Dark circles. One day they’re not too bad, other days they are prominent and nothing seems to help. Most commonly associated with fatigue, the shadows under the lower eyelids can actually exist for a number of different reasons. Today we’ll be getting into what causes dark circles under eyes and our favourite ways to naturally reduce them…
WHAT CAUSES DARK CIRCLES UNDER EYES?
We can split the primary causes of dark circles into two categories – genetics and dilation – broken down into their contributing factors.
Sometimes having dark circles is just hereditary. Some people have darker pigmentation on the skin under their eyes than the skin on the rest of their face. Dark circles resulting from these genes tend to have a bluish tint to them, however, you can also do a quick test to discover what is causing them…
Pinch the skin under eyes (gently) and if the colour changes, dilated veins are causing your dark circles. If the colour doesn’t change, this is a result of pigmentation. It is worth noting that some people will have naturally occurring shadows from deep-set eyes.
So what do we mean by dilation? We usually associate dilation with the pupils in our eyes getting wider to allow more light in, which is caused by a variety of factors including medications, recreational drugs, fear, low lighting and attraction. Here we are referring to dilated veins which occur when the vessel wall is weakened – usually by lifestyle or environmental factors such as those we’ve listed below – resulting in increased blood flow.
- Skin Thickness – The skin under the eyes is already thin and sensitive, and as we get older, we lose some of the elasticity and thickness (from fat and collagen). This makes any dilated veins show more clearly as it appears more transparent.
- Poor Circulation – This means your blood is not flowing as well as it should.This not only affects your hands, legs and feet but also the appearance of your eyes and your vision. To see if poor circulation is responsible for your dark circles, try gently pressing in the area under your eyes. If this becomes lighter when you move your finger but becomes darker again then the cause is most likely circulation.
- Hormonal Changes – Hormonal changes in the body during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can induce eye puffiness and dark circles. This is a result of having a hormone imbalance.
- Allergies – When you have an allergic reaction, the body releases Histamines in order to fight harmful bacteria. It is very tempting to want to rub and scratch your eyes but you must try to avoid doing so as you will cause even more inflammation, redness, swelling and broken blood vessels resulting in dark shadows beneath your eyes and puffiness. Using out of date makeup or a product with an ingredient your skin doesn’t agree with can cause irritation and worsen the circles under your eyes.
- Nutrition/Dehydration – An unbalanced diet, lack of nutrients and poor quality food can contribute to the darkened skin under the eyes. Certain foods and drinks which contain high levels of sodium, potassium or caffeine will cause fluid retention which will aggravate the skin under the eyes. Alcohol also dehydrates and dilates the blood vessels, which can cause them to break, allowing blood to pool beneath the eyes. A lack of hydrating fluids can cause darkness under the eyes and blood vessels to become more prominent, with your eyes looking more dull and sunken.
- Lack of Sleep – Lack of sleep will make dark circles appear worse as the skin becomes dull, so if you are someone whose tiredness shows in their eyes then getting a full night’s sleep is important. When we don’t get enough sleep, fluid builds up underneath the eyes making them look puffy and it’s that puffiness which creates the shadows we refer to as dark circles.
- Sun Damage – Excessive exposure to the sun can cause pigmentation in the skin to darken as the skin becomes weaker.
- Eye Strain – Watching too much TV or staring at a computer/tablet/phone all day can put a lot of stress and strain on the blood vessels around your eyes. The skin will look darker as the blood vessels get bigger.
You might also like to read: Inflammation And Its Impact On Skin
TOP TIPS FOR NATURALLY REDUCING DARK CIRCLES UNDER EYES
- Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated. An anti-inflammatory diet will improve the health of the skin, including under the eyes. Avoid consuming too many high-salt, fatty foods and too much alcohol/caffeine as these can all lead to dehydration. If you have an iron deficiency, regularly eat foods rich in iron to make the right amount of red blood cells the body needs. Red meats, green leafy vegetables, beans, iron-fortified cereals, whole-grain breads and eggs are all good sources of this. Drink lots of water too by always keeping a reusable water bottle with you.
- Establish a regular sleep pattern and be conscious of your sleeping position. Most of us aren’t getting sufficient or good enough sleep but it’s something we can all actively make some changes to by being a little firmer with ourselves! When you do finally settle in to rest, try to sleep on your back as this avoids strain being put on your eyes. When we sleep on our front or sides, our face is pressed against the pillow which can also contribute to dark circles. Waking naturally is important too, so a daylight clock can help with that aspect.
- Take frequent breaks. As we mentioned above, the glare and eye strain that comes with being on our devices can lead to dark circles, so as much as possible, step away from these to relax your eyes. This is also a great opportunity to boost your circulation throughout your body and practice mindfulness by going outside for a little while.
- Stop using any make-up you have had a reaction to. Even if this is a slight flare up, we recommend removing these from your routine altogether as not only can they make dark circles more prominent, but they can also exacerbate other symptoms of your allergy too.
- Massage around the eye area. Using your ring finger, gently tap and massage along the socket and brow bone, working from the inside to out and then back along the top of the brow bone. Try this with our Eye Oil for a few minutes in the evenings to prevent the skin being pulled and boost circulation. This contains natural (and where possible, organic) ingredients to strengthen the skin barrier and regenerate skin including Organic Grapeseed Oil, Rosehip Oil and Pomegranate Seed Oil.
- Remember to apply sunscreen. We talked about this in our summer skincare post and how the skin around our eyes is a very sensitive area which also requires SPF to protect it from UVA and UVB rays.
- Use a cold compress. We’re fans of using a green tea bag for this, like the plastic-free, ethically-sourced Pukka Green Collection. Soak the tea bag in warm water for a few moments, squeeze out the excess and apply as a compress to closed eyes, usually for up to 30 minutes. You might like to place this in the fridge for a short time before using to make you feel even more relaxed and refreshed!
- Colour correct and conceal. There are a few products on the market which are designed to colour correct – balancing out and blending with the skin around the area and often brightens/provides a healthy glow too. These are applied, patted in gently (after all, it’s a delicate area!) and usually followed with concealer such as the INIKA Certified Organic Perfection Concealer which is naturally-derived, vegan and cruelty-free, or RMS Beauty Uncover Up, which has a slightly broader range of colours. ELF Cosmetics have a Color Correcting Stick (also vegan and cruelty-free) created specifically for use on dark circles which is available in Light and Deep. Alternatively you can look for a corrector which is peachy if you have a lighter skin tone right through to terracotta if you have a darker skin tone, such as the Huestick from Live Tinted (also vegan, clean, and cruelty free).
- Embrace them. Remember that what you see isn’t what other people see. Instead of focusing in on the parts of your face or body that you don’t like, focus on what you do. Starting with this, you can move towards learning to accept and love all of you for who you are.
You might also like to read: Tips For Naturally Reducing Puffiness Under Eyes
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR REDUCING DARK CIRCLES NATURALLY?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below.
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