What can cause dark circles under the eyes?
The reasons for dark circles vary, and it's important to determine the cause before you can go ahead and treat or camouflage them effectively.
Physiologically, the skin around your eye area is much thinner than on the rest of your body, which means you can see the blood vessels more easily. This is also why this area often looks slightly purple or bluish.
Dark circles could also be a result of hyperpigmentation, which is a bit trickier to treat, or genetics, which of course is out of our own control. Another possible factor that could play a part, and which you can't control, is your facial structure: anyone with a pronounced tear trough (it's that area that goes diagonally from the inner corner of the eye toward the cheekbone) may find it throws a shadow over the area and makes dark circles more prominent.
Skin tone also plays a part: those with fair skin are more likely to be affected by the translucency (and subsequent dark circles) that are the result of thin skin, while those with darker skin tones are more likely to produce excess pigment, which can lead to darkening of under-eye skin.
There are also lifestyle factors, like a lack of sleep, stress, ageing, dehydration and other health issues, including low iron, allergies, eczema and contact dermatitis, that can also exacerbate the problem.
And then there's rubbing your eyes, which can lead to swelling and broken blood vessels, all of which contribute to darker skin around the eyes.
How to treat dark under-eye circles:
Pump up the volume
Like most skin concerns, dark circles get more noticeable with age (eye roll). As we get older our skin starts losing fat and collagen, and as a result the skin gets thinner, making the underlying blood vessels more pronounced. So if your dark circles are the result of thin or thinning skin, use retinol and vitamin C-spiked eye creams and serums: not only will these keep the skin well protected, they can also support the skin’s collagen production process to help increase the density and volume of the skin. And if skin is thicker and less translucent, it will look firmer and more youthful.
If your dark circles are the result of excess pigment, a skin tone brightening eye mask can help even things out, so look for ones that contain proven ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide or liquorice extract. For dark circles caused by puffiness, look for eye products loaded with caffeine (it functions as a diuretic to drain away excess fluid). In particular, ones that are cooling to the touch, or creams that come with massage applicator wands and rollerballs to help shift that fluid. And just like that, expect fresher, brighter-looking eyes in a pinch.creams that come with massage applicator wands and rollerballs to help shift that fluid. And just like that, expect fresher, brighter-looking eyes in a pinch.
Here comes the sun (advisory)
How to camouflage dark under-eye circles
When it comes to making dark circles disappear, you can’t go past colour correctors. Generally, peachy or yellowish tones do the best job of cancelling out the bluish and purplish tones inherent in most dark circles, and will do a lot of the heavy lifting so you can then apply less concealer than you ordinarily would and get a better effect.
When you do get to concealing, use a brightening formula in a shade lighter than your foundation to liven up your under-eyes. You’ll be tempted to only apply concealer on those dark circles, but don’t, as this often looks too obvious. A better strategy is to blend the concealer out across the high planes of the cheek (what makeup artists call ‘the triangle of light’), and then set the concealer with a light dusting of luminous powder, using a fluffy eyeshadow blending brush to press the powder into the concealer.
Send me to sleep
No surprises here, a lack of sleep is definitely a contributing factor. When you neglect those ZZZs, the blood vessels under the eyes dilate and appear darker under the skin. Tired eyes can also be puffy eyes, so try and make sure you get those eight to 10 hours, and mist a pillow spray to help lull you into slumber. You can also try sleeping on your back and with an extra pillow, so that excess fluid doesn't collect overnight and take up residence under your eyes.
For those times when you need to be somewhere, stat… A brightening eye mask with illuminating particles will add instant brilliance. Keep it in the fridge for an extra cooling and soothing hit.
Ditch your usual black and grey eyeshadow and go for soft pinks and shimmering finishes, to detract and deflect from your dark circles. Tap a dab of highlighter on the inner corners of the eyes, and line the lower waterline with a peachy or flesh-coloured liner, for a wide-awake effect.