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Why Do Those Dark Circles Appear Under Our Eyes?

Young sad woman looking in the mirror at her wrinkles No one wants to suffer from dark circles under their eyes. Although they can be treated, or at the very least camouflaged, wouldn't it be better to try to find the actual cause instead? While there can be several reasons for dark circles, they all start with the difference in thickness of the skin around your eyes. This is called the periorbital area. The skin in most areas of your body is between 2 and 3 mm thick (approximately .10 of an inch) but under the eyes the skin is much thinner and more delicate at 0.5 mm in thickness (or approximately .02 of an inch). Thinner skin means the blood vessels under your skin are more visible to the naked eye and produce a different color to your skin. Your skin - and the tissue directly below the outside layer of skin called the subcutaneous tissue - only allows blue or violet wavelengths to pass through so blue light is reflected back unless you have darker or whiter (albino) skin. Darker means the veins will appear green or brown, whiter means dark purple or dark red.

What are some of the reasons for dark circles?

While not getting enough good quality sleep is the most common cause, you might be surprised to read that too much sleep can lead to dark circles too. Some of us might find that quite a problem - are we not having enough sleep or are we having too much? Allergies are another common cause. The nasal congestion that comes with allergies can dilate the blood vessels that drain from the area around your eyes and cause the skin below them to go darker. Seasonal allergies will trigger the release of histamines in the body, which in turn inflame blood vessels and cause swelling. Dairy and some of us are unable to digest dairy which can lead to inflammation as our bodies try to combat the effects of dairy with inflammation-inducing natural chemicals. In the same way that our body’s inflammatory process causes redness, swelling and heat around a sprained ankle or splinter, it can result in puffy eyelids, under-the-eye bags as well as dark circles. We can inherit the problem too. Genetics can determine that fair skin or how thin the skin is beneath the eyes. Is your skin fair or have you inherited thin skin beneath the eyes? If so, any blood pooling in the area (because of slower circulation from lack of sleep) becomes much more obvious especially when the pooling causes fragile capillaries to stretch and leak. Age can be another reason because, over time, our skin loses collagen and becomes thinner allowing veins to show through. Too much sun on the face can speed up this process by breaking down collagen and allow the mottling of the skin color.

You can carry out a test on your skin yourself

To determine why you suffer from dark circles under your eyes, do this test. Gently stretch the skin under your eyes. If that area becomes darker, the circles are probably due to genetics or aging. If the color doesn’t change, UV rays or allergies are more likely to be the cause.

Top 10 tips on helping to treat or hide those dark circles

  1. Make sure you sleep on your back with a pillow or two to stop blood from building up under the eyes overnight. But not too many pillows as you don't want to significantly alter your neck and back alignment! When you wake up, apply a cold compress for about 5 minutes to constrict the blood vessels. Another tip is to use a freshly cut thick slice of cucumber over each closed eye for 10 minutes at bedtime to help reduce puffiness and rejuvenate the eye area.
  2. If allergies are the cause, take a natural antihistamine to prevent both the allergies and those dark circles or shadows. Allergies can cause itchy, watery eyes which can make you want to rub that sensitive area and increase the puffiness around the eyes.
  3. Don't ever be tempted to rub your eyes. That delicate skin under the under the eyes will lose elasticity and collagen as you age and may even be prone to blood leaking in the area. Rubbing the eyes will only make any problems worse.
  4. Always be gentle in removing your make-up. Leaving makeup on during the night can increase irritation to your sensitive eye tissue - and adding to the problem by rough eye make up removal will aggravate any dark circles. Use a gentle eye makeup remover or virgin coconut oil to apply to your eyes and leave for a minute before gently washing off.
  5. For quick dark circle camouflage, apply eye cream and let it dry for a few minutes. Then pat on a creamy concealer that matches your skin tone. Top with a layer of loose powder, which helps prevent makeup from caking in creases.
  6. Remember that alcohol is dehydrating, taking the water out of your skin and increasing the risk of further damage to the area. If you drink some alcohol, always make sure to have plenty of water before bed to help re-hydrate the skin.
  7. Wearing good quality sun glasses when outdoors will help protect both your eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes from the sun. Larger lens that wrap around and protect the skin on the side of your eyes are recommended.
  8. Are you a smoker? Smoking speeds up the loss of collagen from your skin adding to the problem of dark circles and bags under the eyes.
  9. Air pollution is a significant eye irritant whether in the home, the work place or outdoors. Be aware of this and avoid and improve your own situation.
  10. Finally, invest in a soothing eye treatment. Our very own Simply Eye Serum provides just such a soothing eye treatment, promoting clear and lustrous skin around the eyes while targeting any dark circles and those bags under the eyes. Natural ingredients from a blend of pure natural essential oils and cold pressed or expeller pressed precious oils help tighten and tone the delicate skin around the eyes while helping to relieve irritation and inflammation. All you need to take care of those eyes in one easy-to-apply safe solution.
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