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Dark Circles Under Eyes: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Did you know that dark circles aren’t always caused by a lack of sleep? In fact, dark circles under the eyes can be caused by a variety of different factors. Whilst many people despise the presence of dark circles, luckily there are some product and treatment options available to reduce the appearance of them. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about the possible causes of dark circles, how you can treat them, and how to prevent dark circles in the first place. With this information, you can be sure that you won’t have to deal with dark undereye circles ever again.  

To start off our discussion, let’s take a closer look at what dark circles are exactly and why they occur.  

What Are Dark Circles?  

Many people bemoan the presence of dark eye circles and bags, and for a good reason. Dark circles can make your face look older and more tired, which, of course, no one wants.  

Dark circles can affect anyone, irrespective of age, skin colour and gender. However, some people may be genetically predisposed to developing them. 

In some cases, dark circles are present due to hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a condition whereby the skin darkens in certain areas, often due to sun exposure, ageing and scarring.  

However, abnormal pigmentation most commonly occurs under the eyes. This condition is known in the scientific community as periorbital hyperpigmentation. If you suffer from this condition, you might be wondering what causes it.  

What Causes Dark Eye Circles? 

As mentioned before, there is not just one cause of dark eye circles. However, unsurprisingly, one of the most common causes is lack of sleep and fatigue in general.  

You might have noticed that on the days in which you don’t get enough sleep, your complexion looks paler and more lack-lustre than usual. As the skin around the under-eyes is very thin, the underlying blood vessels are often very prominent and can be more noticeable on people with paler skin. This can create a discolouration around the under-eye area, which appears to look like dark circles.  

In addition to this, fatigue can cause fluid to build up under the skin, particularly around the eye area. This creates a puffiness around the eyes which are often called ‘eye bags’ and creates shadows, which contributes to the overall appearance of dark circles. 

Other Causes of Dark Circles 

Aside from general fatigue, the ageing process is another major cause of dark under-eye circles. As you age, the skin becomes thinner and loses volume, as well as vital collagen and elastin. The orbital area is one which is very prone to volume loss, as well as the cheeks. This can give the face that sunken look that we associate with ageing. This volume loss is a natural part of the ageing process, however it can create visible hollows underneath the eyes, which give the appearance of dark circles. 

Allergies also play a big part. One of the common symptoms of allergies is itchy eyes. As you itch your eyes, the skin around them often becomes irritated and puffy. The skin can also become red or dark in colour.  

Getting too much sun and genetic factors have to do with can both cause hyperpigmentation around the eyes. As for sun overexposure, you can avoid this issue by wearing a pair of sunglasses. Genetic dark circles can be harder to deal with, although, they can sometimes go away with age.  

Very rarely are dark circles a symptom of a more serious condition. For example, some people with thyroid disease may be more likely to develop dark circles under their eyes.  

Treatment Options for Dark Circles 

If you want to prevent dark circles, make sure you always get enough sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to keep your skin healthy by choosing skincare brands that are dermatologically backed and feature key active ingredients, such as ZO Skin Health. However, if you already have dark circles, what should you do to get rid of them? 

Key Active Ingredients 

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We’re going to identify three key active ingredients which you should be looking out for in your search for a product to reduce your dark circles. 

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A, also known as the powerhouse retinol, is a rejuvenating and resurfacing ingredient which is used to address many different skin concerns, including signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation. Retinol is the most active form of Vitamin A and can massively contribute to improving your skin’s overall health. When topically applied, retinol helps to stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen and elastin, which can lead to tighter and more youthful skin. Due to its resurfacing benefits, it also works within the deeper layers of the skin to generate new skin cells and encourage new skin growth, helping to address issues such as hyperpigmentation.  

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant ingredient, which helps to fight free radicals, protect the skin against damage as well as brighten up hyperpigmentation. It has been used for years in skincare as the answer to achieving more radiant and youthful looking skin. Similarly to retinol, Vitamin C is known to boost collagen production and also increase blood circulation which can help over time to minimise the appearance of dark circles.  

Caffeine 

Caffeine is well known for its stimulant properties, however it can also have a similar boosting effect when applied topically to the skin, hence why it is a popular ingredient in many eye creams. Caffeine has a blend of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which when applied to the skin can help to reduce the puffiness and darkness which is commonly associated with dark circles.  

ZO Skin Health Products 

ZO Skin Health is a medical-grade skincare range, created and developed by world renowned dermatologist, Dr Zein Obagi. The products within the range are all backed by extensive clinical research, innovative technologies and effective, high potency active ingredients. Here are three eye care products from the range which are effective at treating the issue of dark circles under the eyes: 

Growth Factor Eye Serum 

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This cooling eye serum is formulated with ZO Growth Factor Technology, neuropeptide and sodium acetylated hyaluronate to target deep eye wrinkles, hollowness and microcirculation decline. The product is designed with a built-in cooling massaging applicator to sooth the skin and de-puff tired eyes. 

Eye Brightening Crème 

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Created to brighten and support the skin’s elasticity, this eye cream contains retinol and caffeine to reduce the appearance of dark circles. The addition of shea butter and squalene provide a deep hydration by helping to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. 

Intense Eye Crème 

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This targeted eye cream contains a blend of retinol, vitamin E, Matrixyl 3000 and mica and titanium dioxide to address signs of ageing around the eyes and improve the overall complexion. Featuring optical diffusers to reduce the appearance of dark circles and brighten the under-eyes.    

Home Care Tips 

Luckily, there are a few home care methods which you can try in your daily lives to help reduce the appearance of dark circles, however they should not be a substitute for having an expert skincare regime in place. 

A cold compress is a great place to start. Using ice cubes or a cold, wet rag, gently press on your dark circles. This works because the cold will help shrink the blood vessels around your eyes, reducing their appearance. It will also reduce any swelling in the area. Remember that this is not a substitute for a good night of sleep which should be your number one priority when treating dark circles.  

Cold tea bags work much like cold compresses. Tea, however, often contains antioxidants that can help combat inflammation and swelling.  

In-Clinic Treatment Options 

If you have persistent dark circles and are wanting to try a professional treatment, there are a few options available. Chemical peels and skin resurfacing can often help to reduce the appearance of dark circles, though they can be much more costly than home treatments. 

ZO Skin Health offers professional skin treatments through a network of expert practitioners across the UK. There are currently three different chemical peel options available to try, depending on the severity of your skin concerns and your needs. To find out more about ZO’s professional treatments and to find a practitioner near you, follow this link.

Start Your ZO Skin Health Journey Today 

If you have made it to the end of this article, you now know all about what dark circles are, how to prevent them and how to treat them. To find out more about how ZO Skin Health can help to address your skin concerns, head over to our website.