This is one of our most frequently asked questions. To be sure, no one enjoys the “you look tired” comment, especially when you are not tired, as it also usually means you look worse than normal.
Dark under-eye circles are complex and could often have several underlying causes. They can also become more prevalent as we get older, and for those of us with darker skin tones, we are more prone to discoloration and hyperpigmentation due to our higher melanin levels.
To properly address dark circles, we must understand why it is happening. It could be vascular, i.e. blood vessels are visible through the skin, usually because the skin itself is now thin and translucent. Or the darkness could be on the surface of the skin i.e. hyperpigmentation, or lastly, it could be structural and due to a cast shadow or a prominent hollow area beneath the eyes.
A quick way to tell which type of dark circle you have is to stretch the skin under your eye to the direction of your cheeks. If the dark color remains the same or the color travels downwards with your finger, then it is most likely due to hyperpigmentation. If it looks worse, then it is most likely vascular, due to blood vessels showing through thinning skin. If it improves, it likely structural.
Here’s the best solution for each type of dark circle:
This happens when the skin under the eye is so thin that the blood vessels show through the skin as a bluish hue, creating under-eye darkness. Loss of collagen from the natural ageing process is usually responsible but it could also be influenced by our inherited genes. This type of dark circles will improve with a topical treatment that can help the skin build back collagen. The ingredient Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A has been shown to help build collagen in the skin over time. Peptides have also been shown to support the skin’s tissue renewal process, so using an eye cream with retinol and peptides should help thicken the skin under the eye over time and keep the underlying cushion intact making blood vessels less noticeable.
Increased pigment deposit usually shows up as a brownish hue under the eyes. A lot of times it is genetic as well, so look around at family members to see if this is a family trait. Otherwise, irritation from an allergic reaction, eczema, or even sun damage could be to blame. Watch out for seasonal allergies that cause you to rub your eyes, or if you wear contact lenses and rub your eyes, this can lead to the darkening of the undereye area. The good news is that dark circle that result from ongoing irritation or an allergic reaction responds well to topical treatment. The first thing to do is to eliminate the cause of the irritation, then use an eye cream with brightening ingredients to clear the hyperpigmentation. A non-irritating sunscreen should become part of your eyecare routine for daytime. Brightening ingredients like Vitamin C (check out our Bolden Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30) Kojic acid, Niacinamide, Tranexamic acid, Alpha arbutin and Azelaic acid can gently brighten and reduce the under-eye darkness.
Some people have a deep inset bone structure that can cause a shadow under the eye, making the undereye area appear dark. Also, there could be a hollowness that results from the heavy cheek muscles pulling down on the thinner skin around the eye. The hallowing could also be due to fat loss or just the aging process. Dark circles caused by anatomic features or the structure of the lower eyelid and cheek can benefit from temporary fixes like lighting and use of concealers. For a more permanent treatment which may include lasers and volume augmentation to restore structure, you will have to see a dermatologist.
Other best practices for overall undereye brightness include getting enough sleep and staying well hydrated. Stay tuned via our newsletter for updates about our Bolden Eye Cream launching later this year.