How do we get dark circles and how do we get rid of them? 

It’s disheartening to look in the mirror and see dark circles under your eyes. You might expect them after pulling an all-nighter, but what if those pesky shadows don’t seem to go away even with a full night’s rest? It turns out it’s not just a lack of sleep that can bring them on with genetics being most at fault. But don’t despair–it’s not too difficult to make them go away or at least appear lighter.

What are they?

In most cases, dark eye circles are blood vessels under the eyes that can be seen through the skin. Since deoxygenated blood is blue, when it passes close to the surface of the skin it gives off a bluish tint.

What causes them?

Genetics

If you’re fair skinned, unfortunately you can add dark eye circles after sunburns to your list of skin-related issues. Fair skin is more transparent allowing more of the blue tint of the blood vessels to show through. Other inherited traits that contribute to dark eye circles are having thinner skin than most, Periorbital Hyperpigmentaiton, and deep-set bone structure which can cause shadowing around the eyes.

Age

As we get older, skin loses collagen and thins out causing it to become more translucent. Skin also begins to sag which can cause shadowing around the eyes.

Allergies

The histamines released during an allergy attack inflame the blood vessels and cause swelling. Rubbing the eyes due to itching doesn’t help either as it can cause broken blood vessels.

Illness and/or Medications

Anemia or an iron deficiency can result in dark eye circles as not enough oxygen reaches the body’s tissues. Liver problems can also be a cause. Any medications that make blood vessels dilate can cause eye circles to darken as well.

Nasal Congestion

According to the Mayo Clinic, nasal congestion can cause dark eye circles due to the veins that drain from your eyes to your nose becoming widened and darker. Try a neti pot or a saline spray to release some of the pressure.

How to treat them

There are some simple steps you can take to improve the appearance of dark eye circles. Doubling up on pillows and sleeping more propped up can stop blood from pooling under your eyes. A five minute cold compress upon waking (or the classic cucumbers on the eyes) can help constrict blood vessels giving a more refreshed look.

There are also a variety of eye creams on the market designed for dark eye circles. Some have caffeine to constrict blood vessels, some have green tea to strengthen capillary walls, some are collagen-building (retinol is the most famous of this kind). Eating a diet rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and drinking plenty of water can drastically help your skin’s appearance including the skin around the eyes.

How to cover them up

When done correctly, makeup can mask even the darkest circles. First, apply eye cream and let it dry completely. Then choose a creamy concealer slightly lighter than your normal foundation to match the fairer skin around the eyes. Pat it along the circles and blend into the top of the check bone. Top with loose powder to set the makeup and keep it from getting caught in the creases.

If you are unsure the cause of your dark eye circles, try gently stretching the skin under your eyes. If it becomes darker, it is probably due to genetics or aging as it shows the darkness is due to an underlying color and not the skin itself. If the color doesn’t change, it’s most likely due to allergies or UV exposure.

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