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How to Treat Dark Circles

If dark circles are bothering you, you’re not alone! There are a few key reasons why you might be experiencing them - but it’s also worth noting that there are different options for treating them too, so don't panic. Want to know more? Dr Sonia (DermGP) explains all...

Reasons for dark circles

Dark circles are a common beauty concern and a nuisance in most modern women's lives.

People often think dark circles are due to tiredness and a lack of sleep, but sometimes you could be racking up a full 8 hours of sleep a night and it wouldn't make any difference.

It’s important to consider other factors such as lifestyle, allergies and genetics, which can all play a part in the appearance of dark circles. Sleepless nights, prolonged screen time, smoking and high alcohol intake, coupled with the fact that the skin around our eyes is so thin, can be the perfect recipe for those pesky under eye circles. Making small changes to address these triggers can be the key to brighter and healthier looking eyes.

The skin around the eyes is significantly thinner and more delicate than any other area of the body. Superficial vessels can show through the translucent skin more easily further contributing to the appearance of dark shadows.

This area is also very sensitive and chronic rubbing due to irritation from seasonal allergies or eczema can exacerbate inflammatory pigmentation.

It is a known fact that individuals of skin of colour are more prone to having hyperpigmentation under the eyes due the melanin in their skin. This, along with sun exposure, can make the skin under their eyes appear even darker.

Natural ageing is also a big culprit, as shadowing from sagging, dehydrated skin and lost facial volume results in the appearance of dark circles.

And, lastly, dark circles can simply be inherited and passed down in your family. If you’ve had them your whole life, they’re probably genetic and here to stay.

Fun fact: Did you know dark circles are considered a fashion staple for the French, and have been for a century?

How to treat dark circles

It’s important to appreciate that we all have dark circles for various reasons, and they are completely normal given the busy and hectic lives we all lead.

While you might not be able to completely get rid of them, there are lots of things you can do at home to reduce their appearance and prevent them from worsening.

Try and get more sleep

Sleep has great benefits for your skin. It is necessary for the maintenance of collagen and cell regeneration. There’s a reason it’s often referred to as “beauty sleep”, and you should try and get about 8 hours of shut-eye.

Daily broad-spectrum sun protection

Sun exposure can make your dark circles worse – I can’t stress how important SPF use is in protecting the delicate skin around your eyes.

Products recommendations:

  • Daily UV Face Mousse SPF30 by Evy technology
  • Heliocare 360 Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF50
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Fluid Sun Cream SPF50+

Address your allergies

Antihistamines and topical treatments can be tried after speaking to your GP/pharmacist - these can really help you to stop rubbing the area!

Eye creams

You don’t always need specific eye products - many facial moisturisers are perfectly fine to use around your eyes. But sometimes it’s handy to have a gentler eye product if you’re using many active ingredients in your skincare routine.

When you’re looking for creams to help treat your dark circles, it is important to look for brightening treatments containing tried and tested ingredients like retinoids, vitamin c, kojic acid, niacinamide and azelaic acid. I’ve listed a few products I’ve found useful:

  • Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol eye serum
  • Murad Skincare Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum
  • Dermalogica Biolumin-C Eye Serum
  • Superfacialist Vitamin C+ Dark Circles Eye Cream is a great budget find

Be gentle with makeup removal

I would advise soaking a cotton pad and holding it over your eyes for a few seconds to dissolve the makeup before sweeping it across to take off eye make-up. I like using Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water.

Where creams just won’t do

Tackling dark circles caused by medical conditions, ageing and the structure of your face can be much trickier to treat, and there’s not much that can be achieved by using creams.

However, here are some in clinic treatments that can help with reducing their appearance.

Laser treatments can help to address excess melanin causing pigmentation and promote collagen production resulting in brighter looking eyes.

Chemical peels are often the go-to treatment for treating hyperpigmentation. Milder peels containing mandelic, glycolic and lactic acid are recommended as deep peels can further damage the delicate skin. This can be combined with microneedling, which intensifies the effect of the peel.

Injectables, such as tear trough dermal fillers, are a very popular non-surgical treatment option that can help replace volume to the hollowed areas around the eyes responsible for creating the dark shadows. This can result in a fresher appearance and lasts from 9 months to a year.

A cosmetic surgery procedure known as blepharoplasty can be considered if individuals have hooded eyelids that further aggravate the appearance of dark circles.

Plus, you can always rely on a little make up magic to cover up dark circles with Vichy’s Dermablend Colour Corrector.

The main thing to remember is that dark circles are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of!

Great advice, Dr Sonia! Thanks so much for sharing.

For more information about treating the under eye area, check out Glowday's handy treatment guide, or, if you're ready to ditch the dark circles, head on over to our search tool to find a practitioner in your area.

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