Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can You Banish Dark Undereye Circles? March 17, 2010

There are a few questions that I am frequently asked and one of them is – what can I do about my dark undereye circles?  I wish there was a magical cure for dark undereye circles, I have them myself, but there isn’t.  Undereye circles are caused by a few different reasons and so there is more than one solution for the problem.  Below I’ve listed the different reasons for dark undereye circles and possible solutions.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Hyperpigmentation


This hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, is a genetic trait.  The skin around and under the eye area is actually darker than the rest of your skin, and you were born this way.  I can personally vouch for since my two year-old son inherited this genetic trait, and I noticed it pretty much immediately after he was born.  The area becomes darker as you age.  In order to double-check that this is the cause of your dark circles gently pull the skin away from the hollow under the eye, making the area flat and eliminating any shadows.  If the darkness is still there the skin is pigmented – in other words the skin there is naturally a darker color.  Since this is a genetic trait it isn’t so easy to get rid of.  One solution is to invest in a good undereye concealer.  I’ll recommend a few at the end of this post.  If you want to try to permanently get rid of the dark color of your skin you can try laser treatments and chemical peels that target hyperpigmentation.  Or you can get use a skin lightener in that area; this will take some time to work.  You can get a prescription hyperpigmentation cream or go with a OTC one.  See my previous post Help for Hyperpigmentation for more information about the subject of hyperpigmentation in general and issues concerning hydroquinone.

Home Product You Can TryMurad’s Lighten and Brighten Eye Treatment contains 1.5% hydroquinone


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Thin Skin


This can also be a heredity trait or it can be caused by aging.  As we age collagen and elastin breakdown and our skin sags and thins.  The thin undereye area skin rests on dark muscle or dark blood vessels and this creates the dark circle under your eye.  A good solution to this cause of dark undereye circles are injectable fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm.  A good cosmetic dermatologist can help you decide which filler is best for you.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Poor Circulation


There is a hereditary trait that causes blood flow to slow down in the undereye area of the body and then you have a dark area to contend with.  Some people have had success in treating this type of dark undereye circles with retinol.  Allure magazine recommends Quintessence Clarifying Under Eye Serum Capsules for this problem.  I’ve never tried the product, but I thought I would pass along the recommendation.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Tiny Blood Vessels


This is yet another genetic feature (gotta love genetics, right?).  If this is the cause of your dark undereye circles you can actually remove the blood vessels with laser treatments.  Be warned that new blood vessels may grow even after treatment.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Shadows


These shadows are frustrating because there is nothing you can do about them.  Believe me when I say this because my dark undereye circles are caused by shadows.  To see if this is the cause of your dark undereye circles stand in front of a mirror and tilt your head upward.  If the circles disappear your problem is shadow.  The shadow occurs when you have a deeply set bone structure so your brow bone causes a shadow under your eye.  Or as you age both the cheek and orbital bones dissolve creating a shadow.  The solution for this cause of undereye circles?  A good concealer.


Other Causes of Undereye Circles


Yes, not getting enough sleep can cause dark undereye circles because the body wasn’t able to properly drain fluid in that area.  Basically you get congestion in the veins under your eyes.  Drinking can dehydrate the skin making circles more prominent.  Allergies can worsen the appearance of dark undereye circles but that issue can be taken care of with an antihistamine pill.  And this might sound like a no-brainer – but don’t forget your make-up.  Eye make-up that runs during the day or if you rub your eyes during the day, can collect under your eye area and make it seem like you have dark undereye circles.


Does Vitamin K Work for Undereye Circles?


There isn’t much real scientific evidence that Vitamin K, when applied topically, will diminish darkness on skin associated with blood vessels.  It is true that Vitamin K, inside the body, helps blood clot but as of yet there is no evidence that it can do the same when applied topically. 

For more information about research about Vitamin K see Paula Begoun’s articleVitamin K



Products to Consider Trying:


Eye Creams:  Not sound too much like a broken record but the area under your eyes needs sun protection just as much as the rest of your body.  Your dark undereye circles can actually get worse from sun exposure.  My favorite daytime eye cream is Dermalogica Total Eye Care.  It has a great texture, a slight color to it, and spf 15.  The container is small but you don’t need much.  It lasts a long time. 


Undereye Concealers:

Sometimes the only thing you can do about your dark undereye circles is cover them up.  Luckily there are a lot of great products out there that can help you do just that.  Yes, none of these come cheap but they are well worth the investment since getting rid of your undereye circles, just like having well-groomed eyebrows, can greatly enhance your entire appearance.


 Sources and Further Reading:



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