What Are Dark Circles And Eye Bags?

Believe it or not, dark circles and eye bags are two very distinct things. Dark circles and eye bags can occur together and both tend to be caused by the same factors.

  • Dark circles (known as periorbital hyperpigmentation) are the change in pigmentation of the skin that sits under the eyes.
  • Eye bags are a mild swelling of the skin under – or sometimes around – the eyes.

 

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What Causes Dark Circles And Eye Bags?

The most common cause of dark circles and eye bags is fatigue (tiredness). There are, however, other causes such as lifestyle choices, environmental factors, genetics and allergies.

Genetics – Unfortunately for some, these dark circles are unavoidable if you have been born with thinner skin or extremely light skin under the eyes. It’s all in your genes! You may have been born with low levels of collagen (a protein that provides structure to the skin, hair, nails, connective tissue, cartilage, bones and joints) in your skin, in which case the skin appears more transparent and has less elasticity.

Lifestyle – If you are a heavy drinker or smoker, you will notice discolouration in your skin – particularly under your eyes. Alcohol will dehydrate you and the blood vessels in the skin will dilate or expand, making dark circles more obvious. Research has shown that smokers don’t have as much sleep as non-smokers and therefore are more vulnerable to producing dark circles.

Allergies – Inflammation or puffiness of the skin under the eyes can be due to allergies.

Iron Deficiency – This is where blood lacks red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen to tissue around the body. With a lack of oxygen in the skin, discolouration will occur under the eyes.

Age – Unfortunately, dark circles and eye bags are part and parcel of ageing. We generally lose elasticity in our skin over the years which can leave the skin sagging under our eyes. Plus, the fat that supports the eye can move into the lower lids, making them appear permanently ‘puffy’. Our skin also becomes paler as we age, making dark circles more prominent.

Sleep – Lack of sleep is known as one of the most common causes of dark circles and eye bags. If you’ve had a bad night of sleep the blood vessels in the skin under the eyes can become dilated and leave you with dark circles. Fluid can also collect under the eyes to create eye bags.

Environment – The skin under your eyes is extremely sensitive and with over exposure to the sun, it can become damaged. The sun causes an increase in melanin in the skin which shows as dark circles.

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Treatments For Dark Circles And Eye Bags

The selection of treatments below include some of the most well known solutions for dark circles and eye bags. It is worth noting that some of these provide a short term solution. Frustratingly, for some of us dark circles and eye bags are simply unavoidable and incurable.

Hydration

As always, it is extremely important to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink around 13 cups of water/liquid a day to supply enough hydration for the body which will help with the health and quality of your skin. Also, make sure you use a good quality moisturiser on your skin to keep it hydrated, just make sure you don’t rub it hard around the eyes.

Diet

Eating red meat, seafood, leafy greens, and other foods high in iron will help with the increase in production of red blood cells in the body. Also, collagen and Vitamin C rich foods, such as oranges, kale and broccoli, will help maintain the elasticity in the skin. Cut back on salty foods as they can contribute to fluid retention in the body which can make your appear puffy.

Cold compress

Try placing some slices of cucumber on your eyes for 15 minutes to help sooth any inflammation. It will help reduce the amount of fluid that collects under your eyes. Another option is to try an eye maskThese will cool the skin under the eyes as well as provide hydration directly to the skin – particularly helpful after a heavy night out!

Eye Masks

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Tea bags

It might seem like an odd thing to sit with some tea bags on your face… but it is actually one of the most commonly recommended solutions for dark circles. Of course, this is is more of a short term solution. You will need to steep two tea bags for a few minutes and then place them in the fridge. Just pop them on your eyes for 15 to 30 minutes and the antioxidants within the caffeine will help increase the blood flow to the skin.

Sleep

Try and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night so your skin stays fresh and rested.

Cleansing

Make sure you wash your skin before you sleep, especially if you are wearing any concealer or product under your eyes. Any make up left on over night can attract ‘free radicals‘ which can damage cells and tissue

Creams

There are various creams and ointments you can try to help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Most importantly, make sure you use a moisturiser with an SPF, especially when you are on holiday in the sunshine. A retinol (also known as vitamin A) cream can smooth out your skin tone and improve any collagen deficiency. Hyaluronic acid and creams containing antioxidants and Vitamin C have also been proven to help.

There are some skin lightening products on the market which could prove as an alternative option. It is best to do your research before using these as some can be quite potent. Most of these contain hydroquinone which is a type of bleach. It is advised not to use this on a regular basis, and only use it at night, as it interferes with the production of melanin in the skin.

The simplest and cheapest way to cover up any dark circles with a product, would be to use a concealer. There are plenty of products on the market that will lighten and brighten the skin to hide any dark circles. Just make sure you wash it off before you go to sleep.

Moisturisers With SPF

Retinol Creams And Serums

Under Eye Concealers

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Further Treatments

There are more drastic measures you can take to get rid of dark circles and eye bags. You would need to discuss the processes below with a dermatologist or doctor before going ahead with anything.

  • Fat transfer
  • Hyaluronic gel injection
  • Laser skin resurfacing
  • Chemical peel
  • Micro needling

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