What Causes Dark Circles Under and Around Your Eyes?








By Kylie Nicholson

DEC 11, 2022


Dark circles can develop around and under your eyes due to lifestyle, genetics, age, or environment. You can minimize the appearance of dark circles by determining and addressing their underlying causes.

What causes dark circles under and around the eyes?

You can start noticing dark circles for a few different reasons. Some factors include:
  • Rubbing or scratching at the eyes: Rubbing or scratching the delicate skin under the eyes can tear the small blood vessels present in this area and cause a dark, puffy appearance.1
  • Sun exposure: The UV rays from the sun can account for up to 80% of the damage that skin incurs.2 Specifically, sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation, a condition in which the skin overproduces melanin, the substance that gives skin its color.1 The skin around the eyes is especially susceptible to environmental exposures and its effects, as the eye area contains some of the thinnest skin on the body.
  • Age: With age, skin tends to lose its elasticity, making blood vessels more visible. As you age, you inevitably lose fat and collagen content, which can make your skin look less full and plump.3
  • Lifestyle habits: Lack of sleep or oversleeping can cause dark circles or puffy eyelids, which can cast a dark cast over the eyes.1 Dehydration, straining the eyes with screen usage, stress, and substance use can also cause dark circles.3
  • Medical conditions: Certain conditions, like allergies, anemia, and eczema can also cause dark circles.3
  • Genetics: If you have family members with dark undereye circles, chances are you have them, too. A genetic trait, periorbital hyperpigmentation, can run in your family.3 Besides genetics, people with dark skin tones also tend to have dark circles.4

How Can You Treat/Care for Dark Circles?

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the appearance of dark circles under your eyes, starting with lifestyle change and using certain products. These include:
  • Changing your sleep habits: Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much can make you have dark circles due to fatigue and lack of rest. Regulating your sleep cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time, along with ensuring you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, can help you look and feel more refreshed.4
  • Sunscreen: Use of sunscreen regularly around the eye area will help prevent any further UV damage from being done to the skin and mitigate its associated visible effects.2
  • Use more pillows: Elevating your head when sleeping can decrease the amount of fluid that pools around the eyes during sleep, minimizing dark circles.3
  • Cold Compresses: A cold compress or cucumber slices placed on the eyes can reduce swelling and dilated blood vessels under the eyes, which minimizes the appearance of under eye circles.1
  • Chemical peel: A light chemical peel can help reduce the appearance of undereye circles. Chemical peels should always be done under the care of a preofessional, especially when applied near or around the eyes, due to the sensitivitivity and improtance of this area.
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Are Dark Under-Eye Circles Permanent?

Fortunately, dark under eye circles can almost always be remedied for an improved appearance. These include:
  • Fillers: injectable fillers, comprised of hyaluronic acid or platelet-rich plasma can increase volume under the skin and give a full appearance.1
  • Surgery: During a blepharoplasty procedure, excess fat and skin are removed from the eyelid area, causing the skin to appear tighter, and preventing a hollow look under the eyes. Laser surgery can also tighten the skin under the eyes. By tightening the skin, hollowed areas under the eyes, known as tear troughs, will be minimized, which cast dark shadows giving the appearance of puffy eyes.1

Vitamins Good for Dark Circles Under the Eyes:

  • Almond oil and Vitamin E - Applying Vitamin E and almond oil to the skin under the eyes overnight has been shown to improve the appearance of dark under eye circles.5
  • Vitamin K - Application of Vitamin K and caffeine overnight can alleviate the appearance of both wrinkles and under eye circles.5
  • OS-01 Peptide - OneSkin’s OS-01 peptide has been scientifically proven to increase the activity of genes associated with collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production, which can give the skin a fuller appearance and minimize wrinkles*.
The OS-01 peptide has also been scientifically proven to aid in damage repair from UVB radiation (sun exposure) and reduce levels of melanin content in and around skin cells, reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation*. Powered by the OS-01 peptide, OS-01 FACE is safe for use around the eyes and is clinically validated to improve skin’s appearance and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, OneSkin will be launching OS-01 EYE in 2023, with a formula designed to strengthen, firm, and smooth the ultra-thin skin around the eyes and improve the appearance of crow’s feet and under eye circles.
*Shown in lab-grown ex vivo human skin models.

Key Takeaways

  • Dark circles can develop for several reasons, such as genetic, lifestyle, and medical factors, as well as being a natural part of the skin aging process.
  • Simple remedies such as using more sunscreen or adjusting sleep habits can go a long way for alleviating dark under eye circles.
  • Several vitamins and supplements can be useful for treating dark circles, such as Vitamin E or OS-01 FACE.


By Kylie Nicholson: Kylie is studying Biosystems engineering at the University of California, San Diego. She is passionate about scientific writing and women's health research.

Sources:
  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/23128-dark-circles-under-eyes
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4344124/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/dark-circle-under-eyes#treatment
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/dark-circles-under-eyes/basics/causes/sym-20050624
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-dark-circles-permanently

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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