Dark circles can be as dark as they sound! Not a great sight to say good morning to from the vanity perspective! If you are one of those that have never had dark circles, trust me, you are one of the luckiest humans on this planet. At one time or the other, we all go through dark circles under the eyes for different reasons. Feel fortunate if they are only temporary, but if chronic, then there are loads of things we need to do to avoid them or treat them permanently. But, can they be removed permanently? Well, you need professional help for that, but if you want to manage them at home, let’s look at first things first.
What Causes Dark Circles?
Also referred to as periorbital hyperpigmentation in medical parlance, they can be caused due to multiple reasons. Anyone can have them, no one loves them and many are clueless about how and why they appear, and what to do about them. Let’s look at some of the simplest causes of dark circles.
Lack Of Sleep: It’s true, lack of sleep is one of the reasons for developing dark circles, though not the only one. When we don’t get enough sleep, the blood vessels under the thin skin of the eyes tend to dilate, creating a dark tint.
This can be easily remedied by getting enough shut-eye. While the right amount of sleep varies from person to person, on average, adults ideally need 7-8 hours of sleep. If that’s hard, at least 6 hours. And how do we achieve that? Well, that’s an entire topic by itself and we shall keep it for another time.
Puffy eyes caused by several reasons cast shadows in the under-eye area and can make them appear like dark circles. Cold compresses in such cases can help if the puffiness is due to minor reasons like tiredness or over-sleeping.
Low Hemoglobin: Anemia, caused by iron deficiency is one of the most common culprits behind dark circles. Low iron levels in the body mean poor supply of oxygenated blood to the periorbital region, which can then appear bluish-black.
Do check out iron levels through a blood test and your family physician could help you out with food and supplement suggestions to remedy the same.
Eat foods rich in iron such as spinach, okra, sweet potato, whole grains, brown rice, prunes, raisins, figs, fortified cereals, tofu, soybean
Smoking: Smoking depletes the skin, of oxygen and nutrients, and that can cause smokers look pale or even develop a gray skin tone, if you are a heavy smoker.
Kicking the habit will bring back the healthy look on your face and that will reflect in your under-eye area also. So time to take action, then and quit smoking.
Poor Lifestyle: This involves many wrong habits. Could be late nights, frequent alcohol consumption, eating processed foods, fat burners, prolonged use of certain medications, lack of exercise, lack of nutritious food which can lead to many vitamin deficiencies and so forth.
Incorporate a healthy lifestyle and your dark circles are likely to disappear and your skin to get a healthy glow.
Excessive Sun: My pet subject. Excessive or unprotected sun exposure will surely age your skin, have no doubt about it. You may get dark spots, blemishes, uneven skin tone and all these can be grouped under the topic pigmentation. Fine lines and wrinkles are also a fallout of sun exposure, as also sagging skin, because the harsh ultra-violet rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers in our skin. Once collagen starts breaking down or depleting, skin aging gets accelerated.
To prevent such skin aging, please cultivate the habit of wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Encourage your kids to start wearing sunscreen at an early age – yes, even while they are in school or even earlier. It's never too late. If you are one of those that haven’t worn sunscreen so far, start now and you will see a big difference in the health of your skin.
Apply the sunscreen in your under eye area every day, even if you are indoors. Particularly if you are going to be in front of your desktop or laptop, never, never forget your sunscreen. Blue light can be damaging to your skin and your delicate under eye area.
Liver Abnormalities: Fatty liver, overworked liver due to excessive alcohol consumption, or viral infections can lead to dark circles. Liver issues can also be hereditary. Getting a liver function test and treatment can resolve not just dark circles, but other health issues as well.
Hay Fever, Asthma & Allergies: Next time your eyes itch persistently, avoid the temptation to rub them. Let me tell you why. Inflammation from allergies that affect the eye is called allergic conjunctivitis and is also termed “allergic shiners”. Frequent rubbing of an itchy eye can lead to broken blood vessels which can leave dark marks under the eyes. Sometimes, the inflammation can cause dark circles even in the absence of rubbing the eyes. A visit to an ophthalmologist should take care of the issue.
Cosmetics: We all like to do up our eyes and add oodles of brightness to our face. But eye makeup is meant to stay for long and needs to be water-proof. Those who wear eye makeup know why it is so. Taking off the layers of mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow can be tricky and has to be done with care. The very choice of eye makeup remover and the act of rubbing it vigorously can damage the capillaries under the eyes, and by now you know what broken capillaries can do to our eyes.
The trick is to use a gentle makeup remover formulated specially for that purpose, or use good quality coconut oil. Whatever you do, do not tug at the skin.
Genetics & Ageing: This is something none of us have control over, but we can certainly age better! The first sign of aging seems to show up under our eyes. Dermatologists all over the world tell us that as we age, the tissue around the eyes gets thinner and weaker as a result of collagen breakdown. This causes the fat to shift to the lower lids creating dark shadows.
How do we remedy this? Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do ourselves. The best we can do is to use good quality under-eye creams and keep the area well-nourished and hydrated. Moisturize the eye area twice a day and do not forget the upper lids. As a night cream, get something that has these ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Hyaluronic Acid. That’s about it.
If you want to reverse the aging to some extent, the solution is to go in for clinical procedures like the Q-switched Nd Yag laser treatment, microneedling, or Hyaluronic Acid fillers. But make sure you go to a reputed and certified aesthetician. You could also consider glycolic acid or lactic acid peels at the clinic.
Tips from the kitchen
Crush 2 almonds, make a paste. Add 3-4 drops of milk. Apply the paste to under eye, wash after 15-20 mins. Almonds with Vitamin E hydrate, milk, and almonds lighten skin.
Prepare cucumber juice, keep it in the fridge for 15 mins. Soak cotton pads in juice and place them over the eyes for a few mins. Cucumber juice contains ascorbic acid oxidase, making it a good astringent. Also soothes skin, reduces puffiness, and makes dark circles less prominent.
Cut thin slices of apples and leave them under the eyes for a few mins. Apple contains tannins that diminish dark circles. Also has potassium and water-soluble vitamins like B and C that restore lost nutrients to the under-eye skin.
Foods That Help Alleviate Dark Circles
Tomatoes contain multiple antioxidants and are best known for their lycopene, which is what gives tomatoes their red color. Lycopene helps protect blood vessels and aids in blood circulation. Quercetin, an anti-inflammatory agent has the ability to protect the blood vessels under the eyes and improve circulation.
Cucumbers on your eyelids practice is very popular, they are also beneficial for your eyes when ingested. Their high water content can hydrate the under-eye area and keep it supple, but more importantly, they also have silica, which can boost collagen production.
Sesame Seeds: Fatigue, as we saw earlier can cause dark circles and the antioxidants in sesame seeds can improve the symptoms. They contain vitamin E for overall eye health too.
Berries: Anthocyanin is a very powerful antioxidant that can help improve blood circulation and the eye area can also certainly benefit from it.
Watermelon: With their high content of water, they help keep skin hydrated and plump. What more do we want!
Home remedies are convenient, but give only temporary improvements. Lifestyle changes and clinical treatments give more lasting benefits. But let us make an affirmation today. Let’s us not allow dark circles to ruin our mental peace, we have all the above tips at our fingertips! So, lets get cracking and look bright-eyed! I would love to hear if you have tips that have worked for you.