Uncovering the Truth About Under-Eye Shadows: Causes, Treatments, and PreventionPosted on November 21, 2023 Written by: 100% PURE ®
Many people despise having an oversized bag or having to check a bag last minute, so we’re pretty sure checking yourself in a mirror to find dark, under-eye bags is on the no-fly list. Besides red-eyes, canceled flights, and tarmac delays, there’s a variety of causes of dark circles, and an even greater ‘Skymall’ of eye products claiming to send those dark bags packing. But do they really work?
In the ever-evolving beauty industry, few concerns have sparked as much discussion and curiosity as dark circles. As one of the most prevalent beauty concerns that many people experience, are dark circles a lost cause like finding lost baggage or a treatable condition, such as being immediately reunited with your best travel companion?
To unravel this enigma, we delve into the world of dark circles, examining their potential causes and the best treatment options. Follow along as we spy with our little eye some treatments for under-eye shadows - plus the best eye creams that will send those pesky bags packing for good!
A renowned English poet put it best: “The eyes are the window to your soul.” In essence, our eyes are busy every second of the day, whether conveying love, laughter, joy, and unfortunately, tiredness in the form of dark circles. In fact, our peepers are often the first area to show signs of aging and fatigue. What makes that worse is the constant “you look so tired!” comments all day (“Thanks, I didn’t realize!”).
Though most of us associate sleep deprivation with discoloration under the eyes, the eye-opening truth is those dismal dark circles are caused by a myriad of factors. Let’s outline some of the most common causes of under-eye shadows, starting with the most typical factor, so you can determine the best treatment option:
Lack of Sleep:
When you don’t get enough sleep (7 - 9 hours per night for most adults), fluid can build up underneath your eyes, causing the puffiness and discoloration that we associate with dark circles. If you’re experiencing under-eye shadows because of a lack of sleep, the good news (albeit a challenge for some of us) is that you may be able to reverse the problem by getting into a regular sleep routine.
Is your little eye spying too much? If you work in front of a computer, watch hours of television daily or you’re a serial phone scroller, you may be experiencing eye strain, which can lead to dark circles and hurt your vision. When your eyes become strained, the blood vessels enlarge under the skin, leading to discoloration of the area around your eyes.
Milk doesn’t just do the body good – adequate water intake does, too! Dehydration can cause your under-eye area to become dull, hollow-looking, and discolored. And, if you find that you do drink plenty of water, perhaps it’s the other beverages - caffeine, alcohol, and other diuretics - you indulge in that could be to blame.
Pregnant and menstruating women may also find that they experience dark circles underneath their eyes. If you often experience under-eye shadows when you’re on your cycle, you may want to discuss this issue with a doctor, as in rare cases, there may be an underlying medical condition, such as iron deficiency or thyroid disorder causing the discoloration.
Age and Hereditary Factors:
As your skin matures, losing some of its natural strength and elasticity, it becomes more prone to dark circles. The delicate skin covering the under-eye area is also prone to becoming thinner and losing volume, which then leads to more obvious dark shadows. In addition, the repetitive facial movements we make, like squinting and smiling, can contribute to the development of wrinkles around the eyes.
Meanwhile, certain hereditary factors may also make some individuals more prone to dark circles throughout their lives.
The body can be broken down into two simple workings: what you do on your inside is as important as what you do on the outside, which ultimately affects your inside. Lifestyle influences such as not eating right, smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeinated beverages, forgoing sunscreen, too much tech time, and not having healthy sleep and skincare routines can all lead to dark circles. It’s important to establish healthy lifestyle habits for your body and overall well-being.
The skin encircling your eyes is a remarkable and distinctive area of your face. It is exceptionally delicate, being thinner and more fragile than the skin on the rest of your face. This thinness is due to a lower density of oil glands and collagen fibers. Consequently, the precious under-eye area is highly susceptible to dark circles. And, there are several types of these dismal under-eye shadows:
#1: Pigmentation-related dark circles
These brownish-dark circles result from inflammation. This could be due to frictional damage or using too much pressure while applying makeup or during cleansing and skincare. Rubbing the eyes to alleviate itchiness such as those caused by allergies or general irritation can also damage the delicate skin, leading to periorbital pigmentation-related dark circles.
#2. Vascular dark circles
This type of under-eye shadow tends to be bluish in color and is caused by poor blood circulation. Since the blood flow rate is 30% higher in the under-eye than in the cheek area, oxygen-depleted blood circulating in this area becomes more obvious, especially since under-eye skin is thinner and more fragile compared to other parts of the body.
#3. Structural dark circles due to skin thinning or fat loss
The under-eye area of this type arises more as a perceived darkish brown shadow created by thin, loose skin, or saggy skin. Since the under-eye area lacks the robust support structure of thicker skin, it is more prone to developing fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, and dark circles. Furthermore, as we age, collagen production decreases, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and become more susceptible to sagging and the formation of crow's feet.
Now that we’re more familiar with the different types of dark circles, we can look for effective treatments that can help us say good-eye to pesky dark circles.
Most of us can agree that we don’t want to rise and un-shine looking like a bad impression of a cute panda. While those snuggly ‘bamboo’ lovers can rock the dark patches, we’re not quite so lucky. But we can thank our lucky stars that various treatment options can lighten and tighten those dismal darkies for good!
Topical treatments: Creams and serums (ingredients to look for)
While there’s no shortage of conventional eye formulas, which mostly contain chemicals that can irritate your eyes, there are more eye-dilic topical treatments. Look for natural eye serums and creams with potent yet safe ingredients that can nourish the delicate eye area and help target any eye woes.
We know caffeine like coffee can perk us up, and the same is true with coffee beans for pepping up our peepers. Caffeine – and green tea is included - is a natural vasoconstrictor that can reduce inflammation and swelling by constricting blood vessels, which can help to reduce the appearance of dark circles. It can also stimulate circulation, which can help to brighten the eye area and de-puff eye bags.
Topical creams and serums containing eye-brightening vitamin C, soothing aloe and cucumber, nutrient-dense oils, and hydration hero hyaluronic acid can help nourish, brighten, and tighten the under-eye area. Ceramides in eye creams play a crucial role in fortifying the skin's protective layer, preventing moisture loss, and enhancing its resilience. Peptides are adept at boosting collagen production, which translates to firmer and smoother skin around the eyes.
Don’t forget that our delicate eye area needs some healing time and its own R&R. Incorporating an eye night cream with retinol can stimulate collagen production and increase cell turnover, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as decrease dark circles.
Lifestyle changes: Diet, sleep patterns, and hydration
When you practice healthy lifestyle habits for your body, your overall well-being improves because you are taking care of you. To maintain a healthy body (and skin), it’s crucial to stay hydrated and eat right. A balanced diet of healthy foods provides your body with the building blocks it needs to heal wounds, maintain elasticity and vibrancy, and balance the bacteria in your skin.
Since the body is made up of 60% water, you’ll want to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help maintain your body’s fluid balance and transport nutrients throughout your body. That means you will more quickly reap the benefits of the healthy foods you eat! Plus, you’ll keep your skin cells quenched and plumped to their max by drinking plenty of water each day.
Eating a balanced diet and healthy foods will have your skin feeling and looking fine in no time! If you practice the best clean skin care routine, you’ll be able to minimize the health risks to your skin and your body. Clean beauty includes products mindfully made that don’t contain toxic ingredients linked to harmful health effects.
An important lifestyle change is getting enough quality Zzz’s. Sleep is that part of the day when you can recharge physically and mentally. To achieve healthy sleep cycles, stick to a sleep schedule, and avoid alcohol intake and heavy meals in the evening. This is also the time when you can let your stress go, be calm, and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and let your worries float away from you.
Professional treatments: Laser therapy, fillers, and peels:
Treatments for dark circles vary depending on their stubbornness. It would be nice to simply apply cold compresses or tea bags to the eyes to reduce swelling and darkness, and viola, you’re done. In some cases, that helps with dark circles and puffiness!
However, for severe cases, laser therapy or surgery may be necessary to improve the appearance of dark circles. Lasers, when used correctly, can stimulate collagen production, improving skin thickness and overall health. By increasing the thickness of the thin eyelid skin, the appearance of dark under-eye circles can be better covered, and the appearance improved.
Fillers may also be used to help plump shallow or hollowed-out under-eye areas. Fillers can also help sculpt the face or enhance contours, and these under-eye injections are a way to add volume and diminish any shadowing that results from dark circles
In all these cases, it's important to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of the dark circles and find the appropriate treatment.
Makeup techniques: Concealers and color correctors
There’s something we always dread hearing when we stroll into work in the morning: “You look tired!” Maybe you’ve tried to convince everyone that you were just born with it. But a little bit of under-eye concealer and a color corrector wouldn’t hurt for convincing everyone that you’re still on your A-game, especially if it looks and feels like a second skin (we’re all for makeup that doubles as skincare!).
Using an under-eye concealer on top of a skin regime to bust those eye circles comes with brightening power that lasts longer than your morning latte. Once you’ve mastered the easy art of applying under-eye concealer, you’ll be a pro at creating the art of a flawless under-eye look.
If you’re dealing with some serious dark circles, try adding a color corrector step in your routine. This step is essentially part 1 of your concealer strategy: before you apply your foundation or concealer, use color correctors to give you a leg-up on your under-eye complexion correction.
Now that we have covered the main causes of dark circles, the lifestyle habits, and treatment options to help reduce the appearance of under-eye shadows, it’s time to release you into the wilds of the world armed with some preventive measures to help ward off dark circles before they darken your day.
Importance of sun protection:
Any uncovered portion of your skin needs sun protection daily – even on cloudy days – and our eyes are no exception, too. Since the under-eye area is thinner and more fragile, it’s more vulnerable to damage from the sun, making protection super important. Wearing sunglasses will also help shield the delicate area around your peepers.
Skincare routines that strengthen the under-eye area:
100% PURE is dedicated to making the best natural eye products for you. The ingredients in our eye creams are vegan and clean, which means they are safe to use even on the most delicate skin area. Most importantly, incorporating one (or two) of these in your natural skincare routine can strengthen your under-eye area.
Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream
Caffeine is known to energize a tired person, so this eye cream can do the same for your eyes. Our fan-favorite eye cream harnesses a triple dose of stimulating caffeine content - green coffee extract, green tea, and coffee cherry - to reduce puffiness and promote skin brightness.
Deemed the best eye cream for dark circles, this eye-perking formula boosts circulation and lessens the fluid retention which causes puffiness. Vitamin E and nourishing rosehip oil deeply nourish delicate, dehydrated skin for bright and youthful eyes.
Retinol PM Eye CreamDehydration is one of the reasons behind dark circles, so you’re going to need a hydration hero with some anti-aging superpowers. Our hydrating, potent eye cream will help to revitalize your under-eye area while you sleep. This nourishing formula promotes collagen production and boosts skin elasticity and firmness. It also features skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E to deeply moisturize skin, and a blend of antioxidant-rich extracts and oils to repair daily damage and brighten skin beneath the eyes.
Super Fruit Oil Nourishing Eye Cream
If a lack of under-eye nutrition like hydration and anti-aging vitamins is the reason for your dark circles, then the delicious, eye-nourishing blend in this formula is for you. This eye cream contains superfruit oils that have the highest concentration of nutrients, which makes it extremely nourishing and moisturizing. The powerful, potent superfruit antioxidants and vitamins help in improving dark circles and skin elasticity while lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants PM Eye Treatment
After a certain age, the skin around the eyes starts losing its firmness and the tissues around it start thinning. This eye treatment is richly moisturizing and has high anti-aging properties that will help tighten the skin around the eyes and keep it nourished while you sleep. This eye treatment is concentrated with multiple vitamins and antioxidants to minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles. This treatment also stimulates cellular regeneration and promotes both collagen and elastin production for firmer, more youthful skin.
Bright Eyes Mask
These deeply hydrating caffeine under-eye patches use a thirst-quenching blend of cucumber, hyaluronic acid, and aloe juice to replenish dehydrated skin cells. The "hydrogel" mask material is composed of 95% organic aloe juice and 5% plant cellulose, to intensely brighten, de-puff, and refresh your eye area. Its triple boost of caffeine via green coffee beans, green tea, and yerba mate, sends dark circles and eye bags packing.
The role of a balanced diet and adequate water intake:
We know water is essential for life. We recommend keeping your skin cells quenched and plumped to their max by drinking plenty of water each day. It’s very important that our bodies and skin, which includes the eye area, remain well hydrated always. Remember, dehydration can cause your under-eye area to become dull, hollow-looking, and discolored.
For the best of both watery worlds, you can hydrate the skin from the inside by keeping up a healthy intake of H2O, while eating a balanced diet – and that can also contain hydrating foods! By pairing the right diet and adequate hydration, you’ll have hydrated and more youthful peepers.
In addition to the right eye care products, including sun protection, and making healthy lifestyle habits, you can get creative and make use of some common household ingredients to brighten your eyes. Here are some of our favorite DIY concoctions for enhancing your under-eye area:
Give Tea Bags a Try
Out of many home remedies, the one that works is keeping cold tea bags on the eyes. It will wear off the tiredness and puffiness temporarily. The best method to use this is by soaking the two tea bags in water. Then take those tea bags out and put them in a cold refrigerator for a few hours. Keep those chilled tea bags on your eyes for a minimum of 7 to 8 minutes. After that, your eyes will feel relaxed and they won't look as puffy or dark anymore.
Cucumbers Are Cool to Try
Putting cucumbers over your eyes to treat dark circles and puffy skin is probably one of the best-known beauty remedies. The key is in the unique hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties of cucumbers.
Its cooling effect can calm and soothe the under-eye area. Cucumbers are also rich in skin-brightening vitamin C, while folic acid stimulates antioxidants that help your skin fight off environmental toxins that can make eyes appear puffy or tired. They’re also great hydration heroes!
Skin Ingredients to Improve Circulation
Use an eye cream with circulation-enhancing ingredients to lessen dark circles. Forms of caffeine like coffee bean and green tea support microcirculation in the capillaries to improve under-eye shadows and pesky eye bags. Getting the blood flowing can help to de-puff and wake up the eyes and can also help with product absorption.
Exercise to Reduce Dark Circles and Bags
Any type of exercise is great for increasing blood circulation and for general health and well-being. But you can also do light massage exercises to your under-eye area. Use a natural oil and using your ring fingers, apply light pressure while massaging the oil in circles around your eye area.
Are dark circles entirely hereditary?
No, there are a variety of causes of dark circles, from poor sleep routines to lifestyle influences. It’s important to find out the type of your dark circles to learn what treatment options are best for you.
How can I tell if my dark circles are due to pigmentation or vascular issues?
Pigmented-related dark circles tend to be brownish in color as a result of inflammation. This could be due to damage from rubbing or applying too much pressure. On the other hand, vascular dark circles tend to be bluish in color and are caused by poor blood circulation.
Is there a permanent cure for dark circles?
No, but some treatment options can reduce the look of dark circles. Ideally, a combination of medical or surgical treatments as well as a natural skincare routine could more effectively lessen under-eye shadows. It’s important to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of the dark circles and find the appropriate treatment.
Can stress and digital screen exposure worsen dark circles?
If you work in front of a computer, watch hours of television daily or you’re a serial phone scroller, you may be experiencing eye strain, which can lead to dark circles and hurt your vision. When your eyes become strained, the blood vessels enlarge under the skin, leading to discoloration of the area around your eyes. And, as we know, stress plays a role in worsening anything from your health to your skin.
Are there any side effects of using under-eye creams?
If you use a conventional eye cream, which often contains chemicals, you’re more prone to irritations in and around your eye area or even infections. It’s important to opt for a natural eye cream that doesn’t contain harsh ingredients.
Now that you have the 101 on dark circles and eye bags, it’s time to release you into the wilds of the world – and not with the pandas or the besties bemoaning those “dark circles” under her eyes - armed with this grand knowledge. Using a natural eye cream and of course, improving some lifestyle habits may help you to get rid of dark circles for good. That includes changes like getting adequate sleep, managing stress, staying hydrated, eating well, and protecting your eyes from sun exposure can all help improve the appearance of dark circles.
It’s time to meet and keep your eyes on the prize - and that’s bright, youthful peepers. You can say good-eye to under-eye shadows and bags, and a healthy hello to achieving more rested, youthful peppy peepers! Remember, your eyes are the window to your soul. They tell a story – let them tell one of care, confidence, and captivating allure.
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The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.