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Dark Under Eye Circles: How They Form And How To Treat Them

Posted by Adeline Yeak on
Dark Under Eye Circles: How They Form And How To Treat Them

Image via Soroush Karimi

by Shilpa Bhim

Ask any skin expert what the most common skincare concern they get asked about is, and dark under eye circles are probably on the list. 

We’ve all experienced dark under eye circles at some point in our lives, and for some of us they are part of everyday life (because, genetics).

Here at Zove, we are all for loving the skin you’re in - dark under eye circles and all! But did you know that certain factors can cause or enhance your dark under eye circles?

We’re breaking these factors down for you and sharing tips on how to treat your dark under eye circles so you can walk out the door sans concealer more often than not.


You Got It From Your Parents

Hereditary conditions like very thin under eye skin allow veins to show through which leads to the appearance of dark skin under the eye. 

Dr Maryam Zamani, a London based aesthetic doctor, notes that people of Asian and African heritage are particularly predisposed to having hyperpigmentation under the eyes.

The Sun Strikes Again

We all know how harsh and damaging the sun’s rays are on our skin! 

Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can lead to excess pigmentation in the under eye area due to how thin the skin in this area is. 

Those Damn Allergies!

Seasonal allergies and nasal congestion can contribute to dark under eye circles. 

New York based dermatologist, Dr David Bank, highlights that allergies trigger histamines in the body, causing blood vessels to dilate. 

When the veins under your thin under eye skin dilate, they become bigger leading them to appear darker than the rest of your face, notes Dr Bank. Better get those allergies sorted before Spring hits!

Do. Not. Rub.

As tempting as it may be to rub your itchy eyes, we suggest you don’t. 

The common causes of itching and irritation around the eyes include eczema or using skincare or makeup with harsh ingredients. 

Excessive rubbing around the eye area leads to swelling, inflammation, and broken blood vessels which can give your skin a bruised or dark appearance, according to Dr Bank. So keep your hands away from your eyes, Zovers!

Blame It On Your Bone Structure

Your dark under eye circles could be linked to the shape of your face! Deep tear troughs under their eyes cause shadows and indents which create the appearance of darkness under the eyes.

Time Will Do Its Thing

Skin naturally loses collagen and grows thinner as we age. 

The loss of volume (aka collagen) under the eye area contributes to dark circles, particularly as veins start to show through the skin more as it thins out. 


Getting rid of dark under eye circles may not be possible, especially when this is something that’s in your genes, and that’s totally fine. Love the skin you’re in, Zovers.

However, there are steps you can take to minimise or reduce your dark under eye circles, starting off with getting your beauty sleep.

Get Plenty Of Sleep

Contrary to popular belief, a lack of sleep doesn’t cause under eye circles but it does enhance your under eyes.

To keep your under eyes looking fresh, awake and shadow free, Dr Zamani suggests getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. She also notes that sleeping on your back with your head slightly elevated helps to minimise puffiness. 

Of course, if you’re a non-back sleeper like so many of us are, you can always turn to your trusty Zove facial roller or gua sha tool to tackle that morning puff in your face!

Skin experts also recommend switching your devices to night mode ongoing to minimise exposure to blue light, which has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles.

Wear Your SPF!

And wear it everyday - it’s one of our top skin care tips for a reason!

To avoid or minimise hyperpigmentation around the eye, Dr Zamani recommends applying your SPF all the way to your lash line and wearing sunglasses.

Sort Out Your Skincare Ingredients

There’s a ton of skincare products to help tackle dark under eye circles and knowing which ingredients to look out for is handy.

Dr Zamani recommends looking for ingredients like caffeine, hyaluronic acid, tri-peptides, and moisture-locking ceramides. Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid also assist with collagen formation and keeping under eye skin plump.

Check In On Your Diet

Food that is high in salt, multiple cups of coffee a day and regular wines may all taste delicious, but they could be doing some harm to the skin under your eyes as they are dehydrating. 

To combat the dehydration and keep your under eye skin happy, cut down on these foods and be sure to drink plenty of water. 

Skin experts also suggest maintaining a nutritious diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. These support healthy skin overall, including under your eyes.

Massage Your Face, And Keep The Under Eye Area Cool

Using a facial roller or gua sha tool in the under eye area promotes blood flow and reduces puffiness, helping to brighten up the skin under your eyes. 

Applying a cold compress to the under eye area for a few minutes will also help constrict the veins under your skin, meaning they become narrower and less obvious under the thin skin. Handy tip: leave your facial tools in the fridge for that cooling effect! 

Have you tried any of these tips to reduce the appearance of dark circles under your eyes? Which one worked best for you?

Feel free to share your thoughts with us via the little icon on your right, via Instagram or email us! And, remember that dark under eye circles are a part of life and, really, they’re not that bad. 

Shilpa is a freelance health, beauty and travel writer from Melbourne, Australia. You can keep up with her adventures over at @skb.ontherun and check out her latest articles here.


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