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Ask Dr. Steve: What’s Causing the Dark Circles Under My Eyes?

What's the deal with the dark circles under my eyes? 

Dr. Steve: Dark circles and puffiness under your eyes are a bummer. Nobody likes being called a panda or Beetlejuice, and nobody likes looking ten years older than they really are. Thing is, dark circles seem like a mystery. Where do they come from? There are a number of causes. 

Dark Under Eye Circles

It All Begins With Thin Skin

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, like these:

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. 

Check your 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. Like I mentioned earlier, the skin in this region can pigment more than the surrounding skin because it's more sensitive. 

Nourishing Dark Under Eye Cream with Kojic Acid

Hello Kojic Acid!

Whatever the cause of the dark circles under your eyes, in many cases there are treatments for it. The kojic acid in the Dark & Puffy Under Eye Cream is one of them. A tyrosinase inhibitor that stunts the production of melanin, kojic acid evens the skin tone and fades dark spots — it’s often referred to as a skin “lightener."

Any questions? Ask us anytime, that’s what we do!

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