes them — it could be allergies or lack of sleep or some other controllable factor.
Here are 7 reasons why dark circles are appearing under your eyes:
In this article you’ll learn:
- The 7 causes of dark circles under the eyes.
- How to treat dark circles under the eyes.
- How Geologie can help your under eyes.
What causes dark circles under the eyes?
The skin underneath your eyes is a danger zone for one important reason: it’s thin — thinner than anywhere else on your body. Being so thin means it’s sensitive, and prone to all sorts of problems that can exacerbate dark circles:
- Allergies. Allergies create pressure in the nasal passages, which prevents the blood in the veins and capillaries under the eyes from draining back to the heart. When this blood pools, it darkens the skin. Even worse, fluid from inside the veins can seep into the tissue under the eyes, leading to puffiness. Avoid rubbing eyes frequently — anything that irritates the eyes can cause fluids to pool.
- Eczema. Any inflammatory skin disease can play a role in exacerbating the pigmentation of the skin under the eye — especially in people of color.
- Lack of sleep and mental fatigue. A late night or a little bit too much to drink can dehydrate the dermal and interstitial layers under your eyes, which can make the blood vessels look more prominent. Fortunately these dark circles are usually temporary. Try sleeping on your back and keeping your head elevated to get the blood flowing, normalizing the area.
- Diet. Limit your intake of salt and alcohol, which can mess with water retention.
- Age. Dark circles aren’t always related to changes in the color of the skin. As you get older, you lose volume in the area around the eye, which exposes the underlying blue veins and orbital bone. The resulting hollow trough shows up as a dark circle. Also, weight loss that occurs with aging leads to the displacement of the infraorbital fat pads — that “sunken-in” look that exposes under-eye depressions.
- Genetics. If your mom or dad loses a lot of periorbital fat and collagen faster, then you're likely going to have a similar problem, with certain ethnicities a little more apparent. Allergies are also somewhat inherited.
- Sun exposure: Behavioral factors like sun exposure can also cause darkening of the under eyes by increasing the melanin content. The skin in this region can pigment more than the surrounding skin because it's more sensitive.
How to treat dark circles under the eyes.
For dark circles and under eyes caused by an overproduction of melanin, kojic acid can help. As a tyrosinase inhibitor, kojic acid will stunt your body’s natural melanin production. This means it appears to even skin tone and fade dark spots. For that reason it’s often referred to as a skin “lightener.” The key is to be patient. You might see some initial results in the first couple of weeks, but it also might take three to four months for results to fully express themselves.
We use 2% kojic acid in our Nourishing Eye Cream to help reduce the visible signs of dark under eyes. When applied topically, kojic acid is a small enough molecule to penetrate the top layers of dead skin cells and act amongst new cells.
But beware: For under eyes caused by a decrease in fat around the eyes, which causes that sunken look, which happens as we age, kojic acid will have minimal effect.
Can I treat dark circles under the eyes permanently?
Although there is nothing medically wrong with you if you have dark under eyes, people do feel better when they learn there are medical treatments that can offer a more permanent solution.
Some medical treatments used for reducing dark circles include:
- Chemical peels to reduce pigmentation
- Laser surgery to smooth and tighten the skin
- Medical tattoos to inject pigment into thinning skin areas
- Tissue fillers to conceal blood vessels and melanin that cause skin discoloration beneath your eyes
- Fat removal to remove excess fat and skin, revealing a smoother and more even surface
- Surgical implants of fat or synthetic products
- Carboxytherapy to increase blood flow to the area under the eyes
These treatments can be expensive, painful, and may require a long recovery time, so discuss with a doctor before undergoing any procedures.
How Geologie can help your under eyes
Go personalized! Take our skincare quiz for a complete personalized skincare routine just for you.
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Still not sure? Browse our entire catalog of skincare products for under eyes.