6 Causes of Dark Eye Circles and the Solutions to Them

Shadows under our eyes are a hassle to deal with, especially if their extent is severe. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to solve this condition, ranging from the incorporation of certain products in your skincare routine to professional treatments administered by a dermatologist.

However, the first step to getting rid of dark undereye circles is to find out what exactly is causing them in the first place. Once you find out the exact cause of those shadows under your peepers, it will be much easier to figure out an effective solution to treat them once and for all.


Natural Causes of Dark Eye Circles

Shadows under your eyes can form due to reasons beyond your control such as genetics and ageing. These reasons make it practically impossible to keep your undereye shadows at bay without the help of professional treatments. Keep on reading to learn more about the natural factors that can result in those panda eyes.

1. Genetics

As with many other skin conditions, there is a hereditary factor to the development of dark undereye circles. In this case, you might already have shadows under your peepers from an early age and find that any preventative methods taken to reduce these dark hues are for naught. Whether you try to sleep earlier, hydrate more, or reduce your exposure to the sun, your panda eyes are here to stay. If you fall in this category, professional treatments might be a good option to consider to reduce the intensity of these shadows.

2. Ageing

As you age, your skin will naturally produce less collagen — the protein responsible for keeping your skin firm and taut. With an increasingly lower level of collagen, the area around your cheeks will begin to loosen and sag. This will affect your undereye area too as the sagging skin will lead to a loss of volume under your eyes, thus creating depressions in that area known as tear troughs. These tear troughs will emphasise the blood vessels underneath your eyes and create the illusion of shadows.


4 External Causes of Dark Eye Circles

Apart from natural causes, there are certain external factors that can lead to those dark hues under your peepers as well. Read on to find out more about these factors.

1. Excessive Sun Exposure

When the skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays for a significant period of time, the UV rays will trigger the skin’s production of melanin — the pigment responsible for giving our skin its colour. When this occurs, the increase in the level of melanin will lead to discolouration in the area under the eyes. Furthermore, the sun’s UV rays also have the potential of damaging the collagen found between the epidermal and dermal layers of skin. When collagen breaks down, the bonds holding both these layers together will weaken. This will then cause the skin to thin, which will make the veins under the eyes more prominent and intensify the discolouration.

2. Allergies

Your body’s immune system responds to an allergy by activating its defense system. This involves the release of histamines — chemicals that help to get rid of the allergen — to increase the blood flow in the affected area. It would then bring about inflammation, which enables other chemicals in your immune system to repair the “damage” the allergen has caused in your body. Unfortunately, during this repairing process, the histamines will cause other symptoms to arise such as redness and itchiness around your eyes. Obviously, when this occurs, you will feel the urge to rub and scratch your eyes, which can lead to broken blood vessels and result in dark circles.

3. Lack of Sleep

The relation between lack of sleep and the formation of dark circles needs no introduction. It is well-known that not clocking in enough nighttime shut-eye will lead to shadows under your peepers, but do you know why? Well, this happens due to the blood vessels underneath your eyes dilating when you do not get enough sleep, which creates a dark tinge. And since the skin under your eyes is already thin to begin with, it will make the darkness more prominent.

4. Broken Capillaries

Since the skin under your eyes is thin, any trauma to it (such as stress or rubbing your eyes excessively) can cause the capillaries beneath the dermal layer to break. When this occurs, the blood cells will leak and spread throughout the surrounding skin. As the blood cells break down, it produces pigmented by-products that gather in the skin under your eyes, which then results in a discolouration in this area.


Solutions to Fading Dark Eye Circles

There are a number of methods available to brighten your undereye area, from using the right eyecare products to going for professional treatments. The most effective method will depend on the cause of your individual condition as well as its severity. For instance, if your panda eyes are mainly from your lack of sleep; make sure you clock in the necessary amount of hours each night to significantly reduce the darkness under your eyes.

On the other hand, if your dark circles are a form of hyperpigmentation from excessive sun exposure, treating them with eye-brightening ingredients ought to be the first step to adopt into your skincare routine.

In the following sections, we will discuss several solutions you can consider to bring back the brightness and glow to your undereye area. These solutions can be categorised into two parts; commercial skincare products and professional treatments administered by a dermatologist.

Below, we will discuss several solutions you can try to bring back the brightness and glow to your undereye area. These solutions can be categorised into commercial skincare products containing specific brightening ingredients and treatments administered by a dermatologist.


4 Ingredients in Skincare Products that Brighten Dark Circles

If the darkness under your eyes is not severe, utilising skincare products with these eye-brightening ingredients might just be sufficient enough to help brighten it up. The thing about these unique ingredients is that they all work differently — each ingredient targets a different cause, thus the need for a little uncovering before deciding on which ingredients to use.

For example, if the darkness under your eyes is a form of hyperpigmentation due to excessive sun exposure, look for an eye cream that contains vitamin C. However, if the shadows are a result of a loss of collagen from ageing skin, incorporate retinol into your routine.

Curious to know which ingredient will be suitable for your individual concern? We have unearthed four ingredients you should look out for to brighten your undereye area:

  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin K
  • Caffeine

1. Vitamin C

While there are a number of ingredients commonly used in the beauty industry to help correct skin discolouration, the most effective one is probably vitamin C. This potent ingredient is often included in brightening formulations due to its efficacy in inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase — an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. By halting tyrosinase’s function, vitamin C indirectly reduces the level of melanin, thus lightening any existing discolouration. This makes vitamin C a must-have ingredient in your eye care products if your dark hues are the result of hyperpigmentation.

2. Retinol

If your panda eyes are due to a loss of collagen, make sure to look for ingredients that will stimulate its production, such as retinol. As a type of vitamin A derivative, retinol is a popular anti-ageing ingredient in the beauty industry since it is able to increase the level of collagen. Now, remember how a lower level of collagen in your undereye area can lead to tear troughs? Well, when the level of collagen increases with the help of retinol, the skin under your eyes will become more plump, thus making the blood vessels in this area less visible. This will, in turn, reduce the shadows under your peepers.

3. Vitamin K

Dark eye circles from broken capillaries need the help of ingredients that will help reduce the flow of blood under the eyes, one of which is vitamin K. This vitamin is required in the synthesis of certain proteins that play a part in the process of blood coagulation, or blood clotting. When the body is deficient in vitamin K, the blood coagulation process will be impaired, thus resulting in excessive blood flow. By incorporating eyecare products that contain vitamin K into your routine, the blood flow under your eyes will decrease, thus evening out the discolouration in this area.

4. Caffeine

An ingredient to look out for if your dark circles are caused by broken capillaries is caffeine. When applied onto the undereye area, caffeine has the effect of constricting blood vessels in the skin’s upper layers — this is known as vasoconstriction. When blood vessels are constricted, it reduces the flow of blood to the undereye area, which in turn will lighten the darkness under your peepers as well as reduce puffiness.


4 Professional Treatments to Lighten Dark Eye Circles

The ingredients we have discussed above can prove effective if the extent of your dark circles is mild to moderate. However, if you have severe panda eyes, off-the-rack cosmetic products may not be strong enough to lighten the discolouration under your peepers. In addition, if your dark circles are a result of genetics, these ingredients might have little to no effect on the discolouration too.

In both these cases, you might wish to consider professional treatments to fade your dark circles. Many aesthetic centres in Singapore (such as Geo Aesthetics) offer a number of treatments for this particular concern, so be sure to consult an expert to see which treatment would be the most suitable for you. Just like in the previous section, the treatments you choose ought to correspond with the cause of your shadows. These four professional treatments are often thought of to reduce the shadow under the eyes:

  • Laser treatment
  • High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
  • Fillers
  • Microneedling

1. Laser Treatment

If the darkness under your eyes is a form of hyperpigmentation, a laser procedure might offer the most effective solution to brighten your undereye area. When it comes to laser treatments, not all of them work the same way. Take the popular PicoSure treatment for example, it functions as a specific type of laser procedure that targets hyperpigmentation by breaking down the pigment cells under your eyes, effectively lightening the discolouration in the process. Meanwhile, the disintegrated cells would be absorbed by the body’s immune system before being naturally eliminated. Besides experiencing a mild redness for about one to three hours after the procedure, the laser treatment has minimal downtime and patients can resume their normal day-to-day activities.

2. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound

For prominent dark circles that are the result of tear troughs from a loss of collagen, treatments that boost the production of collagen will be more suitable. One such treatment is the High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU). This treatment utilises ultrasound energy to deliver heat to the deeper layers of the skin, which then stimulates the production of collagen. The higher level of collagen would add volume to the tear troughs, thus plumping up the undereye area and allowing the shadows to appear less prominently. Since this is a non-invasive procedure, HIFU does not require any downtime.

3. Hyaluronic Fillers

Another procedure that will work well to reduce shadows caused by tear troughs is hyaluronic fillers. This is done by injecting the hyaluronic filler directly into the tear troughs to add volume into the sunken area. There are currently two ways to inject the hyaluronic filler: by using a sharp hypodermic needle or blunt-tip microcannula. Compared to a sharp hypodermic needle, a blunt-tip microcannula acts as a less painful alternative when injected into the undereye area. Furthermore, a blunt-tip microcannula will lower the risk of bruising as it will be less likely to damage the blood vessels under the eyes.

4. Microneedling

An alternative treatment that also works at stimulating the production of collagen is microneedling. This is a procedure that creates tiny wounds on the topmost skin layer, which then causes the skin to begin its recovery process to help the wounds heal. This process triggers the production of collagen that will add volume to the undereye area, thus thickening the skin and making the blood vessels under your peepers less visible. This treatment is highly favoured by most established aesthetic centres, including Geo Aesthetics. Not only would the minimally-invasive procedure help with eliminating your eye circles, it also renews and firms up the skin in a safe manner.


The Takeaway

Treating any type of skin concern requires a lot of trial and error; the first solution you opt for might not necessarily be the most effective one and some might struggle to notice any visible improvements to their panda eyes.

Of course, this does not mean that it is a lost cause. Fading your dark circles will take time and there is no one solution — whether it be a commercial skincare product or professional treatment — that will provide you with results overnight.

If you have unsuccessfully tried an exhaustive list of eyecare products that contain the ingredients that we have discussed before, perhaps it is time to consider reaching out for professional help. If you choose this route, you can feel more at ease since the expert will be proficient and knowledgeable enough to advise you on the most suitable treatment for your individual concerns.