Long hours in front of screens, and late nights are common for the modern urbanite. Sure, dark circles under eyes are often covered by concealers, but is there a more permanent solution? What are the causes of dark circles, and are there treatments?
Panda-eyed urbanites blame their dark eye circles on long hours sitting in front of computer screens, endless late nights and poor sleep quality. But are they blaming the wrong causes for their dark eye circles?
Dark eye circles refer to darkening of the skin under our lower eyelids. They are common in both men and women. These dark circles often form glaring features on our faces because they make us appear older and more tired than we actually are, and this has social implications that go beyond simply “looking tired”.
Dark eye circles are a result of mainly 2 factors – blood vessel congestion and engorgement – which often gives a dark bluish, greenish, or purplish hue on the inner corner of our under eyes; and hyperpigmentation, which is increased pigment formation or deposition under the eye.
As we age, dark eye circles become worse because the skin around our eyes are the thinnest. Thinning of the skin here not only makes the blood vessels and capillaries in our skin more visible, it also allows the skin to crease more easily, giving rise to fine lines. Often, it is also one of the most sun-exposed areas on our face, hence the higher risk of developing pigmentary problems.
Additionally, there are certain things that can worsen dark eye circles. For example:
- Lack of sleep or poor sleeping habits – as this leads to venous congestion and puffiness in the under eye.
- Allergies which can cause vessel dilatation and accumulation of blood.
- Overexposure to sunlight increasing pigment formation.
- Ageing which thins the skin in the under eye.
- Smoking that causes premature ageing of the skin.
- Inherited genetics, wherein some people just have dark circles from a young age.
So, how do we improve the area around our eyes?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to improving eye beauty. The choice of treatment is heavily dependent on the major factor causing the appearance of dark circles, as well as the severity of the dark circles. Often, the best approach is one that is customized to the appearance of your dark circles.
Possible treatments include:
1. Topical eye creams
Eye creams generally try to address dark circles by targeting a few different issues. Often, they will contain an active ingredient to reduce dyspigmentation, and one to reduce puffiness – often caffeine. Lastly, a moisturizer base to provide moisture to the thin skin in the under-eye area. Avoid using creams that are too rich as these may precipitate the formation of milia in the under eye.
2. Pigment lasers
This group of lasers target the melanin pigments in the under-eye area. Often used in conjunction with bleaching creams, they help brighten the under-eye area by reducing the dark coloured melanin, helping to brighten the under-eye area.
3. Vascular lasers
Vascular lasers address dark eye circles by shrinking down the fine vessels in the under-eye area that give rise to the appearance of venous congestion. It often requires a few treatments to see more lasting results.
Under-eye fillers are used often to mask the appearance of blood vessels in the under eye as well as to correct any volume deficiency in the tear trough so that the reflection of light can prevent a shadow forming in the tear trough. This should be done by a certified medical professional as the tear trough can be a sensitive area. This often provides instant improvement to the periorbital area.
5. Botulinum toxin (Botox)
The neuromodulating Botox can be used to soften the expression lines around the eyes, while providing a bit of relaxation to the muscles at the sides of the eye. This allows the eyes to look brighter, and reduces the tired look around the eyes.
6. Collagen stimulating skin injectables
As our skin loses collagen with ageing, the dermis also thins. By using skin injectables such as polynucleotide injections or hyaluronic acid injections, we can not only improve hydration, thickness and skin elasticity in the under eye, but also repair damage to skin cells and stimulate collagen production.
7. Energy based devices
Skin tightening energy-based devices such as Thermage can be used to tighten lax skin around the eyes, especially over the upper and lower lids. They can also stimulate the production of collagen which helps to reverse some of the changes that age related collagen loss brings.
Of course, in severe cases of eyelid drooping or excess skin laxity, surgery may be the best option. It may also be an option to consider in people with severe eye bags.