Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
Sick of always looking tired? Listen up
Dark circles are beastly – they’re persistent, annoying and can make you look like you’ve had no sleep at all. Even if you managed a full eight hours. But never fear, we sat down with dermatologists and make-up artists and got the low down on how to get rid of dark circles under your eyes and what causes them.
What causes dark circles under your eyes?
According to No7, the three leading factors associated with having dark circles under eyes are thinner skin, hyper-pigmentation and thicker or increased number of capillaries.
‘There are a variety of different reasons that dark circles appear, and contrary to popular belief, fatigue is not one of the main causes,’ explains Dr Maryam Zamani, an oculoplastic surgeon and facial aesthetics doctor. ‘Although getting enough sleep is very important for your overall health. It can be anything from hereditary, hyperpigmentation, poor circulation, hollowness or the sunken appearance of the eyelids. External environmental factors like sluggish microcirculation can also exacerbate tired-looking eyes, making them appear darker. Because of the thin overlying skin, markers for poor circulation are more prominently revealed around the eyes than on other parts of the body. The more dehydrated the skin around the eyes, the more tired and fatigued they appear.’
‘Rings under the eyes often run within a family and can be down to your skin type, adds Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible. ‘Dark circles are very common, however hyperpigmentation under the eyes is more common in Asian skin because dark-skinned people have more melanin (the pigment which gives skin its colour) than light-skinned people. This is sometimes known as periorbital melanosis.’
‘Ageing is another factor,’ she adds. ‘As we age our skin thins, which makes blood vessels more visible and we lose volume due to a depletion in collagen, pulling the lower eye area down and creating hollow contours and shadows.
‘Those with chronic inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema or skin allergies may also suffer from this problem. Inflamed, itchy skin can result in hyperpigmentation, which is followed by rubbing and scratching of the affected area.’
What’s the difference between dark circles and under eye bags/puffiness?
‘Swelling and puffiness around the eyes can be signs of ageing or other medical problems,’ says Dr Zamani. ‘With the ageing process, the skin, muscle and fat of the eyelids can change to form ‘bags’ under the upper and lower eyelids as well as excess skin causing wrinkling. In severe cases, the excess skin can obstruct the vision and give the sensation of heaviness of the eyelids. Sometimes patients complain of extra skin draping over their eyelashes or difficulty reading.’
How to get rid of dark circles under your eyes…
There’s no ‘cure’ for dark circles per se, but there are a few things you can do to make them less visible and your options lie with skincare, make-up and treatments:
It’s worth investing in a fantastic hyperpigmentation treatment, because ‘UV radiation and too much exposure to the sun can result in worsening of pre-existing dark circles, says Dr Mahto. ‘I recommend wearing daily sunscreen to prevent damage to ’normal’ skin, as well as limiting further pigmentation problems once dark circles have already developed.’
When looking for the best eye cream for dark circles, there are a few key ingredients you can look for that will help your cause. ‘Vitamin C, kojic acids, arbutin and hydroquinone help to reduce melanin production so look out for these key ingredients when buying an eye cream,’ advises Dr Mahto. (And pair with one of the best vitamin c serums for maximum effect, obv.)
‘Most of us have a blue tone under the eye but if you have a more pink/cool undertone to the skin, the darkness appears as purple and blue,’ explains Bobbi Brown Senior PRO Artist Amy Conway. ‘If you have a more golden/warm undertone it appears as brown and grey under the eye. For darkness, a corrector is essential. It’s a creamy formula that instantly corrects purple, blue or brown shadows.’
‘The most effective way to cover dark circles is to apply a concealing product to the under-eye area to blend in with your skin’s natural complexion and give the appearance of one singular tone,’ explains Joy Adenuga, No 7 Make-up Ambassador.’The general rule is to opt for a concealer shade that’s 1-2 shades lighter than your natural complexion so it can provide an illuminating effect for problem areas under your eyes like dark circles. I’d suggest using No7 Match Made Concealer. Start on a clean face, apply your favourite moisturiser and primer as your base, and then apply your No7 Match Made Concealer under the circles in broad strokes. Use a brush to blend it in effectively.’
It’s a good idea to have a lighter shade concealer for under your eyes and then a separate one that’s more similar to your skin ton, to conceal blemishes on the rest of the face.
Filler injections are an option if your dark circles have been caused by volume loss. ‘It’s a common reason whereby the eyelid-cheek junction elongates exposing the anatomical tear trough and the appearance of dark circles,’ says Dr Zamani. ‘Often hyaluronic acid can be injected along this anatomical tear trough at the eyelid-cheek junction to improve this contour. This is an injection that takes minutes to administer and can last between 6-18 months depending on the type of filler used. I do not recommend using permanent fillers in this area as there is no recourse if there is a complication. Hyaluronic acid is optimal as it is temporary and potentially reversible (another injection of an enzyme that breaks the hyaluronic acid down immediately).’
To book a consultation with Dr Zamani, head to her website.